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Teaching Dependent and Independent Clauses

Teaching your students about dependent and independent clauses will help them learn to vary their sentence structures improving their overall writing.

I had never really understood the importance of teaching dependent and independent clauses until I started to closely analyze my students' writing. Do some of your students often write incomplete sentences or sentences that seem to go on and on? 

Every year, I have quite a few students who start off just like that. Helping them identify the types of clauses is a necessary stepping stone to teaching them the different types of sentence structures. It results in them becoming better writers and understanding how to vary their sentences when they write.

So how can this be implemented in an engaging way that sticks with students? Let me show some of the activities we have done that have helped my students master dependent clauses and independent clauses.

Introducing dependent clauses and independent clauses with videos is an engaging way to start a lesson on clauses.

Videos

After teaching subjects and predicates, I like to introduce both dependent and independent clauses through a video or catchy tune. 

(To watch some of the videos listed below, you may need a membership, but many times these sites have a free trial membership you can sign up for.)

  1. Brainpop has a four and half minute video that introduces the types of clauses and tells the viewer why it is important to use different types of sentences with a variety of clauses. I usually stop this video at 3:33 since I am only focusing on dependent clauses and independent clauses.
  2. Flocabulary provides a complex sentence video that focuses on the two clauses. As with all of their videos, it provides a catchy tune.

Teaching your students about dependent and independent clauses with anchor charts makes a great visual that will help them understand the concept better.

Whole Group Lesson

Providing students with a visual and examples as you teach can help them understand the clauses as you introduce them. This can be done by using a variety of resources such as posters, anchor charts, or interactive notebook activities. Students can copy the information into their notebooks which will provide them with a great reference tool to use in the future.

First, begin by explaining the terms dependent and independent. I like to associate to an adult and a small child. I explain that an independent person can provide for their essential needs while a dependent person depends on someone else to provide them with their needs.

Next, I like to tell students that most dependent clauses can be quickly identified because the begin with a subordinating conjunction. This is where I also introduce the fun acronym A.A.A.W.W.U.B.B.I.S. Students just love saying the acronym, and it is a great way to introduce them to some of the most commonly used subordinating conjunctions.

 (You can grab this free dependent and independent clause anchor chart by clicking on the image below.)

Independent Clauses and Dependent Clauses Anchor Chart

Provide Practice Activities

Practice opportunities offer students the chance to master the skill and can be provided as a whole group or individually. 
Teaching your students about dependent and independent clauses will help them learn to vary their sentence structures improving their overall writing.

    Whole Group Practice
 
After the whole group lesson, I have the students participate in a whole group practice activity. My students enjoy using their whiteboard (or computer) and individual homemade response cards (like the one pictured below). I project slides of clauses on the board. I then count to three and have students hold up the card that shows the proper response.


Types of Clauses

Download your own copy of the Dependent and Independent Clauses Powerpoint Slides presentation.

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        Individual Practice

    Giving students time to practice independently is also important. Using digital task cards is a great way to give students individual practice that provides immediate feedback. I absolutely love how it involves no prep, and they love the technology portion of it as well as not having to fill out a worksheet.

    Giving students practice opportunities with dependent clauses and independent clauses digital task cards.

    Assessing Students' Understanding

    Many of the activities above can also be used as assessments to evaluate whether students are mastering the concept or not. 


    If you're looking for another option, you could write a few clauses on the board and simply have the students state write down on a piece of paper whether they are a dependent clause or an independent clause. 



    Teaching your students about dependent and independent clauses will help them learn to vary their sentence structures improving their overall writing.


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