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?