Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Punctuation Failure

I have discovered something.  My students do not know how to use punctuation.  Setting aside the fact that 90 percent of them have yet to pass their comma test with an 80 percent or above (the requirement for not having to take anymore comma tests…because, seriously (an example of a comma used with a nonessential expression), by ninth grade, you should be able to use a comma.

And,not, like, this. 

It’s not confetti.  Stop spreading it around.  We are not feeling festive all up in here.

Today is not September, 29, 2009.

Nor is your address 134, West, Street, Town Name, IN, 39593.

Also, this sentence is incorrect: We want to go to the mall but, we keep getting lost.

This too: Jill, and Diana talked, and laughed.

I’ve come to terms with comma problems.  I’ll keep teaching them until I’m blue in the face.  I can recite that section of the textbook verbatim.  It’s really quite impressive.  But today.  Today we had a new problem.  It went a little something like this:

“Hey, Mrs. Cook.  If I’m copying this directly, do I put it in these?” He points to a key on his keyboard.

“What are ‘these’, Anonymous Male Student?”

“I think it’s a parentheses.”

“No, you’re pointing at a quotation mark.”

“Oh.  Well, do I need to put the quote in parentheses?”

“No, usually we put quotes in quotation marks.”

“Oh, really?  I didn’t know that.”


Anonymous said...

Have you tried the "if you have to take a breath, then you need a comma". It worked for me. AC

Anonymous said...

My first graders use commas the same way. They must be first graders in bigger bodies!!

Anonymous said...

If you feel torturous, try "trees." If these kids can't understand commas, then get mean and make them do sentence diagramming. If nothing else, they'll learn how sentences are formed. And yes, I know this is a horrible idea and your children would become raving lunatics but it could be for the best.