10 Questions for Jeff: Collecting great sentences

December 19th, 2012

Question 8: In Everyday Editing, you show how valuable it is to share good quality sentences from good books. Can you offer suggestions or advice on how to collect these treasures? What works for you? Thank you in advance for the answer!

Cynthia

Jeff’s response: Collecting wonderful sentences is a joyful process that you most certainly want to involve your students in, no matter the age. To get started on collecting the treasures, I give you a trove of sentences and in all three of my books, as well as for free on the Great Sentence Blog you can find on my website, writeguy.net. But I can see, you’ve caught the sentence-collecting bug.

First thing you need to know is what skills you want to have demonstrated through models in your classroom. Make a list on a bookmark or note card and keep it with you when you are reading. It’s better to have a list than to look for just one sentence pattern in one book. The list allows you to stumble upon the sentences rather than frantically search.

Besides using the models I provide, the second easiest thing to do is look at the leads of the books and articles you use. Check out first sentences or paragraphs of each chapter in a novel or article or essay. Writers spend so much time crafting them that there is often a treasure on the first page, ready to be plucked and studied with the invitational process.

Once you’ve modeled sharing sentence patterns with your kids, they start finding them in their reading and other classes and want to share them. Make this easy. The best thing I ever did was make some documents for different sentence patterns and have the kids type them in when they find them. Make your list and start today!

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Entry Filed under: Writing

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