Illustrating the Importance of Writing Conventions
Stage of Literacy Development:
Stage 2: Consolidation / Fluency
Stage 3: Literacy for Growth
Primary: Writing Conventions
1. Find a short paragraph
2. Rewrite the paragraph with no punctuation or capital letters
3. Reproduce the paragraph in a large format on an overhead transparency
1. Ask the class what punctuation is
a. Help them to come up with examples, such as periods, question marks, capital letters, commas
2. Ask the class what they think would happen if punctuation went on vacation; that is, if punctuation disappeared from all writing
a. You may wish to read the book “Punctuation Takes a Vacation” by Robin Pulver
3. Present the class with your paragraph and explain that the punctuation has taken a vacation
4. Have the students read it aloud with you
a. As you read, purposefully read it with no expression and without appropriate breaks
5. Brainstorm some problems with the paragraph and how you might fix them, for example:
a. There are no pauses- capitals and final punctuation marks are needed to show when
sentences begin and end
b. You don’t know when someone is about to talk so quotation marks are needed
6. Invite the students to help you punctuate the paragraph, using appropriate expression to guide students
a. For example: “Hmm. I think ‘Do you like ice cream?’ seems like one sentence. How are we
going to tell readers this is a new sentence? What kind of punctuation would we put at the end
to tell the reader what this sentence is supposed to sound like?”
7. Have the class do a choral reading of the paragraph with appropriate expression
English Language Learners/ESL:
- Provide explicit instruction on the function of each punctuation mark
LD/Reading & Writing Difficulties:
- Review major punctuation conventions in advance of the lesson
Cultural Appropriateness & Diversity:
- Choose a paragraph that reflects diversity
- Emphasize using oral language as a way to understand where to put punctuation
Culham, R., (2005). 6 +1 traits of writing: The complete guide for the primary grades. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
Calkins, L.M. (1980). When children want to punctuate: Basic skills belong in context. Language Arts, 57, 567-573.
The goal of Punctuation on Vacation: Illustrating the Importance of Writing Conventions is to help students understand the role of punctuation in making written language flow and make sense, and to choose appropriate punctuation to convey their message.
What You Need
10 minutes - Find a paragraph to rewrite - Remove all of the punctuation and capitalization - Photocopy it onto an overhead sheet
30 minutes - The class discusses what would happen if "punctuation went on vacation" - Students read a paragraph with no punctuation - tudents add punctuation to make sense of the paragraph
Teacher: - A paragraph with no punctuation - Overhead transparency - Overhead projector - Overhead transparency markers
What You Do
Facilitator: - while students discuss the importance of punctuation and add punctuation to a paragraph
Whole class: - while using punctuation to create a sensible paragraph
- Observe students' ability to choose appropriate punctuation
- Give students another punctuation-free paragraph and ask them to circle letters that need to be capitalized and include the appropriate punctuation in the proper places
- Have "punctuation take a vacation" in your morning message
- The paragraph that you use in this lesson can be adapted to the level of your students and your own lesson objectives. For example:
a. Choose a paragraph with a lot of questions in it to focus on questions marks.
b. Omit just capitals or just ending punctuation.
c. Include dialogue for more advanced students.