While some were discovering new things about familiar words this afternoon, one group introduced us to a brand new word. Zoe found it in a book she is reading. The word is sycophant. It is defined as a self server; one who uses flattery to win favor with one who yields influence. We might call such a person a “yes-man”. It was decided that this person would not be considered sincere and should not be believed. In Zoe’s book, the sycophant is not a person but a creature.
When it was time to practice our grammar, it felt right to incorporate our new word! Here is another example of how we use knowledge, logic, and reason to analyze and better understand the structure of a sentence.
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.
During this video the students were analyzing and identifying a compound sentence. I first learned about analyzing sentences in this manner when I listened to Michael Clay Thompson at a seminar. I was fascinated. The students are really able to make better sense of how this all works together when they see all the pieces in action. Every sentence is new, but the structures become recognizable … as do the subjects and predicates … and all of the rest of it. I compare it to listening to an orchestra and talking about the role of the various instruments and how they complement each other…. and all while the orchestra is playing. We are listening and making sense of it at the same time.