Students have a tough time differentiating between punctuation marks when writing and especially when reading. It is important that we give students explicit instruction on punctuation to allow them to become more fluent in using them correctly.
When we give repeated exposure to good examples and solid explanations, students really take in the information! This activity is short but it really gives students a solid basis for using the appropriate punctuation when writing and reading!
Also, this lesson is done in a way that provides students with an opportunity to read and/or re-read the sentences and phrases they worked on with appropriate inflection. I think it is crucial that students know how to read and use inflection, because it truly provides a better understanding of the text!
Students will be seated on the carpet around me where they can easily see and hear me while looking at the Punctuation Practice Chart that I have made (which initially has no punctuation). This is a whole group lesson because it is a review and reminder lesson. I will have some easy-to-read emergent sentences, phrases and words written on this piece of chart paper. Students should be able to easily follow and read along with this chart.
*When working on a specific skill, such as punctuation, I think it is important to really focus on that particular skill. This is the reason why I choose to use easy-to-read emergent sentences with this lesson- I am not trying to push students to read, I am trying to push them to build their punctuation skills. In the end, if my objective is about punctuation, I need to make sure that punctuation is all the kids will really have to grapple with in this lesson.
I will read each sentence, phrase or word aloud to the students with appropriate inflection. I do this because students need to know, when they are reading, how to use inflection based on the punctuation mark they're using. Once I do this, I will ask students to tell me the corresponding punctuation mark that goes along with the text and the inflection they heard. This is the same process I follow with every sentence, phrase and word for this brief mini-lesson.
*I love presenting a lesson in this way because it allows me to hear all of the students at the same time. Also, it provides those more quiet students with an opportunity to speak up and share their learning thoughts without the threat of being judged. I am listening, but I am not calling students out- I know they will hear others and learn to correct their misconceptions if needed.
I like to give inflection and then ask for the corresponding punctuation mark because that allows students to listen, then think and respond with their answer. Also, it helps students make connections to specific punctuation marks that match up with specific words or inflections. Not only will they hear it, but they will also see the written version of what they are hearing. This is important in Kindergarten because it makes this non-concrete listening skill a visual representation!
*I think it is important to present information in as many ways as possible. Reminding students of punctuation can be monotonous and somewhat boring; however, by allowing students to see it in some of my sentences and then hear it in others, I am showing them different ways to approach the same skill. In the end, not only am I making this lesson more enjoyable by talking through it in different ways, but I am also providing my students with another avenue to access this information in their memory when working!
Here is the full lesson in our punctuation practice lesson video!
Since this lesson doesn't have any physical student work, I assess my students by listening to their responses while we are covering our practice chart. It can be hard to listen to each student as I go through the chart, but I really try to move around and listen to a couple of students for each answer. Also, I know which students have difficulties with certain punctuation, so I will listen to particular students when I prompt for specific information. For example, here is a a student who needs some direct instruction with punctuation. I really made sure to listen and even her to help with this particular lesson. Also, I looked at our reference chart with her repeatedly to review.
Overall, I make sure I listen to each student at least once or twice during this exercise. I can prompt students for a particular response or go back and re-state something if I hear them say something that needs either re-teaching or clarification.
A good way to extend this lesson is by completing it again and assessing in a new way! I can also assess this same task by allowing the students to take the reigns and add in their own punctuation for the lesson. This takes more time, so that's why I tend to do this only a couple of times per week. I like to allow students to add punctuation because, 1) it lets them read the emergent text for themselves while practicing their inflection, and 2) it really lets me assess and guide individuals. For example, if Dawn has a tough time differentiating between question marks and periods, I will call on Dawn to add a mark to the end of a question.
Also through this mini-lesson, I can call students to read sentences with missed punctuation AND specific sight words I know they don't know well enough!
With this model, the options are endless (as long as we have the time to devote to it).
Additionally, an easy way to extend this task is to provide students with a copy of the sentences, phrases and words, following this lesson. I like to give my kids the exact version that I began with, as it provides them an opportunity to think about the conversations they have already had and the feedback that they heard me give. After students add their appropriate punctuation, they have a chance to read their sentences, phrases and words with inflection to a partner.
When we have time for this step (particularly at snack time or transitional time), I LOVE to have students complete this, as it allows them to recall the purpose of and sound of the punctuation marks and own them for themselves.
Attached are some center activities and room posters to help reinforce this skill!