On Tuesday, I introduced my fourth graders to compound sentences. First, we brainstormed nouns and verbs and wrote simple sentences. Then, together, we connected two simple sentences with a conjunction (one of the FANBOYS -- for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). They all gave it a try with two or three sentences on their own.
Tuesday afternoon, in reading workshop, a student came up to me with DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE UGLY TRUTH in hand and pointed out a compound sentence in the book.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we started writing workshop by singing the School House Rock classic "Conjunction Junction." Then I challenged them to write at least one compound sentence for their SpellingCity sentences. (SpellingCity is another post for another day.) Eight out of eighteen who finished sentences wrote at least one compound sentence with some kind of success. Two of the eighteen (the one who sighted compounds in Wimpy Kid, and another very capable writer) wrote exclusively in compound sentences.
Every student in my classroom has a new tool in their writer's toolbox: compound sentences.
Some aren't ready to use this tool (and might never be). They are still struggling to put words together into simple sentences and sentences together in paragraphs that make sense.
Some will overuse this tool with partial understanding and create run-on sentences with a conjunction in the middle, causing more problems than it might have been worth.
The thrill in making this tool available to my writers was watching those two who were really ready to try something new in their writing reach out for it and put it right to work, gleefully creating sentences that were more and better than any they'd ever written.