Strategy 8: Golden Sentence


You can use this strategy in the reviewing and revising phase to improve any type of writing. When students have completed a draft, and are ready to revise and polish it, have them look for a “golden sentence,” the sentence that seems the most powerful to them. If they can’t find one, they could find a sentence they can buff up and revise into a golden sentence, or they could even write a new sentence if they don’t think any are quite “golden” yet. Then have them write their sentence in the center of a blank sheet of paper. They pass their golden sentence to three other people near them, one at a time. Each person reads the other’s golden sentence carefully, then writes a micro-response of a few words, passing it on to the next person when they have finished their response. After three responses, return the golden sentence to its writer.

This activity can be a great confidence builder, because students get positive feedback from their peers (ideally, since it’s their best work). Even the most reluctant writers can write a single sentence, so they gain confidence by starting small with something that’s manageable. Focusing on a single sentence – what the writer is trying to get across, and what words they chose – dramatically helps improve their writing.

Source: Jim Vopat, Micro Lessons in Writing.

Try it: Instructions are on the handouts: Journal Directions and Finding Your Golden Sentence

Homework: Try the strategy with your students, then write a few short comments in the discussion tab about how it worked and what changes you might suggest, if any.