Sunday, June 7, 2015

Super Sentences Centre

A few months ago I had the need to expand my reading centres to be more literacy centres. So I needed reading, write and word work activities. I wanted the writing activities to be skill development as well as skill application centres. When doing some internet searches I came across "super sentences" activities. In general, most of the super sentence lessons I came across provided students with a simple sentence. Then they needed to make it more interesting by adding adjectives and adverbs. 

I took this idea an tried it while my educational assistance was away. As I did not have an EA, I made the activity a Google Document so that students could use Read and Write for Google for support (this is an extension that will read the text on a Google Document, among other things).

This centre worked really well, and I have kept it in high rotation for reading centres. 

Skills Students Need

Students do need some skills before this centre should be used. Students should:

  1. Know how to navigate their Google Drive and find documents in Shared With Me.
  2. Know how to highlight text.
  3. Know how to use Read and Write for Google.*
  4. Know how to resolve a comment.
  5. How to use the Spell Check function.
* This is why this activity works so well with technology rather than pencil and paper. By using Read and Write for Google (RW4G), students who struggle with reading and writing are supported. As this is a revision and editing task, even students who are strong readers are supported with RW4G as typically they read what they meant to write and not always what is actually there. When it is read aloud for them, they hear the errors. 

Skills Teachers Need

  1. An understanding of how Read and Write for Google works.
  2. A way to share Documents with students (using the Share function, Doctopus or Classroom, whatever works for you).
  3. How to leave a comment and how to find resolved comments.
  4. How to use and model highlighting and the spell check functions in Document.

How I Taught These Centres

Typically I follow the format below: 

  1. On Monday introduce the centre and demonstrate it on the Smartboard. 
  2. Have chart paper "reminders" for the centre for the rest of the week.
  3. At the end of centres each day, read one or all of the super sentences created.
    • I did not do this for the voice activity as these were longer pieces of writing and each student got a star and a wish. As such, I usually picked one student to share their work at the end of centre time.
    • I did not do this for the editing activity as it would have given away all the edits.
One of the reasons I would read student work at the end is to keep students accountable. It also was a quick way to check for understanding. It also is a good review of the expectations throughout the week for students who might have the centre on Thursday or Friday.

Super Sentence Centre Ideas

Here are a few of the Super Sentence Centres I have tried. Initially I had students work on the skill of revising.
To make this multi-level you could take away the highlighted nouns for a challenge. I did not require one of my groups to write an ending sentence.
This is an example of what I modelled for the students. I usually do the first two sentences. We talk about how there might be more than one choice that makes sense and review how to highlight. The words were current or recent spelling words. 
We had a spring concert. So I chose that theme to have students edit for both adjectives and adverbs. 

For the fourth centre, I had students focus on revising for voice. I made two versions to differentiate the activity. As they had practised the super sentences centre three times, I did a formative assessment piece with the fourth centre. At the end of the week I gave each student two stars and a wish. The next week, they had the same activity for a centre. But this time they had to "grant" my wish. 
For students with more skill and confidence in writing.
For students who have less skill or confidence with writing.

I decided students needed practice with editing as well. So for my next centre I had them become editors. Again this became a two week centre. After the first week they were given two stars and a wish. The activity for the second week was to find the corrections they missed in week one.

To support students, I used the highlighting function to help them locate the edits they missed. For both weeks I included an early finisher link(s) in the Documents themselves. For previous activities I often had an early finisher activity on my website. 

Sharing Ideas

Most of these activities can be found on the website Division One Collaboration Site For Educational Technology. Just open and make a copy. If you have an super sentence idea, please share it in the comments!

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