We are now trying the next step in our use of dice to support children in their use of Alan Peat 'Exciting Sentences'.
With the Year Six class we work with, we are giving the children, who have all been taught different sentence types over the last three years, a blank cube net as might be found here. The children, who are writing mystery narratives, are going to choose the most relevant and useful sentence types for their piece of writing, The challenge will be to take two dice and merge the two different sentence types into one wonderful sentence of complexity and detail (instead of appsmashing; sentencesmashing).
Whilst we love the way 'exciting sentences' serves as a toolbox for equipping children with different ways of adding sentence structures and punctuation, the ultimate aim is for children to develop a proper understanding of how those sentence structures and different pieces of punctuation work. Then we want them to effectively and appropriately 'break the rules' in order to make their writing more effective.
The purpose of this intermediate stage is to get the children to take a proactive role in choosing which sentence types work best for the text type they are writing and, more importantly, how they go beyond their basic use in making them more effective. For those writers who are confident, we now want to teach them to take risks with their writing and start deliberately breaking rules, from a basis of knowledge, in order to engage the reader.
The children found that some sentences worked more effectively than others. For example an 'if, if, if, then' sentence worked well with 'simile' sentences. It made them think even harder about the effect the words were having on the reader especially when the sentences went wrong. It also demonstrated those children who were learning the sentence types parrot fashion and needed some grammar and punctuation intervention as well as those who had a deeper understanding.
To get started with the 'exciting sentence' types, buy the book here.