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Three Types of Conjunctions

Three Conjunction Types

Three Types of Conjunctions

Every teacher knows the wisdom of not telling the whole story, especially with respect to holiday celebrations. But for the purpose of this article, let’s add on conjunctions to the list of teach some of it now and save some for later instruction. Elementary teachers should teach the common conjunctions and secondary teachers should build upon that foundation with less frequently used conjunctions.

Following are brief overviews of the three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinate (subordinating), and correlative. The relevant Common Core State Standards are provided and memorable acronyms to help your students identify and apply these grammatical forms. Plus, classroom posters are provided as FREE downloads.

Elementary Instruction: Coordinating Conjunctions

Primary and intermediate teachers face the sometimes daunting task of introducing students to coordinating, subordinating, and correlative conjunctions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.G
    Use frequently occurring conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or, so, because).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.1.F
    Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1.H
    Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.1.F
    Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.*
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.2.C
    Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.1.A
    Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.

To help students avoid writing in sentence fragments, elementary teachers often counsel their students, “Never start a sentence with but, or, and, or so (the common coordinating conjunctions),” and many teachers would throw in because or like (two subordinating conjunctions) for good measure.

Additionally, most elementary teachers teach the proper use and identification of but, or, and, or so, but not the less frequently used for, nor, and yet. This certainly makes sense.

Elementary teachers may find the BOAS acronym helpful to teach the four common but, or, and, so (boas) coordinating conjunctions:

BOAS (Mark Pennington’s Acronym)

Coordinating Conjunctions for Elementary School

Coordinating Conjunctions

but, or, and, so

Anchor Sentence: I watched and waited to see the boas eat or climb the tree, but they did neither, so I left.

If teaching only the four BOAS seems a bit constricting :), elementary teachers can add in the three additional coordinating conjunctions, usually reserved for middle school.

Secondary Instruction: Coordinating Conjunctions

By middle school, teachers amend the “Never start a sentence with but, or, and, so, because, or like“elementary rule with the addition of “unless you finish the sentence.” Even though the middle school, high school, and college permit and even encourage their developing writers to start sentences with coordinating conjunctions, when appropriate, all would caution their students to use these sentence constructions sparingly.

Plus, secondary teachers will add the three less common and more sophisticated coordinating conjunctions (for, nor, yet) and may use the helpful FANBOYS acronym to teach all seven coordinating conjunctions:

FANBOYS Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating Conjunctions

FANBOYS (Creator Unknown)

for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

Anchor Sentence: I watched and waited for the boas to eat or climb the tree, but they did neither. They were not hungry nor active, so I left. Yet I would like to see them sometime.

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of coordinating conjunctions:

The “co” in coordinating means with in Latin. Coordinating conjunctions join with other words, phrase, or clauses of equal importance or emphasis. Example: Both Juan and Stella are good writers.

Elementary Instruction: Subordinate Conjunctions

Elementary teachers may wish to teach their students the 10 most common subordinate conjunctions to introduce dependent clauses (connected nouns and verbs which do not express complete thoughts) at the beginnings and endings of sentences. Examples: After she gave her speech in front of the class, Leslie sat down. Leslie sat down after she gave her speech in front of the class.

Elementary teachers will find the following acronym helpful to teach students to identify and use these subordinate conjunctions:

AAAWWUBBIS (Jeff Anderson’s Acronym)

Subordinating Conjunctions AAAWWUBBIS

Subordinate Conjunctions

after, although, as, when, while, until, because, before, if, since

Secondary Instruction: Subordinate Conjunctions

Secondary teachers may wish to teach their students the 29 most common subordinate conjunctions to introduce dependent clauses (connected nouns and verbs which do not express complete thoughts) at the beginnings, in the middle, and the endings of sentences. Examples: After she gave her speech in front of the class, Leslie sat down and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Leslie sat down, after she gave her speech in front of the class, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Leslie sat down and heaved a huge sigh of relief after she gave her speech in front of the class.

Secondary teachers will find the following acronym helpful to teach students to identify and use these subordinate conjunctions:

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinate Conjunctions

Bud is wise, but hot! AAA WWW (Mark Pennington’s Acronym)

Bud is wise, before, unless, despite (in spite of), in order that, so, while, if, since, even though (if)

but hot! because, until, that, how, once, than

AAA after, although (though), as (as if, as long as, as though)

WWW whether, when (whenever), where (wherever)

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of subordinating conjunctions:

The “sub” in subordinating means under or below in Latin. Subordinating conjunctions begin adverbial clauses, which are under or below the connecting main (independent clause) in terms of importance or emphasis. Example: Because you listened well this morning, we will work in our groups this afternoon.

Upper Elementary and Secondary Instruction: Correlative Conjunctions (Correlative is pronounced as cor/rél/lƏ/tive.)

Teach the common correlative conjunctions:

both−and; such−that; whether−or; as−as; not−but; neither−nor; no sooner−than; either−or; as many−as; rather−than

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of correlative conjunctions:

The “cor” in correlative means to run (correr in Spanish) and “rel” indicates a relationship (in Latin). Coordinating conjunctions are word pairs which run in relationship with each other. The word pairs join parallel words, phrases, or clauses. In grammar, parallel means similar in meaning, structure, and length. Examples: Either chocolate or vanilla is fine. Both girls like chocolate, and they also like vanilla.

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I’m Mark Pennington, author of many popular, easy-to-teach grammar resources. Check out these three types of grammar resources: 1. the interactive notebook 2. literacy centers and 3. my traditional grade-level grammar programs.

Of the three, the interactive notebook lends itself to more individualized practice and has online links. The literacy centers involve group work. The traditional grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and high school grammar programs require direct instruction in each of the grade-level standards with mentor texts, simple sentence diagrams, and formative assessments. All grade 4–8 programs include biweekly quizzes.

All three types of grammar programs provide diagnostic assessments and targeted worksheets to help students master deficits indicated by the diagnostic grammar and mechanics assessments.

Want the poster size 11 x 17 Conjunction Posters you see in this article for your classroom? I’ll send the PDFs right away to your email.

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