Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tricky Transition Words

After every writing curriculum assessment/benchmark test, I always go over the top 5 most missed questions with my students. Although they did well overall on our most recent one, 4/5 of the most missed revising/editing questions were over transition words! They're experts at using them in their own writing, but it's challenging for them to choose the best ones on a multiple choice test. We were also doing an author study on Cynthia Rylant at the time, so I created a transition word review activity that pairs with one of her books!

I read aloud Cynthia Rylant's autobiography, Best Wishes. It's from a great series of different authors' autobiographies called "Meet the Author." I chose Best Wishes because it goes back and forth between past and present, so transition words are essential. (It also gave the kids an interesting snapshot of the life of a successful writer!) Although it's non-fiction, it still uses time-order transition words. After the read aloud, students got together with their writing partners to retell the events of Cynthia's life with a summary that included fill-in-the-blank transition words. I know I can't be the only one struggling with teaching.... and reteaching.... and reteaching... this tricky writing skill, so I wanted to share my little resource!

Click HERE to download it from TpT!

After doing this author study a couple times, I've decided my favorite book by Cynthia Rylant would have to be In November. It's the perfect mentor text to teach show-don't-tell and sensory writing. The language and illustrations are beautiful in every scene. I will read it next month and then have my students publish their own book, In February

Why wait until this time of year to read In November? So they can't be copycats! 


  1. I noticed the same problem on our tests with the transition word thing. I have started adding short items to my DOLs at the beginning of class that mirror those types of questions. I put skills questions in there like pick the best word to link the two sentences (next, first, etc.). I am hoping I see an improvement when we test in April. Caitlin (

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