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Charlene Tess

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Teaching Styles: Sentence Analysis vs Holistic Writing
By Charlene Tess   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2007

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Analyzing the structure of sentences can make students better writers.

Are you an educator who believes that teaching grammar has absolutely no role in teaching writing skills? If so, you are one of many educators who feel that way, but I think the two skills are intertwined.


It seems to me that if a student learns to take a sentence apart and find its subject, verb, complement, modifiers, phrases, and clauses, then s/he can more easily put the various parts back together into well-constructed sentences of his/her own.


Those who are learning to write well need to examine and understand the structure of a sentence in the same way that a seamstress and homebuilder need a pattern and blueprint.  Once students have mastered the structure of an English sentence, they can move on to writing dynamic paragraphs and compositions.


At the beginning of my thirty-four-year teaching career, I found out very quickly that traditional grammar books were impossible to use. The books presented the lessons in an illogical sequence. Frequently, an exercise included participles, infinitives, and gerunds before students had any idea what they were; consequently, students identified such words as verbs.


Through trial and error, after I developed hundreds of student practice sheets, I determined the most logical sequence in which to analyze English sentences and ended up writing my own grammar instruction manual. In the book, are eight simple steps to analyze and construct sentences. Then, because students needed to transpose each element they had learned to identify into original sentences of their own, I added Writing Connection exercises. The result is my grammar workbook, Simple Steps to Sentence Sense.


You will be amazed at how much work the book will save you. Everything you need is in it. Notes, overhead projector transparencies, group worksheets, individual worksheets, tests, writing connection sheets, and as an added bonus, the answers are all in the back of the book. I have included an advanced analysis section for students in A.P. classes and those who enroll in honors courses. All you have to do is print as many pages as you need, or use a copy machine.


One of the most unique features of Simple Steps to Sentence Sense is the Sentence Analysis Map that my students affectionately referred to as SAM.  It is a one-page study guide (front and back) that contains all 8 steps, and all the notes that students would otherwise have to copy into their notebooks. I always allowed them to use the SAM sheet on worksheets and on tests.


My way of teaching grammar and composition could work for you, too. Just give it a try and see how much your students enjoy learning to write this way. They will be successful, make good grades, become accomplished writers, and look forward to working together in groups while analyzing sentences.


You can contact me at for more information.

You can purchase a C.D. by visiting my website at and I will send your copy by U.S. mail, or you can download the book from






Web Site: Charlene Tess

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Reviewed by Gerald Zollar (Reader) 3/12/2010
Would have been nice to see your 8 steps. I have books on English grammar so I don't need to buy another.
Any who mildly helpful article. ( that is not a typo for how.)

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