The study of grammar is a science.
The teaching of grammar is an art.
Introduction to the KISS Grade-Level
Because this is the first workbook in
the KISS grade-level sequence, some comments are in order about what KISS
is and how it works. KISS is a specific set of grammatical terms (concepts)
and a sequence for teaching them such that students will be able to use
them to understand and intelligently discuss how any English sentence (including
their own) works.
KISS is heavily based on 1) research, 2) theory,
3) logic, and 4) common sense. This book, however, focuses on the practical.
But to achieve KISS objectives, parents and teachers should have at least
a minimal understanding of the theories that KISS is built on. These are
discussed in more detail in the separate Introduction
to KISS Grammar and in the instructional books for each of the
five KISS levels, so
the following are simply short explanations.
Some Crucial Pedagogical Concepts
Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development"
Lev Vygotsky, a famous educational theorist,
argued that any educational sequence should be based on what he called
the "zone of proximal development." He visualized this with two concentric
circles. The inner circle symbolizes knowledge that the child has already
mastered. The area between the two circles is the "zone," and the area
beyond the outer circle represents concepts that the child simply will
not be able to understand until the material within the "zone" has been
mastered. In math, for example, multiplication makes no sense to a child
who cannot understand addition, and algebra makes no sense to a student
who cannot understand multiplication.
KISS is built on this concept. The major problem
in almost all current instruction in grammar, for example, is that students
are taught what subjects and verbs are, but they are not taught how to
identify subjects and verbs in real sentences, including those that they
write. Subjects and verbs are the core of English sentences, and thus students
who cannot identify them have little chance of understanding more advanced
questions of grammar. Within KISS, a clause is defined as a subject/verb/complement
pattern and all the words that modify it. Students who have not mastered
the ability to identify subjects, verbs, and complements, will find clauses
to be unreachable.
Bruner's "Spiral Curriculum"
Vygotsky's "zone" is intimately connected to
Jerome Bruner's concept of a "spiral curriculum." Within such a curriculum,
"ideas are first presented in a form and language, honest though imprecise,
which can be grasped by the child, ideas that can be revisited later with
greater precision and power until, finally, the student has achieved the
reward of mastery." (On Knowing, 107-8). Within the work for second
grade, a simple example of this is the introduction of complements. "Complement"
is an inclusive word for predicate adjectives, predicate nouns, indirect
and direct objects. To find a complement, all a student has to do is to
learn to ask the question "Whom or what?" after a verb, as opposed, for
example, to the questions "Where?" "When?" "Why" or "How?" Later, once
the students have become comfortable with identifying complements, they
can learn how to distinguish the types of complements (predicate adjectives,
predicate nouns, indirect and direct objects).
Some people (including some grammarians) believe
that there should be one and only one explanation of how any word fits
in a sentence. Among themselves, however, grammarians disagree as to what
these explanations should be. Within KISS, your students will be learning
how to analyze sentences from real texts. In so doing, people will see
things differently. Consider, for example, the following sentence from
Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper"
I am helping to lay up food for the winter.
Does the prepositional phrase "for the winter" function as an adjective
to "food" or as an adverb to "to lay up"? In one sense, it functions as
both. Thus, within KISS, some students will explain it as an adjective,
and other students will explain it as an adverb. Either explanation should
be accepted. The validity of an explanation depends on its making sense
to the people who are using it. That includes both the person making the
explanation and the people to whom it is being explained.
Exercises Should Be Based on Real Texts
KISS focuses an enabling students to analyze
and meaningfully discuss real sentences in real texts. The best way to
reach that objective is to create exercises that are based on real texts.
Using real texts is important for three reasons. First, if the students
are reading the texts as they do the exercises, they will see for themselves
that the grammar they are learning clearly relates to what they read and
Second, exercises that are created from such
texts automatically provide an instructional focus. Which helping verbs,
for example, do students really need to know? Most grammar textbooks simply
provide a list of helping verbs. Students are expected to learn these with
no context provided. But the early exercises in this book, for example,
are based on the stories in Mary Frances Blaisdell's Bunny Rabbit's
Diary. The helping verbs "ought" and "dare" simply do not appear in
the book. "Can," "could," "would," and "should," however, appear fairly
frequently. If, at the end of second grade, some students still do not
recognize "ought" as a part of a verb phrase, is their failure to do so
a major problem? I would suggest not. On the other hand, at the end of
second grade, every student should be able to recognize "can," "could,"
"would" and "should."
Another way of looking at this is in terms
of Vygotsky's two circles, but in this case consider the center circle
to represent the most frequently used examples of the concept. The area
between the two circles then represents the less frequently used examples
(such as "must" and "need"), and the area outside the circle represents
the rarely used examples (such as "dare" and "ought"). As students learn
how to analyze real sentences, surely the examples in the inner circle
are the most important. In this sense, exercises that are created based
on real texts limit the amount of material that the students have to master
at a given time.
The third reason for using real texts is to
expand the instructional material that students need to master at a given
time. A simple example of this is words such as "begin," "start," and "stop"
as helping verbs. Most grammar textbooks pay little attention to these
words, but students will read (and write) these words far more frequently
than they do "dare" and "ought." Thus KISS, again using Bruner's concept
of the spiral curriculum, introduces these words to second graders as "helping"
verbs. (For more on this, see the notes for the exercises on helping verbs.)
The "helping" verbs are just one example of
how text-based exercises expand instruction.
Here again Vygotsky's two circles can help explain what is involved,
but in this case the center circle represents the simplest form of a concept,
and the area between the circles represents the variations that are found
in real texts. In presenting direct objects, for example, most textbooks
provide only simple S/V/DO patterns--"I like him." Exercises based on real
texts, however, will include sentences such as "Him I like."
Ideally, students can read a story or poem
and then do exercises that are based on it. They can, of course, also discuss
the story or poem as a story or poem, and they can even write about it.
My intention is to collect the stories used in this book and some suggestions
for writing about them in a separate MS Word document. My guess, however,
is that once classroom teachers become familiar with the KISS Approach
and objectives, they will replace many of the exercises given here with
exercises on other works that their students are reading. Of course the
exercises can be done without reference to the texts upon which they are
Tell Students that They Are Expected to Make Mistakes
The preceding explanations should have suggested
that within the KISS approach, students are almost always expected to make
mistakes. As you work your way into KISS exercises, you will see which
mistakes students are expected to make, and why. But the pedagogical principle
involved needs to be explained here. Learning (as opposed to memorizing)
always involves some confusion and thus some mistakes. All native speakers
of English taught themselves the language. (How could anyone explain it
if the child did not understand the language in the first place?) In doing
so, they learned the core concepts first and made mistakes with those in
the outer circle. As children, for example, we all said, "We cutted the
paper." Only after we mastered the basic rule ("-ed" for past tense) did
we begin to distinguish the irregular cases.
Two comments of a parent (whose child was
doing the early exercises in this book) illustrate how this applies to
second grade. She noted, for example that her child had a problem with
the tenth sentence in Exercise # 7. The sentence is "He melted the snow
in the warm hollows." At this point in instruction, the students are expected
to identify only the subject and the verb. As the parent explained, the
student "didn't want to mark the verb as 'melted,' because he himself didn't
melt. She decided the whole verb had to be 'melted the snow,' because without
the DO, the verb just didn't make sense to her." If I had been working
with this student, I would have said something such as, "That's very good
thinking. Actually, 'the snow' is a type of complement, a direct object,
and we will be studying them later this year."
The second comment involved the first sentence
in Exercise # 9. The sentence is, "And before long the sound of the axe
rang out through the stillness." Even after the mother explained that "sound"
is the subject, the student remained "convinced in her own mind that
it was the axe that did the ringing." As in the previous case, the student's
confusion resulted from a construction that will be studied later in second
grade--in this case prepositional phrases. Here again I would have pointed
out that her answer made sense, but that "axe" is in a prepositional phrase
(which she will be studying later) and thus cannot be the subject.
There is, of course, the question of grading.
I have already suggested that most exercises should be reviewed in class,
and not be graded. But even if these two exercises were graded, it appears
that the student had no problem with nine of the ten sentences in each
exercise, and in the sentences that did cause problems, the student got
half perfectly correct (in the first, the subject, and in the second, the
verb). Thus the student was apparently 95% perfectly correct.
That 5% confusion is, I would argue, a pedagogical necessity.
We learn most from examples, not from definitions. But it is very easy
to look at simple examples without thinking. Within KISS, exercises provide
the most important instruction, and some of the exercises should confuse
the students. We are going to be asking these students to analyze randomly
selected sentences from real texts, including their own writing. There
will be points that confuse them, and the sooner they learn that they are
expected to make mistakes, the better off they will be.
Most of the exercises in KISS workbooks include
"Answer Keys" followed by "Complete Analysis Keys." The "Answer Keys" suggest
what you should expect from students. They include both mistakes that you
should expect and some alternative explanations. The "Complete Analysis
Keys" provide the rest of a complete KISS explanation of the text. These
are intended to enable you to answer any questions that students may have
about other words. (For example, about the sentence "Bobby slept all night,"
a student might ask what "night" is. The complete analysis key enables
you to say, "'Night' is a noun that is used as an adverb. You'll be studying
those later.") Of course the complete analysis keys also enable you to
use exercises for additional purposes. Thus, for example, you might want
to introduce the types of complements before they are introduced in this
book. The complete keys will give you the KISS explanations of the complements
in the earlier exercises.
Printable Books vs. On-line Versions
KISS books are developed on-line, and are then
modified into printable documents. The substance of each "book" is the
same, but each version has advantages and disadvantages. In the on-line
versions, each exercise, analysis key, original text, and instructional
handout is a separate document. Thus teachers and parents can simply choose
(and print) what they want. The on-line versions also include hyperlinks
from analysis keys to explanations of advanced constructions. Such hyperlinks
will not work, of course, in printable versions, so they are eliminated.
(If you are interested in these explanations, you can find them all in
the instructional materials for the five KISS levels.) The printable versions
also make it much easier to come to the web site once, download a book
for a specific year, and have everything you need.
to the Workbook for
The Objectives for Grade Two
The primary objective for second grade is to
make the identification of subjects, verbs, complements, adjectives, adverbs,
compounds, and simple prepositional phrases almost automatic. In
addition, students should begin to see how all the words within a "sentence"
fit together – adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases function as
modifiers of the words in the S/V/C pattern. This will enable students
to more easily understand the more complicated constructions as they are
introduced in later years. Given relatively simple sentences, second graders
should have little trouble reaching this objective.
Suggestions for Using this Book
Some of the instructional material in this
book is included within exercises. In addition, exercises are at least
paired, and in most cases several similar exercises follow in sequence,
all aimed at the same objective. For example, the first three exercises
are all on "What is a sentence?" Parents and teachers may want to go over
the first exercise with students and then assign the second, third, etc.
Some exercises (such as five and six) focus
on punctuation, but then the focus returns to the identification of subjects
and verbs. There are thousands of verbs in English, and it will take students
a fair amount of practice to be able to identify them. The KISS Approach,
however, is cumulative -- students will always identify the subjects and
verbs in the sentences they are analyzing. Thus there is no major problem
in moving on in the sequence if some students in a class are still having
problems. Because some students will need more practice than others, there
is no "ideal" number of exercises on a specific focus that can be included
within a book. But once you see how the KISS Approach works, you can go
to the website for additional exercises, or, better yet, have students
create exercises for each other.
The Importance of the Different Types of KISS Exercises
Identification exercises are the heart
of KISS grammar. If students cannot identify subjects, verbs, prepositional
phrases, etc. in real sentences, then anything else they are taught is
meaningless -- the students will be unable to apply it effectively to the
sentences that they read and write. ID exercises are short, and should
take students not more than five minutes to do. KISS punctuation
exercises are also short, and almost always consist of real texts from
which the punctuation (and capitalization) has been stripped. The students
are asked to "fix" the text, after which you can show them the original
and discuss why the original is punctuated as it is. In Recipe Rosters,
students are asked to write sentences that include specific constructions;
in Treasure Hunts, they need to find sentences that contain specific
constructions within either a variety of different texts or in one text.
Treasure Hunts will take more time on the students' part, but they are
very important because they make the students see that what they are learning
applies to all the texts that they read.
Sentence-combining and/or manipulation
exercises become more frequent in later grades, but even in second grade
they can often help students learn to revise what they have written. It
is not uncommon to see second (and third) graders write something like
"I live in a big house. It is brown. It is on Maple Street." One reason
for this type of writing is that the students are searching for things
to say. As each idea pops into mind, it gets written down as a separate
sentence. Combining exercises can thus help students revise this into "I
live in a big brown house on Maple Street." Note that you can create additional
combining exercises simply by taking sequences of sentences from your students'
writing. Students can also be asked to create such exercises for
Once students have a basic ability to identify
a construction, perhaps the most useful and important exercise for second
graders is to have them create an exercise. Give them a short text
and have them create an exercise comparable to the exercises that they
have just been doing. See, for examples, exercises 10, 20, 40, 61, 79,
83, and 110 in this book. Note that exercises 21 and 22 in this book consist
of having students make an answer key for their exercises (22), and then
doing each others' exercises (23). I have not repeated these exercises
because you can obviously apply them to any student-created exercises.
These exercises are important for several reasons. First, we learn most
when we teach, and these exercises make the students the teachers. Second,
the students will here also be making a connection between what they read
and the grammar that they are learning. Third, teachers can use these exercises
to replace many of the exercises in this book. (Remember that a KISS assumption
is that students will be doing exercises based texts that they are actually
reading. Ultimately, this book itself is just an example of what can be
done and suggestions for doing it.)
The ten "Assessment" quizzes are intended
for use at the end of the year, but you can, of course, use them at any
time. Note that the format of these quizzes differs from that of other
exercises. In assessment quizzes, students are asked to identify the words
in the subject / verb complement pattern and then to explain how
other words in the sentence connect to the words in that pattern. This
is the standard format of all KISS assessment quizzes. For second grade,
students will be working with isolated, and very simple sentences. At this
level of instruction, the difficulty in creating these quizzes is in finding
sequential passages that do not include advanced constructions. In upper
grade levels, more of the assessment quizzes are based on a single, real
paragraph. (In the upper levels of KISS, the difficulty in creating assessment
quizzes is in finding paragraphs that do include advanced constructions.)
The Sequence of Instruction
The exercises in this book are spread across twelve
instructional objectives. Students should probably do two or three exercises
a week. Note that instruction should be spread across the entire school
year. Otherwise, students will forget what they have previously learned.
(Use it, or lose it.)
Although students should be able to do most
of these exercises in less than five minutes, reviewing exercises in class
will take longer. Rather than "correcting" these assignments, however,
teachers should, as a general rule, review them in class. Not only will
this approach save the teacher's sanity, it will also help students master
the concepts. One enjoyable way to do this is to use the KISS Grammar Game.
(It is explained in An Introduction
to KISS Grammar.) In-class review of exercises, especially using
the grammar game, is also an excellent motivator. Currently, most people
hate studying (or teaching) grammar. In part, that is because of poor instructional
materials. Most students, however, will catch on to the KISS approach rather
quickly. And in-class review will show the other students not only that
their classmates are "getting it," but also that they are enjoying it.
Note also that having students do short exercises
even after they have mastered the relevant concepts tends to increase students'
enjoyment and motivation. Doing what we can do well is enjoyable, especially
if it is something that we are supposed to be able to do and it only takes
five minutes. Take the attitude that KISS exercises are short puzzles.
Students will be able to solve them, and the more of them they solve, the
stronger their confidence will be.
Although some exercises should be done as
homework, teachers might want to have students, as a class, do some exercises,
especially exercises that introduce a new concept.. Instead of giving each
student a copy of these exercises, you can simply make an overhead transparency.
Notes for Teachers
The following are more complete notes about
the various objectives, the logic behind them, and what you should expect
from students. [In the printable version, these appear before the analysis
keys for each section.]
1. Subjects, Verbs and Sentences
These exercises are a brief introduction (or
review) on what a simple sentence is.
2. The Punctuation of a Sentence
For second graders, this may be a review of
basic punctuation, but it also establishes the KISS rules for punctuation
and capitalization. (Note that additional punctuation exercises are spread
throughout the exercises.)
3. Recognizing Single-Word Verbs
(and their Subjects)
The focus here is to enable students to identify
single-word verbs in simple sentences.
4. Adding Simple Complements
A "complement" answers the question "whom or
what?" after a verb. Having some experience with single-word verbs, students
can add complements to their analytical toolbox. KISS Grammar is
cumulative. From this point on, therefore, students will identify the subjects,
verbs, and complements in every sentence that they analyze. Introducing
complements at this point therefore means that students will be able to
get more practice (and the sentences will make more sense) as they work
on "Verb Phrases."
Complements are not really difficult,
but some students have problems distinguishing the "whom or what?" question
from other questions such as "Where?" "When?" "Why?" or "How?" Getting
students accustomed to this difference in questions will make it easier
for them to understand adverbs and later to distinguish the types of complements.
5. Verb Phrases
The objective here is to help students
include all the helping verbs (also known as "auxiliary verbs") when they
underline verbs. The exercises break this section into parts by first presenting
tense auxiliaries, then modal auxiliaries, and finally an "other" group.
(See below.). This division is primarily intended to organize the presentation
of the material. In other words, attempting to make second graders remember
which verbs are "tense" and which are "modals" may confuse them more than
help. The KISS objective is to have students work with the tense auxiliaries
("is playing," "had been sleeping," "does read," etc. until their recognition
is almost automatic. Then add the modals ("can," "could," "would," etc.),
and finally, the "other" group.
She started to swim.
The tense auxiliaries are a matter of
general agreement among grammarians (although some grammarians claim that
English does not have a future tense). Grammarians disagree (among themselves)
about what modals are and about which verbs should be included in the category,
but the KISS objective is simply to help students learn that in a sentence
such as "Bobtail must like nuts," "must" is part of the verb phrase.
KISS includes an "other" category because
it is easier for students, at this level, to view these words as helping
verbs. In their writing, and in their reading, students will frequently
find sentences such as:
Bobby Duck stopped talking.
We liked to play.
Suzie wanted to leave.
Technically, these are finite verbs that have verbs (verbals) as their
direct object. At this point, however, our objective is to help second
graders identify verbs that function as verbs within a sentence. Introducing
verbs that function as nouns will probably confuse more students than it
helps. Both Bruner's "spiral curriculum" and Vygotsky's "zone of proximal
development" suggest that there is no problem, especially in the first
three KISS Levels, in having the students underline "started to swim,"
"stopped talking," etc. as verbs. Once they get to verbals in KISS Level
Four, few if any students will have difficulty in re-seeing these verb
formations as a finite verb plus a verb that functions as a direct object.
Problems to Expect
"Not" is a frequently used adverb that often
appears in the midst of a verb phrase--"They did not stop." Because the
exercises are based on real sentences, no attempt was made to eliminate
sentences with "not" from these early exercises, even though adverbs are
not introduced until section seven. At this point in their work, therefore,
you can tell students that "'Not' is never a verb and should never be underlined,"
or you can simply let them underline it until they get to section seven.
The "other" category of "helping" verbs may
introduce a problem if you are having students analyze randomly selected
sentences. The forty sentences in the exercises in this section were all
taken from Blaisdell's Bunny Rabbit's Diary, but in collecting them
I also collected the following six sentences:
She did not stop to talk to Bunny.
In these sentences, "stop," "came," and "ran" are the finite verbs (the
verbs that should be underlined twice) and the infinitives ("to" plus a
verb) answer the question "Why?" not "What?" Note, for example, the difference
She did not stop to catch any of the little bugs.
Every few minutes he stopped to hunt for some hidden nut.
The little squirrel stopped to take another sniff.
North Wind came to help him.
Bunny ran to find Mother Rabbit.
She did not stop to talk to Bunny.
If you are creating your own exercises (or having students create them)
expect problems here and ignore (for purposes of grading) any errors
that students make.
She did not stop talking to Bunny.
6 - Identifying Nouns, Pronouns,
Adjectives, & Adverbs
Here we enter the swamp into which most grammar
textbooks sink. Most people are not interested in the theoretical questions
involved in the definitions of the parts of speech, but we need to note
that those questions can become somewhat complex and confusing. As a simple
example, some textbooks consider "his" to be a pronoun; others consider
it to be an adjective. Most of the confusion results from the grammarians'
focus on categories rather than on how the words actually function in sentences.
Because there is no national standard curriculum,
and because in some schools kindergarten students are taught to identify
basic nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs, KISS at this point
simply needs to establish the concept of "noun." The instructional
material is intentionally basic, primarily because KISS depends on the
exercises to reinforce and expand the concepts.
It makes sense to introduce pronouns
at this point, primarily because they appear frequently in what the students
will be reading and writing. The instructional material has been limited
to the most commonly used pronouns. Giving second graders a list that includes
less commonly used pronouns, such as "whoever," "whosoever," "whichever,"
"whatever," and "whatsoever," would probably confuse more students than
it will help. The KISS objective for second grade is not to have students
remember these words as "pronouns," but rather to help students recognize
these words when they appear as subjects, complements, or, later in the
year, as objects of prepositions.
Some grammars consider words like "his," "her,"
"its," "our" and "their" as possessive pronouns; others consider them adjectives.
Within KISS, we focus on the functions of words, and possessive pronouns,
like possessive nouns, function as adjectives. Thus, in KISS, these words
are considered adjectives.
Note that this section includes the instructional
material for adjectives and adverbs, but only four exercises.
One exercise focuses on identifying adjectives, one on identifying adverbs.
The other two are writing exercises, one for adjectives and one for adverbs.
The reason for this is that the next section provides numerous exercises
on adding adjectives and adverbs to the students' analytical toolbox.
7. More Practice with Adjectives and
Once students have a general introduction to
nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs, they will need some practice
exercises to solidify these concepts, particularly adjectives and adverbs.
However, once students do have a command of adjectives and adverbs, having
them identify them in every exercise is not necessary. Indeed, it can become
boring. Thus the exercises in this section do require the students to draw
an arrow from every adjective and from every adverb to the word it modifies.
After this group of exercises, adjectives and adverbs are ignored except
for special cases that are explained in the analysis keys.
In a sentence such as "Bill likes baseball
and football," many students will mark "baseball" as a complement, but
ignore "football." Compounding is a relatively simple concept, and by introducing
it at this point, sentences with compound subjects, verbs, and/or complements
can be used in the exercises on prepositional phrases.
9. Adding Simple Prepositional Phrases
In a sentence such as "One of the boys is here,"
some students will see "boys" as the subject of "is." This interference
from prepositional phrases ("of the boys") causes numerous problems, so,
in order to identify subjects and verbs, students need to learn to identify
prepositional phrases. There are about sixty words that can function as
prepositions, so learning to identify these phrases takes some practice.
(Mastering some of the complications in these phrases is an objective for
10. "You" Understood as the Subject
This is relatively simple, but it does need
to be explained to students.
11 - Sentence Combining & Style
These introductory and simple combining
exercises are intended to improve students' ability to change sentences
once they are written.
12. Distinguishing Complements
I was asked to provide more extensive
material, beyond the basic Instructional
Material for Distinguishing Complements. My initial response was "No,"
but I should amend that response, both by explaining the logic behind it
and also by adding some possibilities.
To begin, we need to ask why students need
to distinguish complements in the first place. The answer to that question
is that the ability to distinguish complements can improve both their reading
and their writing. It does so most clearly by enabling them to identify
predicate nouns. Note that, within KISS, the way that students learn to
identify a predicate noun is first to eliminate the predicate adjective,
and then to ask 1.) if the complement is, in some way, equal to the subject
and 2) if the verb in any ways means "equals." This important "equality"
of the predicate noun and the subject is rarely explored in traditional
grammars. The result is often poor reading and poor writing.
As a simple example, a student wrote, "Often
the practice rooms are the only time one can be alone." A room, however,
is a place, not a time. One of my favorite examples of this problem
with the logic of predicate nouns is still
"The taste of a sizzling foot-long hotdog coated with tangy
sauerkraut with mounds of pickle relish is a typical snack when accompanied
by a tall, chilled paper cup of Coke."
The hotdog may be a tasty snack, but a taste is not. This example, by the
way, suggests why the S/V/PN may continue to be a problem for some students
as their sentences naturally become more complex and as more words fall
between the subject and verb or between the verb and the complement.
That still leaves open the question
of how to teach students to recognize complements. In essence, KISS uses
a logical process, a sequence of questions to arrive at the type of the
complement, thereby side-stepping the traditional "transitive," "intransitive,"
and "linking" verbs. What's wrong with the traditional approach?
The simple answer to that question is that
it is ultimately useless, perhaps even confusing, if one's objective
is to teach students how to analyze real texts. We'll skip the problems
with "transitive" and "intransitive," and simply look at how most grammar
textbooks explain "linking verbs." First of all, most textbooks explain
that linking verbs take predicate adjectives or predicate nouns, and not
direct or indirect objects. They also explain that the verb "be," ("am,"
"are," "is," "was," and "were") when it is used as the primary verb (and
not as a helping verb) is a linking verb. (Are you getting all of this?
If you are, many students won't. I've had students mark "working" as a
predicate noun in the sentence "He is working in the garden.")
Having explained the preceding, most textbooks
give a list of additional verbs that may function as linking verbs.
Since you may want to use it, the following example is from Paul Roberts'
Grammar (N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1954, 115-116):
Though be is the most common
linking verb in Modern English, many others are in common use. The following
You can probably find other verbs included in other books. No such list
claims to be complete, and that is the problem. What are students supposed
to do when the verb in the sentence they are analyzing (or writing) is
not on the list? Note, for example, that one of the exercises for Grade
Two includes the sentence "Perhaps he can keep awake." "Keep" is not on
Roberts' list, but it functions as a linking verb in this sentence, and
"awake" is a predicate adjective.
|The weather seems nasty.
The weather became nasty.
The weather turned nasty.
The weather continued nasty.
The difficulties loomed large.
His love grew cold.
The pie tasted foul.
Don't feel bad.
The cow ran dry.
Hurry and get well.
In another of his grammar books, Roberts discusses
the problem. He uses "grow" as an example, as in:
a..) Tom grew quickly.
In (a.) "grew" is intransitive; in (b.) it is linking; and in (c.) it is
transitive. How do we know that? Ultimately, the grammarians end up using
the basic KISS instructional material on the types of complements. (Or
should I say that KISS instructional material is based on what grammarians
themselves do to determine the types of verbs and complements?) In
(a.) there is no complement. (Thus the verb is intransitive.) In (b.) the
complement is an adjective that describes "Tom." (Thus the verb is "linking.")
In (c.) there is a complement, but it neither describes, nor is it equal
to, "Tom." (Thus the verb is transitive.)
b.) Tom grew tall.
c.) Tom grew tomatoes.
In order to analyze real sentences, students
are going to have to master the KISS instructional sequence. You can, if
you wish, use the preceding information to give students additional instruction,
but I suggest caution. First, it may cause more confusion than it is worth.
Second, too much focus on knowing that word "x" can be a linking
verb may easily detract from the more important instruction on knowing
to decide what type of complement is involved. Instructors of math (and
professors of electronics) regularly complain that students are too focused
on what the answer is (the "that") and thus the students fail to learn
the process (the "how") to work one's way to the correct answer. The basic
KISS instructional material on the types of complements is, in addition,
an introduction to procedures that will be used later within KISS, but
it is also important instruction in learning how to learn.
||Assessment Quizzes for Second Grade
Parents or others who are working with a limited
number of students probably will not need formal assessments to know what
their students do and do not understand. Classroom teachers, however, have
to deal with many students at a time. They also may need to report the
results of formal assessments, especially since the results of such assessment
can be used to modify objectives and methods for future instruction.
The KISS assessment quizzes for second grade
are designed to include only core examples such that all students can be
expected to get everything right. (For example, "dare" and "ought" do not
appear in them as helping verbs because they are used so infrequently that
we probably should not expect second graders to remember them in addition
to all the other materials that they have been presented with during this
The quizzes consist of selected sentences
that should, as a whole, include
1. ) one predicate adjective, one predicate noun, one indirect
The format for KISS assessment quizzes
remains fairly standard from second grade through eleventh. Students are
given a numbered sequence of sentences, and are asked to identify the subjects,
verbs, and complements (as they do in most exercises). The sentences are
followed by other words selected from the sentences, and students are asked
to "explain how that word grammatically connects to the subject, verb,
or complement." Note that the words are presented in a specific sequence
that moves further and further from the main pattern. For example:
2.) one understood "you,"
3.) one compound (subject, verb, or complement) and
4.) several prepositional phrases.
stored away nuts (DO)
and acorns (DO) in little holes in
The students might first be asked to explain "holes." The expected answer
would be that "holes" is the object of the preposition "in," and that the
prepositional phrase functions as an adverb to "had stored." (I allow students
to use abbreviations and incomplete sentences in these responses -- "obj.
of 'in'; pp. is adv. to 'had stored'.") Next, they might be asked to explain
"little." Because they have already explained how "holes" connects to the
pattern, all they need to write for "little" is that it is an adjective
to "holes." Similarly, asked to explain "ground," all they need to write
is that it is the object of "in," and that prepositional phrase functions
as an adjective to "holes."
Point values may differ from quiz to quiz,
but as a general rule for second grade:
Every word that functions as, or as part of, a subject or verb is worth
It is not necessary to test every word in every sentence, so the listed
words are selected to bring the point value of the quiz to 100 points.
For a specific example, see the first
assessment quiz based on Blaisdell's Bunny Rabbit's Diary, and
the key for it.)
Every complement is worth one point; its type is worth one more.
The explanation of each listed word is worth one point.
You may want to consider deducting points
for, for example, words that are underlined as verbs but that are not verbs.
(I have seen college students underline "in" as a verb.) If the students
have done most of the exercises in this book, spread across the school
year, every student should be able to score at least a 95%. If they do
not, you will probably find that students' scores will fall into an inverted
bell curve--either they understand most of the material, or they are totally
(I'd like to note here that most, if not all,
of the students who are totally lost will be students who simply refuse
to pay attention, memorize short definitions, and/or do the homework. This
is easily documented. Teachers and school systems should be evaluated on
what and how they teach, not on how many student pass or fail.)