How to Teach Key Sentences with a Writing Lesson Plan Drill

Get this low prep writing lesson plan and help ELL students learn to write four kinds of sentences. 

Writing Lesson Plan Introduction

students This writing lesson plan reinforces skills by reviewing existing knowledge and focusing student attention on four sentence patterns. This lesson is not designed to provide a comprehensive review of the grammar points. Instead, the aim is to help high beginner+ students practice four useful sentence patterns:

  • appositives
  • simple sentence
  • compound sentence
  • complex sentence
This writing lesson plan presents ELL students with a drill. Most of my students don't mind drills when suitated in the right context. Most of my students understand that drills are an effective writing strategy -- but not too often. 

Yes, I admit it. I sometimes negotiate activities with my students. To paraphrase Miranda from Shakespeare's The Tempest, "O brave new world, that classroom has such people in it!'
Writing Lesson Plan with a drill for ELL students
Drills are not always fun but they can be an effective teaching strategy

Writing Lesson Plan Flow

Step 1 Review (10)

Run through the slides. They provide basic explanations and examples. At the end of the slide show, there is a sample question for students to complete as a whole class. This is a chance for the teacher to inspect understanding before moving on to the next task.

Step 2 Introduce Task (5)

With this fresh knowledge, students will begin a writing assignment. The students will:

  • watch short video called Paperman (5 minutes).
  • make notes about plot and details
  • identify 5-7 main chunks in the plot 

Step 3 Watch video (5)

The 5-minute video is called Paperman.  


Step 4 Writing (25)

I suggest the following process:

  • give students a chance to work in pairs if they want (some of my writing students hate pair work)
  • allow 10-15 minutes to outline main chunks of the plot
  • point out that each will chunk will need 4 sentences


  • Each student will divide the story into 5-7 chunks. Each chunk will have 4 sentences.
  • That means each student will have written 20-28 sentences.

Writing Lesson Plan Option (15)

This activity is designed for student development without the need for teacher review or feedback. Peer review is possible. Honestly, though, it’s not something I do because many students don’t like to get writing feedback from other students.

Another writing activity

Love drills? Hey, who doesn’t? Why not consider another writing lesson plan with drills. This one helps ELL students learn writing through sentence combining.


2 thoughts on “How to Teach Key Sentences with a Writing Lesson Plan Drill”

  1. Rob, this is really relevant material, teens will identify with it and the discussion will be fun while being interesting.
    Continuity of sentences could be a prob at lower levels but intermediate up should work. Would love to try it out.

    Rob, I am just finishing my masters in APPL , have one negotiated paper to do, 30 points, one semester. Will be a guided paper, have to come up with some ideas re topic, could you give me some pointers toward interesting topics that are easy to research and work with, I am 72! Concentration can at times fluctuate and I tend to work in 6 hour blocks at my computer. Most grades so far have been in the ‘A’ range, would like to keep it there…………..any ideas? (have 50 years English and ESOL teaching experience from year 3 to old age pensioners, primary was in all subjects, including ESOL. Secondary was English and ESOL only Uni and Polytech was ESOL….prefer high school and young adults
    Would love to come over there and work with you, you seem to be on the ball
    Can yo suggest any ideas???????????????????????/ Tricia

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