In a previous article, I mentioned how good writing skills correlate with good thinking skills, and I promised to expand on that notion. The Writing Revolution implemented at New Dorp High School in Staten Island, New York emphasizes the significance of certain parts of speech that expand the thought process. The English language consists of eight principal parts of speech. In order for writers to manipulate language and express their thoughts clearly, they must understand the various functions of these parts of speech. These building blocks must receive attention from the earliest grades.
When attempting to distinguish capable writers from their less capable counterparts, one teacher noted that good writers make use of conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions link and expand simple ideas. They do precisely what their name states: coordinate thoughts. They include: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (acronym FANBOYS). They join elements that are equal: words with other words, sentences with other sentences. For example, “This is autumn, so the weather is turning cooler.” Another teacher noted, “The best written paragraphs contained complex sentences that relied on dependent clauses like “although” and “despite,” which signal a shifting idea within the same sentence. Poor writers couldn’t use these subordinating conjunctions effectively because “They didn’t understand that the key information in a sentence doesn’t always come at the beginning of a sentence.” Try a few completing a few of the following sentences to see if you can connect the ideas:
Although the holidays are quickly approaching . . .
Despite the inclement weather . . .
Unless they finish the project on time . . .
Another writing strategy, the Hochman Program, illustrates “How to turn ideas into simple sentences, and how to construct complex sentences from simple ones by supplying the answer to three prompts—but, because and so.” Practice with these parts of speech can expand not only writing, but thinking as well.
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