Writing: Sentences & Paragraphs
Top 10 Fluency Rules -- Avoiding
Snack: What's a snack that, once you
start eating them, it's hard to stop? There are a lot of sweets and other
snacks that are bad for you that are that way. One that is pretty healthy,
though, is peanuts. So tell yourself how many peanuts you can have as your
snack, eat that many, and then . . . STOP! But not before you have GONE for a
glass of milk.
Print out one stop sign and one green light (see below)
and this Treat for each student | pencil
OR display the 10-rule quiz, below,
on a big screen and do this quiz together
Imagine you're riding along in a car. All of a
sudden, you notice that there are stop signs every 100 feet.
Stop! Stop! Stop! It would be incredible frustrating
to try to get anywhere when you have to stop all those times.
It's the same thing with writing errors. They
literally stop the progress of the communication.
When you make a spelling, grammar, punctuation or
capitalization error in your writing, it's like a giant stop sign.
The reader has to stop, and look, and re-read, puzzle
through the confusion, and try to guess what you meant. Only then can the
reader move on.
We say that your writing lacks "fluency," or flow,
because of all those stops.
If there's another error in the next few words, or
the next sentence, the reader may become frustrated over having to stop once
See? You want to give your reader a straight shot at
understanding your ideas - a clear road - with no unnecessary stops.
So call these the "Rules of the Fluency Road." Here
are the Top 10 rules of writing that, if you follow these, will help your words
really flow, right off the page and into your reader's heart and mind.
If you wish, print out one stop sign and one green
light, shown below, and cut out for each student. Then, as you go over the 10
rules and "vote" on the two choices, each student can hold up either a green
light (for the right answer) or a stop sign (for the wrong answer).
Or, if you print out this Treat, simply circle the
sentence that is correct under each rule. Answers are below. Don't peek!
Use clear and distinct sentence boundaries.
A: Writing is important to me, it makes me feel
Writing is important to me. It makes me feel more alive.
verbs agree with their subjects in number.
The writers in our class works hard on their papers.
The writers in our class work hard on their papers.
Choose pronouns correctly.
Just between you and me, writing is more important than many things.
Just between you and I, writing is more important than many things.
Place modifiers near what they modify in a sentence.
A: My car
was on the way to the mechanic with rear-end trouble when the joint gave way.
B: My car with rear-end trouble was on the way to
the mechanic when the joint gave way.
Use parallel grammatical forms when joining items
in a series.
She's intelligent, unselfish, and thoughtful.
intelligent, unselfish, and always careful and totally ready to do the
Use conventional spellings, especially for
A: The committee work had it's affect on me.
The committee work had its effect on me.
Use the single comma and the pair of commas
A: When all is said and done a lot more is said
When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.
Use quotation marks with other punctuation
according to convention.
The poem highlighted the mind's way of "exchanging shape for shade."
The poem highlighted the minds' way of
"exchanging shape for shade".
Use apostrophes to show contracted form and for
A: Originally, the cuffs' of mens pants were
used for cigar ashes.
Originally, the cuffs of men's pants were used for cigar ashes.
proper nouns and words derived from them.
A: Her Winter Schedule includes an Art class
Her winter schedule includes an art class and English.
(Answers: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8A, 9B, 10B)