Don’t Overestimate the Power of Review



A couple weeks ago, I taught my 5th graders how to diagram sentences. We started out very simple. They liked it, because it was kind of like geometry in English class. Basically, students were to separate the subject from the verb and create dangling shelves for modifiers. After practicing ten sentences, we started our literature study and left diagramming off to the side.

On their vocabulary test today, I decided to be generous and offer extra credit for diagramming a very simple sentence related to our literary study, The Sign of the Beaver. Here are two responses:


Where’s the other woman?



I’m speechless.


3 thoughts on “Don’t Overestimate the Power of Review

  1. I would hesitate to tell you how many people I have forwarded this to as a link and a PDF. My son-in-law is an elementary school principal. My wife is a college professor with a PhD in rhetoric. A discussion that comes up frequently is how to be effective and get students to think through a process when they all seem to be so literal in their thinking. No one synthesizes, they react, they do not respond. Both of the people above seem to think there’s an answer but you can only hold the spoon for feeding, you can’t shove it down their throats. Both of the examples were priceless, if tragic, examples of the way our children think. “A women” Two women but only a picture of one? Surely that child has an imaginary friend…

    Athletes are overpaid, teachers are underpaid. This post should be a billboard.


    1. My first thought was how funny and literal they were. And yes, my sentence said “two women,” yet the student drew one. And the second, lagging thought, which I have with more frequence: is the lack of learning retention and attention due to technology? Video games? Social media? I do not know.


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