Lisa's story - sentences, commas, paragraphs

This is a resource designed for an EL3/L1 class who still find it hard to keep their sentences under control. Having spent a year approaching building sentences from components and with rules for structure (must make sense, must have one main topic, must have a subject and a verb etc) some learners still don't have a sense of where their sentences should begin and end. They are getting the idea of planning writing and paragraphing but this is still shaky, and we are just starting to use commas. I've avoided but need to help them understand the terminology of compound and complex sentences: some are already using them instinctively but without knowing the "rules".

This is an attempt to approach all this from the other end.  All of the group are strong verbally so I'm encouraging them just to write what they say and then break it down and organise it to turn it into well constructed text. This worked well as a classroom exercise, done individually task by task and then discussed as a group paragraph by paragraph - I don't recommend just giving it to learners to get on with, though having done one as a group then the sister resource (Halloween - love it or loathe it) might work as homework.

I've also included an alternative version for groups who are OK with sentences but struggle with paragraphs. 

These resources are part of a bigger group project I envisage as lasting for a full term, creating a (not for publication) welcome newsletter for new learners. This is giving me scope for discussions, comparative exercises, features of text and layout, presentation of different components using maps, timetables, pictures with captions... and is all based soundly in the learners' own experience. Getting them to write their own profile stories has also been a great way to integrate new and old members of the class.

Editor's notes

I've always enjoyed using learners' own experiences as texts and as learning tools. (Language Experience was one of my favourite techniques when I worked with pre-Entry and Entry 1-2 learners - and here, Isabel's ideas works just as successfully with higher level learners). For the alternative paragraphing version mentioned above please download the Word document below. Note that the downloadable Word document can also serve as an answer sheet for the punctuation/sentence structure exercise. 

Physical format
2 page PDF and 1 page Word document