Punctuation marks may be small, but they are powerful! They are like road signs that help a reader find their way through the words we write. Without punctuation we can get lost. For example, this sentence can mean two different things depending on punctuation:
Let’s eat, Grandpa.
Some educators think that the advent of texting and Instant Messaging will have killer effects on punctuation usage. Don’t let your students be a victim of a punctuation demise. Use Response Paddles to sharpen their knowledge.
First, make sure your students know the names of punctuation marks. It’s not unusual for high school students to say “quotes” when they mean “parentheses.” And in fact, the correct terminology is quotation marks rather than quotes. Use Response Paddles to drill students on correct terminology.
- Write a mark of punctuation on your Paddle; hold it up and ask students to write the correct name for the mark and hold up their paddles.
- Reverse the process: Write the name of a mark of punctuation and ask students to produce the mark on their Paddles.
- In the lower grades, drill students on the period, comma and question mark. Older students should know the correct terminology for these marks: quotations, parentheses, brackets, hyphen vs. dash, and ellipsis.
You can also use Response Paddles to practice appropriately punctuating phrases or sentences. Write an example for the class, leaving out all punctuation. Ask them to copy the sentence onto a Paddle and include the correct punctuation.
- Up to date news bulletins were announced hourly
- James wants Coke but Shelia wants Pepsi
For more advanced practice compose sentences that are open to different punctuation possibilities. Have students punctuate these sentences and then read aloud and discuss the meaning in the differences in punctuation. For example, what are the differences given this prompt: No animals please
Possible responses might include:
- No animals, please.
- No animals please!
- No! Animals please.
- No, animals please.
Students who are reasonably skillful can develop their understanding of punctuation usage by working in pairs. Each member of the pair writes a sentence on his/her Paddle without punctuation. They exchange Paddles and the partner adds punctuation using a marker with a contrasting color.
Remember pairs work can be noisy as students talk about the work. Establish ground rules for noise levels and arbitration of disagreements and remember they are having fun and interacting.
You can print a copy of the suggestions listed here by accessing this PDF file:Punctuation Practice with Paddles
We are always interested in how teachers use Paddles for skill-building and practice. Have you discovered additional ways to use Response Paddles for developing skill with punctuation?