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What To Do If Your Students Struggle To Write a Sentence

Today, we’re diving into a question I’ve received countless times: What do I do when my students struggle to write even a basic sentence, let alone a story, essay, or paragraph? Fear not, because I’ve got the solution that will not only transform your students’ writing but also enhance their reading skills. So, hit that subscribe button, like this video, and let’s jump right in! 

Remember, this post can be found in video form! I’d love to see you over on YouTube! 


The Power of Syntactic Awareness: The Game-Changer

To cut straight to the chase, the answer to this predicament is “syntactic awareness.” Now, if you’re not familiar with the term, let’s simplify it. Syntactic awareness is about giving students the opportunity to develop what we call a “grammar ear.” Instead of focusing solely on isolated grammar instruction, which research has shown to be less effective, we’re delving into a method that nurtures an understanding of how words and phrases come together to form coherent sentences.

I can attest to the power of syntactic awareness, even as a published author who might not ace a sixth-grade grammar worksheet. The key lies in being able to communicate effectively, even if one doesn’t know every grammar rule. This ability to express oneself without knowing all the intricate rules is a testament to having syntactic awareness.

Growing Syntactic Awareness: The Early Years

Syntactic awareness begins early in life, as we observe in young children acquiring their native language. Those early moments of saying, “doggy bark,” and receiving corrected feedback from parents contribute to the development of syntactic awareness. Your grown-ups maybe have given you the correct language back with something along the lines of, “Yes, the dog is barking!” And here’s the exciting part – it’s not just for native speakers. Language learners can also benefit tremendously from syntactic awareness routines. If these students struggle to write a sentence, these drills will jump start that journey! 

Three Syntactic Awareness Routines to Transform Writing

  1. Sentence Detective: Unveiling the Layers of a Sentence

    Start with a rich sentence containing elements like who, what, when, where, and why. Guide students to extract these details by playing the role of a sentence detective. This routine reinforces the idea that a strong sentence encompasses multiple components, fostering a deep understanding of sentence structure.

  2. Switch-A-Word: Crafting Precision in Language

    Encourage students to swap out a specified word in a sentence, ensuring that the new word still fits seamlessly. This routine helps build vocabulary and precision in language use. The immediate feedback and coaching opportunities are invaluable for refining writing skills.

  3. Sentence Stacking and Combining: Weaving Thoughts Together

    Challenge students to combine two separate sentences into one cohesive thought. This routine promotes critical thinking about how sentences can flow together logically. The discussions and decision-making involved enhance syntactic awareness.

Real Classroom Impact: A Glimpse into Syntactic Awareness in Action

Incorporating these routines into daily practice can yield remarkable results. Students not only engage in language exploration but also receive instant feedback, fostering a deeper understanding of grammar and sentence construction. Whether you choose to create your own routines or explore ready-made sets, the goal remains consistent – to make syntactic awareness an integral part of your students’ language development.

Closing Thoughts: Embrace the Syntactic Revolution

Syntactic awareness is not just a tool for correcting sentences; it’s a revolutionary approach to language development. By integrating these routines into your teaching repertoire, you’re not only addressing writing challenges but also nurturing strong readers and communicators. So, embrace the syntactic revolution, and watch your students transform into confident and proficient writers.

If you’d like to try your own hand at creating syntactic awareness routines, grab a free DIY kit by clicking the image below! 

Until next time, happy writing!


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