Grade: Middle
Subject: Language

#2324. Diagramming Sentences 101

Language, level: Middle
Posted Mon Jul 23 18:51:59 PDT 2001 by M. Thrash (
East Central Alternative School, Decatur, MS
Materials Required: Blackboard/overhead/plenty of paper
Activity Time: 10 minutes to begin
Concepts Taught: Underlying structure of sentences

You must understand that diagramming sentences is strictly
a means to understand the unlying structure of typical English sentences.
Teaching diagramming for the sake of diagramming only upsets other English teachers.
Encourage students to argue, show each other, and analyze their progress.

1. Prepare about 10 sentences, going from easy to slightly longer.
During the first session, you only want simple subject and simple verbs.

2.Discuss the human back. It has two main parts: the backbones (the verbs)
and the skull (the subject). Draw a horizontal line. This is the sentence
spine. Make everyone draw and show (make them hold it up, and complement
every student individuallly).

3. What is the separation between backbone and skull? The neck, which
is a line. Draw a shorter perpendicular line through the middle of the
horizontal line. Have everyone show. Complement them only if done
correctly. Have others fix or redo. You want them to clearly understand
the separation must go THROUGH the line.

3. Tell them the first thing to put in is the verb structure. All of it.
Main verb, helpers, all. Verbs ALWAYS go on the right side. Show them.
Make them write it in. Show. Comment on each student's work.

4. Put in a subject (goes on the other side). Comment on each student.

5. Put up a new sentence (should be not more than subject plus auxiliary & verb)

6. Draw spline and split and show.

7. Fill in verb and show. Correct as necessary. Some students
will have a great deal of difficulty putting things in the correct place. Allow
them to look on other students' work, or have other students help.

8. Fill in subject and show.

9. Let students give you extremely simple sentences and let you
diagram (use overhead, so you can get done). Invite them to use the
overhead (my high school students love this!).

10. Make students do "mini-posters" from colored paper and markers and cover the walls.

11. Stop the first session while they are BEGGING for more.