Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Making Connections

Laurie Ayers
Bay District Schools


This language arts lesson is for Day 4 of the unit [Wellness Wonders]. Students learn how to connect ideas in expository writing with effective transitions.


The student attempts to focus on an expository topic with little or no irrelevant or repetitious information.

The student attempts to use appropriate expository transitions to relate ideas.


-CD player
-Grade level appropriate musical CD
-Overhead projector
-Blank transparency
-Overhead projector pens
-Highlighters, one per every two students
-Paragraph Puzzles, one per small group of students (see associated file)
-Transition Word Chart, one per student and one for teacher use (see associated file)
-Sample Expository Paragraphs transparency or the same text written in advance on a dry erase board or chart paper (see associated file)
-Ideas for My Note to Parents, one transparency or the same text written in advance on a dry erase board or chart paper (see associated file)
-Note to Parents
-Transition Checklist (see associated file), one copy for teacher use


1. Gather materials.
2. Download and make copies of the Transition Word Chart (see Associated file), one per student, one to be posted in the classroom, and one for teacher use.
3. Download and make a transparency of Sample Expository Paragraphs (see Associated file).
4. Download and make copies of Paragraph Puzzles, one per group. Cut the paragraphs into sentences. Put sentence strips in an envelope. Write the number of the paragraph on the outside of the envelope and on the back of each sentence strip. It is suggested that the teacher glue the paragraphs onto construction paper and laminate them before cutting the sentence strips.
5. Download and make a transparency of Ideas for My Note to Parents (see associated file).
6. Download and make a copy of the Sample Note to Parents (see associated file).
7. Obtain a grade level appropriate musical CD (possible sources might be the school music teacher or the district media center).


Vocabulary – transitions

1. Ask students to raise hands if they like to dance.

2. Tell students today they will get an opportunity to dance.

3. Ask students to stand and form a circle.

4. When a circle is formed, tell students you will play a musical selection and students are to listen and perform the movements suggested by the teacher.

5. Review criteria for effective listening previously posted on Day 2.

6. Play a grade appropriate musical selection. Give students directions as to how they should move while the music is playing. Possible directions might include: move to the left, move to the right, move to the center, move three steps back, etc.

7. After about 30 seconds, stop the music.

8. Ask students to notice their positions. Assist them in realizing they are no longer forming a circle.

9. Ask students to join hands and form a circle again.

10. Tell students this time the music is played they are to keep their hands joined while performing the actions the teacher verbalizes. Give students movement directions similar to those in step 5.

11. After about 30 seconds, stop the music and guide students in realizing that the circle was maintained because joined hands connected all the students.

12. Ask students to return to their seats.

13. Explain that just as this movement activity demonstrates how joined hands connected all the students and helped them maintain the circle, certain words and phrases used in expository writing connect ideas in paragraphs and keep the ideas joined to the topic.

14. Explain that words that join or connect ideas in paragraphs are called transitions.

15. Call a student volunteer to read it.

16. State that in today’s lesson, students will learn words to use in expository writing that help connect ideas.

17. Display the Transition Word Chart and distribute copies to students (see associated file).

18. Tell students these are just a few of the words in our language that can be used to connect ideas in expository writing.

19. Explain that transitions also help the writer focus on the topic.

20. Display Sample Expository Paragraphs (see associated file) on the overhead and call upon student volunteers to identify and highlight transition words in each. (As added practice, choose one of the paragraphs and have each sentence written on a separate index card, but delete all transition words. Allow students to try to put the paragraph back together and when they have difficulty, show them how the transition words help.)

21. Tell students now that they are familiar with some transitions it is time to practice.

22. Divide students into four small groups.

23. Provide each group with a separate Paragraph Puzzle (see associated file) and a highlighter for each pair of students.

24. Each student in a group is given one of the sentences from the envelope.

25. Students are to read the sentence and highlight any transition words. Note: Explain to students that not all sentences have transition words.

26. Students within the same group then use the transition words to guide them in connecting the sentences into a paragraph that makes sense. One easy way to do this might be to have students hold their sentences in front of them and then line up in order.

27. Upon completion, each group shares its paragraph and identifies the transitions.

28. During this time, the teacher rotates to each group, facilitates discussion, and provides formative feedback. Formative feedback should be both guiding and positive. Guiding feedback might include, “Would your paragraph seem more connected if you moved the second sentence after the third sentence?” Positive feedback might include, “The transition words in your sentences really helped you connect these ideas. Good job!”

29. Review by guiding discussion to emphasize ways the transitions connected related ideas in each paragraph. For example, in the following sentence, the transition word (so) makes the reader think the sentence is a conclusion. This transition makes one think maybe this sentence would go last in the paragraph.

Ex. So, make a point to eat a healthy breakfast.

30. Direct students’ attention to the unit standards previously posted in the classroom. Ask a student to read – The student knows how to enlist family, school, and community helpers to aid in achieving health goals.

31. Explain to students you need to enlist the help of their parents for a unit activity. Parents are going to send in samples of healthy snacks for a Snazzy Snack event.

32. Display the overhead transparency entitled Ideas for My Note to Parents (see associated file).

Option: The Ideas for My Note to Parents could also be written in advance on chart paper or a dry erase board.

33. Tell students these are the ideas you want to communicate to their parents. Review ways health ideas and information can be communicated (written and orally).

34. Establish that since you are writing a letter to parents you want to make sure the letter is written well.

35. Review the definition of expository writing and the criteria for expository writing (previously discussed on Day 3):
· Focus on the topic
· Little or no unrelated or repeated information.

36. Review the Transitions Chart.

37. Guide students in using transitions from the Transitions Chart to connect the ideas (from Ideas for My Note to Parents) to form a letter to parents (see Sample Note to Parents in the associated file).

38. Write the parent note on a blank transparency, a dry erase board, or on chart paper as the students make suggestions.

39. When finished, ask students to check the letter to make sure it focuses on the topic and contains little or no unrelated/repeated information. Discuss and provide formative feedback if needed.

40. Thank students for their help and tell them you will make copies of this note and provide them with one to take home to their parents.

41. Encourage students to use the Transition Word Chart when writing future Health Hound journal entries and other unit writing activities.

42. Students complete Health Hound journal entries for Day 4. Journal topics for each day can be found in the Unit Attachment (see extensions).

43. Journal entries are formatively assessed using the Journal Checklist (previously downloaded on Day 3).


The Transition Checklist (see associated file) is used to formatively assess journal entries for evidence the student attempts to use appropriate expository transitions to relate ideas.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page of by using the following URL:
Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2. As a follow-up activity, students could use highlighters to identify transition words in newspaper articles or magazines.

Attached Files

Student handouts and teaching materials.     File Extension: pdf

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