Shortening sentences worksheet
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In the 2014 National Curriculum for English, a new skill is included in ‘Writing’ for Years 5 and 6: ‘draft and write by… précising longer passages’. Although note-taking has previously featured in curriculum documents, this is the first time the skill of writing a precis has been included. So what is a precis and how can it be taught in a useful and meaningful way to 9 to 11 year olds?
A précis is a condensed version of a text, keeping the main points and order of the original. Usually it reduces the text to approximately a third of its original length. Learning to write a précis will help to develop children’s skills in writing clearly and concisely, pulling out the key information, whilst not copying word for word.
Discuss with the children situations in which the amount of text written might need to be limited or shortened (e.g. a news story which needs to fit on the front page, a summary of a long story or piece of research to help people understand without reading it all). Discuss with them the kinds of things which we can miss out. Explain that writing a precis is different to writing a series of bullet points or notes, because the finished text should still contain full sentences and make sense.
Next, hand out copies of the ‘Shortening sentences’ worksheet. Ask the children to remove one word but keep the meaning the same. Then remove two and so on. This helps them to identify and cross out the superfluous words while maintaining the important information. You could teach the children how to use the ‘mark-up’ feature if using onscreen text (e.g. Word or PDF), so that the deleted words can still be read. Talk about which words they deleted and whether any needed to be replaced with shorter phrases. Sometimes the word order can also be changed to produce a shorter form of the sentence with the same meaning.
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February 2nd, 2017
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