Roman Sentences

The following sentences are first draft sentences by some of my students. The goal was to take the underlined words and make a single sensible on-topic sentence that used all five words without being run-on, fragmentary, or awkward.

The first sentence in each number is the student sentence; the second is my revision. I’ll add further that this is not my assignment; this is a colleague’s assignment. How would you revise these sentences? What process would you go through in writing a first version of these sentences? How can I teach kids to write these types of sentences more cleanly?

Is it a good exercise to begin with?

1. Topic: Italy
The Greeks colonized the peninsula Italy that split the Mediterranean in half and was between 3 major continents and Italy had many rich soil deposits.

The Greeks crossed the Mediterranean to colonize the Italian peninsula because of its soil deposits and position on trade routes joining three continents.

3. Topic: finding trade
Italy was very mountainous its connection to the north was cut off by the Alps so the people traded among their selves and harbors could not be made until the Italians turned to the sea.

The Alps, Italy’s mountainous interior, and a lack of harbors with access to the sea, hindered efforts to deepen commercial and political connections with a wider world.

6. Topic: Etruscan slaves
The Etruscan society had upper and lower classes the lower were enslaved people from military conquest, the revolted and freed themselves from domination over them with the help of the Latin’s.

Etruscan society enslaved conquered peoples including the Latins, who later revolted and freed themselves from Etruscan domination.

7. Topic: Romulus building Rome
According to Livy Remus jumped over his brother’s wall and Romulus killed him and stated who ever jumps over my walls will perish.

According to Livy, Romulus slew Remus when his brother jumped over their city’s defensive wall, declaring, “Whoever jumps over my walls will perish.”

8. Topic: Origins of Rome
Romulus the creator of Rome is told to be a great military leader but the origins were not violent and the Latin’s joined the seven hillsunder one rule.

Though the origins legend of Romulus is violent, in reality the Latins joined the seven hills of Rome under one government peacefully.

8 comments

  1. This excercise feels like playing scrabble -swap the letters around till suddenly a real word shows up.
    From this side of the training, I can see what you are after but it also reminds me of being in class, frustrated, and really not understanding enough building blocks to do an assignment.
    Another question is: are you going for writing practice, history content, or both? Maybe too much going on at the same time?
    It seems to me the main goal is to have them develop a feel of how clauses work best together. I wonder if it would work to have a set of phrases/concepts (instead of single words and probably not quite as many per sentence) with instructions to use them to say the same thing in as many different – correct! – ways as possible. Or maybe have 5 phrases and say use at least 3 per sentence. I’m thinking that might give a better sense of how phrases can be swapped like scrabble tiles to have slightly different emphasis or effectiveness.
    I don’t believe there really is an easy way to learn or teach this. (Hence the deplorable state of communication ability in our current culture!) Good luck!

  2. This excercise feels like playing scrabble -swap the letters around till suddenly a real word shows up.
    From this side of the training, I can see what you are after but it also reminds me of being in class, frustrated, and really not understanding enough building blocks to do an assignment.
    Another question is: are you going for writing practice, history content, or both? Maybe too much going on at the same time?
    It seems to me the main goal is to have them develop a feel of how clauses work best together. I wonder if it would work to have a set of phrases/concepts (instead of single words and probably not quite as many per sentence) with instructions to use them to say the same thing in as many different – correct! – ways as possible. Or maybe have 5 phrases and say use at least 3 per sentence. I’m thinking that might give a better sense of how phrases can be swapped like scrabble tiles to have slightly different emphasis or effectiveness.
    I don’t believe there really is an easy way to learn or teach this. (Hence the deplorable state of communication ability in our current culture!) Good luck!

  3. I found using five words focused on guessing what answer you might be looking for. Sometimes I saw how they related. When I did not, the result was awkward and stilted. Is there a way to simplify the assignment so your students can focus on the mechanics of subordinate clauses?

    It’s an interesting problem. I see how some students are stumbling over grammar while others are wrestling with style. How do you break the task down into achievable steps?

    Since I have no teaching experience, my next thought was to wonder how I had been taught. Richard Hench, one of my high school English teachers, devised a set of ten or so sentence patterns and drilled us for a whole semester on them.

    The first pattern was a plain declaritive sentence.
    The second sentence used conjunctions but it was almost as simple as the first.
    The third, which followed the second, included a simple dependent clause.
    A subsequent pattern — my favorite by far — used em dashes.
    By Jove! Let us not forget the interjection pattern!

    It was like doing kata: we repeated a set of motions, albeit using our own words, until it sank into our bones. I remember this unit as boring but effective. I have retained the patterns; it was worth the tedium.

    Out of curiosity, I looked up Mr. Hench on the web. The sentence patterns aren’t among the materials he has posted, but it looks like they’ve been incorporated into his style guide. Perhaps some of it would be useful to you.
    http://www.jenkintown.org/jenkintown/Jenkintown%20Middle%20and%20High%20School/Departments/Language%20Arts/Richard%20Hench/An%20Array%20of%20Basic%20Manuals/
    Interesting to see how his curriculum evolved!

    Hope this feedback was helpful.

  4. I found using five words focused on guessing what answer you might be looking for. Sometimes I saw how they related. When I did not, the result was awkward and stilted. Is there a way to simplify the assignment so your students can focus on the mechanics of subordinate clauses?

    It’s an interesting problem. I see how some students are stumbling over grammar while others are wrestling with style. How do you break the task down into achievable steps?

    Since I have no teaching experience, my next thought was to wonder how I had been taught. Richard Hench, one of my high school English teachers, devised a set of ten or so sentence patterns and drilled us for a whole semester on them.

    The first pattern was a plain declaritive sentence.
    The second sentence used conjunctions but it was almost as simple as the first.
    The third, which followed the second, included a simple dependent clause.
    A subsequent pattern — my favorite by far — used em dashes.
    By Jove! Let us not forget the interjection pattern!

    It was like doing kata: we repeated a set of motions, albeit using our own words, until it sank into our bones. I remember this unit as boring but effective. I have retained the patterns; it was worth the tedium.

    Out of curiosity, I looked up Mr. Hench on the web. The sentence patterns aren’t among the materials he has posted, but it looks like they’ve been incorporated into his style guide. Perhaps some of it would be useful to you.
    http://www.jenkintown.org/jenkintown/Jenkintown%20Middle%20and%20High%20School/Departments/Language%20Arts/Richard%20Hench/An%20Array%20of%20Basic%20Manuals/
    Interesting to see how his curriculum evolved!

    Hope this feedback was helpful.

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