Partner Sentence Analysis

Normally, I would put a sentence up on the whiteboard and call on students to identify the

A) Parts of speech
B) Parts of the sentence (subject/predicate/direct object/indirect object/subject complement)
C) Phrases (prepositional/appositive/infinitive/gerund/participial)
D) Type of sentence (declarative/interrogative/exclamatory/imperative) and sentence structure (Simple Independent Clause/Compound I,cc I/Complex ID/Complex D,I)

But since our work with word investigations, I’ve noticed how much the students love figuring things out in small collaborative groups.  So I wrote out sentences on long pieces of construction paper.  Each pair of students was given a sentence and asked to analyze it.  I created two of each sentence so that when groups were finished they could compare their analysis with the other group that analyzed the same sentence.  The last step will be for the four who analyzed each sentence to present their analysis on the whiteboard.

I was so pleased to hear the students use reason and logic in making their decisions.  Team members felt comfortable challenging suggestions being made, and each pair ultimately made their decisions based on evidence from either a dictionary, their brochure, or their Grammar Examiner notebook.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are past the days of wild guessing and instead, expecting the order of things to make sense!

I was particularly impressed that with such interesting and complicated looking sentences, they ended up making very few errors.  At this point in the semester, the students are discovering that one word can be more than one part of speech, depending on its use in the sentence.  It’s interesting to listen to them critically think about which identification is most likely.


3 thoughts on “Partner Sentence Analysis

  1. It was really fun to do it and look back on all that we have learned. If we did it at the beginning of the school year, I bet we would have failed. Over time we have learned so much, but we wouldn’t have done it without Mrs.Steven!


  2. I love watching how your students are handling this task collaboratively. I too found that through word investigations all my teaching changed dramatically. Learning occurs through talk and discussion and proposing explanations to be later refined. Look at the level of their engagement! Well done Grade 5.

  3. Starting my day by savouring your latest blog post has been sheer joy.

    Watching your young scholars chatting comfortably about whether a conjunction is coordinating or subordinating, amiably bandying about terms like ‘preposition’ and ‘interjection’ and being completely at ease discussing whether ‘when’ in a given sentence is functioning as an adverb or a coordinating conjunction was as much music to my ears as Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

    Your comment that “the students are discovering that one word can be more than one part of speech” is an ideal cue for another class session on Latin.

    That’s because the students have discovered that English is what linguistics terms an ‘analytic’ language, one that tends not to alter the form of its words but to uses word order to express grammatical structure. This contrasts with Latin that is a ‘synthetic’ language, one that is characterized by the use of inflections rather than word order to express grammatical structure.

    In our previous Latin session with your students I was mightily impressed by how well and quickly they grasped the synthetic nature of Latin and that word order has an entirely different function and effect in Latin than it does in English.

    You, and the wider real spelling community, are brilliantly showing that my dictum that ‘the only thing that scholarship and schools have in common is the first four letters’ is not necessarily universally true!

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