I first heard about Alan Peat sentence from Oliver Quinlan and his excellent blog post about it here. This got me excited as I have been struggling to get my class to make their writing more interesting (and use correct punctuation) all year and this seemed much more interesting and varied than VCOP.
I didn’t do like Oliver and go down the independent learning route (we don’t have the access to ICT to be able to do that although I love the idea) so I planned it into our writing week as part of our Stories from Other Cultures unit for Literacy, each day covering two new types of sentences that the children had to include in their writing somewhere. Then the next day, recapping the previous ones as a starter before adding two more. The writing at the end of the week was astonishing. Some children had improved their writing by a whole level! For some reason asking them to do Alan Peat ‘exciting sentences’ suddenly made their vocabulary much more imaginative and thoughtful and they were much more secure on using commas and question marks.
I then wanted to see if the children could continue to apply these sentences when given an independent piece of writing so I set them the 100 word challenge from The Head’s Office to do as their homework and told them I wanted them to include as many ‘exciting sentences’ as they could. Again, the writing they produced was by far some of the best they’d done all year across the board.
This was all a couple of weeks ago and although I’ve been trying to keep up the practice as often as possible we’ve had quite a few interruptions to our Literacy lessons due to lots of end of year activities so tomorrow we have a big write and it will be very interesting to see if they can apply the sentences even after a couple of weeks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
I’ve been so inspired by this I actually bought the book: Writing Exciting Sentences which contains 25 different sentence types (I only taught my class 10 types) with examples of each and suggestions of how to teach them. You can also find lots of other free resources from Alan Peat on his website here. I shall definitely be dipping into them during the summer and will be teaching these sentence types a lot earlier in the year next year.