Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pausing for Parts of Speech

Verlyn Klinkenborg shared the following exercise in Several Short Sentences about Writing (60).

Copy or print out a couple of pages by an author whose work you like....
Gather some colored pens or pencils.
Choose one color and circle all the nouns.
Pause to consider them.
Then choose a different color and circle all the verbs.
Pause again.
Ditto the articles, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Anything left over?
There shouldn't be.
This will clarify the parts of speech, and it will help you see how the author uses them.
Please reread that last sentence--the purpose statement--especially after "and."

Make this exercise less about stubbornly trying to identify every last word and more about appreciating the choices the author makes with words. In fact, feel free to nix  parts of speech from the list if some of them are new or burdensome to your student. The goal is to pause, observe, enjoy...and eventually imitate.

I wanted to attempt this exercise myself, so I casually paged through several chapter books to find a paragraph. I soon realized it wouldn't be as easy as it sounds and decided to drop my post.

Then I came back to it. I opened Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, copied the first page I saw, and began circling, first the nouns, then the verbs, until I ended with the prepositions.

This is *not* easy. When I moved onto a new color and a new part of speech, I would find ones I missed from the last color. It forced me to consider and reconsider words. At first, I followed instructions and paused to study words. Then I got swept away by the pursuit and forgot to pause. When I was finished, uncircled words remained.

The take-away?  Do this yourself before requiring it of your children! Or at least do it alongside them. And don't forget to pause.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.

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