Run-on sentences and sentence fragments are opposites of each other. Fitting to their name, run-on sentences are instances where two or more independent clauses are joined together without the appropriate punctuation. Sentence fragments, on the other hand, aren't complete sentences and don't express complete thoughts. Both weaken writing and inhibit understanding. However; there are various games and activities that teachers can deploy to help students understand run-ons and fragments.
One activity that allows students hands-on experience with run-on sentences is known as "Stop that Run-on!" It consists of the teacher revealing a long, run-on sentence for the class to see. Students write the run-on sentence on a sheet of own construction paper and use scissors to the cut the sentence apart and edit for correct grammar. The students pair up with classmates to read their revised sentences and discuss why they edited where they did.
Finish the Fragment
Fragments don't express complete thoughts. One way to modify so they become complete sentences is to finish them. For this activity, the teacher writes down various independent clauses on index cards. They can include things like, "since my brother lost weight," or "after I spilled water on my shirt." The teacher places all the cards in a hat and has each student draw a card. The students partner up and finish each other's clauses to turn the fragments into complete sentences. The teacher can also take the activity a step further and have students identify where a comma should be placed in each of the new complete sentences.
Teachers can incorporate run-on sentences into common games, such as Hangman or Wheel of Fortune. For example; the teacher can pass out a worksheet consisting of five run-on sentences, and ask students to make the proper corrections. For every sentence a student correctly edits, he gets a token. Each token a student earns is used to guess a letter in the mystery puzzle. The more tokens students acquire, the better their chances of solving the puzzle. The game is best played in small groups, so all students have a chance to earn tokens as they solve the puzzle.
One fun activity that reinforces what is and isn't a sentence fragment is an adaptation of the television game show Jeopardy. Organize students into small groups and have them select from a fragment board of clues. After the clue is revealed, students first have to say whether it is a fragment or complete sentence. If it's a fragment, the students finish it so it becomes a complete sentence to earn the points. Clues that are more difficult to differentiate between sentences and fragments should have higher point value.