Using picture books to encourage students to build better sentences is a great exercise for small groups. In our current Stage 4 unit of Through My Window, with a mixed ability class, I have been utilising Jeannie Baker’s Window.
The class began with an activity where students visualised what they saw outside their own window, and wrote words into five columns – each representing one of the senses. In pairs, students then identified nouns and developed lists of adjectives to create a clear image. From this, the idea was for students to write sentences, although many were unable to distinguish between simple, compound and complex sentences.
Again in pairs, I distributed copies of Window and asked students to write one sentence to describe what happens on each opening. Again, many students felt this was too difficult. I then chose images from the book (found during a quick Google search) and projected these onto a screen. We discussed the following four:
To reinforce learning about language features and encourage students to consider how these could be used in their own writing, we sometimes finish a lesson by playing
Again working in pairs, students must identify a sentence fragment with one of the features I draw from a bag.