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Powerful Punctuation!

Punctuation can be a pesky problem. Third grade students often forget their punctuation, writing an entire story without a single period in sight. As I launched writing workshop this year, I’ve been looking for ways to show my students that punctuation can add voice and meaning to their pieces of writing. Here are some lessons I’ve tried:

  • Morning Message: Each day, I’ve been writing a morning message for my students, which we read at the end of the Morning Meeting. I’ve been using different types of punctuation and bold words to show that writers skillfully place punctuation so readers will read the piece a certain way. I talk with the students about my punctuation choices and the reasons behind it.

 

  • Mentor sentences: Based on Jeff Anderson‘s work, I’ve been selecting a sentence for our class to study, explore, and imitate. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt includes many examples of clever punctuation that adds voice to the book. We charted the different types of punctuation we found on a page in the book.

 

  • Punctuation gallery walk: Love Monster, by Rachel Bright, is one of my favorite books to read! Parentheses, ellipses, dashes, and commas really direct the reader to read the book in a specific way. For our gallery walk, I hung up pages from the book and asked students to work with a partner and jot down what they noticed regarding punctuation. After the students explored the different pages, we made a list of the different types of punctuation found in the book and how it helped us as readers. I emphasized that students could do the same thing in their own writing! Students were invited to go back to a piece of writing and revise it with punctuation to create voice or interest. Students could also start a new piece and incorporate punctuation skillfully.

There are a few books I plan to read to my class to continue emphasizing the power of punctuation. The Girl’s Like Spaghetti, Twenty Odd-Ducks, Punctuation Takes a Vacation, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves are books that will help students realize the importance of punctuation. I also plan to help students find punctuation marks when writing digitally. A student asked me where the period was when my class blogged for the first time the other day and I never realized students might not know where to find punctuation on the keyboard! It was a a big “A-ha!” moment for me.

Two Writing Teachers has explored punctuation many times. Here are some posts to check out! How do you help students realize that punctuation need not be a pesky problem, but can be a tool to help them craft powerful pieces?

12 thoughts on “Powerful Punctuation! Leave a comment

  1. I love all of these ideas, Kathleen!
    Love Monster is a treasure-trove of teachable punctuation! I always think about the way Bright artfully uses punctuation every time I read it aloud to Isabelle. (It’s a favorite in our house. I even bought her a plush Love Monster at the height of her infatuation with the series.)

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  2. I used Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors as a model of punctuation with my 7th grade students. The book captures so well a writer using punctuation for effect. We imitated using punctuation in similar ways in six-word memoirs. Since word count was limited, the punctuation offered power and meaning without words.
    Thanks for the other titles to check out, too!

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  3. Hi! First, I have to get my students to actually use punctuation! We whisper read our sentences and find that if we are getting short on breath, one of two things is happening – either a comma is needed as a short breather, or a period should be marked because too many thoughts (run on) are jumbled together. Sometimes, just reading our thoughts out loud, (and exaggerating the amount of words until a pause) is powerful. I loved Eat Shoots and Leaves when I was in 2nd. I forgot about that one! We have Punctuation Takes a Vacation in our mentor text library, so I will check that one out more closely. Finding ways to sneak it in seems to work best as we have so many standards to address in 4th! Thanks again.

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  4. This was a timely post. I had to start our designated language development class today with the EOs and reclassified English learners. We are encouraged to “do writing”.i saw the title of your post and had my “aha” moment. So when I told the Ss that we were going to work on punctuation, they all acknowledged that they didn’t do it very well. Trouble putting periods at the end. Commas commas commas. I like your idea of looking at specific sentences, texts, etc. to really examine how punctuation affects mean8ng. Thank you.

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    • I’m so, so glad! This made my day! I’m a classroom teacher too and often feel there is so much for me to learn. Sharing what I try in my classroom is so validating when other teachers say it helped! Hope your students enjoy exploring how punctuation can be powerful!

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  5. I love the gallery walk idea. Even in middle school we struggle with punctuation. When I confer with kids who are are drafting, some of them have no punctuation. They tell me they know and will go back and add it when they edit. Such a different way of thinking! 🙂

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  6. Please ignore my last email. I decided to reboot and lo and behold I was able to get the entire blog! Thank you. Have a wonderful day!

    Gail

    “There are three languages: the language of the head, the language of the heart, and the language of the hands; education must go forward by these three ways; instructing in how to think, helping students to feel well; accompanying students as they do…” Pope Francis

    Gail Donahue, Ph.D. Director, Academy of Catholic Educators (ACES) Notre Dame of Maryland University 4701 North Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland 21210 443.621.3185 | http://www.ndm.edu gdonahue@ndm.edu

    ________________________________

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  7. Good morning, I wanted to read more of Kathleen Sokolowski’s post about Powerful Punctuation but each time I clicked “Read More of This Post” I received an error message. It could be from my end but I was able to get links from other emails this morning. I was wondering if you could resend or check from your end. Thanks so much. Love this blog!

    Gail

    “There are three languages: the language of the head, the language of the heart, and the language of the hands; education must go forward by these three ways; instructing in how to think, helping students to feel well; accompanying students as they do…” Pope Francis

    Gail Donahue, Ph.D. Director, Academy of Catholic Educators (ACES) Notre Dame of Maryland University 4701 North Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland 21210 443.621.3185 | http://www.ndm.edu gdonahue@ndm.edu

    ________________________________

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    • Hi Gail! I’m sorry you weren’t able to read the post from the link. What if you went right to the Two Writing Teachers site and clicked it from there?

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