Inspired by Punctuation

Inspired by Dan Feigelson's labsites and wise words and, wanting to get started while my momentum was high I began a punctuation study in grade 2 pretty much as soon as Dan had finished his grade 2 labsite  As expected, he was right, the children were engaged throughout and our conversations are definitely richer as we now see the purpose behind being creative and thoughtful punctuators.
This is how the 4 week inquiry went:

Firstly, I framed the inquiry around 3 questions:
What jobs do the different punctuation marks do?
Why do authors use different types of punctuation?
How can we use punctuation to make our writing stronger?

Lesson 1.
Was pretty much a carbon copy of part 1 of Dan's study except because we were actually in a non fiction unit I used the Nat Geo book, Whales and because my students are really struggling to use end punctuation, I focussed on exclamation marks instead of dashes.  The transcript of his lesson in grade 2 is here.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the end of the first lesson, the children had come up with nowhere near what they had in the labsite but I'm guessing it was because the only adult in the room was me.  They needed more of the same.  

I also noticed that they had not really noticed any internal punctuation at all.  It might have been to do with the fact I had chosen to go with exclamation marks as my example, it could also have been the fact that the books they were using from their book baggies simply didn't feature so many complex sentences.

Lesson 2.
Starting off with some of the interesting finds from lesson 1 as a focus:
And, a bit more modelling from me I sent the students of their merry way again.

This time the searching was far more successful.

At the end of our lesson we shared our post-its, accessed our inner actors and read the sentences with and without the punctuation so we could really hear the job the mark did. We discussed why authors might have chosen to include these marks in these places.

I then collected in their findings, took some photocopies and created this display:

Lessons 3 & 4.
We started at the display to recap.  I had typed up some of the punctuation names we had collected and cut into strips.  I asked the students to search for more to fit the criteria to find out if this was a common reason for an author to use an exclamation mark, question mark or ellipse.

After 20 minutes some of our charts were getting quite full.
We concluded the lesson by browsing across the charts and seeing if we agreed with the placement of sticky notes.  We realised that some of the sentences could probably go into different categories and that you really needed to have the book back to see what else was happening to determine what job the author was intending the punctuation mark to do.  

We followed up with this in a short whole class lesson, where we began to put some of the smaller groups together for example, the 'don't do that' exclamation mark, the 'do that' exclamation mark could both fit together under the category of 'bossy' exclamation marks.

Lesson 5.
We started by revisiting the charts made in the previous lesson and wondering once more why an author might have chosen to use them.  

I picked certain sentences from each chart and the children turned and talked regarding the author's purpose.  I created some sentence starters to help this process:
Authors use punctuation...
Authors use question marks...
Authors use exclamation marks...
Authors use elipses...

The students then wrote their own thoughts about punctuation use onto cards, they used our charts and sentence starters as necessary.

Lesson 6.
Now was the time to put it all together, if authors used punctuation to help the reader read with expression, to help the reader know if they should be wondering something, to help the reader know how a character was feeling... Then surely we as authors should be doing the same thing.

In grade 2 Dan had modelled a bit of this in his labsite.  I modelled choosing to revise one of my pages from my own expert book, crossing out the entire page and rewriting, explicitly modelling my thought process as I went.  The children were then given the choice depending on where they were in the writing cycle - they could either rewrite a chapter or write a new chapter whilst paying attention to punctuation.  

Greta chose to rewrite her River Dolphin page. Quite a lot of using and confusing going on but you cannot deny the enthusiasm by which she is going about it.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Wendy. It was a great idea to bring the punctuation cycle back to the students own writing. I had kept the 'punctuation' focus more in reading texts so I am keen to have a go at your last lesson after CNY.