So, I was noticing that when my kids write dialogue, they were leaving out the punctuation, or were putting the quotes after the dialogue tags, or they weren't creating a new paragraph for a new speaker. In fact, these are the same problems I've had with 7th and 8th graders when I taught them, and with first-year college students when I was an adjunct. It's a punctuation pandemic, and I created this lesson to fix it.
The Common Core doesn't really mandate that I teach narrative quotation and punctuation, but it does want students to use text to support their arguments (using quotes from sources), when it comes to argumentation, so this is a perfect introduction.
So, for the Guiding Question, I had them simply respond to it. I really wanted to use it because it was cute and I was hoping it'd stick with them. This was the first of my many approaches for the lesson. I thought it'd help those kids who may need a mnemonic.
For the Mini Lesson, I read aloud from our Anchor Text, Ninth Ward, under the document camera. I really wanted to hit those auditory learners, so each time I came across dialogue in the book, I stopped and "noticed" the dialogue out loud. It went something like, "Look! Here the author puts a comma inside the quotation marks. I think she does this to let the reader know that the sentence isn't quite over."
I read an entire chapter this way and it'd really work for just about any book that contains dialogue). It was tedious, but I had faith it was getting the concept across. It's important that students see the transfer. They've been reading books with dialogue their whole lives, but this is an opportunity to expose and explain the "why." Writers use these rules to make it easier for readers to understand conversations in books.
To hit the kinesthetic learners, I thought about doing a human sentence, complete with students acting like commas, quotation marks, etc. And I may still do that later, maybe on a nice day we could go outside, spread out and do that.
But, for now, I was thinking how successful math manipulatives can be for struggling math students, so I found sentence strips and corresponding dialogue tags and punctuation that might help students physically move sentences around.
I got these strips from this cute website, but only used the sentence strips from this Blog Handout. I cut enough for each two person team to be able to make a few sentences, but told them that when they were finished they should share with the table.
I thought they would make the same mistakes they did when writing, but for some reason they seemed to know where the punctuation belonged using the sentence strips. I walked around and made some adjustments to their sentences, but was sure to explain why I was "fixing" them.
Here's a video of them working!
For the wrap-up and student reflection portion, I really needed students to apply what they learned. I had them go back to the drafts of their narratives and fix the punctuation, as needed. I wanted the concepts to be fresh on their minds, so I really needed this editing thing to be done in the same lesson as the learning. During this time, I floated around to make sure kids were getting it done!