Level: minimum high beginner, no maximum

Skills:

Exercise "chunking" skills

Objective:

Reduce compound/complex sentences to one word by strategically deleting one to three consecutive words at a time, until only one word remains.

Directions for Teacher:

Copy or compose a sentence featuring compound and complex structures.

Example:

Jae Won walked out of the bank and put on his sunglasses to discover his parked brand new yellow Ferrari with mag wheels rolling slowly backward toward the Rolls Royce behind it--he jumped in just in time to jerk the parking break tight and avoid a major hassle and expense.

  1. Ask the students to suggest which chunk to delete.
  2. Erase the suggested chunk. Ask the students if the remaining sentence still makes sense.
  3. If they say, yes, and they are correct, ask them to suggest another chunk to delete.
  4. If they say, yes, and they are incorrect, undelete the chunk and ask them to suggest another.
  5. If they say, no, and they are correct, undelete the chunk and ask them to suggest another.
  6. If they say, no, and they are incorrect, ask them to suggest another chunk to delete.
  7. Maintain as nonjudgmental a posture as possible. Merely delete, undelete, and ask for another suggestion as necessary.
  8. Once the sentence has been successfully reduced to a single word, extend the activity to adding chunks to form either a similar or completely different sentence with compound/complex structures.

From Janet Frame, Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies--Tonight there is a warm wind blowing from the south from the world where the olive trees grow, their gray shadows falling like flakes upon the gray stone, where the red earth crumbles like the hot ashes of a fire, and yellow flowers bloom in the dried river beds; where the eucalyptus trees lean above the stone fountain and the soft dust stirs about the feet of the people walking; a world of salt marshes, hills of salt, beanflowers, almond blossom, tiny pine trees with sticky purple flowers and small syrup-oozing cones; spotted poisonous toadstools that collapse when you touch them, clouding your face with a yellow mist, toadstools with tall extravagant stems the result of spurted growth which makes people afraid for they cannot accept the outrage of such furious vegetable growth, believing it should happen only in fairy tales.