What does function mean?

Here’s an informal writing prompt that will let you see whether students know what you mean when you talk about the function of some grammatical or punctuation term.

When we talk about grammar and punctuation, we often use the term function. In no more than three sentences, explain the meaning of function. To make your explanation clear, give an analogy to the function or functions of some physical object. You have 90 seconds to write.

This simple prompt will let you know whether students understand the terms you expect them to know. If they don’t understand the terms you’re using, you need to teach those terms as vocabulary.

©2021 Linda G. Aragoni

The challenge answered

Last week I asked ELA teachers if they could do this:

Did you have trouble coming up with the answer? If you did, the reason is not that you didn’t know the answer. The problem was that “question” was stated in an unfamiliar way. Here’s the answer:

The sentence that describes every sentence ever written in every language and every sentence yet to be written in every language is the definition of a sentence. That makes perfect sense once you see the answer, but most of us have to scratch our heads for a while before we realize that we know the answer.

It’s important when teaching basic information, such as the definition of a sentence, that you occasionally vary your wording. If you don’t do that, students are likely to learn definitions by rote without actually understanding what the definition means.

© 2021 Linda Gorton Aragoni