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Peer Review

English Sentence Diagrams

by Eugene (Gene) Moutoux


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 3.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 29, 2014 by English Editorial Board
Overview: This site is designed as a series of worksheets on how to diagram sentences in English. There are also diagrams for sentences in German and Latin. The site begins with very simple sentences and works up to extremely complex sentences which require complicated diagrams. All of the parts of speech are demonstrated separately in the simplest lesson, and in the more advanced lessons diagrams are created for sentences from literature, sentences from contemporary journalists, and sentences from major documents and speeches including the U.S. Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.
Type of Material: Tutorial
Recommended Uses: The site was created by a foreign-language teacher and may be useful for foreign-language students as well as students studying their native language. It could be used for class review of sentence structure, homework assignments, or individual study.
Technical Requirements: Browser only
Identify Major Learning Goals: Students will learn to analyze the structure of sentences using Reed-Kellogg diagramming techniques.
Target Student Population: Almost any level of high school or post secondary student could use the initial exercises. The more advanced exercises would require a student with a particular interest in this (rather arcane) skill.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Knowledge of basic grammar terms would be useful.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The quality of the material (examples of diagrammed sentences) is really quite extraordinary. The site uses a variety of different levels, from simple to extremely complex, to demonstrate that a sentence can be diagrammed.
Concerns: The sentence structures rapidly become complex, so while three-word sentences are given initially, more complex structures almost immediately follow.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths: The teaching aim is very clear. Once you understand the way the diagrams work, they are relatively easy to use. Taking a sentence like the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and diagramming it could be an extremely effective way of talking in class about effects of the language used in the Constitution. As I look at the strong verbs lined up one under the other (form, establish, insure, provide, promote, secure), I have a visual and visceral connection to the importance of this work.
Concerns: The concepts are not taught in a gradual way, but progress rapidly; the excerpts in this site are drawn from a more complete reference book, so large slabs of content are missing here. Providing more scaffolding or support for making connections could make this site extremely useful.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: It’s easy to move between pages in the site. Diagrams are clear to read and exercises are laid out well. The example diagrammed sentences are clear.
Concerns: The titles for the various areas within the site (acting as clickable links) aren’t always clear – you wouldn’t know until you opened a page what was in it (“Part 1, Unit III” for example). The site looks at though it was created a piece at a time, with little attention to overall organization. For example, in the second column on the main page one must scroll down past Sentence 51 to find a very useful basic tool--24 flashcards to help with the basics of sentence diagramming. This tool should be one of the first things a user encounters. In the third column, scrolling even further down, there is "Anatomy of a Sentence: Diagramming a 100-Word Sentence Step by Step. . . ." This too might have been at the beginning of the site.

Other Issues and Comments: There could be some good materials here for an instructor to use, but it would be a very difficult site to delve into and emerge with an organized set of exercises that could be used in class.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States