A writer forms a run-on, or fused, sentence when joining two independent clauses without proper punctuation or a conjunction to smooth the transition. The more sophisticated writing expected of middle school students should contain a semicolon, comma or conjunction to create compound sentences. Mastering this element of sentence structure enables writers to successfully complete later writing assignments.
In the break-up game, players identify clauses appropriately as a prelude to inserting the proper punctuation and/or conjunction. To play, the class breaks into two teams, each given note cards with a different series of sentences that include independent clauses fused with a comma, known as a comma splice. One student per team reads the sentences aloud while another transcribes them onto the board.
The teams work together to determine where the break should occur, using a slash or other symbol to separate the clauses. With enough examples, including those without commas, students begin to see what makes a sentence a run-on. Sample sentences include "The girl likes making sandwiches she uses a lot of mustard" and "Once upon a time, there were three lions all day, the lions hunted gazelles."
The quiz show game lets two teams of students compete to identify which conjunctions and punctuation marks can fix run-on sentences provided by the teacher. The teams race to "buzz in" and be first to give an answer. For added variety, or to extend the activity, the teacher can provide students with a set of sentences and ask them to identify the run-on. For a bonus point, they can amend the sentence.
To play the running man game, the class selects two teams -- each starting with a reader and a transcriber who work together to write faulty sentences on the board. Students rotate through these positions with each new sentence. Meanwhile, another student, "the running man," jogs in place until the sentence is amended, and then rotates out. Each corrected sentence gives the team a point. If they cannot solve a sentence, they can skip to the next sentence. The game continues until each team has run out of sentences to solve.
Face-off asks students to challenge each other with tricky examples of run-ons. Breaking into two teams, they begin by creating a set of incorrect, run-on sentences. They use punctuation incorrectly or not at all, attempting to create run-on sentences that will be difficult to fix or identify. Teams also can include correct sentences to throw off their opponents.
Once each team has a predetermined number of examples, a representative writes them on the board for the other team to correct. With each corrected sentence worth a point, the fastest team with the most points wins.
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