I still remember standing at the chalkboard in Mrs. Kopald's fourth grade class diagramming a sentence. I had no idea what I was writing or why. I drew a straight line and all these branches and just wrote stuff on them. I didn't know what I was really doing and still don't know a past participle from a gerund or direct object.
I felt similarly about iambic pentameter in high school which looked like this:
× / × / × / / × × / (×) To be or not to be, | that is the question
These were the types of activities that turned me off from writing for so many years. Can I really write if I don't know parts of speech or rules of grammar? Can I really rap (yeah, I did that in high school) if I don't know iambic pentameter.
It's kinda like when that teacher tells you that you need to understand quadratic equations to be a good athlete in sports like baseball, or basketball, or for me, volleyball, but then you find out, really you don't.
After detoxing from school, I have discovered, I can write even though I can't diagram a sentence. I can rap even though I am unable to do iambic pentameter, and I can play volleyball even though I can't (and don't want to) do quadratic equations.
Still, I found it pretty cool when I came across this sentence tree generator. Among other things, what is cool about it is that it changes as you change your sentence. Is that Oxford comma to be or not to be? Well stick it in this tool and watch what happens. It's also pretty neat to watch all your words become labeled by parts of speech.
I'm not sure what or how this is useful, but I am sure there are language arts teachers out there (like this one) who can tell me.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.