Using the Main Idea to Write a Complete Sentence

We just started our summer camps here at Redwood! Each group of kids works through a writing content station in addition to their Wilson lesson. We are primarily using The Writing Revolution to guide this instruction (and if you haven’t heard of it, please check it out because it’s amazing!). This means that we are spending the entire summer working on writing killer sentences, since they are the foundation of all writing.

One simple way we tie the idea of writing complete sentences into determining the main idea of text is using the same line of questioning for both activities. For example, every time we read a sentence or paragraph or passage, we pause to check for comprehension: “WHO or WHAT was this piece of text MOSTLY about? WHAT IS HAPPENING to the WHO or WHAT?” Students either talk about it with their group, draw a quick sketch or jot down a few bulleted notes. Asking students to pause to work through this line of questioning out loud or through writing helps train their brains to do it automatically as they move through their educational journey.

In the same way, students can check their sentences: “WHO or WHAT was this sentence MOSTLY about? WHAT IS HAPPENING to the WHO or WHAT?” If they cannot answer these two questions, they know they do not have a complete sentence. If they have too many answers to those questions, they can have a pretty good feeling that they are dealing with a run-on sentence.

We use a stream-lined graphic organizer that gives visual support to these two questions for kids to keep in front of them when they are writing original sentences or reading texts. You would be surprised what such a simple check, when explicitly taught and practiced, can do to improve your child’s writing! Practice at home and help build automaticity around this routine.