Thursday, February 27, 2014


book sale find
From the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, grammar instruction has followed a crooked path. We started out using the Calvert workbook that came from our days with PA Cyber. Later we moved on to using materials we borrowed from our local school district. We have been having some success using Steck Vaughn's Language Usage and Practice series for the last two or three years. This year we also read parts of the book Painless Grammar aloud for a bit of fun. I happened upon a nice workbook for diagramming sentences over the summer. I decided it's time to incorporate that into our plan.

I know I did sentence diagramming at some point in school. I asked a friend that went to school with me to verify the fact. She said we did it in 7th or 8th grade English class. I'm guessing either I didn't pay much attention, or it was just easy and I didn't have to think about it too much, so I don't remember doing it. Last week I started JT with this book. He wanted to know why it's important to learn to do this. I told him that even though he won't be called on to diagram a sentence in his day to day life, knowing how all the pieces fit together can help him in his writing. I reminded him how sometimes I tell him to take a look at a sentence he has written and figure out why it just feels awkward. Because he is a voracious reader, I think he just has a natural feeling for the flow of writing. But there are times that 'feeling' isn't enough to come up with the best sentence. I'm hoping this diagramming workbook can give him that little extra something he needs to fill in those gaps.

Of course, it made me laugh when I saw this article about the wrong ways to teach grammar shared on Facebook today. The author starts the piece with this:
"A century of research shows that traditional grammar lessons—those hours spent diagramming sentences and memorizing parts of speech—don’t help and may even hinder students’ efforts to become better writers. Yes, they need to learn grammar, but the old-fashioned way does not work."
Oops. I might have to rethink my new plan. Again.

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