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Teaching sentence punctuation

Discussion in 'English' started by Joannanna, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    I've decided to bite the bullet and spend some time actually teaching year 7 (possibly year 8 and 9 as well) what a sentence actually is. Their punctuation is all over the shop cause they simply don't seem to understand what the purpose of a sentence is and so therefore where they need a full stop.
    Anybody got any tips on how to do this? Also, I have about 4 girls in my year 7 group who are faultless in their punctuation so this wouldn't really cater for them (I teach mixed ability). Trying to think what they'll gain out of this lesson.
    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    Ask them what a comma is for. When they tell you "It's to take a breath" give them a book to read in silence. Ask how many breaths they had to take.
    Then ask what else it might be for. The answers might surprise you - they certainly did, me.
    Don't let the good ones answer till the others have. You can let them do some teaching!

  3. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    Lots of mine don't even comma splice though. They simply don't punctuate at all! So that's one avenue to follow, but we're talking more basic.
  4. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    Most of mine seem to think punctuation is optional. 'I'll put it in later, miss.'
    I refuse to mark anything without punctuation.
  5. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    I think some of mine are like that, but some genuinely don't understand. I figure if I teach it to them I can use that as a fallback when they don't do it.
    I've tried refusing to mark things for various reasons - it just came back to bite me as they continued to not bother and it was getting to 2 months worth of work and I wanted to DIE when I took their books in.
  6. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    To be very boring, I think the only really successful way to do it is to teach them sentence structure and clauses.
    Kids love a 'right' answer and this is at least one topic where you can do that in English.
  7. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    Yes, I thought that - now I need ideas over how to actually approach this. I've never actually formally taught it before, and I had to teach it to myself when I trained as I didn't get taught it myself at school, so I don't even have that model to fall back on.
    What I really need is a succinct explanation to the students about what a sentence is etc. which doesn't go straight over their heads.
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    David Chrystal is a well-known expert on linguistics and language. here's a link to a pdf file
    <a>ftp://ftp.phon.ucl.ac.uk/pub/Word-Grammar/ec/module10.pdf [/URL]
    and there's this onehttp://primary-english.weebly.com/grammar.html supposedly Primary?
  9. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    I use 'The cat sat on the mat.'
    The cat is doing something to the mat. The cat is the subject doing something to the object. In this case, sitting on it.
    Subject, verb, object. There is no further information, so you need a full stop.
    Then I stick in a load of adjectives and explain that it still says 'The cat sat on the mat' - simple sentence with 1 verb.
  10. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    I've done this briefly before. Thanks, will cobble something together. I need to put something together for whole school literacy as well [​IMG]
  11. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    Thanks, I've read some stuff by him before :)
  12. I deconstruct sentences- looking at how each piece of punctuation has a separate function and how sentences can be constructed differently according to word order.

    I start with word classes, then simple, compound and complex, then types of punctuation.
  13. The first one gave the idea of the hierarchy better with the transformational or syntax structures. I guess it is a bit more involved, but using just the diagrams might make for an effectivepresentation.
    The second was not bat because it was simpler and more visual for some kids, but they did not show the hierarchy clearly enough for me and they forgot the idea of the verb chain later on in the presentation. But, I liked it. Thanks.

  14. I give to half of my class a text from which I have removed all the punctuation and capitalization, and then I ask them to answer various questions. I give to the other half of the class the same text, but properly written. Then, we have another text, but I switch things, giving the correct text to the ones who did not have it at first, and vice versa. Then, we would time how fast they could read both texts and how many questions were answered correctly, etc. I guess you could make a math lesson out of that, but students should be getting the importance of writing correctly from that time on.You could do a debrief and ask how they felt after reading each texts. I would suggest you put some element of stress in the exercise beforehand, perhaps tellng them that this is an official test that counts for a lot.

  15. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Rickochay, it aint going to work.
  16. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    I think I would prefer to use sentences with transitive verbs to get this point over.
  17. Check post 23, Inky!
    I wrote:
    By the way, there is an hyphen in "ain't", Inky!
    In any case, I value your opinion, Inky, but, again, what does work are posts that are supported and substantiated, a concept that seems completely foreign to you.You are trying hard to malign me and it AIN'T going to work! [​IMG]
  18. Underachiever

    Underachiever New commenter

    Hooray for you CarolAston; you speak so much sense. It's quite possible to spend part of a lesson teaching sentence structure but, at some point, you've got to get down and dirty with a nice piece of work. I prefer transactional writing. It usually gives the boys a better chance.
    I also feel that so much 'purposeless' writing goes on in schools that students tend to write either to please themselves, or to stop the teacher nagging. Either way, it doesn't encourage thoughtful meaning-making.
    A couple of other things I've found helpful are deconstructing models of well written texts and, as Carol says, acknowledging that it's difficult. I've found that if I overgeneralise and simplify too much, students just lose confidence when they can't do the work independently. So - no verbs aren't just 'doing words' and 'so' isn't just a connective. The difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence isn't that the subordinate clause 'doesn't make sense on it's own', in the simplest sense.
    'I may eat an apple because I am hungry' - 'because I am hungry' doesn't make sense on its own. So far so good.
    'I may eat an apple or I may eat an orange' - oh look 'or I may eat an orange' doesn't make sense on its own either. That's how students see it; I've heard them. What they need to understand that a subordinate clause is dependent on the main clause for its meaning.

  19. What is this "oh look"?
    Aren't you saying that the main clause is dependent on the subordinate clause to make sense ... too?

  20. Underachiever

    Underachiever New commenter

    Still spluttering, rick?

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