The KISS Grammar Workbooks
Level One Objectives
Prepositional Phrases; Adjectives
(Compounding & Ellipsis)
The students' objectives
1) to be able to identify all of the
prepositional phrases in any sentence by placing parentheses around them,
["All" in the first objective excludes prepositional
phrases which have clauses as their objects. Students will run into an
occasional infinitive ("to" plus a verb) which will cause a little confusion.
Teachers should tell students that "to" plus a verb is not a prepositional
phrase, but that, since they have not studied verbs yet, they could not
be expected to know that. In grading at this level, infinitives marked
as prepositional phrases should be ignored.]
2) to understand the concept of compounding.
The first three months (September, October,
and November) of the KISS design for fourth grade are devoted to the required
objectives. The last five months suggest exercises for expanding and applying
the students' newly acquired knowledge to questions of style, logic, etc.
Teachers might also want to add Interjections and Direct Address to the
students' analytical toolbox. (See the
discussion of the January assignments.)
are relatively easy to learn. Whereas English includes thousands of nouns
and verbs, prepositions are limited to about seventy small words, many
of which are logically related -- "in," "out"; "over," "under"; "inside,"
"outside," etc. I would not expect students to memorize a list of prepositions,
but some teachers find that memorization is helpful, and thus may want
to require it. The objective of instruction, however, is to enable the
students to identify the phrases in real texts, not the memorization of
a list of prepositions.
If students begin working
with prepositional phrases in third grade, they will not be very confused
by words which can function both as prepositions and as subordinate conjunctions
-- research shows that, although a few subordinate clauses appear in the
writing of third graders, subordinate clauses do not "blossom," to use
Hunt's term, until about seventh grade. In analyzing passages, however,
students will meet some subordinate clauses. They should be taught to ignore
them. They can do this by using the following rule: If whatever answers
the question "what?" after a preposition is a sentence, it is not a prepositional
phrase. Students will have some problem with this, but as suggested in
the objectives (above) their errors should be pointed out, but not counted
Research, some of which
is available in detail from this web site, indicates that in college and
professional writing, a third of the words are in prepositional phrases.
In the writing of third graders, this percentage will be smaller, mainly
because in their sentences more words are allocated to the basic subject
/ verb / complement positions (and their modifiers). Nevertheless, students,
whose ultimate objective is to be able to explain the chunking of every
word in any sentence, will find themselves well on their way to their goal
once they have identified all the prepositional phrases.
Beginning with prepositional
phrases alleviates another problem. Even many college students confuse
the object of a preposition with the subject of a verb. (This is evident
from errors that they make in subject/verb agreement.) When they begin
their study of subject / verb patterns, one of the first rules that students
should learn is that the object of a preposition (which they will have
placed in parentheses) cannot be the subject of a verb.
a concept that students can learn in the process of finding prepositional
phrases. Compounding simply means that there are more than one of a particular
construction. Traditional textbooks, which focus on constructions rather
than on concepts, attain much of their bulk (and confusion) by treating
compounding over and over again in different contexts -- compound objects
of prepositions, compound subjects, compound verbs, compound clauses, etc.
For all practical purposes, any construction can be compounded. Once students
understand the concept, they can see all the variations themselves. Compounding
should be introduced with prepositional phrases simply in order to explain
phrases in sentences such as "They were playing with Bill and Mary." Because
the KISS approach focuses on meaning, in this sentence the answer to the
question "with whom?" is not "with Bill," but rather "with Bill and Mary."
Compounding should not
be taught as a definition, i.e., students need not be required to memorize
and recite a definition. Rather, the term should be used by teachers in
explaining why "and Mary" goes with "with Bill." What is important, in
other words, is that students include "and Mary" within the prepositional
phrase. As they continue to analyze and discuss sentences, students will
meet enough compound objects of prepositions (and later compound subjects,
verbs, etc.) so that the term will eventually sink in by itself.
Enabling almost all of
third graders to identify "all" of the prepositional phrases in samples
of their own or their peers' writing will probably require the equivalent
of four or five 50-minute class sessions (or a total of 200 to 250 minutes)
The first session will probably require a full class period since the teacher
will have to distribute the instructional material, explain the objective(s),
and demonstrate what is expected by going over a short identification passage
in class. Following the initial class period of instruction, teachers will
want to schedule instruction differently. Some may want to assign a single
sentence to be reviewed in two or three minutes at the beginning of each
class period. Other teachers will prefer to give students longer
passages (a half page, double spaced) as homework assignments, perhaps
one a month. In estimating the total amount of time required, I'm predicting
that four to six such assignments should suffice, with 25 minutes of class
time spent on reviewing each. In a subsequent class, devote five
minutes to an assessment quiz. Once most of the students get most of the
phrases correct, they have reached the objective.
It is very important
that the KISS approach be spread across the school year, and not crunched
up into two or three weeks where it will be covered and then forgotten.
Teachers who enjoy working with grammar will find it easy to regularly
refer to what students have learned, simply by discussing interesting phrases
in what the students are reading or writing. Once most students can pass
the assessment quizzes, teachers who are not as enthusiastic may want to
do just one short exercise in class on prepositional phrases every week,
thereby making sure that the students will not have forgotten by the time
they enter fourth grade. Such exercises might consist simply of short jokes
placed on an overhead. After the students enjoy the joke, have them identify
the prepositional phrases in it.
Time Required for Students in Higher Grades
The KISS approach can be
started at any grade level, but starting later does cause problems. These
problems include more than just the fact that more time has to be spent
at the higher grade level to make up for the time not spent at lower grade
levels. Research suggests that the human mind requires time -- and lots
of it -- to become comfortable with new concepts. But because the approach
is new, many students will have to start in later grades. In this case,
teachers should probably expect to spend four or five class periods early
in the year to reach the required objectives. They will probably find that
they have to ignore the "desired objectives" so that they can get students
started at KISS Level Two.
If you have not read the general
comments on assessment quizzes, you may want to do so.
Every student should be expected to get 100%,
but because the students will continue to work with prepositional phrases,
there is room for some error. Remember, however, that problems in identifying
prepositional phrases will cause the student problems in identifying subjects
and verbs. Students who cannot pass the final assessment test with a 100%
should be given extra help outside of class until they can do so.
Incorrect marking of infinitives and prepositional
phrases with clauses as their objects should be ignored or, at most, considered
as a minor deduction. Things that are marked as a prepositional phrase
but which do not begin with a preposition ("and Bill") should be counted
as major errors. Assessment tests can be graded by counting the number
of phrases correctly identified, subtracting the number of non-phrases
that are marked as phrases, and then dividing that number by the number
of possibly correct answers.
This border is based
on an illustration by Anne Anderson (1874—1940s?)
for Old, Old Fairy Tales, New York, Thomas Nelson
& Sons, n.d.
Women Children's Book Illustrators http://ortakales.com/illustrators/
[For educational use only.]
here for an index of the borders based on art.