Writing Goals

Writing Goals – Sentence Structure
Sentence Structure
Here is a proforma I used with my Year 5/6 class last year to explicitly teach the types of sentences that would be evident in a good quality piece of writing.

We spent lots of time practising writing these types of sentences in structured sessions, exploring these types of sentences in good quality texts and re-drafting sentences in students own work to reflect these.



Here’s the link to the Skoolbo website for you to have a look at. I will email your login details.


  • matches questions to the level of the student
  • focuses on reading and number fact skills
  • will be good for fluency practice (homework)
  • very engaging
  • motivating – points, avatar and room, ‘superhero suit for a week’, etc.
  • builds in complexity as student answers questions correctly
  • teachers can monitor progress
  • easy login system
  • each class has been set up, teachers can use the ‘test’ student that has been set up to explore/ model

Aspects to consider:

  • sound is an integral part of the program so each student needs a headset when working at school
  • parents will need information about how to support students at home (downloading program)
  • Skoolbo has been added to all computers in the computer room and in the early years. If you want to download it on others computers please let me know.


  • Click on the Skoolbo icon on the screen
  • Students will need to enter their normal login (for the computer) on the first screen to get them through the proxy server
  • Click on your class
  • Click on your name
  • The passwords have all been set to black bee, but can be changed by individual students as needed.
  • Students will be directed to choose their avatar and then they click on ‘Play’ to start.
  • Have fun!


Teacher Guide:

Assessment of Sentence Structure

These assessment sheets may be useful to keep track of student progress in relation to sentence structure. Let me know if any changes are needed. You may need to use several sheets and glue them together, depending on where your students are on the continuum.Sentence Structure Analysis photo





Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences

Reference notes from: Aspects of Grammar – a handbook for writing assessment (2005 New South Wales Departmant of Education and Training)

A sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense. In writing it is marked at its beginning with a capital letter and at its end with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.

Sentences serve the following purposes:

  • To make statements (declaratives): The girl played basketball.
  • To ask questions (interrogatives): When does the game begin?
  • To utter commands (imperatives): Aim the ball higher.
  • To deliver exclamations (exclamatives): What a goal!

Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences

Sentences are categorised into three types – simple, compound and complex – according to the number and type of clauses they contain.

Simple sentences

A simple sentence consists of a single independent or main clause. It does not have another clause functioning as one of its elements. A simple sentences may also include one or more phrases. For example:

main clause         prepositional phase

Kim walked along the track.

    adverbial phrase                                               main clause

At exactly 9 pm every night, David turned off the lights.

Compound Sentences

In compound sentences, there are two or more independent clauses that are linked. Each independent or main clause is able to stand on its own and the meanings of all clauses are of equal importance.

Because compound sentecnes coordinate independent clauses equally, they tend of use the additive conjunctions and and or, or the contrastive conjunction but.

For example:

John was getting tired but he was determined to finish his bushwalk.

John ate his lunch and then he continued on his way.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence consists of one (or more) main clause/s and one (or more) dependent clause/s.

A dependent clause provides a separate piece of information to the main clause but is dependent on the main clause to make meaning or sense. For example, consider the dependent calsues in bold type below. Neither could stand on its own. Each depends on on ideas in the main clause for its meaning.

I sat down on a cardboard box that promptly collapsed under my weight.

For as long as she could remember, Olivia had enjoyed playing piano.

Complex sentences can have dependent clauses in a range of logical relationships with the main clause. Conjunctions such as when, because, although and if indicate the nature of the relationship between some dependent clauses and the main clause.

Complex sentences can include both complex and compound elements. Consider the example below.

first main clause                second main clause                         dependent clause

Jill opened the map and studied it carefully so that she knew exactly where to go.

The coordinating conjunction and links the compound elements of this sentence,  while the subordinating conjunction so that links the complex element.

Adverbial clauses

Adverbial clauses provide further information about time, place and manner in which the verb (the action) occurs. Adverbial clauses usually begin with a conjunction that indicates their relationship with the main clause.

Different types of subordinating conjunctions include:

  • Place: where, whenever
  • Time: after, before, when, just as, as though, like
  • Causal: because, since, as, therefore, if, otherwise, still despite
  • Concessional: although, though, even though, even if
  • Comparative: as, as if, as though, so… that, on the other hand
  • Sequential: firstly, (secondly, thirdly etc), finally, then, when, next, here, now, lastly, meanwhile

Adjectival clauses

Adjectival clauses (sometimes called relative clasues) qualify or add meaning to nouns or nominal groups in the main clause. Relative clauses are usually introduced by relative pronouns such as who, which, that, whose, whom.

Katya, who had never enjoyed the outdoors, was forced to go for a bushwalk.

I read the book Mr Wilson gave me. (which/that has been ellipsed)

Non-finite dependent clasues

Dependent clauses do not need to have finite verbs (verbs with a subject and tense). Non-finite clauses contain the non-finite form of the verb: the infinitive ‘to…’ (to start, to forget, to play) or the participle forms which end in -ing or -ed.

Non-finite clauses may function as adjectival or adverbial clauses in a sentence.

Dependent clause in first position

Sometimes a writer places a dependent clause before the main clause in order to emphasise this part of the sentence. In assessing students responses in NAPLAN, this type of complex structure is considered separately as it demonstrates a more sophisticated control of writing.

Dependent clauses in first position are usually adverbial clauses or non-finite clauses.

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime. (dependent adverbial clause in first position)

To get to the beach, I have to catch three buses. (dependent non-finite in first position)

Knowing how badly she needed it, I gave her some water. (dependent non-finite clause in first position)

Maths Diagnostic Testing

Here are some suggestions for Maths diagnostic tests that can help to assess where students’ understandings are:

  • George Booker tests Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division and Fractions
  • Place Value Mental Routine – in Ann Baker’s book
  • Decimal Number test p.32 of article attached to this post (Understanding Place Value, 2004 – understanding_place_value-1m3b2tw)
  • First Steps Maths diagnostic tasks – various depending on which aspect you want to assess
  • Maths Intervention Kit
  • One Minute Maths Tests – to test fluency of quick recall of basic number facts