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Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:40 am
by Anna
Hi all,

I am working with 2 boys - both in Year 8, both of whom I have taught for 2-3 years. They both have quite severe underlying difficulties with memory - remembering code etc. I used The Sound Reading System with both initially but they did not make nearly as much progress as many pupils do with SRS, so on advice from other RRFers, I have used Fresh Start with both. One (pupil a) has completed Fresh Start and the other is currently working through it. It has definitely helped pupil a to improve his reading ability. He tends to decode individual words better. He had a severe guessing habit when we started and when reading text, still slips into guessing at times, especially m-s words. This is improving slowly, with weekly practice.

My question is about punctuation. Both boys struggle to remember to use basic punctuation in their writing. For example, with pupil a, we are working through the code for spelling, focussing on a spelling variation each week. I dictate the words from the previous list and my pupil makes up some sentences or a paragraph to practise the words in context. He really enjoys this activity. He is still at the stage where he needs to think about the spelling (not usually of the target word but of other words in his sentence). He will slow down and sound out the words. This means that he usually forgets his capital letters and full stops. If I ask him to proof-read his writing, and remind him of punctuation, he does see and corrects the errors. I am wondering how to embed this skill, so that becomes automatic, even when his processing is taken up by thinking about spellings.

I was wondering about using the Fresh Start strategy of skywriting a dictated sentence - highlighting capital letter and full stop in the air. I would keep the spelling very simple so he could focus on the punctuation. It would also be a chance to overlearn spellings which we have worked on in our code work, if I include those.

The other pupil is weaker, in the sense that, if I dictate his spelling words, he will sometimes put capital letters at the start of words and sometimes even in the middle. I am wondering how best to address this. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. :smile:

Re: Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:16 pm
by JAC
Essentially you need to increase the amount of practice. This can be done by getting students to edit passages that have had punctuation removed. This will give more than using their own work alone. This website has a downloadable bar that allows you to do this.
Is the problem one of not really understanding what constitutes a sentence? That would need to be addressed. I like the way it is taught in a DI programme I use called Expressive Writing. If you need more information on that let me know.

As for putting capitals in the middle of words, that strikes me as a student who is not automatic at lower case letters. I should switch to cursive writing, which would make it impossible to insert cpaitals mid-word. I find that some older students enjoy learning cursive. I bought quite a cheap programme called Join it.

Re: Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:28 am
by Anna
Hi Jac,

Many thanks for your reply. The Fresh Start programme, which pupil a completed, has a proofreading activity. There is a total of 33 modules, so he did have lots of practice but it hasn't generalised to his own writing. As I said, I think this is because he is using so much processing thinking about spelling, and this shows up the fact that punctuation isn't automatic. This is why I was thinking that dicating sentences with simple spelling might help him to focus on basic punctuation, to help these skills become automated. I think I'll do both and hopefully that will be double reinforcement.

Has anyone used the proofreading materials from Violet Brand and if so, have you found them helpful? I was thinking of using them with another pupil, who is generally working at an age-appropriate level but also does not always rememebr her punctuation and needs to become more automatic at proofreading.

I agree with your suggestion about cursive writing. My pupils who have been taught cursive (esp with entry strokes) don't make this error, even when they have severe problems is other areas. Unfortunately, with older pupils, the problem is always practice, as they have so much homework. However, we can still do some practise each week and I'm sure it will help in the longer term.

I would be very interested in finding out more about the Expressive Writing programme. I do a lot of work on writing and focus on grammar and what constitutes a sentence, so any materials which teach writing, would be very interesting.

Many thanks,

Anna :smile:

Re: Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:14 am
by chew8
Re. punctuation: one thing I did with my weak 16+-year-old students was to get them to read what they had written aloud - their own intonation often helped them to see where they had omitted punctuation. They obviously couldn't read out loud in exams., but I suggested that they should read aloud in their heads, so to speak. I haven't tried this with younger children, however.

Jenny C.

Re: Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:53 pm
by Anna
Hi Jenny,

Thanks for the very helpful suggestion. I am going to try this with the pupils this week and will report back. I am also going to ask the weaker one to write in cursive and see if we can eliminate his incorrect use of capitals at the end of words etc.

Re: Helping 2 older pupils with basic punctuation

Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:26 pm
by Maltesers
At primary we have found 'cfss' to be very useful. I think it originated from a year 3 intervention.

c - capital letter
f - full stop
s - spelling
s - sense

At the end of each piece of writing the child has to check all these things. They all know 'cfss' because we have instilled it into them.

You could write at the bottom of their work c f s s and they could tick or cross out each one as they check them.

Tin lids are also really useful for children to remember what they want to write. They can record and play back as much as they want