Sentence similarity was the likely culprit here. It was time to "get into the flow." Let's take a look at some strategies that can be used for constructed responses.
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Which strategies work best? Intermediate-level standards focus on use of linking words to smooth out writing. In my opinion, however, varying sentence lengths (long, flowing sentences to explain and short sentences to punctuate) and beginnings works best. If your students have sentence savvy, they can also vary the sentences' structures.
Variety really IS the spice of life. When teachers help kids vary their sentences and word choice, writing magically improves.