Pack in More Details with Single-Sentence Contests

Writing

Pack in More Details with Single-Sentence Contests

Posted on September 21, 2010

Pack in More Details with Single-Sentence Contests

When managing the first minutes of a class period, secondary teachers often have students practicing conventions and/or working on a quickwrite journal entry. Here's another idea. What about a single-sentence contest once a week? Provide students a simple sentence that is both short and lacking detail. Encourage them to experiment with their show, don't tell skills and to revise it to be more descriptive but to stay within the confines of a single sentence.

The marshmallow was good.

The chocolate-covered marshmallow slipped down my throat like a small piece of heaven.

This activity encourages students to apply precise word choice, strong action verbs, detailed imagery, figurative language phrases, and so much more. And because only complete sentences qualify for the contest (no run-ons accepted), then it also pushes students to use within-the-sentence punctuation (e.g., commas, semicolons, dashes, parentheses, ellipses, etc.).

Students can read or post their sentence entries and the class can conduct a quick vote for their favorites. Maybe there is even a traveling prize or award for the winner each week.

NOTE: To make this a little easier for struggling students or lower grades, you may have students work in teams.