Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Breaking the Rules with Sentence Fragments

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Breaking the Rules with Sentence Fragments

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Susan Spangler

Susan Spangler

Fredonia, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Teachers generally warn student writers to avoid sentence fragments, but professional writers use sentence fragments effectively for a variety of reasons.  Using Edgar Schuster's study of sentence fragments from The Best American Essays, this lesson encourages students to examine fragments in action, determine their effective rhetorical uses, and reflect on their own uses of sentence fragments.

back to top



back to top



In a 2006 article in English Journal, Edgar Schuster uses essays from The Best American Essays to demonstrate that professional writers used sentence fragments at the rate of .93 per page on average.  This statistic flies in the face of English teachers who admonish their students to “avoid sentence fragments.”   By closely examining the contexts in which professional writers use fragments, Schuster is able to formulate several rules for effective fragment use and encourages student writers to do so as well.

Further Reading

Schuster, Edgar. “A Fresh Look at Sentence Fragments.”  English Journal 95.5 (2006):  78-83.

back to top