Diagramming Sentences

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newengltchr, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2015

    I'm currently taking an advanced grammar course as a part of my master's program, and I am happy to report that I am learning a lot; however, I (and many other teachers in the course) are quite stuck when it comes to diagramming sentences. We've read research for and against sentence diagramming, but I wanted your thoughts on this, too. How is this supposed to help when we can't master diagramming ourselves?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 19, 2015

    Well, it won't help if you can't diagram sentences. You'll need to learn how to do that.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Apr 19, 2015

    Honestly, I'm having trouble figuring out what you are asking.

    You asked, "How is this supposed to help when we can't master diagramming ourselves? "

    How is what supposed to help when you can't master diagramming yourself? Your previous sentence was about research for and against diagramming sentences?

    Do you mean the class? The research? To what is "this" referring?

    Also, why are you struggling to diagram sentences? Is it lack of grammar knowledge? Do you have a book to teach you how to diagram sentences as it teaches the grammar as you learn to diagram? If not, I suggest you pick one up and supplement your learning using it. I'm getting the feeling that this class required a good foundation in grammar since it is an Advanced class and that foundation is not there for many in your class which is why you are struggling.

    I am of the opinion that diagramming is an important part of learning grammar. It is the analysis of a sentence demonstrated in a visual form. It allows a method to demonstrate that the student understands the structure of the sentence and how each word relates to the others. However, diagramming requires understanding grammar which is why trying to diagram complex sentences without learning how to diagram simple sentences and build on them or how to diagram sentences when you do not know grammar is near impossible.
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2015

    Relearning how to diagram sentences is one of my goals for this summer. It will be so much easier to teach grammar if I can incorporate the visuals into my lessons. My mother, a retired English teacher, is an expert on the almost-lost art. Maybe I'll ask if we can do some practice together when I visit.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2015

    I've always preferred phrase-structure trees or syntactic trees to diagrams - the trees have the distinct advantage of preserving word order - but the chances are excellent that I'm in the minority.

    cat, if you really want to understand how English works as a language, I can suggest some fine linguistics books.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 20, 2015

    Thanks! I have some great books from over the years, including my mother's copy of Warriner's English Grammar and Composition that shows how to diagram sentences. My way of learning is more hands-on and listening than just reading, I suppose, so working with Mom would be ideal. Besides, it could be one of the more bizarre mother-daughter bonding experiences out there.
     
  8. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Apr 20, 2015

    Oh my, I LOVE diagramming! I teach my college-level writing students to diagram. I taught my middle school students to diagram. It's so beneficial! Struggling students can SEE what a sentence looks like! All students can instantly label every single part of a sentence just by looking at a diagram! I am a huge advocate of diagramming. Can you tell?
     
  9. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2015

    I must have been exhausted when I posted that response because I don't even know what "this" is. My apologies.

    I have a solid foundation with grammar; however, I find the sentence diagramming quite confusing. Of course, diagramming sentences with simple noun and verb phrases is very easy, but diagramming complex sentences is, well, complex. It is difficult to remember where all of the horizontal, vertical, and dotted lines are supposed to be placed when sentences become increasingly complex. If I could memorize the patterns, diagramming might be easier, but I don't see any value in memorizing those patterns.

    To me (and many of my colleagues), sentence diagramming is not a 21st century skill. While there may be some benefits to diagramming a sentence, there must be more effective ways to approach grammar that will help students become stronger writers.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 24, 2015

    Traditional sentence diagramming is far from the only way, or even the only right way, to understand sentence structure. newengtchr's point that the placement of elements in the diagram is arbitrary is well taken: the diagram illuminates relationships, true, but at the expense of warping temporal order. From the point of view of linguistics, in addition, not all of the categories of analysis are very apt.
     

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