Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Transition Words: Powerful Tools for Developing Ideas and Moving Readers

I had and Aha! today as I delved into some research related to developing student writers and the ELA curriculum. I had been pondering reasons for the lack of development in students' writing. What is the hang up? What is impeding their ability to really develop a topic sentence (idea)? At that point, I saw something on a Continuum for Opinion/Argument Writing- Grade-by-Grade. What I was was the transitions cell that stated:
"I connected my ideas/reasons with my examples, explanation, and experiences using transition words like for example and because. I connected one reason to another (or example) using words like also and another."

That's the moment when I realized that maybe I'd not done enough in the past to support writers with using transition words to further develop their ideas! Maybe I'd just plain forgotten about their importance in "triggering" a supporting example or explanation! If that is the case, than I've cheated my students (and sadly, maybe even your students) from a method writer's use to develop ideas in a paragraph and moving a reader from paragraph to paragraph. (Insert apology here) However, the is hope! We still have time to equip our kids with this tool and support them in AIMING HIGH with those they select. Motivating writers to "write like a 5th grader" can offer your students that exciting goal and stronger language to boot! 
While a poster or table papers may suit you just find in your classroom, our 3rd grade guru, Emily Esarey, plans to create bookmarks for her writers. Might be these OPINIONish transitions on one side and NARRATIVE and INFORMATIVE on the other. We'll just have to see what she cooks us and posts on Pinterest! ;)
Here's the gist of the Opionionish Transiton Words our writers are expected to use with in their writing.Of course, the list highlights just a few examples of the myriad of possible transitions writers use. Mentor texts provide some excellent examples to add to your class list!
Becoming Stronger Writers with Transition Words! (Some Opinion Writing Focus)

5th graders use:


4th graders use:

For instance,

In order to…

In addition


3rd graders use:

For example,

, therefore




2nd graders use:



Just one example of how a writer might include transitions to develop ideas and guide a reader. Consider how using a variety and some 4th grade transition words might have added to this writer's writing.
This 4th grade writer also attempted to use transitions. As you can see, the most successful transitions occurred between paragraphs as the writer worked to move a reader from one paragraph idea to another. When it comes to transitioning between sentences in a paragraph however, this is where a list of possibilities might really be valuable to this writer. Although the writer does a great job supporting his main idea (video games are bad for your eyes), he/she does not use transitions to connect the support to the further support. Check out the last couple of sentences to see where he/ she might have added a good transition word. This one is certainly on the way to the stars!

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