Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Sentence Diagramming is Important

 I use Rod and Staff grammar curriculum and as a result, my students have had many years of sentence diagramming.  

Year after year, they diagrammed increasingly more difficult sentences as part of their English lessons.  Many times wondering, "What is the point of this?"

Oh, I know, many adults see sentence diagramming as useless, busy work.  But, I had my students do it, knowing it provided a skill they couldn't quite understand yet.

The light of understanding dawned on my high school junior last week.  She is taking Spanish at the community college and said to me, "I'm glad I had to diagram sentences.  It helps me understand Spanish sentence structure."

Apparently, her professor had referenced English sentence diagramming to illustrate how words work in Spanish sentences.  When she asked the class how many knew how to diagram sentences, only 2 students raised their hands- my daughter and another student (also homeschooled).

Joining the conversation, my high school senior said sentence diagramming helped him on his standardized tests (SAT and ACT).  Because he knew correct sentence structure, he could easily identify the incorrect sentences.

He went on to say, " I will use those Rod and Staff books to homeschool my kids, but I will rip out the poetry sections."

The poetry sections made no sense to him and therefore were very frustrating.  Rhythm, meter, and scansion aren't really important to me, so I'm sure I assigned the lessons and we did the best we could!

I understand why sentence diagramming is important: 

1.  It helps students understand sentence structure
2.  It helps students learn a foreign language
3.  It helps students on the SAT and ACT

Can somebody please tell me why understanding poetry structure is important for the non-poet?

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