Expanding Ideas


Students often create extended responses in HPE, such as

  • responding to questions
  • discussing an issue
  • analysing a scenario
  • creating an initiative.

Behreman (2004) goes further and outlines many different genres (e.g. recount) and forms (e.g. journal, diary) that could be used in any physical education class to augment physical activity. Examples of the genres and forms include:

  • recount - diaries, reflective journals, newspaper article
  • procedure – instructions, procedural recount, directions, manual
  • information report - scientific report, classifying report, historical report
  • explanation – written explanation, oral presentation
  • analytical exposition and discussion - advertisement, letter to the editor, speech, newspaper article

(see also Derewianka & Jones, 2016).

Each of these writing tasks, however, should be authentic (Behreman, 2004; Ming, 2012). For example, a journal could be used to record individual performance in a physical activity or fitness program; a procedure could be used as a 'quick write' activity after playing a sport for the first time; an exposition could be a letter written to Members of Parliament to petition for new fitness equipment or health initiative.

Understanding sentence types

Ideas can be expressed in a simple, compound, or complex sentence.

Simple sentences:

  • take the form of a single clause
  • have one verb group, one independent clause (that is, the clause makes sense on its own).

For example: Smoking is more common in the 18+ year group than for teenagers.

NOTE: A simple sentence does not mean that the content is simple; its structure is simple as it is only one clause. For example, the following is a simple sentence – one clause, one verb group: 'As a parent or carer, your attitude towards smoking has considerable influence.'

Compound sentences:

For example: Smoking is more common in the 18+ year group than for teenagers but there is little difference.

NOTE: The mnemonic, FANBOYS, can be used to recall the seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Complex sentences:

  • have one independent clause and one or more dependent (subordinate) clauses which cannot stand alone often include subordinating conjunction, e.g. because, when, as, while, if
  • For example: While smoking is more common in the 18+ year group than for teenagers, there is little difference between these groups.

    Complex sentences typically (but not always) involve higher-order thinking as 'students express more subtle and intricate relationships between ideas' (Derewianka & Jones, 2016, p. 223).

    NOTE: One way to check if a sentence is compound or complex is to try to reverse the order of the clauses. Clauses in compound sentences cannot be reversed.

  1. Select a concept to investigate.
  2. For example, 'How is our physical activity impacted by our environment and our cultural background?'

  3. Provide students with a few simple sentences around a related topic.
  4. For example, for changing diversity of lifesavers, teachers could provide the following sentences (verb bolded italics):

    Lifesavers are part of our summer landscape, an Australian institution.

    Australia's surf lifesavers have been a ubiquitous feature of our summers for generations.

    The stereotypical image of a bronzed Aussie male in Speedos and skullcap has given way to a more inclusive representation of both men and women in recent decades.

    Female surf lifesavers are on the rise. Their place alongside the men has a long and rich history. This history dates back to the movement's origins at the start of the last century.

  5. Discuss the use of simple sentences only, and how the ideas are relevant to the topic but are not connected.
  6. Using the same set of sentences above, illustrate how ideas can be combined using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, modelling how two (or more) clauses might be connected.
  7. For example,

    Lifesavers are part of our summer landscape, an Australian institution.

    Compound sentence – two independent clauses joined by the coordinating conjunction 'but'

    Australia's surf lifesavers have been a ubiquitous feature of our summers for generations, but the stereotypical bronzed Aussie male in Speedos and skullcap has given way to a more inclusive representation of both men and women in recent decades.

    Complex sentence – one dependent clause (italics), one independent clause (which includes an embedded clause) joined by a subordinating conjunction 'while'

    While female surf lifesavers are on the rise, their place alongside the men has a long and rich history.

    The third sentence 'This history dates back to the movement's origins at the start of the last century' can also be combined to qualify or add detail to the noun 'history':

    While female surf lifesavers are on the rise, their place alongside the men has a long and rich history dating back to the movement's origins at the start of the last century.

  8. Explain how these sentences can be combined to create paragraphs.
  9. Combined this set of sentences now becomes:

    Lifesavers are part of our summer landscape, an Australian institution. Australia's surf lifesavers have been a ubiquitous feature of our summers for generations, but the stereotypical bronzed Aussie male in Speedos and skullcap has given way to a more inclusive representation of both men and women in recent decades.

    While female surf lifesavers are on the rise, their place alongside the men has a long and rich history dating back to the movement's origins at the start of the last century.

  10. Discuss the impact of using different types of sentences and combining sentences on the cohesion of the short text.
  11. Provide students with a range of sentence types and ask them to categorise them into the simple, compound, or complex. Alternatively, students can look for examples of different sentences types in the articles they have been given. Report back to the group, build a list or chart of the different sentence forms.

Curriculum link for the above example: VCHPEP145, VCHPEP151.

Sentence stems with conjunctions

HPE content at the secondary level requires students to formulate responses that delve into deeper levels of analysis and justification. When students write their responses, they will typically use a combination of sentence types. Whether it is on personal health and fitness, studying drugs and alcohol, or providing responses for risk-taking scenarios, supporting students to expand their ideas through complex sentences allows students to build their knowledge and understanding of a topic, and to think about it more analytically.

Conjunctions can be used as sentence starters to combine ideas to form complex sentences. To support students to use a range of conjunctions in their writing, teachers can:

  1. Explain the meaning of the conjunctions that students will use for this strategy.
  2. Time – for example, after, before, when, while, as, since, until, whenever
    Manner – for example, by, through, with, as if, as though, as, like
    Cause – for example, as, because, since, as a result of, in order to, in order that
    Condition – for example, if, as long as, unless, on condition that
    Concession – for example, although, even though, while, whereas, despite

  3. When using sentence stems with conjunctions, teachers may provide models of worked examples [HITS Strategy 4] with a simple sentence stem that is not related to HPE content to show how the conjunctions affect the response provided. For example
    • When the student arrived in class, the teacher asked her why she was late.
    • Although the student was late, she did not get into trouble.
    • As this was the fifth time the student was late to class, she received detention after school.
  4. Students are asked to investigate a chosen topic.
  5. For example, 'How is our physical activity impacted by our environment and our cultural background.'

  6. Provide students with links to texts which address a physical activity
  7. For example, if focusing on lifesaving, students could be directed to the following sites:

  8. Focus on complex sentences by providing students with a sentence starter around the topic that they can extend.
  9. For example, 'While'

    While surf lifesaving is an iconic Australian pastime, Surf Life Saving Australia is trying to increase the cultural diversity of surf lifesavers

    Other words that may begin a complex sentence include although, as, before, after, because, though, even though, when, whenever, if, during, as soon as, as long as, since, until, unless, where, wherever.

  10. Students then edit their writing, extending their simple sentences. Students may revise the entire paragraph/text.
    • When more female lifesavers become present on our beaches
    • Although lifesavers might historically have been represented by Anglo-Australians, …
    • As our diversity in our society continues to grow, ….
  11. Share different students' responses to each sentence stem as a class to check that students can not only show their HPE knowledge and understanding of the topic but also explain the meaning of the conjunctions they have used.

Curriculum link for the above example: VCHPEP145, VCHPEP150, VCHPEP151.