Walk Around in the Author’s Syntax


Writing Trait/Strategy:
Sentence fluency; conventions

Mentor Text Suggestions:
The Whale’s Song by Dyan Sheldon
Crab Moon by Ruth Horowitz
Shortcut by Donald Crews

This strategy, described in Mentor Texts by Dorfman and Cappelli, is an effective way to help students try out a variety of sentence structures and help them begin to internalize language conventions. Lift an excerpt from a text such as the example below from Shortcut by Donald Crews:

“I HEAR A TRAIN!” Everybody stopped.
Everybody listened.
We all heard the train whistle.
Should we run ahead to the path home or back to the cut-off?

Read the passage aloud several times so that students can hear the rhythm of the text. After discussing what they noticed, have students participate in a shared writing experience. Give them the beginning sentence and have them fill in the rest, following the pattern and syntax of the original text:

Everybody clapped.
Everybody smiled.
We all saw the waves rolling toward the shore.
Should we dash across the sand to the water’s edge
or stand here to delight in the sunrise?

After enough scaffolding has been done, invite students to try this out independently with a new sentence such as “I HEAR A WOLF!”

From Mentor Texts by Dorfman and Cappelli, 2007

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

The C.A.R.E. Protocol

Use this tool to create a powerful closing
for your next professional development session!

    Sign up for our newsletter and
    receive our Coaching Plan + Digital Template as a thank you.