Monday, February 17, 2014

Frog and Toad Teach Punctuation

How do you teach your students the rules associated with punctuating dialogue?

I mean, are they important to know? Can we ignore them?

I have The Jesus Storybook Bible within reach. Let's see how dialogue looks without punctuation. Hang on!

Saul! Saul! said the loud voice. Why are you fighting me? Lord? Saul answered who are you? I am Jesus said the voice. When you hurt my friends, you are hurting me, too. Saul's whole body trembled. Go to the city Jesus said I'll tell you what to do.

That obviously won't work. We need the rules for clarity.

But how do we teach them without crushing our students with tedium?

What about using Frog and Toad Are Friendsan easy reader by Arnold Lobel?

That sounds random, I know. The idea developed when I read that a professor teaches punctuation with Lobel's book. I don't know what his or her method is; I don't know the age group the professor teaches. An Internet search produced nothing. But the notion intrigued me. I borrowed a copy of the book from my library to see if I could get into the mind of that professor.

The first thing I noticed was the dialogue. I looked at Frog's and Toad's lines, trying to find a pattern in their structure.

I found six categories.

Category 1: Said first
Toad said, "Frog, you are looking quite green."

Category 2: Said last
"Today you look very green even for a frog," said Toad.

Category 3: Said in the Middle of a Sentence
"Then you get out of bed and let me get into it," said Toad, "because now I feel terrible."

Category 4: Said in the Middle of Two Sentences
"Don't worry," said Frog. "We will go back to all the places where we walked. We will soon find your button."

Category 5: An Exclamation
"Here is your button!" cried Frog.

Category 6: A Question
"Does Toad really look funny in his bathing suit?" they asked.

With those categories, I designed an assignment for students.

My objectives:
  • Students will connect rules to real reading.
  • Students will stretch their observation skills as they search for and evaluate the various categories of dialogue.
  • Students will apply what they learn to their own sentences.
  • As a bonus, students will write rules they observe.

You can treat the papers as a worksheet, or you can cut around the six rectangles and paste them in a Writer's Reference notebook.

You will find the sheets here. If you find them helpful, will you please let me know?

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.

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