Sentence Transformations

My Advanced Grammar course is pretty predictable: 1) read book, 2) watch video, 3) complete short activity, 4) come to class and do more activities and sometimes a test. Students have marked up the coordination and subordination strategies in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” They have learned about sentence pyramids and then constructed said pyramids. We look at a lot of literary excerpts to identify and critique grammatical choices, and we review sample classroom exercises that we do ourselves.

On this particular Monday, to reinforce two sentence transformations, I broke out the sentence strips again. (Previously we worked with movable adverbials using almost the same materials.)

photo of sentence strips and small pieces of paper with words like was were what that

Since students had seen the strips before, as well as little bits of construction paper in these four colors, it should have been a slightly familiar experience. It took a few moments, however, for them to realize that they needed scissors in order to complete the activity. Transformation sometimes requires destruction!

Thanks to a set of 20 craft scissors, I was able to start everyone cutting up the sentence strips, all of which used the pattern subject + verb + direct object + adverbial phrase, and rearranging the many pieces into the following:

  • at least two it-cleft transformations
  • at least one what-cleft transformation

sentence strip and four additional phrases

I made sure to include “who” on one side of the yellow piece and “that” on the other, and I also wrote “was” and “were” on the blue pieces. I can see where you might have students do this part, but honestly, I wanted the time spent on transformation rather than handwriting.

Students recorded their sentences on a sheet of paper that I promised to collect, and they also had to mark their preferred version of their original sentence — which one sounds the best? Which would they use?

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* yes, I am well aware that the grammatical sentence would read “It was her aunt whom she took to a concert”!

Added bonus: since I put the construction paper pieces in a small envelope, after the strips were cut, everything fit neatly in the envelope to take home for hours of fun!

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