Diving into Dependent & Independent Clauses




Denise Buck, Del Valle High School, Ysleta ISD School Board. 



How to write complete sentences? And to make sure those sentences make sense?  Emerging writers often need a lot of practice in writing in order to vary sentence length and to incorporate various sentence structures to make their writing sound of a higher academic level and to make it more interesting.  Through the use of Wipebook Flipcharts, although most of my students are at home, I am able to colour code the various parts of a sentence, especially when it comes to subordinating conjunctions and using dependent clauses in our writing.  Since our campus has a high English Learner (EL) population, these charts are perfect for them to enhance their learning!






Which one is which? 



Students can often look at a sentence and believe it to be complete.  In order to ensure that they understand exactly where commas are necessary, and understand the various parts of a sentence, I provide visual notes for students.  They are able to refer to them, as they are right behind me when I am going over directions in class.  I also make it a point to refer back to the Flipcharts when I ask students to identify subordinating conjunctions.






Questions include:

  • “What is the subject of the sentence?”
  • “Do you see the verb?” 
  • “Say it out loud. Is it a complete thought?”



 No Stress Sentencing 



Since we are colour coding, we can easily erase an incorrect colour.  While most of my students are virtual, I do have one per class that take advantage of the posters and get up to practice their writing in a stress free environment since I am the only other person in the room.  This allows them to be confident and take risks in their writing, and they also freely ask for help.






Using the Wipebook flipcharts for whiteboarding and as reusable anchor charts allows my in person students the opportunity to practice varying their sentence structure, without the fear of having to rewrite an entire paper or correct too many mistakes.  With the swipe of an eraser, their work is gone, and they can begin again.  This also helps them feel secure enough to make mistakes, knowing they can easily disappear. Since we are mostly alone in the classroom, it has been a joy to see my shy kids volunteer to practice writing sentences, as I can help them before they present to the class.  This is especially helpful since we have such a high EL population.



 Constantly Viewable 



Students absolutely love that the charts are ever present behind me in class.  If I ask a question about a subordinating conjunction or a coordinating conjunction, they have only to look at the charts behind me for the answer.  This creates a more comfortable and safe learning environment for all my students.






With time, I will change the charts and make sure to incorporate more colors as we receive our supplies on campus.  And I know that when I have all of my students back in class, they will enjoy using these charts when completing group work, when practicing incorporating sentences into full fledged paragraphs and when presenting to the whole class!