Parts of a sentence: a grammar lesson plan.
Everyone labels “parts of a sentence” differently. My older students recognize subject and predicate (they can draw a line to separate the two), so I don’t spend much time on that portion. When I mention parts of a sentence, I am referencing:
- direct object
- indirect object
- object complement
- predicate noun
- predicate pronoun
- predicate adjective
- object of the preposition
I know some teachers use “predicate word” or “subject complement.” For ease as I write this, the above list is what I will reference.
Students normally learn parts of a sentence in middle school. Still, my freshmen do not have a firm grasp where we can continue to phrases and clauses. Higher level grammar hinges on students at least being able to identify a sentence’s subject and verb. (This free digital activity will help you gather data to see where to start your lessons.)
When students eliminate passive voice or create powerful verbs in their writing, they will need to identify the subject and verb. Students should find the subjects and verbs of their sentences so that they write complete sentences.
I teach parts of a sentence after teaching parts of speech.
I remind students they know some of this – they have all drawn a line between the subject and predicate. Start with prior knowledge and have students do that:
The bird tweeted.
Draw a line between “bird” and “tweeted.” I like to add phrases and modifiers to show students that the subject and verb are unchanging – AND that they can still identify the subject and verb.
The tiny bird in the tree tweeted a pretty song.
I play around with that for a few minutes because I have found that the more I emphasize that students already understand this concept, the more willing they are to learn the rest.
Then, I teach prepositional phrases and objects of the preposition. I KNOW that this is probably not “parts of a sentence” material, but in my experience, this is the best time to introduce prepositional phrases. Subjects, verbs, direct objects… they will never be in prepositional phrases. It helps to reassure students of that.
I spend at least one class period emphasizing subjects and verbs AND eliminating prepositional phrases. The rest of the week (and probably the following week) will be spent with direct objects, indirect objects, and object complements. As you manipulate and study sentences, try to connect these parts to what students read and write.
When students understand action verbs and their objects, I introduce linking verbs to cover predicate nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.
I start with a list of linking verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. That list sing-songs itself, and I repeat it numerous times.
Then, I introduce other verbs that can be linking verbs: appear, become, feel, grow, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, and turn. How do I teach these?
I act out the verbs. Yes, my students laugh at me and more than likely, make fun of me outside of class. I’m good with it! For instance… appear.
The desk appears clean.
Ok- show students a desk. The desk isn’t doing anything – the desk’s state of being is that it is clean. Name every object in the room and connect a predicate adjective to it. These objects just exist, and a predicate adjective describes them. Finally, act out a verb.
Mrs. Moss appeared on stage.
Ta-da! I walk out on my “stage” (the classroom), showing students that I am appearing on my teaching stage. That is how you can differentiate between an action verb and a linking verb.
Want super-charged engagement? Ask students to give you verbs, and yep, act them out. They will remember that grammar lesson.
Finally, as we continue with action and linking verbs combined (and the other parts of a sentence), I keep acting out verbs so students can understand the differences.
Ask students to act out a linking verb! They can’t. More than likely, they will be acting out the predicate word, not the verb.
Over the years, I’ve developed a variety of tools (for differentiation, variety, types of learners, and such). Here are a few I use:
review: parts of a sentence worksheet
coloring sheet: parts of a sentence coloring sheet
complete unit: pretest, Powerpoint, scaffolded practice
Need more? I’ve added a presentation to Slide Share with specifics to teaching parts of a sentence. Watch it alone, with a colleague, or as a department.