combining sentences with Heather Rader


First:  Choose topic and then narrow…I choose to write about someone.


My mom

Second:  Brainstorm phrases and sentences…


  1. Her mind a whirl of thoughts
  2. Slowly she ascends putting both hands down as she climbs the stairs carefully.
  3. My sisters say she’s failing
  4. “Enjoy every visit”
  5. In my mind I say she’s not
  6. I find a 3 page letter that states at the top The Life and Times of …
  7. Written ten years ago
  8. It is already yellow with age
  9. I read and cry and cry and cry giant sobs that shake my soul
  10. My mom is a writer just… like… me…
  11. I never knew
  12. I never commented
  13. I never saw
  14. Her words are difficult now
  15. She speaks in measured ways
  16. It is different, this foreign language
  17. But her love song is still intact

Try different ways to combine the ideas for a strong starter sentence.

I try, I want to write this raw, this really, really, rough draft.  Maybe I should start it with a gerund, a preposition or a simple noun.  Somehow I am not ready because the tears are simply in my way.  I will see my mom today, love her today.  I will bring her story, I will comment on her writing.  I will tell her again how she is the best mom a girl could ever have.  I will tell her…

PS  I loved this article by Heather Rader on the Choice Literacy website.  I am fascinated by combination of sentences and trying different kinds of beginnings.  I fully intended to do this for a starter sentence.  It may come yet during the ‘slice’, but not today.  I think we need to realize this during workshop, sometimes students are just not ready to move from the brainstorming step.  Sometimes they need a little nudge.  Sometimes they just need to sit still. And sometimes they just need to cry…like me.

slice button this march



About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

11 responses »

  1. I kind of want to stop what I’m doing right now and brainstorm and combine sentence starters. Thanks for sharing the beginning of your writing, and this incredible lesson idea.

  2. What a tough time to watch your mom slip away. I’m fascinated by those people who blog from their first diagnosis with Alzheimer’s to track their mental lapses. To observe the loss of someone you love is like being pulled on water skis in the worst way. My grandma died of Lou Gehrig’s disease which was also so cruel and inevitable. Thanks for sharing your struggle.

  3. I am amazed at how you were in such a feeling space but also able to look at it through the lens of a teacher regarding how your experience as a writer today may be similar to your students’ experiences. What a great learning experience.

  4. There’s so much in these phrases. Sometimes it’s nice to let your reader infer the intended meaning, filling in with their own thoughts and emotions.

  5. I love how the slice of life challenge encourages my own writing and as a result my teaching… If I were to conference with you about this piece, I might ask what made you chose “my mom” as a narrow topic and what your previous topics were before you narrowed it down … Do the phrases and sentences give you a new topic that you might be able to expand on in a bigger piece? Your mom is a very lucky lady to have you as a daughter … Good luck with your piece!

  6. What a great idea to write using an idea from a teaching website. I have used methods in classes when the teacher modeled it for us and had us try. But, I need to try that from one of my posts this month! BTW, I love Choice Literacy–one of my absolute favorite websites ever for teaching!

  7. My dearest Nancy,
    Your list was so dramatic and full of emotion. My typist, Mrs. Hodges, suggested I read your stories. Now I understand why.
    You are able to write raw and real and honest emotions. Through your tears you shared your Mommy with us and you shared good ideas about the craft of writing.
    Hug your mommy really close and cry again.
    Love Pooh

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