Year 8 (Elementary)
Nexus International School Singapore
4 x 40 minute lessons
Punctuation seems to cause a lot of problems for learners. I am not sure why, but many learners have failed to grasp even basic rules, such as capitalisation. Others though, are ready to learn the more sophisticated marks such as semi-colons.
Correcting their writing and asking them to read constantly to see effective use of punctuation is one way to tackle these issues. However, I wanted to address this area in a more direct way – but experience means I know that ‘teaching’ grammar explicitly, does not work. Being a fan of inquiry-based learning, I wanted to find a way that put the onus on them to learn, not me to teach.
To address the differing needs of my learners, and to approach the learning from a constructivist route, I designed a mini project around punctuation marks that required learners to research different marks and teach each other about them.
I created and shared a Google Doc outlining the project, as follows-
Each learner had to sign up to research and create a punctuation mark pop-up from the list in the task sheet – so that all punctuation marks were covered. I provided an example of the finished pop-up (seen in the photo in the task sheet above), and a template (see Resources page for the great 3-D Graphic Organiser book). Learners were free to adapt the template – as long as they included the information outlined in the box on the task sheet.
I provided a selection of books on punctuation and learners were free to talk to each other and use the Internet to search for the information they needed.
Once their pop-ups were created, they checked them against the rubric before sharing them with each other.
They were given time to teach each other about their punctuation marks using their pop-ups as a visual aid.
Next, I asked learners to think about two questions they could ask to check if their classmates understood their punctuation mark.
Learners emailed their two questions to me, and I used them to create a quiz on Edmodo.
Learners completed the quiz, using the pop-ups to support them, as needed. They enjoyed the project and seemed to have a better grasp of what the punctuation marks mean, and how to use them – because they’d found out for themselves AND taught each other. This active learning is far more effective than passive teaching and completion of worksheets or exercises.
Areas such as punctuation do need constant revision. We will leave the pop-ups on display in the classroom as reference for their continuing progression and understanding of the importance in the use of punctuation for clarity of their writing and expression.