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pinacolada pinacolada is offline
 
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does anyone teach grammar?
Old 02-06-2008, 03:20 PM
 
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does anyone here teach grammar? i know alot of districts are doing away with it. mine has a very traditional approach though and still does it. i have mixed feelings about it because they understand the concept but they can't remember the term (like suplerative, predicate noun, predicate adj.) and then they get points off when we take a unit test because even though they understand the concept they don't remember what the term means. i feel bad!


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Funny you should ask....
Old 02-06-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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I am making a review for diagramming sentences right now (how's that for old school?).

I do think that a knowledge of proper grammar helps them when they are writing and reading. I also don't think it is unreasonable for them to be familiar with/memorize the proper terms (at least by a certain grade). I teach 5th and I expect them to know what I am talking about when I use the proper terms or when they are answering questions on a test. However, I try to give them a lot of reinforcement when going over the terms, etc. (I have them repeat after me a lot). I make sure I use the correct terms when doing guided work with them; also for reviews. I also give a brief review just before I give them a test, just to re-activate their minds. You might want to consider writing a few examples on the bb and leaving them up for the duration of the test.
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Don't give up on grammar!
Old 02-06-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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With colleges having to offer so many courses in remedial English and math due to lack of basic skills, I sure hope grammar remains a focus in our school systems. While some of the terminology might be a little archaic and unnecessary, the basics are absolutely needed for competent writing and speaking. Errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization make people look uneducated, in my opinion. As William Zinnser has said, "Bad writing makes bright people look dumb." A headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that I've shown to my students stated, "Punctuation Errors May Make You Appear Dumb", and I think this applies to all errors in using English. Don't give up on basic grammar!
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4th grade grammar
Old 02-06-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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I teach my kids grammar. However, I don't test them on it. We spend about 35-40 min each day specifically on different grammar rules. Then, I make sure they are using their knowledge when we are writing and speaking. We are working on subject/verb agreement right now which is something my ESL kids really struggle with in their verbal language.
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grammar
Old 02-06-2008, 06:04 PM
 
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We "teach" grammar...I use "teach" loosely because we have no textbook or resources and have a 15 minute period allotted for grammar every day. I happen to think grammar is very important, but as a first-year teacher, I'm flying blind!! I don't know what needs to be taught and in what order. I've had to buy my own teaching resources and I get a lot of my ideas from this site. It's really, really hard to get concepts introduced, discussed, and practiced in 15 minutes. Most of my lessons take 2 or 3 days from start to finish. I'm still trying to figure out a way to make this work


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Old 02-06-2008, 06:29 PM
 
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I use it in mini-lesson format and try to use their own writings instead of exercises from the book.
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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Like Johnsju, I do not have any sort of curriculum for it, but I do teach grammar.

In talking with our jr high and high school English teacher, we are confused as to what happened with having a separate literature and English (grammar) class. Now we have to combine it all in one class and that is sort of insane!

At our school, there is *no* English grammar instruction until my grade, so it is hard to catch them up on all the things they should know in one year. They come in not knowing what nouns are, for instance, let alone other parts of speech.
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Old 02-07-2008, 03:20 AM
 
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In my school (a Catholic school), we still have "English" (Language Arts) as a separate class. I teach both English and Reading to the 5th grade classes. I also alternate assigning/using the time for writing between the two class periods. We do a lot with grammar still, but I know it is not the norm. My son is in 7th grade in a public school; he seems a little foggy on what's what as far as grammar goes, but he is a good writer and reads well. He always gets an A in ELA, but I plan on working with him so that he can brush up his actual grammar knowledge.

We're using a new Reading series this year (Reading Street), but I opted to keep my old English series; I did not think that RS did enough with grammar. I mentioned in my first post on this subject, we still diagram sentences. Most of the children from my school go on to a competitive Catholic HS, and they are generally considered well-prepared for the English/Literature classes there. We have two excellent English/Reading teachers in my school's "upper grades" and they also continue diagramming.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:01 AM
 
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Our school teaches Grammar. I teach mini-lessons the first ten minutes of the period and the rest of the period is writing. I won't repeat all the excellent reasons for teaching grammar, but I want to add one more. It makes learning a foreign language easier. My son teaches hs French and Science and he says he ALWAYS knows who attended the catholic school in the district he teaches in because they are the only ones understanding the terminology. He says little did he know that he would have to teach English while teaching French and Spanish.
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Devil's advocate here
Old 02-07-2008, 09:34 AM
 
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I have a few questions I'd just like to throw out there (not for ELA teachers, but teachers of native speakers):

How does knowing what a noun is make a student a better reader or writer?

Do I have to be able to define a certain part of speech in order to use it effectively? If I cannot, for instance, define a preposition, how is it that I still use it correctly in my speech and writing? No native speaker, for instance, would make the mistake of saying "door the through." We intuitively know it's "through the door," even if we've never taken an English grammar class in our lives.

How exactly does skill in diagramming sentences teach a student to write? How does knowing that an adjective modifies a noun help me as a writer? If I'm a native speaker of English, don't my adjectives just naturally modify nouns? Again with the example from above, no native speaker would say "That's a carpet blue." We know to say "That's a blue carpet." Do I have to know that blue is an adjective in order to place it correctly?

Is it possible that a very accomplished writer might not be able to diagram a sentence at all?


 
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Old 02-07-2008, 12:32 PM
 
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mt, I can see your point of view, but When you tell a student that a sentence should not end with a preposition they need to know what one is. A sentence that ends with a preposition is not grammatically correct. Some students can not write a complete sentence, they write fragments. If they understand that a sentence has to have a subject and a predicate to be complete, they will be able to write better sentences. We do an informal type of diagramming to help our students understand the parts of a sentence. When they write their own, I can ask them to point out the subject/predicate part. If they can't, then they don't have a complete sentence and then can fix it.
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My kindergarten
Old 02-07-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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students hear the term "good grammar" often. It is never too soon to teach them to speak properly. The kinders in my class sometimes try to communicate something (that makes sense only to them) so I say "we need to change to good grammar" and we will work together to make it right. I don't think there is anything wrong with the kids learning the terms - they should be able to memorize them by fourth grade. I think it helps there writing skills, especially when they go on to college. I am working on my grad degree and I often stop and check on myself to be sure my sentences are grammatically correct.

tammynj - wow! I didn't think that anybody diagrammed anymore. I went to Catholic schools and I was super at diagramming. My sons are in public schools and have no idea what I am talking about. Even some of the teachers I work with have never diagrammed a sentence.
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regarding MT's post
Old 02-07-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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i agree somewhat with you. do they have to know the terms? i never learned grammar but i scored a 740 on the verbal section of my SAT's, and was in AP english ins HS

teachers and professors alike have always complimented me on my writing.

i think its okay to teach them the concept but to have them memorize the terms is too much
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Old 02-07-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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I totally think it is possible for someone to be a good writer (and reader) without knowing all of the grammar terminology. I think I mentioned that my son, who aspires to be an author, is a very good writer, although he doesn't have a very good handle on the correct terms. I think if you read a lot, you can just sort of absorb correct grammar usage (this is the case with me; until I began teaching English, I hadn't recalled the proper terminology for many, many years). I still think it is better for the children to know grammar terms; it is the same with math terms. I might be able to add or divide, etc. etc. but why should I not know the correct terms? It can only increase my understanding. Certainly, being well-versed in grammar is not going to adversely affect one's ability to write well! It can only help one craft intelligible, interesting sentences.

I guess when I consider all the c**p that the kids memorize so readily (TV one-liners, lyrics to songs, commercial ditties), I cannot see any reason why they cannot be expected to learn grammar terms.
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Grammar
Old 02-08-2008, 09:39 AM
 
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I do teach grammar, but I come from a different perspective since I am an ESL teacher. I think that it's very important to teach proper english. Someone mentioned that in order to be a good writer that you don't have to necessarily know all of the mechanics. However, how about being a good speaker. It really grates me to hear intelligent people using incorrect grammar.

I'm stunned about the diagramming of sentences. I haven't seen or heard about it since I left ninth grade.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:01 AM
 
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By grammar I am assuming you mean parts of speech. I would hope that everyone is teaching mechanics uch as capitalization and punctuation


mt: I did not have grammar in grade school or middle school and was placed in advanced composition in high school. I could write effectively and got excellent grades. I barely passed German because I had no idea what she was taking about grammatically.

But even putting that aside, not all students have a gift for writing. Obviously it is possible to be an excellent writer without knowing terminology. It is also possible to be an excellent musician without being able to read a note. But that does not mean that all students can.

pinacolada: Understanding the concept is the most important, but if you (or your school or the state) want them to understand the terms, you need to find a way for them to learn them. I have 5th and 6th for Language Arts. We play matching games, do mad libs, concentration, etc. We also play computer games found on sites such as these.

http://www.funbrain.com/funbrain/cgi...NCT=1&ALEVEL=1

http://www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00001228.shtml

http://teachers.emints.org/FY04/mcki...ammarlinks.htm
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Old 02-08-2008, 07:01 PM
 
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I teach 4th and we do have Grammar each day for about 45 min. We focus on the grammar skills and then the 5th grade uses what we have taught them and focuses on writing.
 
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Old 02-08-2008, 07:53 PM
 
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Do any of you besides tammynj teach your students how to diagram sentences? When I was in elementary school, we did not have "formal" grammar lessons. When we would get something wrong on a paper, the teacher taught a mini-lesson, but I don't believe that this was a major part of the curriculum. Well, when I got to college and had to take an English grammar and punctuation course, I was in total shock and confusion when the professor taught this. I had no clue what was going on!! It was horrible, but I am glad that I went through it! After surveying my classmates, I found out that I was one of only 3 students who had never done this before.
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Diagramming Sentences
Old 02-09-2008, 05:59 AM
 
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I know - we are a bit of a throwback, I suppose. I think it might be more typical in Catholic schools, though. When I first started teaching at this school, my grade-level partner taught English (I taught Reading). She's an old-school teacher (she retired two years ago), and really, really knows her stuff (she proof-reads for an advertising company as a side job). I expressed wonder about the diagramming, too! When she retired and we changed things up (I now teach English and Reading, which to me makes more sense; my new grade-level partner teaches Math and Science), she had to take me through diagramming, to refresh my (very foggy) memory.

I have to say, though, that it is kind of fun. The kids do enjoy it - they like to break out their rulers! I tell them it is like we are dissecting (sp?) sentences. And I have seen an increase in comprehension by some students.

I agree that some people are just going to be great with reading, writing, speaking, etc. However, I agree with wig - not everyone has an innate gift for the English language. The students that are helped the most by learning all of the terms/diagramming are the kids who are NOT really good writers/readers/speakers.

In my K-8 school, we have two upper grade English/Literature teachers. They are both excellent teachers and highly regarded, including by the parents of students who are now in HS/college, etc. They both stand by diagramming and learning the basics. They have been teaching for quite a while, and I respect their opinions.

I also agree with wig in that it can be made fun. I play a lot of review games with my kids. Also, just make sure you use the correct terminology all of the time - it will sink in!
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a few more questions
Old 02-09-2008, 09:25 AM
 
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What I asked, though, has still not been answered. I am asking how diagramming sentences results in better writers. You've told me why you love it. You've told me it teaches them parts of speech. You have told me how it prepares them for high school (for more diagramming, I presume). You have told me how much you respect those high school teachers, and if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you. But no one has told me how it makes a better reader, or writer. How, exactly, does diagramming sentences help students with their own reading or writing? I would agree with you that study like this increases our knowledge of grammar, and I would agree that grammar knowledge is helpful in a foreign language (although not necessarily a prerequisite) but what does it teach about READING or WRITING? No one has answered that.

BTW, I can diagram any sentence you put before me, as I was taught this way in a public school.
 
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:57 PM
 
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I thought I did answer this question. I obviously did not, at least to your liking. I do not like the tone you chose to take with this last post, so I, for one, will respond no further.

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Old 02-09-2008, 03:01 PM
 
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I truly don't mean to "take a tone." I am honestly interested in the answers to my questions. If you'll re-read your response, you actually did not answer my questions at all. You told me the kids enjoy it (subjective data). You did say you "saw an increase in comprehension" but you didn't say what it was they were comprehending. You did say that the kids who are not the best readers and writers are helped the most by this activity--can you tell me specifically how they are helped, in what way they are helped? To merely state that they are "helped" by this is nebulous and I'm really interested in learning in what way this helps them. Are they helped in their reading? Writing? How do you see this? To what do you point as evidence? You told me you respect the opinons of these other teachers. You only told me that they "stand by diagramming" but not WHY. I'm truly not intending to take a tone with you. I'm asking you to reflect, and maybe you don't want to do that. I'm sorry. I reflect constantly on my classroom practice, and ask myself hard questions about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I thought it would be okay to ask you to do that. I'm just really interested in your responses. I'm not trying to offend you. I'm sorry that you don't wish to respond further.

wig--I agree that not everyone is naturally gifted with language. Some people don't write as well as others. My question, though, is how is parts of speech/diagramming instruction helpful to those students? How does labeling the parts of a sentence improve writing skills? Or reading skills? Your response implies that for some, it is not possible to be an excellent writer without knowing terminology ("Obviously, it is possible to be an excellent writer without knowing terminology....But that does not mean that all students can"). And once they learn this terminology, once they can point to an adjective and name it correctly, how does that improve their writing? It is not my experience that students who cannot define adjectives also cannot use them.

So--how does parts of speech and diagramming instruction improve student reading or writing?
 
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Old 02-09-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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My take on it...you can't really do something well unless you know how it works inside and out. Diagramming sentences allows writers to see how words are related to one another. If a writer knows how words are related (i.e. forms), then that person's writing will ultimately improve. Parts of speech are related because they explain not what the word is, but how the word is used. Using the correct form of speech in writing helps the reader to enjoy what they are reading. It makes it easier for the reader to understand what they are reading.


Other PT posters... am I close?
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Old 02-09-2008, 06:29 PM
 
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I never learned to diagram sentences, so I have never taught it. Re: parts of speech, well, I suppose I could substitute words and say that your story needs more descriptive words, specific names for places and people should be capitalized, the action words should agree, etc. But why would you not teach them the proper terminology? I don't believe I ever stated that my students have to label parts of the sentences so I can't really answer that question. Nor did I ever state that it will make them better readers. In my opinion, the BEST way to become a good writer is to do a lot of reading as it teaches them how to develop voice and to "hear" correct usage. But understanding why you do not use an object pronoun as the subject will help them write correctly also. Perhaps you are assuming that all of us are teaching grammar in isolation?

We probably have to agree to disagree. Since my students do very well on the written portion of the state assessments, i am probably doing something right. I am sure your students do also. Every teacher needs to teach so that the end objective is reached. If I reach my final objective by including grammar terminology and you reach it without it, I guess we are both doing well.

And you are right: knowing grammar is not a prerequisite to learning a foreign language but initially it makes it much easier and since in many districts at least two years are required if you are college prep. learning the correct terminology helps in this area also.
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Old 02-11-2008, 03:50 PM
 
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As I read through these posts I am laughing (I know....we are all typing in a hurry) at all the grammatical mistakes made on this page alone. Many teachers I know would have fits that the poster didn't capitalize sentences, the word "English" and spelled the word "a lot" as one word. So many teachers are blaming text messaging, email, blogging, and IMs as the the reasons for failing grammar scores. Maybe they have a point?

Ok. I know. Please....I am not trying to be "mean" here but making a point. Diagramming all those sentences doesn't carry over to writing. This was an excellent question! I use the Daily Language Review. Today, I used writing Cinquains to teach nouns, synonyms, adjectives, participles, and verbs. It was fun!

Now, let me sit back and carefully edit my post.

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Old 02-12-2008, 04:23 AM
 
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If it were true that we can't do really well anything we don't understand inside and out, then we wouldn't be able to drive. I don't have to understand the internal combustion engine in order to drive a car. I need to know where the gas is, and the brake, and I need to understand some rules of the road, but I don't have to be able to say what a piston does, or a gas filter. I don't have to understand how a computer works to use one very well. I know there's something in there called a motherboard, but I don't know how it works or what the function is of even one of those little ports. Yet here I am, using a computer like I "understand" it.

I don't think your analogy holds.

wig--I'm sorry, I should be clearer. I realize that you never said you taught diagramming. I agree with you wholeheartedly that reading is the practice that will carry over into writing. I don't see anything wrong with teaching proper terminology, as long as it doesn't fog over what it is we're trying to TEACH. I must tell you, I have both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in English, and I had to stop to think what an "object pronoun" is. My own opinion is that is a little wordy and unneccesary for sixth grade (or even high school). Can't we just tell them it's "my friend and I" rather than "me and my friend" in subject position? You don't have to defend a thing to me. I have read your posts and respect what you say. But I would not get that technical and wordy, personally. I think it makes communication harder, not easier, but that's just me. And yes, I guess I am assuming that some posters are teaching grammar in isolation, as I'm not sure how one diagrams "in context."

Thanks, Joanna. I thought it was a good question too. I haven't received a good answer, though.
 
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:38 PM
 
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Seriously not worth it

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Old 02-12-2008, 02:55 PM
 
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Part of what good readers and writers do as they advance is to analyze what they read and write. Having proper terminology makes this a smoother and more intelligible process. (We can describe anything, but content vocab. makes us easier to understand and streamlines the process.) Also, most students will need to take a foreign language in upper grades. To learn a new language it is vitally important to understand parts of speech, because different languages employ them differently. For instance in French, you often find the object of the preposition before the preposition. If you don't understand what the parts of speech are in your own language, it makes this much more difficult.

I didn't really learn grammar until 7th grade, when I encountered a teacher who was grammar crazy. I was lost for awhile, but eventually got it and it was so helpful when it came time to take French. I also have lots of people who give me their writing to edit and I can defend any changes I make using proper terminology so we both understand.
Now diagramming...that I don't get. I had to do that as a freshman and I didn't care for it then, and still think it's pretty pointless. But that's just me.
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I was amazed...
Old 02-12-2008, 03:22 PM
 
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I decided to look up what true sentence diagramming looked like. I did a little Google search... It took me about ten minutes to figure it all out. I guess I hadn't realized that it looks like a big herring bone by the time you finish! Is this what everyone who teaches it does or was it just one type of diagramming. I think I need a Diagramming for Dummies book before I try it!!!!
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Please don't try to appease me
Old 02-12-2008, 06:01 PM
 
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because I'm not angry. I do not have an issue with grammar. I'm merely asking teachers how diagramming aids reading and writing.

"I didn't say what I said was correct, did I?" I'm not sure how to respond to that, because I'm not sure what it means.

"I have no clue what is IN my computer, but I know HOW to use it." Um, thank you for making my point so well for me.

Roo--I couldn't possibly agree with your post any more. I stated earlier, as well, that grammar instruction helps in learning a second language. I still don't think it's a fast-and-hard prerequisite, but it helps. (And actually, when the preposition comes after the object, as it does in several other languages besides French, we don't call it a preposition. It's a postposition).

So--how does sentence diagramming lead to improved reading or writing?
 
Happy2CU
 
 
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Happy2CU
 
 
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Knowing the "inside" has to help.
Old 02-12-2008, 06:36 PM
 
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We all learn in different ways. Our students do the same. Not every student will benefit from diagramming, but some will be able to see how words work together and where they appear in the order of a sentence. I never learned to diagram a sentence, but my daughter did not understand why order mattered in a sentence until she learned to diagram.

How does it lead to improved reading or writing? Well....I don't know why my computer works, but I am pretty adept at using it as a tool. I have a friend who understands the inside and outside of the computer and I can guarantee that he is even more adept at using the computer than I.

The same holds true for grammar. It is a parts-to-whole concept. Many students and adults can write and read coherently without ever having diagrammed a sentence or learned the correct terms for grammar. But give them a lesson in diagramming or structured grammar and I would bet that their skills would improve. This would happen because they would begin to see relationships between parts of speech. Diagramming is just one way to show this relationship. It is certainly not the only way.
 
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sonshine
 
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Grammar
Old 02-14-2008, 05:56 PM
 
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I teach third and fourth and I do think it's important for children to be aware of the basics of parts of speech. They need to have at least heard of the words: noun, verb, adjective... However, I never spend a LOT of time on it for a few reasons:

First of all, I remember going to a Halloween party where we had to put in a certain part of speech in various places in a story. These professionals (doctors, dentists, etc.) were all saying, "What on earth is an adjective? What is an adverb?'' Which led me to think: OK, how important is it for me to spend a great deal of time making sure my third graders have mastered these terms?

Then I had a couple experiences in my class which reinforced the feeling that this wasn't particularly developmentally appropriate at this age. I remember teaching a class on verb tense to my first third grade class and one of my "strugglers" came up to me and said, "But, Teacher, I don't know how to spell president." I realized, "OK, he is not getting this at all!!" (We were doing past, present, future tenses.)

Around the same time one of my sharpest kids insisted that the sentence "The birds sing." could not possibly be a complete sentence because it didn't tell what kind of birds or where they sang!!!

So I tended to lean towards lots of reading and writing and teach the grammar incidentally. (For example, as I'm reading a story--"shuddered" Wow! That's a great verb!!)

I spend more time teaching why using exact nouns and verbs can bring your writing to life than in identifying what a noun and verb is. Truthfully, if you use the right nouns and verbs you barely need the adjectives or adverbs!

I taught grades 5-8 Language Arts for three years and that's the age when it begins to click in. It's really idiotic to have to spend much time with it in the primary grades when they don't "get it" no matter how much effort you put into it.

Note: We did do some diagramming sentences in our 5-8 class. I think it helps the students really figure out the parts of speech.
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