This unit is written to be used during your writing workshop. We believe that writing mini-lessons should be 10 to 15 minutes long. Students should spend the remainder of their workshop time writing with a small share time at the end. Because of the nature of a punctuation unit, there will be some lessons that will take more than 10 to 15 minutes to teach and practice. In these cases, we try to move these type of practice sessions to another part of the day. However, there are days where one of these puncutation lessons might replace most of your writing time. This is not ideal, but as teachers, we realize that sometimes another time of day cannot be found.
This punctuation unit was written with the help of Kellie Wood and Joel Larrison, Cathy’s student teachers.
Before you begin, it is important to have a good stack of 15 to 20 books that show what you plan on teaching the children. If you are not sure where to start – you will find a list of the books we have in our own stacks here…
Heads up… when my student teachers introduced this unit, the first question was: “What’s punctuation!?” You might need to preload this vocabulary word before beginning.
Days 1 and 2 Immersion The first days of this writing unit are used to allow students to explore what published authors do in their writing. Provide a stack of books you have chosen and allow children to explore. Give students post-it notes and have them mark punctuation that is used in interesting ways. This activity is called “noticings” – students are marking what they notice about the book.
Day 3 The Importance of Choosing the Right Punctuation Read aloud Yo! Yes? Pay close attention to the punctuation marks and the inflection in your voice. After reading it the first time for enjoyment, reread the story. Stop after each page to help students see how the punctuation told you the manner in which to read each word.
Day 4 Periods and Question Marks In classrooms where students who have already mastered when to use periods and question marks appropriately, this lesson can be skipped. Read aloud Stephanie’s Ponytail (or another book that uses question marks) and discuss the use of question marks.
More practice on writing questions can be found here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/05/15/writing-questions/
Day 5 Using Exclamation Marks There are many mentor texts to choose from when teaching exclamation marks. Some of our favorites are books from the No, David! series and the pigeon books by Mo Willems. Students love these familiar texts, they are short so perfect for a mini-lesson and kids can help you read with expression.
Day 6 How to Use Quotation Marks L.3.2 Using quotation marks correctly is a skill we like to introduce so that students are familiar with what they mean, even if students are not yet ready to use them on their own. Begin by reading aloud the book and having students look at where the author uses quotes. Explain how they are used and model a passage of your own writing using quotation marks. You might use a bright color to write in the quotation marks and commas so that students can easily see where the punctuation is placed. For students who have not yet been exposed to the use of quotation marks, you may choose to split this day into two parts. The first day can be finding quotation marks and the second day can involve the use of quotation marks.
Day 7 Using Apostrophes for Ownership L.2.2 We often see children adding an apostrophe after every s they add to a word. They do this when they are writing a possessive and when they are making a word plural. It is important to teach children the difference between showing ownership and making a word plural. On this day, share a read aloud that has possessive nouns. Rewrite the phrases using an apostrophe on the board and have students think of other phrases that would also contain a possessive noun.
This might also be a good spot to add lessons on contractions. This will help students see the difference between an apostrophe that is showing a possessive word and an apostrophe that is combining two words. You can find some activities here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/10/10/apostrophes-to-show-possession/
Day 8 Using Commas in Letters L.1.2, L.2.2 Share a book like Click, Clack, Moo where the book involves many letter samples. Share the book and have students find the commas used throughout the letter. On this day, have students practice writing their own letter. Taking a cue from the book, have students write a persuasive letter asking for something from their parents, the principal or you, the teacher. You will find our letter writing template here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/05/17/blank-books-papers/
Day 9 Using Commas to Separate Groups L.1.2 Share a book aloud that has an example of commas used to separate a list of three or more items such as The Jellybeans and the Big Dance. After reading, copy a sentence from a book that contains commas separating a list on the board or on chart paper. Use a bright marker to show the commas and talk about where they are placed.
Many students will need more practice with this skill, you will find other activities here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/10/10/using-commas-to-separate-groups/
Day 10 Using Interesting Punctuation Students love to explore the way authors use punctuation in creative ways. Share texts where students notice that there are different ways to show readers to pause. Here are some good examples:
Students make their writing more “real” – like published authors when they use interesting marks that remind them of the books they read in the classroom. Students love to explore, give them the freedom to try out dashes, elipses and semicolons. You’ll love what they come up with and will be amazed at the voice in their writing!
Day 11 Authors Edit Their Work For Punctuation 2.L.2 For this unit, part of this day can be reviewing the types of punctuation students might have chosen to include. Write a paragraph from one of your own books on chart paper, remembering to leave out some punctuation marks. As a class, practice editing the sample for correct punctuation. During their writing today, have children find instances where they need to add punctuation in their own writing.
Day 12 Authors Edit Their Work For Capitalization 2.L.2 Write a paragraph from one of your own books on chart paper, remembering to leave out some capital letters. As a class, practice editing the sample for correct capitalization. During their writing today, have children find instances where they need to add capitalization in their own writing.
Day 13 Authors Edit Their Work With Peers 2.L.1 Partner students and have them read their books to a classmate. Encourage them to look at every word and make sure the words they are saying match the words they have written. We suggest modeling this with one student in front of the class first!
Day 14 Publishing In the younger grades, it is not necessary for students to recopy their words to make a final draft. Instead, for young writers to publish, they should double check their work and add details to their drawings.
Day 15 Celebration Your celebration might be small and be just for the class. You an serve cookies and lemonade while students take turns reading their books. Or, make your celebration bigger and invite principals, parents and other classes.
We’ve created a punctuation recognition certificate here: Punctuation Certificate