The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Debating Punctuation

For the past month or so, I have been having my fourth graders make corrections to the morning message each day. I write the journal prompt on the board and make a lot of spelling, capitalisation, and punctuation errors. The students have enjoyed making corrections to my writing and I have enjoyed seeing confirmation that they can identify and correct these simple mistakes.

During today’s corrections, I noticed my class doing something they have not done before: they were debating how and where to place a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence! Here is what I had on the board:

right in you’re journale what you can bo to make tobay awesum

After a number of corrections, the sentence had been corrected to this:

Write in your journal what you can do to make today awesome

Then the debate began: what punctuation mark belonged at the end of the sentence? Was it a period because the sentence started with a command or was it a question mark because there was the word “what” in the middle that indicates a question or should there be a comma between the first part (“Write in your journal”) and the second part (“what you can do to make today awesome”)? This debate went on for five minutes. Any time a student looked to me to settle the dispute, I told them that I wanted them to figure it out, make a decision, and then I would let them know.

While the answer should be obvious (that the sentence was a command and should be ended with a period), I loved seeing the evidence that they were thinking critically about the message on the board and were trying to determine the best way to finish correcting the message on the board. It was a simple thing, but it provided the evidence that I am always looking for that students are learning, thinking, and applying!


One response

  1. Interesting. I would have made the second part a direct quote to write in the journal and used a question mark.

    May 29, 2014 at 12:27 am

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