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Perfect Sentence Challenge
In any grammar course, a teacher can check to see if the students are learning the content by giving them a simple challenge. At the beginning or the end of any class, the teacher can tell the students to write a sentence that is an example of something covered in class (e.g., in the past progressive tense, with a compound subject, with the verb "tell" in the past). The students are informed that during the term they will have multiple opportunities to try to reach the goal of writing five sentences without mistakes (i.e., grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or vocabulary).
A student can only reach this goal one step or sentence at a time. After writing one sentence with no mistakes in it, he can then try to write two perfect sentences. When he has written two sentences with no mistakes, he tries to write three, and so on until he has written five sentences. For each level the student completes, he receives one or two credits toward his final grade.
It is not as easy as it sounds. Each time the students try to write perfect sentences, the teacher should change the teaching point. Students complain a lot during the term when they are not allowed to progress to another level because of an error; however, they frequently ask if they are going to have an opportunity to test what they have mastered by being allowed to write sentences at the end of class. Also, they rank this activity as one of their favorites on course evaluation sheets
Variation 1: Have the students keep a register of the sentences where they made mistakes and write the corresponding correction. They should also receive credit for the register if they keep it.
Variation 2: In composition courses, instead of different teaching points, the teacher can have each student try to write a perfect paragraph. The first sentence the students have to write is a good topic sentence with no mistakes. When a student has written an adequate topic sentence, then he copies over the topic sentence and adds one developing sentence. A student is permitted to add another developing sentence when what he has previously written is perfect. The teacher can decide how many sentence the Perfect Paragraph has to have.
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