Thursday, August 17, 2006

I've been Napping

After organized school time, after I uploaded a batch of updates for a web site, after I went to the office to muddle with a networking problem, and after I picked up one or two things from the grocery store, I took a nap. I just couldn't go any longer. The heat and humidity are debilitating. I believe the heat index is hovering around 105, though the temperature is 96. I find it difficult to find the energy to do much of anything outside or, apparently, inside.

Regardless of the heat, or perhaps because of it, school has been going well. This is the best year ever. I have relaxed. I have begun to trust myself to know what my children need to know. I have become attuned to their educational needs so I can help them learn the things they want to know. We are all learning, happily. An example of this new found confidence lies in the grammar program.

We started The Plan this week by easing in with a review of subject, verb, noun and predicate definitions. My children know these so there was no problem here. I do want to mention the really cool way Strunk and White define a verb, "Verbs activate sentences." Yes, they also have the more standard show action or state of being in the definition, but they finish with, "Verbs activate sentences." I just love that simplicity.

We moved forward by identifying and diagramming subjects and verbs in simple sentences. I took the sentences straight from Henry and Ribsy, one of the books The Pink Panther is reading. I think taking the sentences from real texts or their own writing is important because the child makes the connection between language in books and what goes on in grammar. And that makes grammar more important. Some of you may be saying, "Why is she making her children diagram sentences? No one does that any more." I say diagraming is just a tool to help understand how sentences are formed. Besides, I think it is fun in small doses. Apparently my children do, too. Now if you need help remembering (or learning) those diagraming systems, there are several workbooks and books with diagramming. Of course, the first thing you need to do is decide how you will spell the word so you can do an internet search. Is it diagramming or diagraming? Both are acceptable and both are used in titles of books about the subject. Here are a few I have seen:
  • Better Sentence Structure through Diagraming comes in two levels and provides straightforward instructions and exercises. The lines are drawn and the students fill in the blanks. You can get this at Rainbow Resource.
  • Diagraming Sentences is also a workbook (around $6) but this one has perforated pages. The student is required to draw the lines rather than construct sentences to fit the diagram.
  • Grammar by Diagram by Cindy Vitto is more advanced and should really just be a tool for you. I think this book is beautiful and practical. It is spiral bound.
  • For that free online help we have come to cherish. Go here!
Having mentioned all these books and workbooks, I still feel students do better when you use sentences from their writing or from books they are reading because the grammar is not, then, isolated. Thinking of sentence structure while reading, writing, and speaking is so important.

After the diagramming, I added some editing practice. For this I do use a workbook type thing because no one wants their errors highlighted when they are just learning to put it all together. I chose Editor in Chief from Critical Thinking. Princess is not participating in this, yet, though I do hope she will be able to hop aboard fairly soon.

Added to this the children are reading good books, writing in a journal, and studying spelling. I will ask for more of them as they progress. That's grammar!


JoVE said...

I've been using Simply Grammar and the first two lessons are subject and verb. One of the exercises for the verb was to tell a story about a picture (which I had to write as she narrated) and then find all the verbs in the story. I thought that exercise went really well, though it really shows you what kinds of complex sentence construction your kids are using. My daughter uses a lot of dialogue in her stories so we had to talk about the verb in the main sentence and the verb in the sentence within the sentence.

We are enjoying this book so far. Because it has 47 lessons we have decided to do one lesson a week.

wisteria said...

Sounds like you are having fun with grammar, too! I have seen Simply Grammar and thought it looked low stress, yet complete.