Tag Archives: punctuation

#SOL19: Saving Lives


Miss Fran  Miss Fran  Miss Fran  Can you come here  We need help  Jeannie fell down and she is crying

20 simple words

Words that I had to replay in my head to understand what I had just heard

The sense of urgency The fear The need

20 simple words that were uttered totally like verbal diarrhea that can make sense in print with a rereading or two Capital letters help with sentence sense but the work is difficult when punctuation is left out

I do believe the message on this shirt that I found on Facebook

facebook_1569210857597.jpg

Source:  Facebook

Punctuation can save lives as illustrated by the Tshirt above.

Punctuation. can. cause. major. headaches.

Who is punctuation for?

If you are still reading this post, how did you make sense of the text above the picture.  How were you able to read text without punctuation?  Often in a fast and furious draft, punctuation is spotty or left out.  Ideas.are.the.focus.

Thinking about punctuation brings to mind one of my favorite tools – punctuation sticks and I wrote about them here.

Screenshot 2019-09-23 at 7.00.56 PM.png

Because these are clear, they can easily be inserted into several points in a line in order to determine that best location in any particular piece of writing. It’s a playful way to experiment with varying punctuation as well!

Why does it matter? 

Today is National Punctuation Day.  Try varying your “usual” punctuation today. 

Does anyone notice? 

Is punctuation more important for a Reader or a Writer?




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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Screenshot 2019-09-25 at 11.32.16 AM   Interrobang          Screenshot 2019-09-30 at 6.10.39 AM.png

#89th TCRWP Saturday Reunion and a Bit of Grammar


grammar one

Yes! You Can Teach Grammar In Workshop – Three Essential Methods to Tuck In Grammar Effectively

Session #3 = Mary Ehrenworth

Mary began this session, packed to the gills, with folks sitting on the floor EVERYWHERE, with the following two questions for participants to discuss:

  • What do you think of when you think of grammar?
  • What is the “it” – you are trying to fit in!

What exactly are we talking about?

  • Spelling – when?
  • Spelling – In writing?
  • Spelling – Magically on students’ own time?
  • Subject / verb agreement?
  • Academic English?
  • Editing – how do I help students “fix up” their writing?

Keep in mind, dear readers, that English has its own particular challenges.  Our irregular verbs are harder than Spanish or Chinese. For those learning English, they will need a long period of approximation and growth.  For some natives, they will also need a long period of approximation and growth.

What should we do in our schools?

Just know that random small groups will not do cure the issue with weak grammar.  You will need a systemic approach. One isolated teacher in one year will not get growth.  You need to become the “Grammar Ambassador” for your building.  Pilot some methods. Encourage others to pilot some more methods.  Ask questions.  “What will we teach across each unit of study? Each year?”

The answer is not in teaching an isolated unit on “apostrophes” but instead in considering how punctuation changes the meaning in written work.

Check this out. What’s the difference between the first and second example?

grammar two

Quality grammar instruction includes the “art” not just the “skill and drill methods”.

How do we teach the art?

  • Demonstration regular lesson – art and craft
  • Inquiry – punctuation or dialogue –  What are the rules?  Malcolm Gladwell researched the stickiness factor with Blues Clues and inquiry.  We have to make sure students see different levels of dialogue so they experience a wide variety. This is not a task to be done in writing workshop. Instead, do a two day grammar study after the end of a unit that doesn’t fit into writing workshop. (Days before Thanksgiving!)
  • Interludes and Extravaganzas – Not pretending it’s writing workshop!

Some thoughts about Decoding/Encoding –

  • Natural spellers – brain has a graphic – you literally see the word
  • You will use spell check.
  • You will ask others to check your work.
  • IF you are a teacher who is not a natural speller, you will be more sympathetic!
  • 5th graders now write more than they have ever written in the past.
  • But for our young writers using digital spelling, they won’t spell words accurately.

What are the Stages of Acquisition?

  • Recognition
  • Approximation
  • Mastery
  • Slippage
  • Code Switching

Consider where you are on this list of stages?  Where are your students?  Are there a few students who are still stuck back in those earlier stages?  How can you get them to move on to higher levels?  The best answer would be MORE reading and MORE writing!

  • Most kids learn 80% of words they will use from lap reading – the way they have been speaking and been read to!!!
  • When you see students do something – run on sentences is not all bad. Some would consider those students “lucky” because they have a lot to write about. Then they need to work on writing long for internal punctuation. The more they read, the more control they will get over it.
  • Mastery – ending punctuation 1st grade
  • Ending punctuation is often still an issue  – 8th grade teachers!
  • Students drop control when get to something hard. Spend cognitive energy on completing task not spelling. Need more practice – more scrimmage time for students.
  • Just know that as fast as we teach, students are still in slippage stage!
  • Code Switching – switching from formal to digital – many students don’t notice when this happens
  • Coping strategies – proof reading – Students need to know when this is necessary
  • Intellectually and professionally difficult to proofread and edit own writing – don’t see the errors! How do you compensate for this?

Lynne Truss’s book, Eats Shoots & Leaves (Profile Books 2003), has a wonderful Dear Jack letter.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?
Jill

How could changing the punctuation change the meaning of this letter?

Without moving ANY words around!

You try it!

punctuation

Here was Lynne Truss’s version with the exact same words but different punctuation.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Jill

What if?

What if students created these?

What if students “played” with punctuation?

What if teachers REALLY quit correcting and fixing?

What if students were asked to think deeply about changing the meaning?

What are the components of quality grammar lessons?

Connection – Why?

Teaching Demo – How do we do this?

Active Engagement – We try it!

Link – When?

Would it maybe sound like . . . “Writers are considerate to their readers. When there is a new character, new setting,  or a time change, a writer begins a new paragraph.  The reader needs the white spaces.  (Read aloud with demo.) Let’s go to the story I’m writing here. Where do I need a paragraph?  Work with a partner and be prepared to explain both “where” a paragraph should begin and why. . . Now choose one page in your notebook and think about how paragraphs (white spaces) could help your reader.”

Would a lesson like this be more likely to transfer to student writing?

The old way of “doing grammar” has not succeeded in transferring to writing, so maybe this is worth a shot!

Conversation with a partner could possibly result in a more powerful lesson  and return some power to the students!  The teacher could share that England actually has a position known as the “Defender of the English Language”.  Who (and not the teacher) could be that person in our classroom?

If you decide to use an inquiry method, here are a few tips!

  • Have 1 question – not 10
  • Plan strategically.  The Inquiry activity should be no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Then give students 10 minutes to figure out one or two things to try.
  • The final 10 minutes of class provide time for the students to go try the skill in their own writing – ACTUALLY doing it!
  • Immediate application makes the skill more likely to STICK!

What are qualities of mentor texts to use for grammar?

Engaging and does a few things really well!

What else could you use for grammar instruction?

We exited to the Schoolhouse Rock Video:Schoolhouse Rock Xavier Sarsaparilla.  Hmm. .  .   multi-media to build up knowledge, power, and a bit of fun.

How do you think grammar fits into writing workshop?

 

Editing Sticks


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

What is the purpose of punctuation?

Many believe that punctuation is most important in writing because it signifies both the beginning and ending of sentences as well as indirect (paraphrased) or direct reporting of speech.  Students in kindergarten are exposed to end punctuation marks (. ? !) as well as these marks associated with speaking (,  “  “).  But is the bigger purpose of punctuation to give the reader the necessary clues to understand exactly what the author has written?  If yes, then the reader also needs those punctuation marks.  Why? Punctuation marks are very important when considering phrasing and smoothness of reading as a part of prosody for fluent readers.  A review of the CCR Anchor Standards found these six as possible considerations when thinking about the value of punctuation for both authors and readers.

CCRR Anchor Standards Considered:

Reading

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Language

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3

Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

My Version of Editing Sticks

2014-08-22 15.01.39

My tools for this work are editing sticks that I created after seeing some that looked more like clear acrylic chopsticks on Twitter.  The size of the sticks that resembled chopsticks does make them more accessible to working “inside text” but the main feature is that they must be clear.

(Clear disks with a variety of punctuation including:     .   !   ?   ,  “  “ )

 

Inquiry Mini-Lesson for Professional Development with Teachers

Connection:

Remember that we are working with narratives and one way that we “show” instead of “tell” is to add dialogue to our small moments story.  Sometimes as a reader, it is hard to know exactly what a character says because when a speech bubble is not used, the writing does not clearly say or show who is talking.

Name the Inquiry Question:

How do I decide what punctuation to use in my dialogue?  How can partners move the editing sticks around to show exactly what a character says in a story?

Inquiry Set-Up:

With a partner, decide which editing sticks you will use, where you will put them and why.  Jot a note to record your thinking and any questions that develop.

 

   The   principal   said   the   teacher   is   a   great   leader.

 

Active Engagement:

Listen for conversations and watch for jottings that show there is more than one possibility for this statement. (Who is talking? The principal?  Or the teacher?)  Chart some of the jottings to help remember the lesson later. (Possibilities – The principal said, “The teacher is a great leader.”  “The principal,” said the teacher, “Is a great leader.”)

Link:

Authors have to be very careful when they write dialogue in order to make sure that the reader clearly understands who is talking.  Changing the punctuation can change the speaker and/or the speaker’s words.  Continue to study conversations / dialogue as you read to find more examples from mentor texts.  Take time to double check the dialogue in your stories with the editing sticks to make sure that the reader can clearly tell both who is talking and what they are saying.

What kinds of mini-lessons are you using for punctuation, specifically quotation marks for dialogue?  How is this lesson different from Daily Oral Language editing?  How do you combine the “editing” from writing and the “language” conventions for meaningful practice with text that transfers to student learning? 

After all, is the goal “perfect punctuation” or “increased understanding”?  What are your thoughts?

10.26.16 Tweet from Elise Whitehouse (@OAS_Whitehouse):

punctuation sticks.JPG

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