June 24, 2010
The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks
The KISS Grammar Game
(with the 
"Gettysburg Address" Edition)
Francisco de Goya's
Marquesa de Pontejos
(approx. 1786)
National Gallery of Art, 
Washington D.C.
Carol Gerten's Fine Art

     In his excellent Blueprint for Educational Change, Arthur Whimbey and his colleagues explain that a major difference between "strong" and "weak" students is that strong students work systematically, breaking a problem down into parts and working through it one step at a time.  Our "weak" students, in other words, need instruction, not only in grammar, but also in working systematically. Using the KISS Grammar Game teaches students to do this.
     This document includes the "Gettysburg Address" edition of the game and some rather technical rules for "official" play. You are, however, welcome to simplify the game in any way that you wish. The objectives, after all, are to have fun and to learn more about how sentences work. 

A General Description of the Game

     Few English teachers will disagree when I say that, for most students, the study of grammar is not fun. In fact, most English teachers don't enjoy teaching it. I had been working on the problems in teaching grammar for fifteen years, when I finally remembered my high school experiences with the Mathletes. (I'm a slow thinker with a weak memory.) The Mathletes consisted of competitive teams, eight to ten team members from each of the area high schools, who met once a month to compete at solving math problems. At the competitions, team members took turns going to the center of the room where math problems were set up, face-down on tables. At the signal to start, the competitors would turn over the papers and have a specific number of minutes to solve their problem. Those who did got the points for their team for that round. The competitions were both educational and enjoyable. I wondered if I could devise something similar for analyzing sentence structure.

     My first attempt resulted in the "Official" version of the game. (The "Gettysburg Address edition, below, is an example.) I chose a passage for analysis. Each sentence was put, in big bold type, on the center of a separate page, thereby creating a sequence of "rounds." On the back of each of these pages, again in fairly large type, I put the round number and the edition name. Two copies of these "question sheets" were made, one for each of two teams. Each was put in a clear, smooth sheet-protector so that students could use erasable ink markers to do their analysis on the sheet protectors. This way, the sheet protectors can simply be wiped clean and the game is ready for another competition. Next I made two copies of the "Point Values" sheets -- the directions for the competitors. Then I made a colored answer key for each round. Finally, I made an overhead transparency of each question sheet and each answer key. The game was ready.

     It was near the end of a semester, and the students in my college Freshman composition course had basically finished our work with prepositional phrases, subject / verb / complement patterns, and clauses. I divided the class into two teams -- men against women, and we tested the game. In turn, one member of each team came to desks at the front of the room. At the signal to start, they turned over their question sheets, and I would put the corresponding overhead on the projector. Time limits on each round ranged from thirty seconds to three minutes. I was happy to see that while the actual competitors were analyzing their sentences, most of the rest of the class was looking at the overheads, apparently trying to analyze them. When the round ended, the two competitors took their sheets to a scoring area. I briefly put up the overhead of the answer sheet, scored what had been done, and then the next two competitors came to the front of the room. 

     The objective of the KISS Grammar Game is both to motivate students and to turn some of the necessary drills into thrills. I don't blame you if you don't believe the preceding statement. I would not have believed it myself. I was shocked, however, when one of the men came up to the front of the room and started rubbing the back and shoulders of the man who was about to compete. He was "warming him up," he said, so that he would be in shape to get as many points as possible. Since then, many students have commented favorably about the game, and one noted that she did not realize how much grammar she did understand until we played the game. As I have often suggested, one of the problems in traditional teaching of grammar is that we rarely focus students' attention on what they DO know. Apparently, the KISS Grammar Game does that.

     There were, however, a few problems. The primary one was that I myself was too busy. I was able to turn over the "timer's" job to a student, but while one round of competition was going on, I found that I often had to help the previous group with their scoring. I also had to put rounds away and get the next rounds ready. This wasn't too bad if the current round had a time limit of three minutes and the previous, simpler round had only lasted thirty seconds, but when the reverse was the case I found that students were waiting for me to finish helping the scorers (and then post the totals). Also, because the rounds lasted so long, and because there were ten members on a team, students actively participated only once every twenty to thirty minutes. For the classroom, I needed a quicker, less cumbersome version of the game.

The Quicker Classroom Version

     It finally struck me (slow thinker) that I could turn in-class reviews of homework into a game. Because the students don't need question sheets, the class can easily be divided into two to four teams. Each team sits in its own row, and the members take turns simply by going down the row. I put up the overhead, turn to the first member of the first team, and we're off. That person has five seconds to identify a prepositional phrase in the first sentence. I can keep score on a simple sheet of paper divided into areas for each team. If the answer is correct, I put a hash mark in the team's section of the scoring sheet and turn to the next team. I am always liberal with the five-second rule, but if a student takes too long, I start with "Five, four, three, two, one," and then turn to the next team's next competitor. After I do this a couple times, if a competitor takes too long, members of the other teams start doing the counting for me.
     We work through a passage, sentence by sentence, with each competitor required to do the next step in the analysis. A major part of the game's purpose is to reinforce the procedure or sequence that students should  use in analyzing sentences -- prepositional phrases first, then S/V/C patterns, then clauses, etc. The procedural part is rewarded with bonus points. Thus, when there is only one prepositional phrase in a sentence that has not been identified, the person whose turn it is can get a bonus point by stating "Last prepositional phrase." [This tells the class that it is time to move to S/V/C patterns.] If the phrase is identified but the competitor did not note that it was the last, then the next person whose turn it is can get the bonus point by making that statement.
     In the classroom, the quick version has several advantages. Because turns last about ten seconds, every student is actively involved at least once every two to three minutes. Feedback is also better and directed at the entire class. For example, if the next person is supposed to identify a finite verb, but gives an incorrect answer, I simply don't mark it on the overhead and turn to the next competitor. Everyone needs to pay attention, because there have been times when we have gone through the entire class and no one has gotten the right answer. This does not usually take five seconds per student -- some students simply shake their heads, "no." On the other hand, students are usually embarrassed if they give me an incorrect answer that has already been rejected. Thus, they need to pay attention. The quick version also allows for time-outs. Because we analyze randomly selected entire texts, the texts not infrequently include a construction or combination of constructions that the students have not seen before. When we get to one of these, I call a time-out, explain the construction, and then resume the game.
     The rules of the KISS Grammar Game may seem complex at first, but they simply follow the sequence that I teach students to use in analyzing sentences. If students begin by analyzing all of the prepositional phrases, then go to S/V/C patterns, then to clauses, and then to the more complex constructions, everything falls into place a lot easier. The game simply follows this sequence, awarding points along the way.

A Basic Description of the Quick Version

     The class is divided into two or more teams, and a sentence to be analyzed is on the overhead projector. The first member of the first team has five seconds to identify a prepositional phrase in the sentence. If he or she gets one correct, the team gets a point and the instructor puts parentheses around the prepositional phrase. The first member of the next team then has the same opportunity. This process continues until all the prepositional phrases in the sentence have been identified. The person who identifies the last prepositional phrase ("last" meaning last to be identified, not last in the sentence) gets a bonus point for stating that there are no more prepositional phrases. If he or she does not make this statement, the next team may get the bonus point by beginning their turn by making the statement. Once this statement is made, the team whose turn it is identifies a finite verb, its subject, etc. , or, if the class is only working on prepositional phrases, it starts on a new sentence. Whereas an incorrect answer simply results in the next team's turn, an incorrect bonus attempt results in the team's losing a point.

     I strongly suggest that the analysis always follow the sequence:

    all prepositional phrases first,
    then all subject / verb / complement patterns,
    then all clauses,
    then all verbals,
    and, finally, the seven other constructions.
Failure to follow this sequence will result in students identifying the object of a preposition as the subject of a verb, a gerundive as a noun absolute, and numerous other errors.

Suggested Point Values

(Feel free to modify these in any way that works.)

Level One: Prepositional Phrases

An Entire Prepositional Phrase* = 1

    The word that the phrase modifies = 1
    * Bonus if identified as last remaining phrase = 1 (If incorrect = -1)
     The entire phrase, first word to last, must be identified. Identification of a phrase equals a turn. (Optionally, the next member of the next team must identify the word that that phrase modifies. The teacher can then draw an arrow from the opening parenthesis to the word modified.) This process continues until all the prepositional phrases in the sentence have been identified.

Level Two: Subject / Verb / Complement Patterns

A Finite Verb Phrase = 1 per word in the phrase

    Its Subject(s) = 1 each (if compounds)

    Its Complement(s) (excluding clauses) = 1 each (if compounds)

      Kind of Complement = 1 each (if compounds)
    * Bonus if identified as last remaining pattern = 1
     If the student who identified the last prepositional phrase did not state that it was the last, the next team to compete can get the bonus point by so stating. Otherwise, the next team can simply identify a word or words in a finite verb phrase. The next turn consists of identifying the subject (in the case of compounds, subjects) of the identified finite verb. The next turn is complements, followed by kind of complement (predicate adjective, predicate noun, indirect and direct objects). 
     Additional Bonus Points: Once part of a construction has been identified, the remaining parts may be identified in subsequent turns for bonus points. For example, suppose a verb phrase were "has been found," and a student identified "found" as the verb. The student's team would get a point, but the next team (or the team after it, etc.) could get two bonus points for identifying "has" and "been" as part of that phrase. The same holds for compound subjects and complements. Such bonus opportunities remain on the overhead until the sentence has been completed, at which point the instructor can point them out. 
     In the case of compound finite verbs in a pattern, no bonus point is awarded for identifying part of the second, etc. verb phrase. However, instead of identifying subjects or complements of the already identified verb phrase, teams may opt to identify part or all of a second, third, etc. finite verb phrase in the same pattern. For example, in the sentence 

Students love playing the game and learn a lot by doing so.

suppose that a team had identified "love" as a finite verb, but not "learn." The next team could identify "students" as the subject of "love" or it could identify "learn" as a compound finite verb. If it identified "students," then the next team could identify "playing" as the complement of "love," or it could identify "learn." Once the subjects and complements of the first finite verb phrase have been identified, then, if there are unidentified compound verbs in the pattern, the next turn consists of identifying them, i.e., the next team must identify "learn" as a compound verb. 
     The Bonus Point for "last remaining pattern" may be earned as soon as the first finite verb in that pattern is identified. In other words, the student who identifies part or all of the finite verb in that pattern may claim the point. If he or she doesn't, the next team may, etc.

Level Three: Clauses -- Subordinate and Main

A Subordinate Clause = 1

    Function of Clause = 1
* Bonus if identified as last remaining SC or as main clause = 1
      Once the last S/V/C pattern has been identified, the next turn consists of identifying a subordinate clause, if there are any. If there are none, the next turn -- for one point -- consists of stating that there is only a main clause, and the instructor puts a vertical line at the end of the sentence. Once a subordinate clause has been identified, the instructor puts brackets around it. The following turn consists of identifying its function. If the clause is adjectival or adverbial, this consists simply of indicating the word which the clause modifies. 
     If the clause functions as a complement, the player who identifies the word the clause chunks to can earn a bonus point by stating the type of complement (PN, DO, IO). If this bonus point is not earned. The instructor should ask the next player of the next team to identify the type of complement , i.e., the next turn consists of identifying the type of complement. 
     The student who identifies the last subordinate clause can earn a bonus point by stating that it is the last. If the student fails to do so, the player who identifies the function of the clause can earn the bonus. If neither player earns the bonus, then the next player's turn consists of making this identification. If there is only one main clause in the sentence, the instructor should then put a vertical line after the sentence, and the game moves on to the next sentence. If there are compound main clauses, however, the next turn consists of identifying where one ends and the next begins. The last turn in dealing with a sentence consists of stating that the analysis is complete and a vertical line should be put at the end.

Bonus Points for Infinitives

     In playing the game, my students became confused by infinitives. Some students lost their turn by referring to infinitives when they were supposed to be identifying prepositional phrases. Others tried to identify infinitives as finite verbs. Students therefore asked if there were some way to "get those infinitives marked and out of the way." We resolved this problem by making the identification of infinitives bonus points. The first player to start identifying prepositional phrases in a sentence can earn bonus points by identifying any infinitives. Any infinitives not identified remain as potential bonus points until the analysis of the sentence is finished. Infinitives are "marked" by putting an oval around them.

Levels Four and Five

      Should a class be ready for them, Levels Four and Five would continue in the same basic manner. In Level Four, a point would be awarded for identifying a verbal (gerund, gerundive, or infinitive). The next turn would consist of identifying the verbal's function. The next, identifying its complement. Level Five consists of identifying the Eight Additional Constructions (Nouns Used as Adverbs, Appositives, Interjections, Delayed Subjects, Direct Address, Noun Absolutes, Retained Complements, and Post-Positioned Adjectives).
     I would strongly suggest that teachers and students not rush to Levels Four and Five. As I imply in Teaching Grammar as a Liberating Art, students need to spend time assimilating S/V/C patterns and clause structure. Rather than rushing on to verbals and the additional constructions, teachers and students should spend time in the classroom discussing the differences, for example, in the use of subordinate clauses by different writers.


      When I first thought of playing the game this way, I told students that the members of the winning team would get a course bonus point. I soon realized that that was a bad idea. Once a team is too far behind, they lose interest. Now, the "homework" or "participation" grades are based on points. The members of the team with the highest score all get a 100. The grades of everyone else are based on how their team's score matches that of the winning team. Thus, if the winning team has a score of 50 and the second place team has a score of 48, the members of the second place team each get a grade of 48/50, or 96. This method of grading encourages the team with the lowest score to keep trying -- the more points they get, even if they lose, the higher their grade will be.

The Longer, Formal Version --
The "Official" Rules

     Although the quick version is better for classroom instruction, some teachers may still prefer the formal version, especially for competitions between different classes or teams from different schools. In such competitions, more teachers would be involved so that the tasks of scoring, timing, etc. could be shared and easily handled. Someday, perhaps, there will be not only competitions within classes, but also a system of school district, area, state, and even an annual national competition. An understanding of sentence structure is certainly as important as is the ability to spell.
     The formal version can be played at any KISS Level. For example, primary school students from different classes in the same school could formally compete at KISS Level One. Or high school students from different schools could compete at KISS Level Four. (In competitions at higher KISS Levels, don't forget to agree on which KISS Level Five constructions (such as Nouns Used as Adverbs) will be included in the competition.

Preparing a Formal "Edition"

     As many teams as you want can compete at the same time. Every member of each team can compete in every round, or, as it was in Mathletes, only one member of each team competes per round. The competitors should sit at desks or tables. The seating position for each should have a washable ink pen, and a sheet with "Directions and Point Values." The following are the sheets for play at KISS Level 5. I normally print these on the front and back of a single page. You can, of course, adapt these to include only the directions for the Level at which your students will be playing.

     You can click on a page to get the larger image which you may be able to print and use. (I was unable to save them such that they print as a single full page. You may want to save the images and open them in MS Word or some other program. The images in the MS Word version of this document are set on separate pages.)

The "Gettysburg Address" Edition

    The following table gives you the seven rounds for the "Gettysburg Address" edition. 
Question: Front Question: Back Analysis Key

     Print the number of "Question Sheets" for each round that you will need (based on the number of teams that will be competing.) Print the front on one side, and the back on the other.
     Put each "Question" sheet into a clear, smooth sheet protector. (Before you make a lot of them, test the sheet protectors to be sure that you can write on them with a washable ink marker and that the ink will easily and completely wash off.) Print the number of "Point Values" sheets that you will need -- one for each team in the competition. It is probably a good idea to put these in sheet protectors.

     Print at least one set of answer keys. (If you have a color printer, in the long run you might find it less expensive less cumbersome to print these as overhead transparencies. Put the a transparency and a blank sheet of paper into a sheet protector, and it is just as if you had printed on paper. Pull out the white sheet, and you will have an overhead ready to be used.)

     The easiest way to keep track of all of this stuff is probably in a large 3-ring notebook. Put the "Point Values" sheets first, then all the question sheets for Round 1, followed by the Answer Key to Round 1. Then Round 2, etc. As a game is played, keep the notebook open. What you need will be on the right side. As you finish with materials, you can easily slip them in order into the left side. At the end of the game, put the "Point Values" sheets back in front, and close the notebook. A bunch of damp paper towels can be used to clean the question sheets (for the next game) while they are still in the notebook.


      For a formal game, there should be at least two, preferably three officials -- a Moderator, a Timer, and at least one Scorer. (If necessary, the Timer's job can be handled by the Moderator.) The Moderator's job is to keep the game moving. Question sheets for round one can be put (sentence side down) in the competition area before each round. Each team's competitive work area should also have a copy of the "Point Values" sheet. Each team sends a member into the competition area. 
     Competitors should write their name and their team's name on the question sheet that is facing them before the round begins. [Without this, problems will arise as to which sheet belongs to whom.]  The Moderator states the amount of time allotted for that round. (See below.) When the Moderator states "Begin," the competitors turn over their sheets and use washable ink markers to analyze the sentence. When the Timer states "Stop," the competitors put down their pens and the Timer takes the sheets to the scoring table. As the Timer is doing so, the Moderator distributes the question sheets for the next round. As soon as the next round of competitors is in place, that round begins.
     Meanwhile, at the scoring table, the Scorer evaluates each competitor's sheet, awarding points according to the previously agreed upon scoring system. When all the sheets from competitors in a round have been scored, the scores are given to the Moderator who, at the end of the round currently being played, announces them and adds them to teams' totals. [Optional note: While a round is being scored, the answer key for that round can be shown on a overhead. This enables everyone, including team members who were not playing in this round, to see how the sentence can be analyzed.]

Scoring Systems

     Before a competition begins, the teams must agree on a scoring system -- amateur or expert. In amateur competitions, incorrect marks on the sheets are ignored. In expert competitions, incorrect marks result in the loss of whatever number of points the mark would have been worth.

Timing Suggestions

     The amount of time that competitors should be given for a round depends, of course, on the skill of the students, and on the complexity of the sentence they will be analyzing. Students who are just beginning to deal with subordinate clauses, for example, will need more time to find and mark them. Teachers may therefore want to adjust the provided Timing Suggestions. The following table gives suggestions for the "Gettysburg Address" edition":

     In developing the game, I calculated times for each round using the following system.

    Round 1 (Prepositional Phrases): Set a minimum time of 15 seconds. If there are more than three prepositional phrases, add 5 seconds for each phrase over three.

    Round 2 (Subject / Verb / Complement Patterns): To the total for Round 1, add ten seconds for every S/V/C pattern.

    Round 3 (Clauses): To the total for Round 3, add ten seconds for every clause (subordinate and main) beyond the first.

    Round 4 (Verbals -- Gerunds, Gerundives, Infinitives): To the total for Round 4, add fifteen seconds for every verbal.

    Round 5 (Eight Additional Constructions): To the total for Round 5, add ten seconds for each of these constructions.

I subjectively modify these guidelines, usually by adding five or ten seconds, based on the constructions within a particular sentence.

     The suggested timing values are, in my experience, liberal enough to allow even poorly prepared students a chance to gain points for their team. And, if an overhead of the question sheet is provided for the people who are not actively participating in the round, the times are short enough so that these people do not become bored. 

Alternative Answers

      The Answer Keys to the editions of the KISS Grammar Game are based on the grammatical concepts as explained in the KISS approach to English grammar. The objective of the KISS approach, however, is to enable students to consciously understand and explain the structure of any English sentence. As will become apparent to anyone who works with the KISS approach, there are often two or more possible explanations of a particular construction, all of which should be considered acceptable.

     Often a word or phrase can be explained as an adjective to one word or as an adverb to another word. In the sentence She saw him in the store., in the store can be either an adverb to saw or an adjective to him. I strongly encourage teachers to accept either answer as correct. At this level of specificity, people see (or don't see) the connections differently. If a student "sees" in the store as an adjective to him, but does not "see" it as an adverb to saw, telling that student that he or she is wrong will simply frustrate (and turn off) the student. This problem does not occur with great frequency, and, at times, it may be worth while to have the class discuss -- and even vote on -- the options. Such discussion is worthwhile because it will almost always get into questions of meaning, and it will also enable students to see that the other class members -- not just the teacher -- agree or disagree. [In "official" play, the "officials" determine whether or not alternative explanations are acceptable.]

      Teachers are, of course, welcome to modify the game as they see fit. Some teachers may want to accept "there" and "it" as expletives. The "official" KISS explanations do not include them, but I accept them as answers if students have already learned them and are comfortable with them. Suppose, for example, that we were dealing with the sentence There are two people waiting to see you. The "official" explanation is that There is the subject, people is a predicate noun, and waiting is a gerundive modifying people. This explanation enables the KISS approach to eliminate the expletive as a construction. But if a student offers it, I will accept the explanation that There is an expletive, people is the subject, and are waiting is the finite verb.

     Some students are not comfortable with the very possibility of alternative answers -- they want "the RIGHT answer." I point out to them that, in life, there is no RIGHT way to scramble eggs. Any way that gets the task done satisfactorily can be considered right. In analyzing sentences, the task is to understand, and be able to explain and discuss, how words are connected to each other. Because different people see things differently, there will often be more than one right answer. As students come to understand syntax, and as they begin to see that there are more opportunities for them to be right, they become comfortable with the possibility of alternative answers.

Supplemental Notes for the "Gettysburg Address" Edition

     Although the answer keys include notes on constructions that can be explained in more than one way, some teachers might like additional explanations. Some of the sentences, of course, need none, but others can be explained in a surprising number of ways, all within the rules of KISS grammar.

Round Two
     One could argue that "testing" chunks to "we," rather than to "war." Although I would accept either answer as correct, the theory of chunking on which the game is based would support the arguments for "war." Because the brain has to process an entire main clause in seven slots of short-term memory, it will chunk to the nearest word or construction that makes sense, which, in this case, is "war."
     "We are met " (instead of "we have met") touches an interesting question. Can (Should?) many verb phrases be further analyzed to a form of an auxiliary verb plus a gerundive? ["We" is the subject; "are" is the verb; "met" is a gerundive functioning as a predicate adjective?] Such an analysis seems to work in the following:

We are deciding what to do.
They have been discussing the problem.
Terri was prohibited from playing.
Round Three
     Because "that this nation might live" explains why they "gave," it is obviously adverbial to "gave." For a more 'ambiguous example of Lincoln's use of a "that" adverbial clause, see Round Seven.
     Students playing at Levels Three and Four (Sub Clauses; Verbals) will have a problem with the function of the final "that" clause. ["Delayed Subjects are explained in Level Five.] Simply ignore whatever they mark as its function. If they ask, I simply tell them "It is a Delayed Subject, which we will study in Level Five." Not only do they seem satisfied by my explanation, many of them remember -- and can recognize -- the construction.

Round Four
     Analyzing real texts is so much more fun than the sentences in grammar books. In this case, we begin with a "But." So much for that old rule. If Lincoln can do it, why can't students? Next we hit the phrase "in a larger sense," which I have chunked to the "not" in "cannot." [Judges/scorers must decide for themselves whether or not underlining the "not" is an error.] At Level Five, I would give credit to anyone who analyzed this phrase as an Interjection.
     Then, of course, there is the ellipsed direct object in the first two main clauses. The parallel construction, which I would point out to students, enables Lincoln to do this -- with nice effect.
     In the second sentence, "far" modifies the entire following prepositional phrase. Traditional grammar texts define adverbs as modifying verbs, adverbs and adjectives, but rarely do such texts deal with adverbs modifying entire phrases or clauses.

Round Six
     "Rather" functions as an adverb, chunking either to "is" or to "for us." In either case, its purpose is to change the direction of thought from the "dedicating" in the preceding sentences, to becoming "dedicated."
     Traditional grammarians would probably consider "it" as an expletive, but KISS doesn't have expletives. (See above.) The KISS explanation is based on meaning. What does the "it" mean? What is for us? Doesn't "it" here mean "to be dedicated." Thus, the infinitive is a delayed subject, and the "it" is a syntactic filler. Logically, the sentence means "To be dedicated is for us," or, as the next sentence implies, "To be dedicated is our task." Note, for example, that the sentence in Round Seven could easily have been written as "It is rather our task to be here dedicated," in which case "task" would be a predicate noun and "to be dedicated" would clearly be a delayed subject.

Round Seven
     The "here," of course, is not part of the infinitive. Why do some teachers still try to enforce that old rule about splitting infinitives? Once again, if Lincoln could do it in one of the most famous speeches ever given, why can't students?
     The functions of the subordinate clauses in this sentence are sure to raise some debate. In the Answer Key, I have marked the "that from these honored dead" clause as adverbial to "is." An argument could be made for taking it (as an adverb) to "dedicated," but taking it to "is" emphasizes the connection between "to be dedicated," the delayed subject, and "for us," the prepositional phrase acting as a predicate adjective. That connection, to me, is important because it reinforces the subject of the subordinate clause, "we." An argument could be made that there is an ellipsed "so" before this "that." [See Round Three for a clearer example of Lincoln's use of an adverbial clause that begins with "so."]
     Depending on what one understands it to mean, this subordinate clause could also be considered as an appositive to (or as an adjective to) "task." Although I would accept these as an answer, they are weaker than considering the clause as adverbial. There are two first-level subordinate clauses in the sentence, this one, and the "that we here highly resolve " But Lincoln refers to only one "task." That task, I would suggest, is that "we" carry out the resolution in "that we here highly resolve " Thus the "that we here highly resolve" clause is the appositive to "task," and the "that from these honored dead" clause explains why it is for us to be dedicated. Have fun with this one.
     Note that the "for which" prepositional phrase chunks to "gave," whereas the entire subordinate clause chunks to "cause." This often surprises my students, but consider:

(A) That is the man [who did cartwheels.]
(B) That is the man [whom I saw.]
(C) That is the man [(about whom) we spoke.]
Just as "who" is a subject in (A) and "whom" is the DO of "saw" in (B), so "about whom" chunks to "spoke" in (C). The pronoun, in other words, has a double function. It chunks within its own clause and it chunks that clause to a word outside the clause.
     An argument can be made that "under God" chunks to "shall have." It can also be considered a post-positioned adjective: "nation, *which is* under God,..."

Additional Teaching Suggestions

On Syntax
     Have the students use Lincoln's parallel constructions as models in their own writing. My experience is that students don't recognize writing as something that can be crafted. Thus their attempt to fit thoughts into, for example, three parallel prepositional phrases, may not only add parallel phrases to their repertoire, but it may also help them realize that sentences can be worked and reworked until the structure supports the sense.

For writing
     Lincoln [as far as I know] did not know any of the soldiers who died at Gettysburg, but he went there to give a eulogy for men who died before their time. As a result, he does not talk about the men, but rather about their purpose and what their deaths should inspire his fellow countrymen to do. Having explored the speech with a class, ask them to find, in a newspaper or on T. V., news of a premature death and to write a eulogy for the deceased. I would suggest that it is particularly important that the students NOT know the person who died. In twenty years of teaching writing, I have received numerous papers on this topic, most on the death of someone close to the writer. In almost all cases, the writer focused on his or her own feelings of loss and said little about the deceased, even less about the meaning of the death to others. The death, by the way, need not be that of a human -- a fascinating eulogy could be written on the death of a child's dog, run over by a car -- or on the death of birds or dolphins as a result of an oil spill.