A few years ago, the district I work in did an inservice for our writing coaches called "Sentence Imitation." Our writing coach at my old school was awesome. She came back and did some PD on it. I took it back and used it in my room. Ever since then, I have been a firm believer in it!
I see Sentence Imitation as a child who is learning to talk. They imitate what you say to learn how to speak, right? So kids learning to write would have the same learning, right?
Here are some examples of what I've been doing the last week or so.
I write a sentence on the chart paper. Then I ask, "What do you notice about my sentence?"
The first two things are always capital letter for the first word and a punctuation at the end. Good. I want them to say that every time. Hopefully it'll ingrain in those students' head that need it! ha!
Then I start guiding them in the direction that I want them go... In this one, I wanted them to find the proper nouns. I also wanted to teach them about Compound Sentences. So I underlined the "and" and then did my little mini lesson on it.
The next day, I wrote another compound sentence, and they found it on their own! You will find that they LOVE to find word wall words! Depending on the sentence, I'll label it for them, but sometimes they go a little crazy with them.
It was this day that I wanted them to also write their OWN compound sentence and I also wanted it to have at least one proper noun. We had some circle maps about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on the wall, so I told them they could use those to guide their writing.
You will see that I'm VERY picky about spelling and letter formation. Yes, this is my first grader writing like this...and it's a boy! I love it. I tell them, if it's not in their best writing and the words are not spelled correctly, then they will rewrite it. Some don't believe me, but after the first time, they finally see that I'm serious.
This particular student actually has a really hard time taking his time to copy from me correctly on a normal basis, but ever since I've started sentence imitation, he's done so much better!
Today they were excited that one of the words had our phonics skill in it (freedom), so we had to label that one!
Here are some other examples of when I taught 2nd grade, just so you can see the difference...
In the beginning, it takes a little bit more time to get them used to doing it. But after a few days, they are really quick at it! And it becomes a game to them really.
I do this about 3 times a week and then in our main writing for the week I have put the skills that we've been practicing in their writing. It really works! I promise. If you can stick with these little mini lessons, they will do such good for your kids' writing!
You don't really need a guide for this. I just use whatever grammar skill we need to work on and somehow make that mix with whatever we've been studying and reading about. I usually make the sentences up as we sit down to do the activity.
You can do this for any grade! You can make the sentences as easy or as difficult as you need them to be! Kinders can do it, all the way up to 3rd or 4th grade!