Diagramming Sentences

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Listening to an episode, A Loss for Words, from one of my favorite podcasts, Snap Judgment, I was reminded of my experiences with diagramming sentences in the tenth grade.  My English teacher in tenth grade was Mrs. Beverly Frederick.  Yes, I still remember her name. Why? Because in her class, my classmates and I religiously diagrammed sentences.  I know that many of my classmates emphatically hated diagramming sentences.  Even though I pretended to hate it, I enjoyed diagramming sentences.  I liked diagramming sentences because of how neat my handwriting looked, as I separated the different parts of a sentence: the subject, the predicate, a gerund, and a prepositional phrase. Also, I appreciated diagramming sentences because it required me to pay close attention details.  The meticulous work, which was needed to diagram a sentence, provided me with immense pleasure.  In tenth grade, I would never admit this, but since I am "grown," I can admit it freely.  LOL.

The diagramming of a sentence was a tedious process, which often resulted in hours of doing my homework, I benefitted significantly from doing it. In the beginning, the homework assignments to diagram a sentence seemed strange and arduous, but as you learned more and more about how to do it, the task became relatively easy to do.  The repetition of diagramming sentences and identifying the parts and patterns within a sentence helped me with my writing, especially when I attended college.  During college, I was able to write successfully my assignments, as well as earn extra money as a tutor during my undergraduate and graduate years.  

When I taught Special Education at two high schools, I was surprised that the English classes did not focus on diagramming sentences.  The argument to teach or not to teach diagramming sentences is very controversial.  Those individuals, who are against teaching diagramming sentences believe that it is a waste of time.  Honestly, I do not believe that it is a waste of time.  In my opinion, diagramming sentences sharpens critical thinking skills and promotes active learning.

After I performed a Google search on diagramming sentences, I was surprised to find resources from community colleges, like Capital Community College, that shared resources on how to diagram a sentence.  Capital Community College has numerous resources on diagramming sentences.  In an effort to provide more a compilation of resources on diagramming sentences, I created a diagramming sentence resource on my teaching website: Diagramming Sentences.

Do you remember your experience with diagramming sentences?  Were you good at diagramming sentences? Should students learn how to diagram their sentences in secondary education (K-12)?

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