"Conventions, the sixth trait of writing, deals with the rules of writing. Rules exist for a reason, but without personal experience, students may find them arbitrary. After all, in earlier times invented spelling was the norm. (Just look at the writings of the founders of our country or westward bound pioneers.)
For this mini-lesson, ask students to write several sentences and then make them into 'a secret code' by ignoring the conventions. The first step is to write sentences that follow the rules on an index card. (This is the solution to the secret code.) Students can use books in the classroom or library to find examples.
Now to ignore the rules, ask students to write those words again without any spaces or punctuation. It will look like a string of letters on the page, written in all lowercase or all capital letters. This will remove any clues about where each sentence begins. To make the secret code even more difficult, ask students to misspell words by leaving out the vowels or silent letters.
After students have their secret codes ready, they can write them on another index card and place it in a centrally located box, along with the card that has the solution to their secret code. (Ask students to write their initials on the back of both cards so that others can check the solution.) As students read the cards through the week, they can try to crack each other's secret codes.
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In The Vowel Family by Sally M. Walker, the story is missing its vowels until each new 'child' (Alan, Ellen, and so on) is born into the family. In Silent Letters Loud and Clear by Robin Pulver, Mr. Wright's class finds out what happens when they stop using silent letters.
Parts of Speech
The fast, fun, and rhythmical Words Are CATegorical series by Brian P. Cleary has a book for each part of speech, including Hairy, Scary, Ordinary and I and You and Don't Forget Who."