Each word in a sentence has a meaning, a part of speech, and a job. Some words team up with others to perform additional jobs. When working with students, it can be very helpful to analyze all of this information, to take on the whole “ecosystem” of a sentence at once. In this way students learn both the meaning and function of words, improving their reading comprehension and writing skills. Here’s a simple way to do it in the classroom:
Select a sentence to analyze–preferably one written by a student. For example: Gladys, an incorrigible chatterbox, talks incessantly about her friends.
Open a blank Google Sheet on your projector, give it a title, and enter the sentence starting with cell B1.
Discuss the meaning of each word with the students. In row 2, add synonyms or root cousins for the challenging words. For example, incorrigible has the root cousin correct. To be incorrigible is to be “uncorrectable.” The word incessant is related to cease, so incessantly is “the manner of not ceasing.” If you are working on a sentence from Word Voyage, your students will already know these root-level connections. Otherwise, www.etymonline.com and www.thesaurus.com are handy resources. Your sheet should now look like this:
In row 3, add the Parts of Speech.
In row 4, add the job performed by each Part of Speech. If the students are confused about any job, show the Word Voyage grammar video. (From your dashboard, click any group and go to Units>Modify, then click the video title). For example: Transitive and Intransitive Verbs. Other suggested resources: www.chompchomp.com and owl.english.purdue.edu. Expand the cells as needed and use Format>Text Wrapping to make everything easy to read.
In row 5, label the phrases. Use Format>Merge Cells. Darken the unused cells for visual clarity.
In row 6, describe the job performed by each phrase. Again, use Word Voyage videos as needed. For example: Appositives Merge cells, wrap text, and darken unused cells.
Add colors! This makes the whole chart much more readable.
Change the sentence. For example: The loquacious Gladys has no regard for reticence, so she just keeps talking.
Go through the steps again.
- Have a student lead the analysis of each sentence.
- Go around the room so that each question is answered by a different student.
- Assign extra practice with any words or skills that present difficulty.
- Have the students complete their own sentence charts as homework and then present them to the class.
- Share all the completed charts on the class Google Drive.