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Friday, October 16, 2015

Topic Sentences

I am so lucky to be working side-be-side with the creator of an incredible writing program this year!  She and a former colleague (who I taught 3rd grade with) created the entire school-wide curriculum, and it is so cohesive!  I'm LOVING it.  I love having something that I can turn to and an excellent scope and sequence for writing.  It's especially fantastic because, as a school-wide program, the kids build on what they are learning year to year... which is why when I introduced topic sentences, almost ALL of the kids were already familiar with the concept and the types of sentences we use.

You can read more about the writing curriculum here.  

We started off with a quick introduction lesson on topic sentences.  The Write Now Right Now curriculum has four types of topic sentences they teach, and they are great starters for kids.

Topic Sentence Anchor Chart
The four types of topic sentences we teach are If...Then, Even though, Since, and When.  They catch on VERY quickly to these types of sentences!

They each wrote in their notebook the four types of sentences (here is a picture of my teacher notebook that I projected on the board).   They wrote an example of each and they they also wrote their own for a different topic (recess).

Now, even though our overall topic was mountain biking, we had a discussion about what the specific topics that go with each of these topic sentences would be... We wrote out the specific topics for each.  The next step would be outlining the details to support the main topic.

The next day, we did an activity inspired by Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6.  Read her original blog post HERE, because it's great and covers so many topics!

Since I didn't have the same cards she used (or anything like it), I quickly typed up eight paragraphs.   One set of paragraphs included topic sentences and the other didn't.  Most of my kids were doing really well, so I only used the one without topic sentences.  You can use them however you like, but I designed them to be good for differentiating.  

I put one paragraph each on a paper bag and put them around the room.  In partners, the students rotated around the room, writing one of each type of topic sentence (as seen above).  Then, they put it into the bag.  So at the end, we had TONS of topic sentences in the bags, and the best part of it was that they were all unique! We pulled several from each bag to read and discuss.   Nobody saw other people's sentences until the end when we pulled them out, so they weren't inspired by others... This is also a GREAT main idea assessment. 

Remember, there are two almost identical sets.  One without example topic sentences and one with.  Enjoy and good luck!


  1. I love this activity! Providing sentence structures for kids is such a great way to grow their writing skills and stretch their language. They have to be thoughtful to decide which would work best for their piece. Thanks for sharing this!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  2. Thanks so much! I've adapted for middle school in prep for provincial exams! Love the differentiation and active involvement:)

  3. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing! This is my first year teaching 4th (previously kinder) and I can use all the help I can get. These are perfect!