Isn’t it funny how inspiration strikes the most random times? I have about 1,393,234 things on my to do list, but I decided to do one little thing and make one little Instagram post and now I’m here blogging. #notcomplaining
I posted this photo on Instagram because I was curious about how many people use I.V.F. sentences in the primary grades. I got sooooooo much feedback that I decided it would be easier to answer all your questions if I just blogged about, which I am happy to do!
Just so you know, I DID NOT invent the concept of an I.V.F. sentence. (So all you that are giving me so much credit, thanks, but I guess I should ask you to stop.) I first learned about I.V.F. as a seventh grader. We were taught to write I.V.F. sentences to summarize each chapter we were reading when we did novel studies. I continued to use them through high school and even college. Actually, it got to the point where I was just generating topic sentences that were formatted as I.V.F.’s, but I wasn’t using an “I.V.F.” to build the sentence. I’m guessing that is the intention…teaching students to generate well written sentences in writing. (Side note: Is anyone else thinking about BABIES every time they read I.V.F.? #babyfever)
A few months ago, we had a Common Core writing inservice. The man leading the inservice added that we should start teaching our first grade students how to write I.V.F. sentences so they could use them in their paragraph writing. He said that our students could write I.V.F.s about ANYTHING. A read aloud, the math lesson, the assembly they just went to, a field trip, what they “read to self” during Daily 5… My reaction: Ummm, I was in seventh grade when I learned that. I love my students and I refuse to stress them out. So thanks but no thanks, when’s the last time you taught first grade? #keepingitreal
Later that week, we had just finished a math lesson. For some reason, I.V.F. popped into my head. I was feeling brave and thought hey, why not? I won’t make my students do anything but watch. JUST WATCH.
So made a big chart on the white board and wrote IVF at the top and they all looked at me funny. “I’m going to teach you something nobody taught me until I was 12! You know why? Because you guys are so SMART that I know you can do this! We are going to learn how to write I.V.F. sentences. An I.V.F. helps us build a SUPER sentence! I stands for the topic. We just did Topic 5, Lesson 3, so I am going to write that down. Under V, I have three verbs (it spells TED): tells, explains, describes. I’m going to circle explains. F stands for finish the thought. In other words, we need to summarize the main idea. Since this lesson was about adding ten to double digit numbers using a hundreds chart, I am going to write that.” My I.V.F.? Topic 5, Lesson 3 explains how to add ten to double-digit numbers using a hundreds chart. We read it on the chart together, and then I rewrote it underneath the chart as a complete sentence. We read it together again, and that was that.
P.S. There are MANY verbs that can be used. Limiting it to “TED” makes it easy to remember and less overwhelming.
A few days later, we had a read aloud. I did the same thing. Students didn’t say or do anything but watch. I just modeled. The next week, we started completing I.V.F.’s whole group after read alouds. I would ask students what letters I should write at the top (IVF), what each letter stood for, what the topic was (with a book the topic is the title and author), which verb I should choose, and how I could finish the thought. My students were so excited to “help me.” After some time, students started writing them on their white boards whole group, and then with their desk partner. I seriously could not believe how quickly they were catching on! I had students writing I.V.F.’s just for fun, asking me if they could write I.V.F.’s in their reader response journals before answering the prompt (umm..YES) or reading stories with their parents at night and then writing an I.V.F. about it on their own and bringing it to me the next day. We were writing IVF’s about math lessons, a cool assembly we had at school, the nonfiction text we read about Martin Luther King… They were so proud. I was so proud of them. I was so wrong! Poor Mr. Inservice Man!! (Don’t worry, I told him how I didn’t believe him and how my students proved me wrong!)
Now that my students have had LOTS of practice writing I.V.F.’s in class, we are going to apply it to their weekly homework. Each week, students read a book from our school’s classical list and write a summary about the book. Instead of just writing first, next, last, sentences, they are now going to start their paragraphs with an I.V.F. summary topic sentence.
I wanted to send home an example for parents to see so they aren’t overwhelmed at the new format of our summary paragraphs. You can see my example in the photos below. I used the book The Day the Crayons Quit because I am currently in love this book. (Don’t tell my husband! Actually, wait, tell him. He bought me the book for Christmas, it’ll make him feel good!)
Do you want to try I.V.F.s in your class? Click here to grab the FREE I.V.F. summary topic sentence template you see above. Please remember to model and give your students a lot of guided practice before expecting students to complete them on their own. Oh, and don’t forget to comment below and let me know how it goes! 😉 Cheers to fabulous topic sentences!