One of the things I love best is when I can get a two-fer. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s short for “two for one.” When we can think outside of the box of “I’m in math class, and I only teach math here,” then we can have these two-fers. Today I’m talking about teaching Math and ELA together. Using geometry, we can teach students to write compound sentences that help them develop their reasoning skills. In this article, you’ll find printable Geometry and Compound Sentences Activities that students in Grades 3–6 can complete in the classroom or at home.
I have always loved to teach reading and writing as part of my math class. Although I don’t teach the ELA curriculum formally, I’ve found I can improve my students’ reasoning as I incorporate reading and writing into my direct instruction. Plus, there’s something satisfying about creating and executing an activity where students can get both math content and language arts content.
Combine Math and ELA subject areas and download my free printable Geometry and Compound Sentences Activities now!
When I set out to create a downloadable ELA Math activity using compound sentences, I knew I wanted to focus on the use of the words “and” and “but.” Using the word “and” in a compound sentence can help students reason about things that are the same, while using the word “but” would indicate things that are different. Since the rules for punctuating compound sentences are fairly straightforward, I knew that grading student writing would not be a daunting task. This Math and ELA-focused activity quickly shaped into an assignment where students get a grammar grade and a math content grade upon completion. That’s why I call it a two-fer!
The Geometry and Compound Sentences Activities are actually more than a two-fer for teachers because we are teaching students about reasoning and about being precise in their explanation. The is related to two of the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs). SMP 6, Attend to Precision, states that “In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other.” SMP 4, Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others, can be addressed by writing in math class and having students read each other's sentences.
Math and ELA overlap in that the goal is to express clear thinking and reasoning. Creating activities the integrate both subject areas to reach this goal is a win for everyone!
"Elementary students can construct arguments using concrete referents such as objects, drawings, diagrams, and actions. Such arguments can make sense and be correct…. Students at all grades can listen or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, and ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments.”
Math and ELA overlap in that the goal is to express clear thinking and reasoning. Creating activities the integrate both subject areas to reach this goal is a win for everyone!
While most topics in math could be used to write compound sentences, I find that the geometry strand is quite useful for making comparisons. This is the goal of many geometry standards starting at third grade. Students can discuss similarities and differences in side lengths, number of sides, number of angles, presence or absences of curves, parallel lines, right angles, and other characteristics.
The essence of a compound sentence is that two ideas can be combined into a more powerful single sentence that reinforces the comparison. For instance, I might have students respond to two prompts and then write a compound sentence. Here are examples:
Ask students: 1) How many sides does a rectangle have? 2) How many sides does a triangle have?
Since the critical feature is that the number of sides are different, students should choose the word “but” as their conjunction to combine the two sentences.
Compound sentence answer: A rectangle has four sides, but a triangle has three sides.
Students are writing two simple sentences with declarative knowledge, but the use of the compound sentence begins to show them how to reason about shapes by comparing them. It allows them to take a step toward expressing a more complex idea, rather than just declarative knowledge about individual shapes.
Ask students: 1) How many right angles does a rectangle have? 2) How many right angles does a square have?
Since the critical feature is the same for both shapes, students should choose the word “and” as their conjunction to combine the two sentences.
Compound sentence answer: A rectangle has four right angles, and a square has four right angles, too.
Note: Adding the word ‘too’ at the end of the sentence offers an additional opportunity to address the differences between “to”, “too”, and “two”.
As I said in the beginning of this post, writing in math class can be a two-fer. You can evaluate students on math concepts as well as on ELA concepts at the same time. Use the checklist that is part of the download with this article to grade the sentences. In addition, teach students to peer edit each other's work! If peer editing is possible, here is a handy checklist:
The Standards for Mathematical Practice encourage us to teach precision in communication about math and to teach reasoning to students. By using the structures of compound sentences with geometry content, we can help students make comparisons and become better readers. Download my free printable Geometry and Compound Sentences Activities and have students complete them in the classroom or at home. Teachers may choose to provide students with two grades: one that addresses math and other for ELA.
If you teach Grade 3 or higher, you will find the download helpful. It includes two worksheets for students to make comparisons using geometry and compound sentences. The download also includes the checklist above that you can copy and distribute to students.