Friday, January 16, 2015

Breaking Things Down

second try
About a year ago I wrote a post about grammar and how I was starting to work with JT on sentence diagramming. Well that only lasted a few weeks before I abandoned the idea. The book I was using wasn't really appropriate for his level. Also, he found it tedious. So I tossed it aside and went back to our usual routine. Now he's using the free version of English Grammar 101 for his instruction and that works just fine for him.

At the start of this year, I realized I needed something new for EM. Language, especially written, has always been his weakest subject. I planned to use a combination of Calvert's 5th grade grammar workbook and the diagramming workbook as a supplement to see how it worked for him. As the weeks went on, it became obvious that Calvert's traditional approach of breaking down sentences by underlining and circling various components wasn't making sentence construction clear to him. However, he was flying through the diagramming book with no problems. I was telling a friend how much difficulty he was having with the Calvert book and she said, "Get rid of it! Why not just use the diagramming?" Sometimes I just can't put two and two together.

too many directions
The diagramming workbook does start each lesson with a long set of directions to identify the parts of a few example sentences. I discovered two things in this process. EM can not handle multiple instructions being given in one set of written directions. Once I realized that, we would circle or underline each of the separate requirements in those instructions. Then he would mark them off, one at a time, as he completed them. This simple change made things so much easier for him. But the real difference came in being able to SEE those sentence parts and their relationships to each other by doing the actual diagramming. He could finally understand how the adjectives were related to the nouns they modified because it became obvious when diagrammed. I knew he was a visual learner, but I had never really thought about how much easier grammar would be if he could see it in that way.

spiral bound books are the best
Since the little diagramming book I had on my shelf only has a few months worth of lessons in it, I went ahead and invested in a weightier volume that should last us well into his high school years. I read good reviews of Drawing Sentences by Eugene R. Moutoux and I'm hoping it lives up to them. Thankfully it has a complete answer key in the back. I didn't do much diagramming in my own school years, so I'm learning right there with him.

One test question at the very end of the book has a sentence that fills an entire page. It is an excerpt from a speech by Thomas Jefferson.

I think I have some work cut out for me in the future.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Don't you love it when you can't see the obvious? I often have that happen because I'm just too close to our homeschooling. :) As for diagramming, I wholeheartedly approve. I found that it helps my builder sons to deconstruct sentences to understand how they work. Glad things are working out.