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Teaching speech marks at KS1

Discussion in 'Primary' started by NicoleK, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. NicoleK

    NicoleK New commenter

    I'm doing some work on speech marks next week in Year 2and I am in a quandary about how far to take it. The bit I am most concerned about is the comma instead of the full stop at the end of the speech when you are following it with said...
    I'm a bit worried about confusing them especially with the issue of leaving in question marks and exclamation marks. If I don't take it that far, I don't want to teach them something that is incorrect like putting the full stop in twice- but I don't know how to keep it simple.
    They are good little writers and about half of them are ready for speech marks esp the level 3 children but the issue of teaching speech is a lot more complicated than it first appears!
    I've befuddled myself ! What does everyone else do? I haven't had the privelidge of such a bright bunch of Y2s before. I am normally still slogging away at how to write a sentence at this stage.
    Any advice welcome :)
  2. Wotworklifebalance

    Wotworklifebalance New commenter

    Hi Nicole
    What are you using as a stimulus for your writing? If you are looking at a book I would follow the convention in that book but explain that the rules are flexible. If you are in a primary, rather than infant school discuss it with your KS 2 colleagues. If you are an infant school and are feeling very keen and swotty you could even ring the school to which most of your children will move and ask them whether they have a preference.
    If all else fails I would teach the comma, but explain that question marks and exclamation marks can/should be used as usual (and that this is a rare occasion when the full stop bit at the bottom doesn't count). You could compare them with an elipsis - which sometimes acts as a full stop, but not always.
    As long as they get the new speaker/new line bit and put the speech marks in the right place I think that you will be winning.
    Good luck
  3. Like you Nicole we dont have many children ready to use speech marks in their own writing! But we do quite a lot of text marking - highlighting the punctuation and the dialogue in different colours so that the children start to see the rules. Then we do lots of modelled writing - I'm using a comma before the speech marks because I haven't finished the sentence yet - etc. Also human sentences are quite motivating - with the children having parts of the sentence including the punctuation to try to arrange correctly [you can put them in teams to race!].
    You could have a sort of menu of success criteria...
    "Remember when your character is talking to ...
    Use open speech marks
    Write the words they are saying
    Put a punctuation mark [have them on display]
    Use the closing speech marks
    Think about where the end of your sentence is. "
  4. NicoleK

    NicoleK New commenter

    Thanks both of you. That's helpful.

    I think I will just teach them the whole shebang. The bright ones will get it and the others will get some of it.
    Our KS2 staff teach the commas etc as you would expect. I was just worried because mine have no real idea what a comma is- but I'm going to go for it anyway!
  5. As a teacher of year 5/6 I would say a very loud - don't - please don't.
    In upper ks 2 we have a terrible job with children partly learning things like speech marks and apostrophes but not quite getting so they do it wrong. Trying to undo their misunderstanding is really difficult - i would go so far as to say impossible in many cases. If you have a few very bright children that you are sure are ready - by all means work with that group - but please not the whole class. The absolute basics is all they need in year 2. They will be taught the more advanced aspects as and when they are ready.
    Sorry if this sounds a little desperate - but it is - I spend so much time correcting these things it would be quicker to start from scratch.
  6. I understand what you re saying sulsa but I'd say that using speech is not really an advanced skill for a good number of Y2 children - especially if you are moving them on towards level 3. Yes they're not going to "get it" it straight away but they need opportunites to develop their understanding; becoming more accurate as they are supported to improve their writing.
    Y2/3/4 teachers would be in for a lot of criticism if they didnt at least introduce their high level 2 and above writers to a wider range of punctuation in our school.
  7. I'm not saying don't introduce it at all, what I'm saying - sorry if I didn't make myself clear - is that teaching the whole class the more advanced aspects of speech puntcuation is not a good idea. This is where differentiation comes in surely. When all aspects of speech punctuation are taught in year 2 when only a very small number (if any) of the children are actually capable in terms of development to fully understand. If they are not able to understand there is no point teaching it.
    can these children use basic puntuation accurately? Capital letters and full stops? Can they use commas not just in lists but within sentences and to separate clauses? If not, they have little chance of using them accurately within speech.
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I would teach your advanced groups to use commas first. Then once they have that get them to use the comma in speech.
    To be frank, just getting them to put what is actually said inside the speech marks and forget all other punctuation would be better than what my year 5s came up with.
  9. I had a Y1 child who actually taught herself the bulk of using speech marks (she was a very exceptional little lady). Somewhere through the middle of the year she'd obviously figured out this funny curly thing in the air was to do with what characters were saying, and she started putting one above each word the character said. I left it for a week or so to see where she was going to go with it, and then she made the leap to surrounding the spoken words independently - at which point I put some time aside for her to teach her the fiddly bits like commas afterwards.
    It was fascinating to watch her figure it out mostly by herself though - took her about a fortnight to nail it - but I swear that child's been through this world before!
  10. Exactly dizziblonde - they will pick up what they are ready to use through having opportunities to see things in action.
    Nicole perhaps you could speak to your literacy coordinator/ leader for advice as they have details in your school English policy.
    Also the Primary Framework shows progression and steps in learning from full stops to commas in lists, speech marks and exclamation marks through to commas for clauses.
    At the end of the day you should go with what you feel is right to move your class on at this particular time regardless of their age.
  11. We teach speech marks in Year 1...we do have quite bright children and about half of the class can use them correctly in their writing but don't put exclamation marks or question marks into speech yet, the other half are beginning to understand that speech marks go around the speech. This will be built upon in Year 2.
    I would have thought that this as a basis would have been a good thing...our juniors have never complained about it...[​IMG]
  12. I know what you are saying but the problem is many of the brighter children notice these things, demand to know what they are, then use them (potentially incorrectly) anyway. Much like that darn apostrophe for plurals! So in a sense we have to address this (and in the revised strategy it specifically mentions it although I wouldn't for one second say just because it's in there we must do it).
    But I do think that Level 3s (who should usually be using full stops, capitals, exclamation marks, commas and question marks mainly correctly) can cope with it. Mine seem to anyway.
    But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise....

  13. I couldn't agree more. I am all in favour of moving children on when they are ready and able. If they are asking or attempting to use a particular aspect of writing then of course they need to be taught to do so correctly.
    My point is that to teach a whole class an advanced skill because a few or even half the class are ready is a mistake and can lead to problems later that are difficul, if not impossible to correct,
    We all need to use our professional judgement to decide what should be taught when and to which children. There is far too much dependency on what *should* be taught at particular times rather than addressing the needs of the individual child. Even within our own schools, literacy co ordinators, year leaders etc are not in a very good position to assist with specific aspects because they will not know your children. They can only advise on school / LA policy.
    Teachers need to be willing to take responsibility for what they teach and not wait to be told - as I am sure we are all more than able to make these assessments as professionals.


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