Writing with different sentence types

In this lesson, students explore the effects of using different types of sentences, such as simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences. In the National Curriculum compound sentences and complex sentences are now lumped together as multi-clause sentences.

Goals

  • Experiment with using different types of sentences.
  • Consider the effect of using different types of sentences.

Lesson Plan

Click on the interactive whiteboard icon (top right) and work through the following slides with students. Students will be shown several short extracts, and the idea is to try rewriting each extract in different ways and see what effects their changes have.

Extract 1

A shot rang out. The bear turned its head. Algie took aim again. Before he could shoot, the bear had ambled out of sight.

(Michelle Paver, Dark Matter, Orion 2011, page 41)

This short passage comes from a ghost story set in the Arctic wilds. Try rewriting it in several different ways by varying the sentence types.

For example, you might try joining two of the sentences by using a coordinating conjunction, or you might turn one of the sentences into a subordinate clause within a larger sentence. You can reorder material and adjust the wording if you need to.

Feedback on extract 1

How did it go? Here are some examples of different changes you could have tried, but you may have thought of others:

  • A shot rang out and the bear turned its head.
  • When the shot rang out, the bear turned its head.
  • Algie took aim again but, before he could shoot, the bear had ambled out of sight.
  • Algie took aim again but the bear ambled out of sight before he could shoot.

What effects do you think your changes have? Why do you think the author chose to write it in the way she did?

Extract 2

Before we were even half unpacked, I ran a test on my wireless equipment. It works. Thank God. My heart was in my mouth as I started the petrol engine for the big transmitter. When the valves began to glow, the sweat was pouring off me.

(Michelle Paver, Dark Matter, Orion 2011, page 73)

This is another passage from the same story. Try rewriting it in different ways too. When you have finished, compare your rewritten passage with another student’s and discuss the effects of the changes.

Extract 3

on the Sunday they had this party in the house and it was all the school kids [pause] because my cousin’s a schoolmaster and they had this party and they put some cider in the punch [pause] and my cousin left the punch through in the next door and I’m going oh they’re going to spike it they’re going to spike it and he’s going no no they’re too naive to do that

[S1A-038 #89-98]

This passage is taken from a conversation. The speaker is telling a story about a party. He relies quite heavily on and to string together his clauses, which is quite typical of narratives in conversation. See if you can vary the sentence structures to make an effective written version of the story.

You will also need to add some punctuation! In speech we can use pauses and intonation (speech ‘tunes’) to structure what we say, whereas in writing we need to use punctuation. When you have finished, compare your rewritten passage with another student’s and discuss the effects of the changes.

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