Okay, I had this dream a couple weeks ago. But get this: I dreamt that I was teaching WR121 (first-year writing) and I required the students to write their whole papers with only one sentence pattern. That’s right: every sentence was to have the same sentence pattern. I even felt happy about it, as if it was working really well, making their papers stronger, at least at the sentence level. What pattern was it? It was just independent clause, participial phrase leading into dependent clause — e.g., “The students loved their writing class, praising their instructor every day for her wonderful sentence rules.” But, like I said, during the dream, I felt as if I had made this pedagogical breakthrough, as if this idea was going to revolutionize the teaching of sentence skills.
I don’t know why! I think I had been thinking about students sticking to simple subject-predicate sentences to avoid writing a “wrong” sentence or a wrongly-punctuated sentence. And somehow I thought that if I made them write every sentence with a participle, it would magically teach them to vary their sentences. Amazing — mandate one pattern in order to teach variety. Leave it to my subconscious to think that up!