Each Flipped Learning Module (FLM) is a set of short videos and online activities that can be used (in whole or in part) to free up class time from content delivery for greater student interaction. At the end of the module, students are asked to fill out a brief survey, in which we adopt the minute paper strategy. In this approach, students are asked to submit their response to two brief questions regarding their knowledge of the module.
In this FLM, students are asked to watch videos covering the topics of subject and verb importance for clarity of sentences, and complete its accompanying online activities.
characters, actions, nominalization, active verb, principles of clarity, syntactic requirements, simplicity, complexity
- Characters as Subjects
- Why Are Subjects and Verbs So Important?
- WHO is doing WHAT?
- Find the Verbs
- Short, Concrete Subjects
- Actions as Verbs
- Finding Verbs in Nominalizations
- Revising for Active Verbs
- Lead Sentences with Clear Subjects and Verbs
- Simplicity Before Complexity
- Old Before New
Download Video Transcripts
Video 1: Characters as Subjects
Sentence Clarity: Characters and Actions Online Activity 1
In a draft of a paper you are working on now, select one paragraph to scrutinize closely, especially one that you think is confusing. Closely examine each sentence, ignoring brief introductory phrases. Do you come to a concrete subject and a specific verb within the first 6-7 words? If you’re not sure, try this diagnosing strategy: first, highlight all the verbs in the paragraph, and then underline the subjects of the verbs. Are the subjects people, or are they long phrases or abstract nouns? Are there people mentioned in the sentences who aren’t the subjects of the verbs? Try to answer the question: WHO is doing WHAT? Revise your sentences to put short, concrete subjects and active verbs near the beginning of each sentence.
Copy and paste the original and revised paragraphs, and submit your response to your instructor.
Video 2: Actions as Verbs
Sentence Clarity: Characters and Actions Online Activity 2
Return to your paper draft and expand your focus to a whole page. Highlight every “to be” or “to have” verb that you can find. Now look for and underline nominalizations–nouns that could be verbs, such as “argument,” “understanding,” “analysis,” “suggestion,” etc. Try to answer the question: if these words became verbs, who would be taking those actions? Revise sentences to replace “to be” verbs with active verbs and concrete subjects whenever possible. If necessary, add subordinating conjunctions such as “because,” “if,” “how,” etc. to connect your revised clauses.
Copy and paste a segment of the page where you did the most revisions. Please submit the original sentence(s), and the revised sentence(s) to your instructor.
Video 3: Lead Sentences with Clear Subjects and Verbs
Sentence Clarity: Characters and Actions Online Activity 3
To practice these strategies for reducing wordiness and improving clarity, plus a few more useful tips, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab’s page on “The Paramedic Method
” for writing concisely. You can try revising the example sentences there and compare your efforts to the suggested revisions provided by the site. Next, return to the page from your draft that you revised for the second online activity, and see if you can improve it further.
Write 1-2 sentences explaining what you discovered, and whether you made any changes. Submit your response to your instructor.
Sentence Clarity: Characters and Actions Survey
Please answer the following two questions, and submit the responses to your instructor.
- What was the one most important thing you learned from this module?
- Do you have any unanswered questions for me?
Sentence Clarity: Characters and Actions In-Class Activity
Share your revised page from the online activity with classmates in small groups, and ask your peers to identify moments when your sentences are still wordy, clunky, or confusing. Discuss moments when different principles of style and sentence clarity seem to conflict, and talk about how to choose between different principles of clarity, concision, and coherence.
Download Digital Implementation of the Activity
See all Writing Program Flipped Learning Modules
Turabian, Kate L. Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers.
4th edition, revised by Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams, University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Williams, Joseph M. and Joseph Bizup. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. 5th edition, Pearson, 2014.