Years ago I taught sentence diagramming in 5th grade, but have only used mentor sentences to teach grammar in the last 8 or 9 years. Now I’ve gone full circle and am back to teaching sentence diagramming and mentor sentences to the two high school girls that I homeschool. We’re on our second year and I really see an impact on their writing and analysis skills. They understand sentence structure and how various structures are used in literature.
I’ve bought tons of books about sentence diagramming and my favorite teacher by far is Elizabeth O’Brien with Grammar Revolution: Teach and Learn Grammar the Easy Way. She has a website, books, programs perfect for classrooms and homeschooling, and a YouTube channel with upbeat videos. She also introduced me to the Let’s Diagram website which allows us to painlessly diagram our sentences.
I decided to make this change because their grammar textbooks spent only a day or two on each topic and then moves on, but sentence diagramming is cumulative. My students are completely comfortable talking about independent and dependent clauses, phrases, the parts of speech, and varied sentence structures. This gives us a vocabulary to use when we speak about their writing. We even find ourselves mentally diagramming sentences as we read to figure out how the author structured his sentence and why it works so well!