Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Diagrammer/Die, grammar- 3.6 #sol19 Story Challenge

As part of eighth graders and I delving into intricate, under-explored worlds of sentence structure, today I dusted off diagramming as a visual way to make sense of grammatical conceits like parts of speech, subjects, verbs, phrases, clauses, etc. I then asked students to go find an "interesting sentence" in their choice-reading books -- one that made them stop to admire it, made them think, "Haven't seen a sentence like you before" or even "I'd like to write a sentence like you some day."

Here's the first one a student shared from a book about professional hockey player Connor McDavid, all 37 words of it:
On Oilers Now, a local sports radio program dedicated to discussing the team, Bob Stauffer fielded call after call from tortured fans despondent for Connor, the Oilers, their own suffering, and the second-unit power play.
Initially flustered, students started working through the basics of it and puzzled over next-level obstacles. Come to think of it, the experience reminds me now of how my wife taught me to ski: Try something foolishly hard, so the next challenge feels not-so-brutal.

When you're ready to play along, click through to see our solution. Comments welcome.


  1. This brings back memories. We spent the entire eighth grade diagramming sentences. Your student pick actough sentence to begin with.

  2. I use diagramming as a tool to analyze text for the sake of revision. We say we are mapping the sentence and call the results a "sentence map." I will check out your "solution."

  3. This is fascinating, it makes me wish that sometimes I was teaching older levels of students who have English as their first language. Love the diagram and presume the students learnt a lot too!

  4. Brian, this is another one of your clever ideas and I love your tie-in to your beginnings as a skier.

  5. Diagramming sentences ? Wonder if I could still do that. You did make want to pick up a book and find some of those sparkling sentences. You can surely write them.

  6. I love me some sentence diagramming- a lost art for sure!