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Notes for
from "With the Buccaneers"
by Howard Pyle

Exercise AK   Combining

     I chose this passage because I was looking for something that might interest the boys in the class and because this passage begins with the relatively infrequent C/S/V pattern. It also has patterns with compound finite verbs, and in the last of of these patterns the second verb is separated from the first by two other (subordinate) S/V/C patterns. It should be a challenging exercise on S/V/C patterns for sixth graders, even if they have been studying such patterns since fourth grade.
     You might want to use this passage for several assignments. For example, you could first have the students do the sentence-combining exercise . Have them discuss their versions, either in small groups, or in the class as a whole. Then present them with Pyle's version. You could stop here, or you could have them analyze Pyle's version. After the class has reviewed that analysis, you might want to have them do the decombining exercise .
     If you think that that would be too much time to spend on one passage, you are probably wrong. Far too often we jump from exercise to exerise in one shot in an attempt to "cover" material. Then we wonder why most students write papers in one shot, with little if any attempt to revise. They do so because that is the way we teach. Many years ago I had a student who wrote beautifully. After class one day, I asked her who taught her. She said that her sixth grade teacher made her revise a paper seven times. On the seventh revision, she said, she began to get the idea. The combining exercise, followed by the analysis exercise, followed by the decombining exercise will teach students not only about sentence structure, but also about revising a text to get it "just right."
     FYI: For a more complicated passage from this text, see March 2nd, of Grade 11. For the text of the entire story, click here.