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A small but significant number of students in Year 7 are yet to develop the skill of writing more complex sentences. However most, probably the majority, of students in Year 7 are yet to reach the stage of writing like writers: for writers, writing is no longer captured speech but has become a way of developing thoughts using conventions that increase the content density of text.


It is important that students understand that a simple sentence has a subject, a verb and an object (if needed). Revise with students that a simple sentence consists of a single independent or main clause. It does not have another clause functioning as one of its elements

I pulled the boots on slowly. Subject verb object

I was dressed like a jester. Subject verb

A simple sentence may also include one or more phrases. For example

National Parks protect animals in different places.

Give students examples of simple sentences and of phrases which are non sentences. Ask students to tick the examples that are sentences because they have a verb. Further information on verbs can be found in the ELLA 2007 Marking Manual (Refer to link on website)

Underline the verb and draw an arrow to the subject. If students do this in pairs they can be asked to tell their partner why they decided to tick, underline and arrow. Some examples:

In open forest

Kangaroos live in open forest

Koalas are endangered in some places Like camping and hiking and canoeing National Parks are there for our enjoyment Compound sentences

When two or more main clauses are joined together by conjunctions, a compound sentence is formed.

Identifying compound sentences

Students work in pairs to tick which sentences are compound, underlying the verb, drawing an arrow to the subject, and circling the conjunction in each case.


Most birds nest in trees but some birds nest on the ground.

National Parks are lovely places to visit and they protect rare animals. National Parks provide protection for animals and plants.

Rare plants need a place to grow or they will become extinct. Becoming more rare these days.

Ask students to take some simple sentences and join them together to form compound sentences.

I pulled the boots on slowly and then decided to sit down. I was dressed like a jester but I didn’t feel like one.

Complex sentences

Identifying complex sentences

In pairs students tick which sentences are compound, underlining the verbs, drawing an arrow to the subjects and circling the conjunction.

National Parks are often created where land is not suitable for farming. Some plants may die out if we do not take care of them.

Some places and still wilderness and we like to see that.

Royal National Park was created because people wanted to keep the natural bushland.

It is so peaceful and quiet after we hiked away from the highway. After cattle were removed from around Uluru, native plants grew back.

Give students some main clauses and ask them to add as many different types of dependent clause as they can.

For example:

I slowly pulled on the boots, which were made of very soft leather. (adjectival clause)

Feeling nervous, I slowly pulled on the boots. (non-finite clause in first position)

I slowly pulled on the boots because I wanted to see what would happen. (adverbial clause)

Although I was trembling with fear, I slowly pulled on the boots. (Adverbial clause in first position)

Although I was trembling with fear, I slowly pulled on the boots, which were made of very soft leather. (two dependent clauses)



Point out to students that sentences are difficult to read if they contain too many conjunctions, especially with too many ands or and thens. Some student writing contains run-on sentences where the student does not put a full stop between the short sentences.

Make an overhead transparency of run-on sentences to model how to read the clauses as though they were simple sentences containing one message. Use different colour overhead markers to underline each complete message. See the birds example below. Birds have two wings and are covered in feathers and they live in different countries and they eat different foods and their beaks are different shapes.

Discuss how some messages are about the same thing and could be joined together with a conjunction that would give a better understanding about birds:

Birds eat different foods so their beaks are different shapes.

Point out that it is not sensible to join sentences that are about different things:

Birds lay eggs and my favourite bird is the kookaburra.

Joining clauses into complex sentences.

Continue to underline verbs, arrow nouns and circle conjunctions so that identifying these grammatical words becomes more automatic. Then students rewrite these sentences complex sentences.

Wombats have strong hind legs and they dig burrows.

Joeys have to stay close to their mother and they can be attacked by wild foxes.

Rabbits eat new shoots of bushes and make it harder for plants to grow. People like to take 4-wheel drives on the beach and they crush plants getting there.

Editing a long compound sentence into shorter sentences, some of them with dependent clauses.

Ask students to underline the verbs, draw arrows to the subject, circle the conjunctions, then to rewrite the sentence, using different conjunctions and/or breaking the sentence into shorter sentences. If possible use examples from current subject content.

Echidnas have a long snout and they have a good sense of smell and they eat ants and termites and they get the ants from rotting wood and they travel quite a lot in search of their food and they need a lot of territory.


Get out the equipment and put 100ml water in the beaker and put in the

thermometer and then light the bunsen burner and then start the stopwatch and record how long it takes for the water to get to 100 degrees.

Using cut-up sentences to develop complexity in written sentences. Students will need scissors for this task.

Prepare a sheet similar to below.

The blank strips are for writing more sentence parts.

The sentence provided is cut up into subject, verb and object.

Students expand the sentence by adding detail. This could be in the form of elaboration of the nouns, adding a clause about the subject, adding a clause about time, place or reason.

Some sentence suggestions (substitute or add sentences from current class content): Echidnas need a lot of land.

Much of Australia has been cleared. Feral animals harm native animals. People can enjoy national parks

Feral animals harm native animals

Echidnas need a lot of land

that eat

ants found in rotting logs

need a lot of

land to give them enough food to survive. Echidnas