Did I tell you about the time I was teaching fourth grade, got really mad at my principal, and left the school to teach 7th grade English?

It was almost like teaching 4th graders, except the kids were taller and talked more (I know! Can you 4th grade teachers even believe that is possible? Trust me, it is!)

I had a super-duper teacher next door who took me under her wing and taught me all about middle school. (She did laugh at me once in a while. Like when I asked about walking kids to the cafeteria for lunch. And when I asked about escorting them to the gym and sitting them all together for the pep really. At my middle school, kids did that all by themselves! Wow!)

Anyway, in Texas, 7th graders (and 4th graders) take the state writing test. Ms. Next Door Teacher and I analyzed the results from our practice test and noticed the same thing I had noticed with my 4th graders.

Hold onto your hats, because it is a shocker.

They blew the revising part of the test.

And that was mostly because they didn't know the difference between a fragment and a complete sentence!

Exactly the same thing that was happening with my fourth graders! What a surprise, right?

So we came up with a great little thing we called SOS or Save Our Sentences. We did it in place of CUPS on Fridays.

In the beginning, we showed kids 3 "sentences." One was a fragment, one was a run-on, and one was a complete sentence. None of them had capital letters at the beginning or ending punctuation. Here's an example:

1. to the cafeteria for lunch
2. he ordered spaghetti he drank some milk
3. he put his tray away when he was through

Students had to Fix Fragments, Repair Run-Ons, and State Sentences.

In other words, they changed any fragment into a complete sentence by adding the missing subject or predicate. They got to make up what went there (gave them ownership and interest.) They had to repair run-ons by either combining them correctly or separating them into 2 complete sentences. Finally, if the sentence was already a complete sentence, they only had to state that it was.

Students did this work in their CUPS spirals, and then we had share time.

Y'all, the sentences they made up were so stinkin' funny! It became a contest to have the one that made the whole class laugh. Instead of complaining about grammar practice, they enjoyed it. They started noticing fragments and run-ons in their own writing (I know!) and fixed them!

Over time, we mixed it up - we would have 2 fragments and 1 run-on or all 3 would be fragments, but different kinds of fragments.

My 4th grade teacher friends have also used this with great success. I think you could adapt it for any grade!

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

P.S. We got great scores in revising on that stinkin' test!


  1. I think this could be your first product on TpT... you could make up the 3 for each week of school I would buy it :)

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but the teacher really needs to design the sentences around the needs of her/his students.

  2. This sounds like a really cool idea. I bet the kids had a blast with their sentences. :) I agree with Farley. This would make a great product. :)

    My (Not So) Elementary Life

  3. I'm definitely going to try this! I have the same problem with the writing and this is a nice way to get them noticing the differences! I love that they were able to apply it to their own writing :o)


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