This page takes a different approach from most
of the pages that have been made to date. Instead of simply selected passages
for analysis, most exercises focus on constructions of a specific type
-- prepositional phrases, compound main clauses, sentences with simple,
single subordinate clauses, etc. I have put Anderson's "The Egg" in grade
eight because I selected it primarily for early exercises on subordinate
clauses. I then noted that, in "The Egg" at least, Anderson regularly bends
the textbook rule about joining main clauses with a comma plus "and." He
generally skips the comma.
Sentences as Writing Models
If, as one of your objectives, you want to
help students apply their developing analytical ability to their writing,
you can make additional assignments from any or all of the following exercises
simply by having students write a sentence modeled on the structure of
one of the sentences in the exercise. (You can let the students choose
which sentence, or you can choose the sentence for them.) This probably
works best if the analytical exercise is assigned and reviewed in class.
The next assignment would then be to write a sentence based on one of the
"models." These assignments could easily and quickly be reviewed in class
by, for example, having three or four students write their versions
on the board while the teacher is taking attendance.
A Short Exercise on Embedded Prepositional
|These are just two sentences with a fair number of prepositional
phrases that can serve as a quick review exercise.
Sentences with Compound
|Ex # 1
|Ex # 2
| If your students need practice
in identifying subjects and finite verbs, you can, of course, use these
as typical identification exercises. If your students are beyond that,
you might want to use these either as sentence-combining exercises, or
as de-combining exercises. The noted educational psychologist Jean Piaget,
for example, has claimed that mental mastery involves the ability to reverse
mental processes. Thus the ability to combine sentences in specific ways,
as students are asked to do in these exercises, ultimately involves the
ability to decombine them in the same way. Simply give the students the
exercise pages, but ask them to decombine the sentences such that every
compound finite verb is split into separate sentences. [See also the specific
Four Short Exercises on Compound
|Exercise # 1
|Exercise # 2
|Exercise # 3
|Exercise # 4
| These five-sentence exercises
contain no subordinate clauses, and thus may help students master the connections
between main clauses. Anderson, however, often omits the comma before "and"
when joining these main clauses. The sentences in the first exercise are
the simplest; the later exercises contain more verbals and/or other complicating
Noun Clauses as Direct
Four Short Exercises on Adverbial
Seven Short Exercises on Adjectival
Mixed Subordinate Clauses
Embedded Subordinate Clauses
Subordinate Clauses as Delayed
Subjects and Sentences\
Subordinate Clauses as
An Exercise on Gerundives
A Note on Fragments
1. The first-person narrator in this story is evident from the opening
"My father was, I am sure, intended ...." What kind of judgments can you
make about the personality and beliefs of this narrator? Support your response
with specific references to the text.
2. The "tone" of a story results from the emotional attitudes that are
embedded in the text. Among others, the tone can be happy, sad, thoughtful,
or angry. What is the primary tone of this story? Support your response
with specific references to the text.
[One way to approach this question is to have the students
list nouns, verbs, and especially adjectives and adverbs in the story
that have emotional connotations. Their lists should lead them to their
view of the theme. You might want to have the students organize this paper
by devoting one body paragraph to each of these four parts of speech. The
sequence of these body paragraphs should probably go from the least important
part of speech (in the development of tone) to the most important. (Unless
students have some other reason for making the determination, the most
important would be the one that has the most examples, and, as a result,
takes the most words to explain.)]
3. The extent to which people are in control of their own lives is a frequent
topic of literature. To what extent does the story suggest that the narrator's
parents controlled their own lives? In the fourth paragraph, for example,
the narrator states that his parents "launched into chicken raising." What
are the connotations of "launched," and how do they relate to this question?
What else in the story supports your view?
4. Characterize the narrator's parents. In what ways are they similar?
In what ways are they different? Which of the two appears to have had the
most influence on the narrator? Support your response with specific references
to the text.
5. Among other things, this is a story about ambition -- the desire
to move upward in society. The narrator specifically describes his mother's
ambition, and then, later, his father's. To develop this idea, the narrator
uses a fair amount of "up," "down" and "sideways" symbolism. Find as much
of this symbolism in the story as you can, and then explain how it develops
[Note that the desire to stand an egg on its end is, symbolically,
an attempt to put it in a launch-like position.]
6. What, in your opinion, is the primary theme (point) of this story?
Support your response with specific references to the text.
Analyzing My Own Writing
Don't forget that one of the most important,
perhaps the most important, of the KISS exercises is to have students analyze
a sample of their own writing. Have them make a double-spaced final copy
(in pen) of something they have written. Then have them analyze it (in
pencil) for the constructions that they have learned thus far. Finally,
have them work in small groups to check each other's analysis. This group
work has the effect of letting students informally compare their writing
style with that of their peers. Finally, as part of this group work, you
might want to have them make suggestions to each other about the overall
quality of the writing – its organization, details, focus, etc.
By eighth grade, students who have been studying
clauses since seventh should have a fairly good command of clause structure,
so this analysis should focus on clause structure. In terms of errors,
this analysis should not only help students who have problems (fragments,
comma-splices, etc.) recognize these problems, but it should also enable
them to fix them. In terms of style, you may want to have the students
do a statistical analysis
so that they can see fairly precisely how their use of subordinate clauses,
levels of embedding, etc. match the writing of their classmates.