Punctuation is one of those funny things. You think that by the time students reach upper-elementary, they will have a firm grasp on basic language rules of punctuation. You hope that your students will come to you knowing how and when to use proper punctuation. However, after reading some of my students’ writing, that was not the case.
Many students forget to use some of the most basic punctuation marks like periods and commas in their writing, and many students don’t even include exclamation marks during exciting parts of their stories. In addition, students may try to use things like commas or hyphens, but use them incorrectly.
I needed a quick solution that wouldn’t take a lot of time, and more importantly, wouldn’t take away from the time needed to practice higher-level punctuation use that is required of students in the upper grades. I decided to turn to my read-aloud time for extra practice. Many teachers forget that read aloud time is such a great opportunity to quickly practice important skills with your students.
All you have to do is read a sentence from your read-aloud book and pause to allow your students to punctuate it. You can make some punctuation marks out of colorful paper and have students hold up the correct paper after you read the sentence.
Or, if you want to save time and paper, assign hand signals to the different punctuation marks. Like above, read a sentence (or a longer paragraph), and pause to allow your students to use their hand signals to punctuate it.
The hand signals in the photo above are pretty self explanatory, but feel free to get creative and have fun with it! You can even extend it further to practice colons, semi-colons, ellipses, and more. It’s so easy, and students will enjoy the shake up during their read aloud time.
To practice this strategy, my students use my Morning Work / Daily Spiral Review below. This specific page is from the 4th grade version. The best thing about this resource are the notes I give to students on this page. If this is the first time students are seeing this skill, or if students are not completely proficient, these notes guide students to practice this important skill.
In addition to this easy practice strategy with your read-aloud book, you can even choose fun, simple, and short mentor texts to read with your students. Below are some of my favorite punctuation mentor texts that I love to read with my kids.