Writing Tip: Revising Sentence Beginnings

Do you dread reading some of the writing pieces your students have written because each and every sentence starts the same way? Do you find yourself reading something like this:

"Then Sam and Jane walked slowly over to the door. Then Sam reached out for the doorknob. Then as Sam twisted the knob, the door started creaking. Then Sam and Jane quickly stopped to make sure they didn't wake up Mom and Dad."

I know I have! Here's a quick tip I want to share with you that I have used with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade writers to help with this problem.

Have your students set up a t-chart. On the left side, students will record a list of words that each sentence begins with as they look through their piece of writing. On the right side, students keep a running tally of the number of times those words are used as sentence starters.

Students analyze their tally marks and choose one word to tackle in their writing at a time. Students go back through and circle each time that word begins a sentence.
Finally, students choose a few of those sentences to revise. They can either replace the word, add a transition, or reword the sentence. Sometimes I have my students repeat the process.

In the end, students are learning a key part of the revision stage of the writing process and you are rewarded with better writing pieces!

Happy Teaching!

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