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Misplaced Modifiers Explicit Instruction Lesson

Handouts Warm-up story Activity 3 newspaper headlines Transparencies Warm-up - story Activity 2 sentences Activity 3 newspaper headlines Materials Notebook paper Strips of white paper Felt pens String Hole punch

Lesson developed by: Bruce Beall Wicomico County Public Schools

Warm-Up:
A woman hires a hitman to get rid of her husband. On the day before the murder, the hitman meets with the woman in the park. She slips him an envelope with the money in it and says "Kill the man in the Mercedes with an American flag." It puzzles the hitman why the woman wants him to use an American Flag to kill her husband, but he decides, I was hired to do a job and I will do it no matter how crazy it seems. The next morning, he receives a call from the angry wife. She accuses him of not doing the job he was paid for. He replies, "I don't know what you are talking about! I dropped him and the flag I killed him with in the river, it's not possible for him to be alive." She pauses and then asks, "Why would you kill him with an American flag?" "I thought it was weird too, but you said, 'Kill the man in the black Mercedes with an American flag' so, I saw a couple of black Mercedes next to the park, so I snuck up on one and choked the man inside with an American flag." The woman sighs then replies, "No, I didn't want you to kill a man with an American flag! The black Mercedes my husband drives has an American flag across the back windshield!" The hitman replies, Thats your problem. I did what you told me to, so Im done.

Activity 1
Here are some more examples: tall man discouraged student flying birds the bird on the fence Left unsupervised, the child made a huge mess in the kitchen. Laughing hysterically, she told her friends how she found her cat stuck in a jar.

He served steak to the men on paper plates.

Stored in the refrigerator, we can keep oranges for six weeks.

1. Trying hard to write my term paper, my daughter Chloe kept disturbing me with her crying. 2. When inflated with air, six people can ride on this raft. 3. While changing the oil in my Ferrari, two of my acrylic nails broke. 4. They will rebuild the houses destroyed with stricter standards.

Directions: Tell what each humorously incorrect newspaper headline is literally saying. Then rewrite a corrected headline for each. 1. Jails for Women in Need of a Face Lift (DailyRecord/[Morristown,NJ], 11/24/89) 2. Police Kill Man with TV Tuner (The Blade-Tribune [Oceanside, CA], 6/3/86) 3. Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Line at Supermarket (Arkansas Democrat, 9/29/83) 4. Chile Bars an Opposition Videotape Dealing with Torture From Television (New York Times, 9/14/88)

Understanding and Revising Newspaper Headlines /Dangling Modifiers Directions: Tell what each humorously incorrect newspaper headline is literally saying. Then rewrite a corrected headline for each. 1. Jails for Women in Need of a Face Lift (DailyRecord/[Morristown,NJ], 11/24/89) __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

2. Police Kill Man with TV Tuner (The Blade-Tribune [Oceanside, CA], 6/3/86) __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ 3. Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Line at Supermarket (Arkansas Democrat, 9/29/83) __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ 4. Chile Bars an Opposition Videotape Dealing with Torture From Television (New York Times, 9/14/88) __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

Explicit Instruction for Misplaced Modifiers Formative Assessment: Students will be given an independent activity to determine if they can identify and correct misplaced modifiers. Exemplary Response: Students will identify and correct misplaced modifiers. VSC Match: 2.1.8 Locate and identify misplaced modifiers and understand how the location of the modifier can create ambiguity or humor. Class Objective: Locate, identify, correct, and observe the humor inherent in misplaced modifiers. Warm Up: Instruct the students to read the following story and decide if the hitman has a good argument. Did he do what the woman wanted or not? Lead a class discussion to decide if there is a difference between what the woman wants and what she told the hitman to do. Describe this difference as a misplaced modifier. Using class suggestions, rewrite the note without a misplaced modifier. A woman hires a hitman to get rid of her husband. On the day before the murder, the hitman meets with the woman in the park. She slips him an envelope with the money in it and says "Kill the man in the Mercedes with an American flag." It puzzles the hitman why the woman wants him to use an American Flag to kill her husband, but he decides, I was hired to do a job and I will do it no matter how crazy it seems. The next morning, he receives a call from the angry wife. She accuses him of not doing the job he was paid for. He replies, "I don't know what you are talking about! I dropped him and the flag I killed him with in the river, it's not possible for him to be alive." She pauses and then asks, "Why would you kill him with an American Flag?" "I thought it was weird too, but you said, 'Kill the man in the black Mercedes with an American flag' so, I saw a couple of black Mercedes next to the park, so I snuck up on one and choked the man inside with an American Flag." The woman sighs then replies, "No, I didn't want you to kill a man with an American Flag! The black Mercedes my husband drives has an American Flag across the back windshield!"

The hitman replies, Thats your problem. I did what you told me to, so Im done. Activity 1: Model I Do Explain - Model - Think Aloud So looking at the warm up, I can see that dangling and misplaced modifiers often change the meaning of what is being said. But what exactly IS a modifier and what is being modified? Well if I break the problem with the warm up sentence down, I can see that the word man needs to be next to American Flag. So the modifiers subject is Man and the modifier is American Flag. Here are some more examples: tall modifies man discouraged student flying birds the bird on the fence Left unsupervised, the child made a huge mess in the kitchen. Laughing hysterically, she told her friends how she found her cat stuck in a jar. Activity 2: We Do Student Engagement (Guided Practice & Corrective Feedback) Now lets look at some more dangling and misplaced modifiers. A Misplaced Modifier - occurs when readers cant easily relate the modifier to the word it modifies. Like this: Write this example on the overhead: He served steak to the men on paper plates. Write what the sentence is really saying then write a better sentence. The students should write: This sentence is saying that the men are the ones on the paper plates, not the steaks that are being served. A correct sentence should be: He served the men steak on paper plates. A Dangling Modifier - occurs when the verb in the main clause does not have the same subject as the verb in the dependent clause and the subject in the dependant clause is not mentioned. The term "dangling" derives from the fact that the dependant phrase is missing its subject and it is left dangling. Then, based on where they are, the dependant phrase is attributed (by the reader) to the subject in the main phrase. This explains the humorous or confusing effect the dangling modifiers have.

Write this example on the overhead: Stored in the refrigerator, we can keep oranges for 6 weeks. Write what the sentence is really saying then write a better sentence. The students should write: This sentence is saying that if we are in the refrigerator, well keep oranges for 6 weeks. A correct sentence should be: Stored in the refrigerator, oranges last for 6 weeks. Instruct the students to repeat the same process with the following sentences that you write on the overhead. Sentences on the overhead: 1. Trying hard to write my term paper, my daughter Chloe kept disturbing me with her crying. 2. When inflated with air, six people can ride on this raft. 3. While changing the oil in my Ferrari, two of my acrylic nails broke. 4. They will rebuild the houses destroyed with stricter standards.

Activity 3: You Do Students get worksheet that contains headlines that need to be rewritten. The headlines contain dangling or misplaced modifiers.

Dangling Modifiers Work Sheet: Directions: Tell what each humorously incorrect newspaper headline is literally saying. Then rewrite a corrected headline for each. 1. Jails for Women in Need of a Face Lift
(Daily Record/ [Morristown, NJ], 11/24/89)

2. Dr. Ruth Talks About Sex With Newspaper Editors


(Rutland [Vermont] Herald, 4/14/86 )

3. Police Kill Man with TV Tuner


(The Blade-Tribune [Oceanside, CA], 6/3/86)

4. Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Line at Supermarket


(Arkansas Democrat, 9/29/83)

5. Chile Bars an Opposition Videotape Dealing with Torture From Television


(New York Times, 9/14/88)

Variation: Using the worksheet that contains headlines that need to be rewritten, have the students choose one of the headlines, which they will then illustrate in its incorrect version on a strip of paper. This should be an enjoyable activity as these ambiguous sentences usually result in quite humorous images. Have them write the revised sentence on the back of this strip of paper, and proceed to holepunch and string their illustrated sentence with others of the class. The finished products can then be hung from the ceiling in various parts of the room for a decorative effect. Materials needed: Strips of white typing paper, felt pens, string, and a hole punch.

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