Better Grammar Through Diagramming

A lost art? Sentence diagrams pick apart and identify the various components of sentence structure. You can easily make your own sentence diagram with this online app.

If you have fellow ELA teachers, editors, grammarians, or like me—assessment folks on your social media lists, it’s likely you have seen the NPR post titled “A Picture of Language: The Fading Art of Diagramming Sentences” over the past couple of years. It is, of course, about something I dreaded in english class—diagramming sentences.
In one of the links to the article I received, a former colleague asked, “Love or Hate?” I replied, “Hated it, but needed it.”

Taking on, what was for me, the laborious challenge of diagramming dozens of sentences was tough. Of course, I know others that loved it, and some folks that still mentally do it. As torturous as it was for me, it did build on my basic grammar foundations. Ultimately, it made me a better and more confident writer.

I have found over the years that a student with solid grammar skills may not be a better writer, but will be less afraid to make mistakes. So, that confidence leads to actually getting their ideas on paper or into the word processor. A student with less grammar proficiency may leave the page blank, or the cursor blinking on an empty screen.

So, how can you sharpen the language skills of your students without torturing them? Can practicing the identification of prepositions be fun? Subject-verb agreement? Choosing a way to combine sentences? Selecting the best edit of a sentence?

I think it can be fun, especially when using Edulastic’s tech-enhanced items. A student can highlight an error, or an adjective when asked, select correct punctuation from a drop down menu, or type the correct spelling of a misspelled word.


Try assessing your students’ language skills with these Edulastic assessments.

Grade 4 Tackling Confused Words Set 1
Preview  |  Access

Grade 6 Language Assessment Standard L.6.1
Preview  |  Access

Grade 8 Passive and Active Voice Set 1
Preview  |  Access

Grade 9-10 Parallel Structure Practice Set 2
Preview  |  Access

Grade 11 Language Assessment Standard L.11-12.1
Preview  |  Access