From Why to How

Last week I asked you to resist the temptation of editing your students’ writing. In the interest of creating independent writers, we want to empower our students to edit their own work.

Today I promised to talk about HOW!

If you’ve attended any of my PD sessions, you’ve likely heard me speak about the gradual release of responsibility: put simply, I do, we do, you do. I strive to use the gradual release in each lesson I teach. There’s a reason… it works!

Today, let’s talk end punctuation. Regardless of the grade you teach, I assume that you have writers who do not use punctuation effectively, and some, not at all. Let’s explore a mini-lesson…

I do! – Explicit Instruction

I begin by reading two must-have picture books: Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. These books spark a discussion about sentence types. By speaking about statements (.), questions (?), and exclamations (!), our students will learn to write sentences with purpose. By focusing on the type of sentence, students are forced to decide which end punctation mark to use. Not if to use it, but which to use.

We do! – Practice and Exploration

After my explicit teaching about these sentence types, students practice using punctuation. Young students hold up the appropriate punctuation cards as I say sentences to them. I make the meaning obvious by my tone of voice. Older students punctuate a piece of text, again with a focus on meaning.

Students then dive into a book and search for the three sentence types (and the accompanying punctuation). Hands up when they have examples to share!

You do! – Independent Follow-Up

Once the students have had an opportunity to practice and explore, they turn to their own writing to edit: something they have previously written. To minimize distractions, they take their writing (and a pencil) and read aloud to the wall, adding or changing punctuation where needed.

Finally, students write something new considering how to use sentence types and end punctuation for effect.

So! Rather than editing your students’ work and adding punctuation for them, a mini-lesson such as this will empower your student writers to make deliberate decisions about their own use of punctuation.

Ready to try it? Access the detailed lessons here: Division 1 and Division 2. The speaker’s notes outline precisely how to carry out this lesson. All you need are the mentor texts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.