Transitions Beyond First, Next, and Then

Students are regularly taught that writers use transitions to move to different ideas with a piece of writing. Unfortunately, many students think that sequence words followed by a comma are the only types of transitions that exist. This often results in a very limited use of transitions and an overuse of sequential transitions. Students of all ages can benefit from a chart like this one to expand their effective use of transitions.

1 Six Types Of Transitions

Creating this chart:

I created this chart from start to finish with fifth graders. I simply asked them to divide a sheet of paper into six boxes. While I named each type of transition, I had them replicate my larger chart to create their own smaller versions in their notebooks. We moved through each one and added examples. Notice that finally has an asterisk beside it. That was simply to indicate that this word could serve multiple transitional purposes. This list is not definitive. Modify it as needed to fit your needs.


  • Write each one of these on large sticky notes instead of in boxes. Use the wall or another flat surface to build this chart without the chart paper.
  • Gather digital or print text that uses these transitions to share with your students as exemplars.
  • Pair students in teams and challenge them to find examples of writing that use these types of transitions.
  • Add one or two types of transitions at a time. Build up the list over the course of your unit.
  • This chart can also be useful with other genres as well. The Time Passing category works well with narrative writing.

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Article written by Dr. Rozlyn Linder

This is the official blog of Dr. Roz Linder, an academic, K-12 Language Arts Specialist, former elementary school teacher, high school journalism teacher, and all-around rabble rouser. I am interested in how we equip students to compete in a global community that grows increasingly flatter every millisecond and the practical application of communication pedagogy and Common Core standards.Situated at the intersection of cultural, racial, social, and digital literacy, my blog is all about fostering and supporting the recognition that we don’t teach in your grandad’s America and being happy about that. Let's stop telling students what to think or believe, but prepare students to think critically and often.

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