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Discussion in 'Primary' started by talulabell, Oct 5, 2007.
what is it?
Sometimes children have a way of writing where instead of breaking their work up into sentences they keep adding more information on, and sometimes they break it up by adding commas every now and then, but all that does is make for one very long sentence, which isn't particularly easy to read, and would be much better broken up into smaller clearer chunks, but they tend to like using commas when it is first taught to them, and so use them all over the place and forget the full stops.
I was told that it's where they use a comma when they really should have a conjunction. I don't know how reliable this is but apparently it's frowned upon in KS2 Sats as not good writing. J K Rowling uses it alot.
Strictly speaking it only needs two clauses to be inappropriately linked in that way, but it tends to manifest itself in the way I've shown with children.
You're doing better than I am Tafkam, at least your children are aware that there should be something there. Mine just string all the ideas together without any awareness that something ought to break them up. Commas would be an improvement.
Somewhat hilariously, you have written a perfect example of a sentence with comma splicing!
You're doing better than I am Tafkam, at least your children are aware that there should be something there.
This can be corrected with the connectives because or as, or with a semi-colon.
You're doing better than I am Tafkam <u>BECAUSE</u> at least your children are aware that there should be something there.
You're doing better than I am Tafkam <u>AS</u> at least your children are aware that there should be something there.
You're doing better than I am Tafkam; at least your children are aware that there should be something there.
There is a very good resource on Primary Resources which explains this clearly.
The APP grids weirdly suggest that a level 3 writer will be writing with comma splices (rather than saying a level 4 writer will not). I have always thought of them (and taught them) as commas that are squeezed in to avoid having to think of a connective (I also have a single connective per sentence rule).
As Tafkam says though, they seem to use them instead of full stops. I get 'either/or' from mine; lots of sensible writing with properly demarcated sentences using full stops (but no commas!) or lots and lots of commas and no full stops!
I now point out that a coma cannot be used in place of a full stop, and suggest they stick to commas only where they are obvious or in speech or after an adverbial opener etc. This 'veto' has made a difference, but we're not perfect yet!
One of my Y7s told me recently that she used commas instead of 'and' as that is what she had been taught at primary school. So she was, in effect, using a comma as a connective. I think that she's 'transferred' that bit of learning from the use of commas to separate items in a list.
I'm afraid I was once observing in a Primary class and the teacher told the children very distinctly that to avoid writing so many short sentences, they should use commas instead of full stops.
As a form teacher in secondary when checking the children's reports, I was forever changing commas to semi colons - usually in the ones written by maths and Science teachers.
Usually a full stop is all that's needed. Semi colons are nice but not usually necessary and are better not used than used inappropriately. Children seem to be taught a load of rubbish about how to write, with the consequence that their writing is exhausting to read and not clear or concise. My son once got a sad face because he'd written one line less than a page. I could have screamed. Since when was the quality of someone's writing measured by whether they get to the bottom of the page or not?
This isn't comma splicing. Comma splicing is where a comma is used to 'join' two sentences - e.g It's very cold today, I'm going to wear my coat - a full stop, semi-colon orconnective is needed here.Children splice sentences all the time and it has to be drummed out of them!
So do some staff I work with. How would you suggest drumming it out of them?!
I think the splicing sentences habit can arise from wanting a sentence to be long while not knowing how to do that through using connectives and clauses. I've only recently discovered sem-colons and I do enjoy them, but never used them all through school or uni. I started using them when I started teaching aged 40+, as they suddenly seemed to become ubiquitous in printed material. When I was at school short sentences were not shunned. The idea was that you wrote what you meant in the clearest way possible. Nowadays children seem to be taught to be verbose rather than economical. It is a great shame, especially as many primary school children try so hard to write as taught and end up failing to say what they mean. There's a lot to be said for spare, precise writing, which can only be achieved through the command of an excellent vocabulary, learnt through reading quality written materials and talking about interesting subject matter. Oops! having a bit of a rant!
A simple sentence is an independent clause. It makes sense on its own. If two independent clauses are written together, they have to have a full stop, a semicolon or a connective between the two clauses. Children tend to use comma splices when they know there should be a pause, but they don't know whether to use a comma or a full stop.
I have tried to get them out of doing this by teaching them about parts of a sentence. They have to identify an independent clause and a dependent clause. Once they can do that, they understand when to use a full stop and when to use a comma, avoiding comma splices.
But my question is, has anyone ever tackled a colleague about this? I'd love to but haven't because I can't think of how to do so tactfully.