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Monday, May 19, 2008

Transitional Words: The Missing Link

Transitional words and phrases help a story to flow smoothly from one idea to the next. Sometimes students need a visual aid to check whether or not their ideas are flowing effectively.
Read the students' papers to them while using a game like Jenga as you read. The generic version is ideal because the blocks come in three colors, which can represent the introduction, body and conclusion of the papers.
Stack the blocks by color and each time a student has a weak or ineffective transition, remove one of the blocks. For example, if you have the red blocks on top, and there is a weak transition in the introduction, you would remove a block from that section. If a student moved from one idea to the next with no transitional words or phrases at all this would leave gaps or holes in the writing. In this situation, you would remove two blocks from the game instead of one.
The weakly organized papers will be recognizable by the way the tower of blocks looks after the entire composition is read. It will usually fall apart, much like the story written by a student whose writing is filled with weak or nonexistent transitions.
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