Doesn't it do you so much good to look back and think about how far your students have come about this time of year? I remember in the beginning of the year always thinking, "I would give just about ANYTHING for some 'I like________.' sentences. I will NEVER again complain about those sentences if my kids will just write one of them!"
And then, somehow, day by day, lesson by lesson, those little darlings start writing real, live sentences, sharing their thoughts and ideas, experimenting with words and punctuation, and moving beyond those "I like..." sentences.
My class now, is needing a little help remembering when to use a period or punctuation mark. They use them all the time. It's just that sometimes they are after every. single. word.
And sometimes, they are just at the end of a line of writing, whether or not the sentence ends there or not.
To start our little sentence recognition lesson, I wrote some sentences on a chart, without any punctuation. I showed the children some of the different ways I have seen them experiment with periods. I explained that I LOVED seeing those periods and loved that they were using them.
But now, they were ready to learn exactly where to use them correctly. We read this chart together and noticed where we naturally stopped, because it was the end of a complete thought. We reread the chart and really paid attention to where we stopped. I reminded the children that we had learned that a period means STOP. That pause where we stopped when we were reading is exactly where the period should go. It may be in the middle of a line, or even after one word in a line. That doesn't matter. What does matter is that a period goes at the end of a whole thought that says something. I had different students come up and put a red magnet circle at the end of each sentence.
I always have the children answer questions and speak during show and tell in complete sentences. Every day they tell me, "The author writes the words." "The illustrator draws the pictures." We review how they do this- and how they never just say, "Writes words." They know that a sentences tells someone something in a complete thought.
After we practice with our chart, I tell the children that I am going to read some groups of words to them. IF it is a complete sentence that needs a period at the end, they need to push their hand out in front of them and SCREEEEECH (like a car screeching to a STOP!) so I know to stop. They LOVE this. Love. If it is just a group of words and NOT a complete sentence, they stay completely quiet. You can also do a thumbs up for sentences, thumbs down if it is not a sentence- but it isn't quite as much fun.
I read several groups of words like:
I like to play
I like to
I like to play with
I like to play with my friends
We can go to the
We can go to the park
It is my new
My teacher is
My teacher is nice
Broccoli is green
After all this practice hearing when to use a period, it was time to show me their stuff, with a delicious little assessment. The children each got six mini m&m's in a little cup. I told them that the mini m&m's were perfect because periods are just miniature. I showed them how a period is NOT a colored in letter "o" (which I see sometimes), and it is not a practically invisible pencil mark. Even learning to write a period correctly is a skill!
The first job each child had was to decide their favorite color mini m&m and eat it for "Period Power." I only needed five periods on the paper I made. The m&m's were now going to be periods.
I gave each child a paper like this:
If you would like a copy, just click on the picture. It's simple, but it's already made, so why not!
Next, they had to read the paper themselves and put an m&m where a period would go, at the end of a sentence.
As they ate the "periods," they substituted a pencil period for the m&m on their paper.