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House Creek second graders utilize the five Ws


Special to the Leader-Press


Whenever sharing information, a story can only be considered complete, according to the principle of the five Ws, if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word.

Who is it about?

What happened?

When did it take place?

Where did it take place?

Why did it happen? 

House Creek Elementary second graders in teacher Sonja Isbell’s class learned to use conjunctions to join answers to the questions, who, what, when, when, why, and how, to write more robust sentences. Students started with a kernel or simple sentence with a subject and verb and then answered the questions.

“Students used expo markers to record answers to the questions on write on/wipe off organizers. Then, students used the organizers to write the expanded sentences on their desks,” Isbell said. “Next, students read the sentences to evaluate if they made sense. Students added conjunctions, such as and, but, so, when, and because, and appositives, which included renaming the first noun using commas, which they learned about in previous lessons.”

Isbell conferenced with the students as they were reading and revising sentences with the conjunctions and appositives.

“I noticed in previous lessons that students were struggling to expand sentences when simply asking and answering questions on the lesson papers provided in the curriculum,” Isbell said. “I know that students are more engaged when using expo markers and especially when they get to write on their desks. I was excited to see the level of engagement at an all-time high.”

“Look at my sentence. I scooped it,” student Nell Kicka said. 

The five W questions cannot simply be answered with ‘’yes’’ or ‘’no.’’ There must be a specific and factual answer for each question. By asking these questions and being able to identify the answers, the students were able to write more engaging stories because clear ideas were established and completed stories resulted, Isbell said.

“Many students struggled using appositives in their sentences. Some students struggled using conjunctions to expand their sentences in meaningful ways,” Isbell said. “Using this approach (with the Expo markers) to expanding sentences allowed some students to apply previous learning in independent ways. Other students were able to master previous skills to expand sentences with teacher conferencing. I also observed students who were able to work independently were able to help others in their table groups to apply skills in order to construct sentences that made sense. Students were excited to read their long sentences they wrote.”

The five Ws are useful not just for academic assignments, said Isbell. Students are also being prepared for future writings in business communications and professional journalism. 

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