On September 25th I shared something that really makes a difference in the way my students think about and apply the rules of grammar. Instead of asking students to understand abstract grammatical concepts, I teach them to use “punctuation formulas” that help them apply math-based concepts to grammar. This strategy immediately enables my students to better elevate their writing. Instead of trying to understand abstract grammatical concepts, they can easily apply solid foundational formulas to their efforts–just like they do in math.
I introduced a series of punctuation formulas, presenting each formula one at a time as part of a larger lesson. I don’t teach all the formulas in a block, but spread them out in relation to other things that we are learning. Each time, my students and I practice a new formula together and my students then apply what they’ve learned to a variety of activities. I introduce formal and informal assessments throughout the process, and students’ work with each formula culminates in a writing assessment where I expect to see compound and complex sentence structures punctuated correctly.
Immediately after they incorporate these formulas my students’ writing improves. Years after students have taken my class, they come back to tell me that they remember the formulas and still use them to elevate the level of their writing.
I introduced this approach in a free, one-hour workshop that gives you the information you need to begin to think about introducing punctuation formulas to your students. You can find a video archive of this session under the “Session 1” tab above.
You have the chance to reflect about what I’ve presented and to begin to personalize the resources and practices that I know first-hand work well for students for your own classroom. Our group will meet again on October 2nd to share ideas and to help fine-tune everyone’s approach to this new strategy.