The Bedrock Literacy Curriculum- Examples

UNIT: Sentence Subjects: Identifying the Simple Subject of a Sentence

Teaching the "subject" of a sentence seems like a fairly easy lesson to teach. However, a deeper analysis shows layers of complexity that need to be taught in a thoughtful manner.  The sentence "subject" actually encompasses a conglomeration of many underlying concepts. Building the concept of "sentence subject" from basic to complex requires careful lesson planning. In this section we will develop 8 different objectives related to the foundational use of simple sentence "subject". Each objective is taught in the order it appears. If a student has already mastered an objective (i.e. proof is generally in independent writing), skip it and go on to the next objective.


Brian loves the dog.

 Overarching GOAL: The student will identify the simple subject in an English sentence when reading 

                                      or writing.

   Specific Objectives:   The student will:

  1. Locate, identify and write the simple WHO subject of a sentence with KNOWN names or people. 

     (ex. Mom is cooking. Kira is a girl.) (Note:The students should be able to instantly recognize the name and referent).

  2. Locate, identify and write the simple WHAT subject of a sentence. (e.g. The sky is blue.)

  3. Provide a sensical subject for a missing one in a sentence where all words are instantly recognized.

      (ex. The ________ likes apples).

​  4. Provide a non-sensical subject for a missing one in a sentence where all words are instantly recognizable.

     (ex. The ________ swims in the water.) 

​  5. Locate, identify and write the simple subject of a sentence with unknown subject names.

     (ex. Samuel is a boy.)

 6. Given a subject that is preceded by one or more adjectives will correctly identify the subject. 

     (ex. The big dog sleeps.)

 7. Given a subject that uses a name and the person's possession, will correctly identify the subject.

​     (ex. Kate's coat is blue.)

 8. Given a sentence with a name in the object position, will correctly identify the subject.

​     (ex. His name is Sean.)


   As you can see, the above objectives list only covers basic concepts of simple sentence subjects. The goal of this curriculum is to help guide

   teachers in developing lessons that will start with the easiest, most general concept first. Objectives are ordered so that the students will be

   successful at each step. It is important to teach in the order provided since each objective builds on the one before it. Like a rock climber, you

   can't get to the top without starting at the bottom!

   Additionally, objectives were developed with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing student in mind. Often, typical patterned exercises

   found in many educational materials lead D/HH students to internalize wrong rules. For example, it is common for DHH 

   students to initially learn that the "subject" of a sentence is usually the first word or right after the word "The". If this is the only

   concept the student internalizes then it will be difficult to locate the subject when it appears anywhere else in the sentence.

   Another area of confusion for D/HH students is recognizing words as names they are unfamiliar with. This is something they

   need to learn very early! 


  Lesson Plans:  Some objectives have lesson plans with suggested activities. For example: 

  Objective #1, Activity #1:Locate, identify and write the simple WHO subject of a sentence with KNOWN names or people.

  Materials: White board or Smart Board, sentence structure template from Sentence Structure lesson, pictures of people students immediately 

                  recognize and name, grid with 9 sections.


  Make a grid with pictures of nine subjects (i.e. people students recognize and name). Give each student a copy of the picture grid. Ask students to

  identify each person and provide the name. Ask questions that require the students to point to a picture in response and then provide name.

  For example:


  • Who is a girl?

  • Who has on a red shirt?

  • Who loves horses?

  • Who has a brown hair?

  Objective #1, Activity #2 (same objective- new activity)

  Materials: Cut individual pictures from the grid and laminate, simple sentences 


  Give a student a simple sentence to read. *Note for all grammar lessons, all words should be instantly recognizable to keep the focus on the task.

  Have the student identify the subject and then match it to the correct picture.

  Extension: When students are able to match sentences to pictures make sentence prompts more difficult by giving clues.

                    For example. I am a girl. I have black hair.

  Objective #1, Activity #3 (same objective- new activity)

  Materials: same as in previous lesson, individual dialogue balloons - some blank, some with simple sentences on them


  Write simple sentences on some of the dialogue balloons. Have students read and match to the correct subject picture. Students can then take

  a dialogue balloon and subject and rewrite the sentence.


  Extension: Give blank dialogue balloons out. Have students write their own sentences. 

  All of these activities can be adapted to use with pairs of students working together or in independent Learning Centers.