Today in my English Grammar class, an advanced course for English majors wishing to teach secondary English and those with a Technical and Business Writing concentration, I put students in seven small groups and asked them to invent a visual system for diagramming sentences. We have been reading Kitty Burns Florey’s Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, specifically a chapter on the history of the Clark and Reed-Kellogg sentence diagramming systems, and I thought it would be a fun challenge to have students create their own visual vocabulary.
They jumped right in, and here below is the assignment and seven sets of results. They used large Post-It paper on the classroom walls. The first page is the legend; the second includes the three sentences using the diagramming system they invented. Not bad for a 45 minute exercise. Click on images for larger view.
Invent a simple visual system for diagramming sentences that does not use the Clark or Reed-Kellogg diagramming rules. You will need to invent a simple visual system for diagramming the following three sentences.
- I lost my new iPhone yesterday.
- Hey! That blue Prius is just beautiful.
- After I graduate, I will sleep all day and eat what I like.
On one sheet, create a legend that explains the basics of your visual system. For example, how are the different parts of a sentence and their functions to be represented, ordered, and linked? You may use shapes, images, symbols, and color. On another sheet, demonstrate how this system would visually represent the three sentences above.