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Mini-Books

Mini-Books

Many of our books cover multiple standards and are extremely comprehensive. For example, our Standards Based Grammar series covers dozens to skills and can be used as a daily grammar / language routine. However, there may be times when a teacher only needs material for a single standard. The mini-books below contain stand-alone units that are highly focused on specific topics.

 Most of the mini-books below come from our Standards Based Grammar or Common Core Based Language series.
 

Comma Rules and Sentence Building    (43 Pages)


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Objective
:
The objective of these worksheets is to help students understand the comma rules so well that they are using the rules within the context of actual writing situations. Best for Grades 4 - 8.

An added benefit of these worksheets and journal activities is that the students will also be improving their writing skills as well. They will have thirteen new “tricks” they can use to make their writing better. Throughout these worksheets, students will be encouraged to use dialogue, add adjectives and interrupters, write complex sentences, and much more. The quality of their sentences can only improve by working through this program.

Pretest and Checklist
Begin with a pretest to help the students understand which rules they know and which rules they need to study. After completing the pretest, the students can use the checklist to keep track of the comma rules they’ve mastered and the rules that require more focus. The students can keep the checklist in a folder to reference as they complete the worksheets.

For the comma rules they already know, the students can complete the worksheets as a review. When they do the worksheets for the rules they don’t know, they will have a greater focus as they complete them.

Worksheets
As you teach
the worksheets, it helps to write each rule on a poster with a sample sentence below. The students are able to use this as a reference as they complete the worksheets and as they write. Ultimately, the goal is to help the students learn the rules to the point where they are using the comma rules correctly within their writing. With this in mind, requiring the students to use the comma rules with their writing assignments is a great way to review the skills and improve the quality of their sentences.
 
Extensions and Journal Activities
Because the goal for these worksheets is to have the students apply the rules for commas within their writing, many of the worksheets require that the students practice the comma rules within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice while the journal activities will allow them to practice several comma rules simultaneously.

Post Test and Project
The Post test will give you a first look at which students have a general understanding of the comma rules. However, if the students cannot apply the rules within the context of writing, they have not achieved the goal for these lessons.

The project is an opportunity to get more practice using the comma rules within the context of writing. With this project, the students will be writing a story using all the comma rules they’ve learned. They will also be reading stories written by their classmates while searching for comma rules used by them. Through this process your students will benefit from peer tutoring in ways they could not learn from the teacher.


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Capitalization Rules     (43 Pages)


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Objective: The objective of these worksheets is to help students learn the capitalization rules so well that they retain them and are using the rules within the context of actual writing situations. Best for Grades 3 - 6.

Part I – Basic Capitalization
This first section is a basic introduction to capitalization. It is meant for younger students who are just learning the concept. From kindergarten, students are learning to capitalize the first word of a sentence. The worksheets in this section move beyond that and focus on the differences between common and proper nouns.

While the focus is on all types of common and proper nouns, the students will practice looking for geographical names, historical periods, holidays, and special events. These topics are concrete and can be easily contrasted between common and proper. For example, the students will be able to see the difference between the common noun, city, and the proper noun, Sacramento.

Part II - Capitalization
Even when all the capitalization rules are known, there are many times when it is unclear whether a word should be capitalized or not. The focus of this section is to memorize all the rules of capitalization and practice identifying words that can be tricky. For example, students will often capitalize seasons such as summer and winter. The trick at the beginning of this section will help students learn, not only the words that should be capitalized, but words that should not be capitalized.

Pretest and Checklist
Begin with a pretest to help the stude
nts understand which rules they know and which rules they need to study. After completing the pretest, the students can use the checklist to keep track of the capitalization rules they’ve mastered and the rules that require more focus. The students can keep the checklist in a folder to reference as they complete the worksheets.

For the capitalization rules they already know, the students can complete the worksheets as a review. When they do the worksheets for the rules they don’t know, they will have a greater focus as they complete them.

The Trick
Students will learn to associate the nine capitalization rules with an image on a baseball stadium. A boy named Cappy Talleyes (sounds like Capitalize) will escort the student around the stadium showing the different rules. By the time the students finish drawing the picture, they will have a solid understanding of all the rules and a mental picture to reference while completing the worksheets and journal activities.

Next, the students will draw a picture where Cappy shows him around his school. In this picture, the students learn several common mistakes made with capitalization. Again, they will have a mental picture to warn them against common mistakes.

Worksheets
As you teach the worksheets, it helps to write each rule on a poster with a sample sentence below. The students are able to use this as a reference as they complete the worksheets and as they write. Ultimately, the goal is to help the students learn the rules to the point where they are using the capitalization rules correctly within their writing.

Extensions and Journal Activities
Because the goal for these worksheets is to have the students apply the rules for capitalization within their writing, many of the worksheets require that the students practice the capitalization rules within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice while the journal activities will allow them to practice several rules simultaneously.

Project and Post Test
The project is an opportunity to get more practice using the capitalization rules within the context of writing. With this project, the students will be writing a story using all the capitalization rules they’ve learned. They will also be reading stories written by their classmates while searching for capitalization rules used by them. Through this process your students will benefit from peer tutoring in ways they could not learn from the teacher.

The post test will give you a first look at which students have a general understanding of the capitalization rules. However, if the students cannot apply the rules within the context of writing, they have not achieved the goal of these lessons.

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Greek and Latin Root Words   (45 Pages)

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Objective: The purpose of this book is to help students improve their vocabulary by learning more than fifty Greek and Latin prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Best for Grades 5 - 8.
 
Students will accomplish this objective by directly learning more than fifty root words, prefixes, and suffixes. With this knowledge, students will learn to identify these root words and use context clues to identify the meaning of thousands of words that contain these roots. Students will be given a mix of direct instruction learning root words and practical application using the root words. This two-part approach will give the students the best opportunity to make learning and using root words a regular part of their lives.

Introduction:
Every year I tell my students a story about an experience I had while in college regarding learning the word “somnambulism.” A newspaper headline read “Dodgers Suffer from Somnambulism!” Not knowing what the word meant, I began to break the word into parts. I write the parts of the word on the board: “Somn” is found in “insomnia”. “In” means “not”. Since insomnia means “un able to sleep”, somn must mean “sleep.” Next, there is “amble” which I know means “to walk”. Finally, there is “ism” which can refer to “a condition of”. Put them together, and what do you get? Somn – Sleep / Amble – Walk. Oh, the Dodgers must have been sleepwalking through their game.
   
I was so proud of myself for figuring out the definition on my own. The process that I had just used is the process that my students are about to practice. By learning just a few dozen Greek and Latin affixes, students will be able to decipher thousands of words that they would normally need to look up in the dictionary. This can only help lead to a much broader vocabulary for students using this book.

Common Core State Standards
Common Core’s College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard #4 states:

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

The fourth standard of each grade level in the CCSS typically requires students to “use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word.” This is the focus of every activity on every worksheet in this book. The Greek and Latin words in this book were pulled from examples listed on the CCSS website for grades 4, 5, 6, and 7 as well as many of the most common roots used.

How to Teach These Worksheets
Some of the units in this book are meant to be taught as a whole. The students will work through the unit from beginning to end and take a test when they finish. However, other sections are left for the teacher to decide how much time she wishes to spend on the task. For example, in the first section, students will be breaking words into sections and analyzing how the prefixes and suffixes fit together. There are about sixty words, which would take hours for the students to complete. Obviously, the students are not going to do this all at once. The teacher can choose to give five words a day in class and five for homework and complete the activities over the coarse of a week or two. In other units, teachers may decide to add two or three root words to the students’ spelling list and have the students complete the tasks along with their spelling work.

Unit 1 – Greek and Latin Prefixes and Suffixes
The purpose of this section is to show students the difference between prefixes and suffixes.  Prefixes change the meaning of words while suffixes change the word’s part of speech. Take the word “happy”. Adding the prefix “un-” changes the meaning of the word to “not happy”. Adding the suffix “ness”, making “happiness”, keeps the meaning, but changes the word from an adjective to a noun. Knowing this difference is an important step in developing an instinct for using root words on a regular basis.

Within this section, students will be given dozens of prefixes and suffixes to learn. They will break words into parts and analyze how the pieces come together. They will practice making educated guesses of definitions to high level vocabulary words and use a dictionary (Internet or hard cover) to confirm the accuracy of their answers. Next, they will practice seeing these high level words in context, and finally, use these words themselves in their writing.

Unit 2 – Greek and Latin Root Words
In this section, the students are given a list of twenty-four Greek and Latin root words. Each root word has three English words that use each particular root. The teacher can choose to have the students learn them all at once and test them at the end, or she can assign a few each week and learn them over the course of the year.

For each of the sets of root words, the students can use the worksheets to help them practice learning the words. The students will write the words and definitions, then draw a study picture to help them internalize the words. This will be referred to as a Picture Dictionary. With the Picture Dictionary, the students will draw two parts for each word:

Part I – The students will draw a word that sounds like the word. For example, for the word “graphite”, the students can draw two graphs fighting.
Part II – Next, the students think of a way to add the definition to the picture. For example, “graphite” is black carbon used in pencils. Therefore, the students can draw the two graphs sword fighting with pencils. By connecting a familiar picture that sounds like the word to the definition of the word, the students will have a trick that will help them remember the words for a long time.
Note: Many of the words in this section are already familiar to the students. For words such as “thermometer”, rather than making a study picture to memorize the definition, have them draw a picture of the actual object. Next, they can label the picture with the root words showing how they relate to the word. For “thermometer”, the students can label “therm” with a line pointing to the red (representing heat) on the picture. They can add “meter” to label where the red ends which shows the “measurement” of the heat. This gives them more practice looking at how root words function within a word.

Unit 3 – Greek Root Words (4 Week Unit)

Each week, students are given three sets of words. Each set contains a root word and five English words that use those root words. There is also a spelling routine that gives the students activities to practice each day to become familiar with the words. These activities actually take about two weeks to finish if they are done 10 – 15 minutes a day. Therefore, at the end of the first week, the students take a spelling test. Next, the students use the second week to complete vocabulary activities until they are ready for the vocabulary test at the end. You can also choose to give the spelling and vocabulary test together at the end of the second week.

Within this section, the students will be making Picture Dictionaries again. If the teacher has already taught Unit 2, then the students will already know what to do. If not, the teacher can review the procedure for completing Picture Dictionaries with the class.

Obviously, if you spend two weeks on each set of words, this is actually an eight-week unit. You are free to pace the lessons however you like. At the end of each “Week”, there is a test for the students that you may give whenever you feel the students are ready.

Tip: Copy the list of words for each week. On the back of each set of worksheets, copy the Spelling / Vocabulary routine. This will help the students keep a handy reference of the activities at their fingertips.

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Spelling Plural Nouns     (20 Pages)

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Objective: The objective of these worksheets is to teach students the rules for spelling irregular plural nouns. Best for Grades 2 - 4.

Worksheets
The worksheets in this book help students learn the spelling of plural nouns that don’t follow the standard format of just adding an S. Some of the rules make sense as with words such as “wolves” where the pronunciation of the word tells the student that there is a change in the plural rule. However, what about words such as “tornadoes”? The reason for adding ES rather than just an S is not as obvious.

The students are presented at the beginning with a master sheet that shows all the plurals that have unique spellings. This page will come in handy while working on the worksheets, and it can also serve as a handy reference for other classroom activities.

The rest of the worksheets are divided into three sections. Students will focus on two rules at a time and take a quiz. At the end of the book, the students are presented with a quiz on all six rules.

Next Steps
To keep the rules fresh in the students' minds, teachers can add a rule each week to the students’ spelling list. For example, the students can be told that they need to study Rule #1 in addition to their regular spelling words. The teacher can even add two or three words from the list to the students’ pretest. When it comes time for the test at the end of the week, the teacher can choose any three words from the list to make sure the students remember the rule. The next week, the teacher can repeat the procedure with Rule 2.

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Parts of Speech: Primary Edition     (116 Pages)

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Objective: The objective of these worksheets is to give students a basic understanding of the parts of speech. By completing this book, students will be well prepared to move on to more advanced topics related to the parts of speech. Best for grades 2 - 4.

Throughout the book students will be asked to practice using their knowledge of the parts of speech within the context of writing. In this way, students will see the practical purposes of learning these skills.

Memory Tricks
Keeping track of the definitions for the parts of speech can be very difficult. When you add the sub-topics within each part of speech, it can be even more challenging. This is why each section begins with a memory trick. The students may draw a study picture or chant a phrase that contains the definition and a sample word. For example, a clown will represent a noun. A clown at a circus in the center ring helps students remember that a noun is a person (clown), place (circus), or thing (ring). Notice that if you say the previous sentence in a certain way, it rhymes which again, is a trick to help the students learn the definition of a noun. Throughout the unit on nouns, the students expand on the noun/clown concept and add dimensions representing common-proper, singular-plural, and possessive nouns. There is a trick for each part of speech.

Worksheets
As you teach the worksheets, it helps to write each part of speech on a poster along with the definitions and a sample. The students are able to use this as a reference as they complete the worksheets and as they write.

There may be more worksheets on a given topic than you actually need. Many of these worksheets come from multiple editions of Standards Based Grammar. It is better to have too much than not enough so I’ve included as many worksheets as possible. Use your own discretion when deciding how much is needed for the students to master each skill.

Extensions
One of the goals for these worksheets is to have the
students apply their knowledge of the parts of speech within
their writing. Many of the worksheets require that the students practice the parts of speech within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice and help them see the practical application of the parts of speech.

Identify the Parts of Speech

The last unit of this book asks the students to practice identifying all the parts of speech together. The students will use everything they’ve learned to see how all the parts of speech fit together.

Additionally, the students will begin to practice their writing skills as they see where every word in a sentence fits into one of the parts of speech categories. Journal assignments will also give them practice creating their own “parts of speech” sentences. By changing the order of the parts of speech, students see how they can create a variety of sentences.

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Parts of Speech: Secondary Edition     (131 Pages)

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Objective: The objective of these worksheets is to help students move past the basic understanding of the parts of speech. With this book, students will move on to more advanced topics and learn the parts of speech on a deeper level. Best for grades 4 - 6.

Throughout the book students will be asked to practice using their knowledge of the parts of speech within the context of writing. In this way, students will see the practical purposes of learning these skills.

Memory Tricks
The first section begins with a review of the parts of speech. Just like the Primary Edition, the students learn tricks to help memorize each part of speech. The students may draw a study picture or chant a phrase that contains the definition and a sample word. For example, a clown will represent a noun. A clown at a circus in the center ring helps them remember that a noun is a person (clown), place (circus), or thing (ring). Notice that if you say the previous sentence in a certain way, it rhymes which again, is a trick to help the students learn the definition of a noun. Throughout the unit on nouns, the students expand on the noun/clown concept and add dimensions representing common-proper, singular-plural, and possessive nouns. There is a trick for each part of speech.

Worksheets
As you teach the worksheets, it helps to write each part of speech on a poster along with their definitions and a sample of it. The students are able to use this as a reference as they complete the worksheets and as they write.

There may be more worksheets on a given topic than you actually need. Many of these worksheets come from multiple editions of Standards Based Grammar. It is better to have too much than not enough so I’ve included as many worksheets as possible. Use your own discretion when deciding how much is needed for your students to master each skill.

Extensions
One of the goals for these worksheets is to have the students apply their knowledge of the parts of speech within their writing. Many of the worksheets require that the students practice the parts of speech within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice and help them see the practical application of the parts of speech.

Does this book meet the Common Core State Standards?
Because this book is covering the parts of speech as a whole, the standards covered will span multiple grade levels. As such, this book makes a great resource for teachers of grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 to use as a review for the standards from previous grade levels as well as a resource for meeting the needs of their current grade level.

While many of the worksheets directly meet several of the Common Core State Standards, especially from grades 2 through 6, I’ve discovered a more important advantage of this book. The CCSS has a heavy emphasis on rigor. Because of this, many students are not prepared for the standards required for their grade level. Teachers are forced to reteach (often it is more like re-introducing) students to many concepts. I’ve used many of these worksheets with students who have yet to master the grammar skills from previous grades. Consequently, these students seem to grasp the more challenging topics of our grade level more easily.

The rigor continues into middle school. As I have prepared new lessons for my seventh and eighth grade students, it is obvious that without a solid grasp of the basics of grammar, the students are going to fall further and further behind. Trying to teach gerunds and participles to students who have not mastered the basics of grammar will be like trying to teach quantum physics to kindergarteners. They are completely unprepared.

Should I begin with the Primary Edition of The Parts of Speech?
Students who struggle with grammatical concepts will definitely need to start with the primary edition. It moves through each part of speech at a much slower pace and gives students the time and practice they need to achieve mastery. However, by fifth grade, even struggling students should have been exposed to the parts of speech enough to have a basic idea of the concepts.

For students from fifth grade and up, I would go ahead and begin with the secondary edition. This edition does offer the students an opportunity to learn and master each of the parts of speech. The proficiency of the students will dictate the speed at which you, the teacher, progress through the book. The students can continue to review the basic concepts such as definitions and identifying the parts of speech as they work on the more challenging concepts.

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Sentence Writing: Primary Edition     (94 Pages)

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Objective: The purpose of this book is to help young students learn to identify the parts of sentences, identify types of sentences, and be able to write strong sentences. Best for Grades 2 - 4.

Students will begin to accomplish this objective by learning to identify the parts of a sentence. Next, they will learn to recognize common mistakes made by emerging writers. Finally, they will practice writing strong sentences that follow several sentence structures. For even more practice writing stronger sentences, try Writing Tricks Plus a book that shows students sixteen “tricks” for writing stronger sentences.

Introduction:
Whether you are writing a story, essay, report, or research paper, the quality of your writing begins with the sentence. The ability to write strong sentences as well as the ability to write a variety of sentence types is at the heart of all writing. The purpose of this book is to help young students learn to identify the parts of sentences, identify types of sentences, and be able to write strong sentences themselves. Here is how this book is organized:

The first section begins with an overview of the four basic types of sentences: Declarative, Interrogative, Exclamatory, and Imperative. This is a throwback to the old standards that have young students look at the ways in which sentences are used. Personally, I begin with the second unit since the overview is served while looking at the parts of a sentence. However, there is some value in front loading students with this information. Also, there is some value in modeling the four types of sentences. Thus, for the very young students, this is not a bad way to begin.

The second section is actually the mini-book Sentence Fragments and Run-ons offered at Teachers Pay Teachers. It shows students how to identify the parts of a sentence. The students will look at what makes up a sentence and learn to identify common mistakes made by emerging writers. By the time students finish this section, they should have a solid grasp of sentence writing.

The final section helps students learn to write stronger sentences. Here, students learn that it is possible to write longer sentences as long as all the parts of the sentence are used properly. The students begin by reviewing the simple sentence. Next, students are shown how to put two simple sentences together to make a compound sentence. Finally, the students learn to add a dependent clause to a sentence to make complex sentences. This is a great way to end the students’ study of sentence writing.

Extensions
Obviously, the goal of these worksheets is to have students write strong sentences. These worksheets will help give the students confidence to write good sentences and give them the ability to self-correct when they make mistakes. With this in mind many of the worksheets require that the students practice the skills taught within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice and help them see the practical application of what they’ve learned.


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Sentence Writing: Primary Edition     (105 Pages)

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Objective: The purpose of this book is to help students write strong sentences while helping them avoid common mistakes such as run-on and fragment sentences. Best for Grades 5 - 8

Students will accomplish this objective by learning to identify the parts of a sentence. Next, they will learn to recognize common mistakes made by emerging writers. When they have a solid understanding of how sentences are formed, they will practice writing in a variety of sentence structures. These will focus on the four types of sentences: the simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence. For even more practice writing stronger sentences, try Writing Tricks Plus, a book that shows students sixteen “tricks” for writing stronger sentences.

Introduction:
Whether you are writing a story, essay, report, or research paper, the quality of your writing begins with the sentence. The ability to write strong sentences as well as the ability to write a variety of sentence types is at the heart of all writing. The purpose of this book is to help young students learn to identify the parts of sentences, identify types of sentences, and be able to write strong sentences. Here is how this book is organized:
The first section contains many of the worksheets from the mini-book Sentence Fragments and Run-ons offered at Teachers Pay Teachers. It shows students how to identify the parts of a sentence. The students will look at what makes up a sentence and learn to identify common mistakes made by emerging writers. By the time students finish this section, they should have a solid grasp of sentence writing.
The second section takes sentence writing to a whole new level. While in section one, students learn the basic structure of sentences. In this section the students learn how to manipulate the parts of a sentence to write in a variety of styles, all while making sure they stay within the rules of sentence writing. A good writer knows that the quality of a sentence is not in its length. However, the same writer knows how to mix shorter and longer sentences to create a rhythm within the writing. This section will give the students the confidence to write sentences of any length and know that they are staying within the rules of good writing.
How are the students able to write such intelligent sentences with confidence? Within the second section, the students begin by reviewing what they have just learned, the parts of a sentence. Little by little, the students learn to add phrases to make simple sentences stronger. They learn to combine simple sentences into compound sentences. They learn to add clauses to turn simple sentences into complex sentences. Ultimately, they learn to combine compound and complex sentences to form the mammoth compound-complex sentence.
As if all this were not enough, the final section helps students practice combining simple sentences into stronger sentences using the skills they have just learned. In the third section “Sentence Combining” students are shown common sentences written by emerging writers. They are then shown how to take the skills from Unit 2 and use them to write compound, complex, or compound-complex sentences. There will be many times that the teachers will be able to take sample sentences from their students own writing and point to the examples in this section. The students will be reminded of the lessons learned and know how to revise their writing accordingly.

Note: Regarding the idea of having students assess each other’s writing, with some encouragement and practice with the teacher, the students can use the skills from “Sentence Combining” to help assess each other’s writing during the revise / edit stages of the writing process. This is a serious time saver, as most teachers do not have time to correct rough drafts before the students write their final drafts. A few mini-lessons from you, which involve taking examples from your students’ writing and showing them how to combine them into stronger sentences, will help your students do the same for each other.

Extensions
Obviously, the goal of these worksheets is to have students write strong sentences. These worksheets will help give the students confidence to write good sentences and give them the ability to self-correct when they make mistakes. With this in mind many of the worksheets require that the students practice the skills taught within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice and help them see the practical application of what they’ve learned.

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Fixing Fragment and Run-on Sentences     (39 Pages)

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Objective: The objective of these worksheets is to help students learn to write strong sentences and distinguish between fragment, run-on, and complete sentences.
Best for Grades 3 - 6.


Students will begin to accomplish this objective by learning to identify the parts of a sentence. Next, they will learn to recognize how sentence fragments are different from complete sentences. Finally, they will learn to recognize run-on sentences and how to fix them.

Introduction:
It’s amazing how difficult identifying complete sentences can be for some students. When I taught third grade, many students could form complete sentences instinctively. Modeling of sentence writing from their previous teachers had been enough for them to learn the concept that sentences are simply complete thoughts. However, even by middle school, others seem to struggle with this concept. I currently have a group of middle school students that continuously have essays filled with run-on sentences. Fortunately, I’ve taught these worksheets so many times that it comes naturally to use examples from these worksheets to help these students identify subjects, verbs, and complete thoughts. Additionally, I use Standards Based Grammar (also found on Teachers Pay Teachers) with them as well which helps them identify simple, complex, compound, and compound-complex sentences. By the end of the year, most of these middle schoolers seem to finally get the concept of sentence writing.

Progression of the Worksheets
This book begins by teaching the students the parts of a sentence. Students will learn about prepositional and verb phrases along with subjects and predicates. Next, the students will learn to identify the subject, predicate, and complete thought in a sentence. From there, the students will learn to distinguish between fragment, run-on, and complete sentences. The book ends with common errors made by writers while writing sentences.

Extensions
Obviously, the goal of these worksheets is to help students write strong, intelligent, complete sentences. These worksheets will help give the students confidence to write good sentences and give them the ability to self-correct when they make mistakes. With this in mind many of the worksheets require that the students practice the skills taught within an actual writing situation. The extensions will give them immediate practice and help them see the practical application of what they’ve learned.


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Writing Friendly and Business Letters     (24 Pages)

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Objective: The purpose of this book is to help students learn to format and write friendly letters and business letters. Best for Grades 2 - 5.

Students will begin to accomplish this objective by memorizing the five parts of a friendly letter. Next, they will learn to format and write friendly letters. Finally, they will compare the parts of a friendly letter to a business letter and practice writing business letters.

Introduction:
In the electronic age, writing friendly and business letters complete with headings and closings is becoming a lost art. Students learn the skill in primary grades and typically forget about it. Honestly, the only reason I teach letter writing skills is to give students a basic understanding that there is a formal way to write letters. When the time comes to actually write a real, honest-to-goodness letter on actual paper, a quick search on the Internet is all that is needed to refresh their memories for proper formatting.

That being said, a good, systematic method for teaching letter writing is still needed to help the students internalize the need for proper formatting. That’s the purpose of this eBook. Students will begin by memorizing the five parts of a friendly letter. This knowledge is something all well educated students should know. Next, they will practice writing more than a dozen one-sentence letters to practice lining up the heading, closing and signature.
 
Next, the students practice writing business letters. There are several ways to write them, but this book will just focus on the block letter. Having just practiced the friendly letter, the teacher should point out the differences between the two. Two headings and different formatting may not seem like a big difference, but some students still struggle with the change.

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Basic Sentence Diagramming     (25 Pages)

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Objective: The purpose of this book is to help students gain a deeper understanding of sentence structure by learning to diagram simple sentences. Through this process students will learn to clarify their thinking and sharpen their writing skills.

Introduction:
A great debate in education is whether or not it is worth it to teach sentence diagramming. I tend to fall on the side that there is value in teaching it, if for no other reason, to give students a chance to tell people when they’re older, “Yes, I was taught sentence diagramming.” It seems to be a right of passage that people like to talk about in the same way we reminisce about having the chicken pox.

I like to teach diagramming for other reasons as well. Author Kitty Burns Florey wrote an article in the New York Times (June 18, 2012) titled “Taming Sentences” that explains why she finds value in sentence diagramming. This article lists several good reasons for teaching sentence diagramming:
1. It helps us focus on the “structures and patterns” of language: Sentences are like puzzles. Deconstructing and reconstructing them helps students understand how each piece fits in the bigger picture. However, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces can be manipulated and moved. Expanding on Ms. Florey’s concept, I like to show students how there is a rhythm to writing. A well-written paragraph should have a beat, almost like music. For example, there is a page in the book Hatchet that, each year we read it, the students seem to trip over many of the words. I couldn’t figure out why until I realized how choppy the sentences were; they had no rhythm.
2. Diagramming helps focus our thoughts on the “clarity of meaning”. Florey points out how “muddy thinking” leads to “muddy writing” which leads to confusion for the reader. By breaking down sentences, students can see connections between words, phrases, and clauses. Poor sentences can often lead to confusion, which may be bad in a story or essay, but can have more serious consequences for lawyers and doctors. A misplaced modifier or vague clause can cost money and lives.
3. Diagramming is great for visual and special learners. Florey describes artistic type people who often struggle to understand ideas until sentences are put in pictorial form. They find that diagramming sentences is much like reading a graph. It is a way to find the useful information quickly.

I will add one more benefit to diagramming. Even in 6th grade, many students don’t seem to recognize when they are writing run-on or fragment sentences. I will often put samples of student writing under the document camera and ask students to analyze the sentences. After I’ve taught basic diagramming, we can look for the subject, verb, direct objects, and modifiers. Often, with run-on sentences, we will discover a lot of “left-overs” after we diagram the sentence. For fragment sentences, there will be missing spaces where subjects should be. This is a great way to visually show students the errors in their sentences.

About this book:
As the title suggests, this book is “basic diagramming”. The first few years I taught sentence diagramming to my sixth graders, I found that a month of practice, at fifteen minutes a day, was all my students and I could handle. This allowed for subjects, verbs, direct/indirect objects, and several kinds of modifiers. It’s enough to give them a good understanding of sentence structure. I also found that if I began the year with sentence diagramming, many other grammar lessons were much easier for the students to learn.

This book will baby step the students through diagramming simple sentences. Students will begin by learning to diagram two and three word sentences. Each lesson after that will add a new element until they are breaking apart much longer sentences. Through this process they will understand the English language on a much deeper level.

Extensions:
Many of these worksheets give the students the opportunity to practice diagramming sentences that they have written themselves. With these extensions, students get more practice diagramming using sentences that are familiar to them. This will help reinforce the lessons taught throughout the book.

Sorry, No Answer Key
Other than the test at the end, there is no answer key. Most of the lessons in this book follow a very basic pattern. The lessons are pretty straightforward and show clear examples. Looking at the samples for each lesson should be enough for the students and teacher to see the correct answers.

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