An Analytical Look at a Sentence

In our classroom we analyze sentences about three times a week.  We’ve been doing this since late October.  Before that the students had a crash course in the eight parts of speech and the five parts of a sentence.  During their crash course, they made an interactive notebook that we fondly refer to as their “Grammar Examiner”.  It is a combination of information I handed out that they then taped in and information or practice that they did on their own.  It included many mind maps throughout so that the students had opportunity to reflect on what they were learning.

We began with simple sentences.  After the students were familiar with the layers of analysis, I began to add phrases (prepositional, appositive, and infinitive).   Gradually other sentence structures were introduced.  In the last month the students have become comfortable with the fact that certain words can be identified as more than one part of speech, depending on their use.  The sentence analysis then becomes a logic puzzle to solve.  With each new sentence, the students get more comfortable in their own ability to reason things out.  They not only learn the specific names of things , but also the relationships of one to another in a sentence.

The best part for me is when I can use the language they now understand to talk about their own writing – their own sentence structures.

Here comes the Judge!

What a remarkable day!  We began with an illuminating Skype visit with Michel at Real Spelling.  What a captivating resource he is!  When discussing our recent investigation of the word <prejudice>, he didn’t let on that <ge> was not a suffix  (although he certainly knew it was not).  Instead he guided us and let us see and understand that while related in meaning, the words <prejudice> and <judge> do not share the same base.   Taking this new information into consideration , we looked at our original matrix and revised it so that we now have two.  Today’s experience pointed out to us that we have a lot to learn … and I don’t find that discouraging in the least!  In fact, my students and I delight in having our sense of curiosity aroused in this fashion!

Exploring Orthography … and Loving It!

Today we pulled a word from our study of the Civil Rights Movement and took a closer look.  We chose the word prejudice.  I asked students to hypothesize what its word sum might look like.  We had some thoughtful ideas.

It seems that everyone remembered that pre is a prefix!  Earlier this year we made a list of words that included preschool, predict, pretest, prepare, pretend, and preview. With each of these words the students could explain how the meaning of the word had something to do with before (which is what pre means).  But, no one knew for a fact what the base was.  We went to Etymonline to look up the word prejudice.

prejudice (n.) Look up prejudice at
late 13c., “despite, contempt,” from Old French prejudice (13c.), from Medieval Latin prejudicium “injustice,” from Latin praejudicium “prior judgment,” from prae- “before” (see pre-) + judicium “judgment,” from judex (genitive judicis) “judge.” Meaning “injury, physical harm” is mid-14c., as is legal sense “detriment or damage caused by the violation of a legal right.” Meaning “preconceived opinion” (especially but not necessarily unfavorable) is from late 14c.

 We noticed that we were correct in regards to pre meaning before.  Looking at judicium “judgment” and judicis “judge”, we decided to go to Word Searcher to look for words.  Would the root be jud, judi, judic or even judici?  What we found there was an extensive list of words.  Most of them had jud in them.  Few had the other letter combinations we had wondered about.  We came to the conclusion that jud must by our base.  Then we wondered if ice was a suffix.  We tried to think of words we knew that had an ice suffix.  We easily thought of justice, practice, service, and, of course, prejudice!  Based on that list, we decided that ice is a suffix.  Then we were reading to think of word sums built around the base jud.  Below are some of the word sums we found.

un + jud + ge + ment + al –> unjudgemental
un + jud + ge + ed –> unjudged
un + jud + ge + able –> unjudgeable
pre + jud + ice –> prejudice
pre + jud + ice + i + al –> prejudicial
pre + jud + ice + i + ous –> prejudicious
pre + jud + ice + i + ous + ly –> prejudiciously
jud + ge –> judge
jud + ge + s –> judges
jud + ge + ed –> judged
jud + ge + ing –> judging
mis + jud + ge + ed –> misjudged
mis + jud + ge + ing –> misjudging
mis + jud + ge + s –> misjudges
jud + ge + ment + al –> judgemental
jud + ge + ment –> judgement
jud + ge + ment + s –> judgements

Then we created a matrix featuring the base jud.

The students suggested we use a notebook to keep together all these valuable investigations!  Tomorrow we’ll discuss how to organize it …. a section for matrices, word sums, and related words … a section for prefixes … a section for suffixes … a section for bound bases … a section for free bases … and a suffix checker on the inside cover.  Sounds like an awesome idea!

Grammar: Sentence Analysis

Early in the year we rushed through learning the parts of speech and the main parts of a sentence (subject, predicate, direct and indirect object, and subject complement). Since October, we have been applying that learning and beginning to understand what each part of speech’s job is in a sentence. We’re seeing how words are related to one another in a sentence. This video is in two parts. Part One demonstrates the students identifying parts of speech. With this particular sentence there were more a-ha! moments than usual. I enjoyed their enthusiasm very much. I hope you do too.

Next the students identified the important parts of the sentence and phrases. Lastly they identified the type of sentence (declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamatory) and its sentence structure (Simple I, Compound I,ccI, Complex D,I, Complex ID).

As you can see, the students are extremely engaged in this activity. They are learning to question their previous learning (one example: that before is only a preposition) and contribute thoughtful ideas. They collaborate in this effort. Even as a whole class activity, everyone is eager to participate. They make connections to previous learning, and in the process strengthen their current learning.

Frog Races … predicting, graphing, fractions to percents

Frog races have been a part of my math teaching for a while now.  It’s fun!  It’s exciting!  It’s unpredictable!  But we try to predict it anyway!  We don’t use live frogs (just in case you were wondering).  We use stuffed frogs.  I’ve made a giant race track out of a huge piece of felt by drawing a 6 x 12 grid on it.  We race six frogs and they are lined up at one end of the track.  Before we begin I ask each student to predict who will win that day’s race.  The frogs are numbered one through six.  They all have names, of course, and are more often referred to by their names.  Just in case you are curious, frog 1 is Mr. Polyester, frog 2 is Lightning, frog 3 is Fatty, frog 4 is Smoochee, frog 5 is Leaper, and frog 6 is Bobby Bo.  The students take turns racing the frogs.  The rest of the students are our spectators.

Once predictions have been made, I walk around to the spectators and ask them to shake three dice.  What they roll determines which frogs move.  Let’s say the first person shakes two 4’s and one 2.  That would mean that frog 4 (Leaper) would move two squares, and frog 2 (Lightning) would move one square.  It’s as simple as that.  We keep going until a frog has crossed the finish line.  It gets pretty exciting when there are two, three, or four frogs in a tie for the lead!

Once we have established a winner, then the students head back to their desks to fill out their data sheet.  I also send someone to update the bar graph we have on the wall in our room.  The bar graph has a picture of each frog at the bottom of the column they represent.  Their frog number is at the top of the graph.

The students keep track of each week’s results in a notebook.  They record the date, the frog they predicted would win, the frog who actually won, the fraction of times they have predicted correctly, and the percentage of times they have predicted correctly.

Next I list on the board all of the possible fractions for this race.  On this particular day it was our 8th race so a person might have guessed right either  0/8,  1/8,  2/8,  3/8,  4/8,  5/8,  6/8,  7/8, or  8/8 of the time.  I asked the students to tell me the equivalent percent for each fraction listed.  I asked them to start with the obvious ones … such as 0/8 = 0% and 8/8 = 100%.   Then someone recognized that 4/8 = 50%.   Well, if there was a 50%, I wondered out loud if there would be a 25% or 75%.  Immediately hands shot up as students recognized that 2/8 = 1/4 = 25%  and that 6/8 = 3/4 = 75%.   Once we had that much figured out, I asked if we could figure out the rest of the percentages without a calculator.  Again, some students recognized that 1/8 was half way between 0/8 and 2/8, so 1/8 would be half of 25% .  Then there was a scramble of hands up because once the pattern had been established, figuring out the rest of the percentages became fun!

The very last step is to ask the students to come up to the board and place a tally mark below the percentage that represents their personal data on predicting frog races.  Back when we had only raced twice, we had some students who had been right 50% of the time.  Currently, the best percentage is 38%.  Two students are still at 0% correct predictions.  It is good practice to talk about what observations one can make by looking at data.

In the weeks to come, we will continue to enjoy the excitement of the race, but then also become very familiar with writing fractions as percents.  The students will also begin to recognize that some fractions are easy to write as a percentage if you simplify them first.  Other fractions (with a prime number denominator) require you to get out your calculator!

Besides the fraction to percent work, it is also interesting to figure out what the chances are of shaking three of any number.  I could tell you how, but instead I challenge you to find out and submit your answer as a comment to this post.  The first person to post with a correct answer wins $50 froggy buck!  Go for it!

Note for teachers:  This activity takes about 20-25 minutes.

Finish the Old, Bring on the New

We started January 2nd with a song called “Happy, Happy New Year”.  It was sung by a french student group called the Fantastikids.  I love the hopeful and magical feel to the video.  It leaves you with that feeling that anything is possible.

Next we made two lists on the board.  One was titled “Old Business” and the other “New Business”.  Under “Old Business” were things that we started in the last two months, but have not yet finished.  We need to keep this list visible so we can work towards our goal of completing everything on it.

Old Business

Share Power Points and Prezi Presentation on Explorers

Finish and send persuasive letters to Nickelodeon and HarperCollins
Finish independent reading of trade books set during the American Revolution
Complete Koshkonong Creek Study Books

New Business

Read aloud Mr. Terupt Falls Again
Skype with author Rob Buyea
Prepare for the delivery of our 12 chromebooks! 
Prepare for our Science Fair
Begin class reading of Martin Luther King Biography and study of the Civil Rights Movement

These lists will help us keep a focus on things that need finishing so we can move on to the next exciting thing!  We’re already having a “Happy, Happy New Year!”