I began the lesson by asking students if they knew what proper nouns were. They gave the general definition of a noun, which is a person, place, things, or idea. I’d created a poster with a list of general nouns in one column and matching proper nouns in the next column. I asked students what they noticed about the nouns in the proper noun column. They said they were all capitalized. I asked if they knew why. They all said because it was someone’s name, the name of a place, or a month, etc. I told them the nouns in a second column are proper nouns. Proper nouns name a special or specific person, place, or thing. I explicitly pointed out that the word restaurant could be any restaurant, but McDonald’s names a specific restaurant. Girl could be any girl, but Carmen names a specific girl.
Next, I wrote sentences on the board with proper nouns for students to correct. For example, I wrote carmen’s birthday is in december. I used Popsicle sticks to call students to the board randomly. As they made the correction, they had to explain why the word needed to be capitalized, i.e. "Carmen should be capitalized because it is the name of a person." This verbalization gave me the opportunity to ensure students knew why the nouns should be capitalized. After correcting the remaining sentences, I asked students to tell me what type of nouns needed to be capitalized because I wanted them to use the academic vocabulary. They shouted out the answer, “Proper nouns!”
For independent practice, each student was given a sheet I’d created that required students to correct sentences by capitalizing the proper nouns. I did this because I wanted students to focus on the different types of proper nouns before trying it in their own writing. This gave them additional practice and allowed me to assess and intervene as needed.
I assessed students using a rubric. I wanted to see whether or not students consistently capitalized proper nouns. I was also able to see if there was a pattern for any missed proper nouns, i.e., were students missing capitalizing titles before names?
Your Turn, My Turn – To close the lesson, I had students work as a table to list as many types of proper nouns as they could. This required them to recall information recently learned. Working collaboratively also encouraged students use academic language as they discussed concepts.
Students were given five minutes to generate as many responses as they could with their table. One student at each table was given a whiteboard and marker. That student wrote a type of proper noun, i.e. names of streets, then passed it to the next student. This was repeated until time was up.