Another key component to reading fluency is how students break phrases and word groupings among sentences. A huge area to work on in classroom instruction includes their attention to punctuation marks when reading. Weak readers tend to read right through punctuation marks, never stopping, pausing, or taking a breath. This makes for a very confusing reading.
Classroom mini-lessons on reading punctuation marks might include:
- Begin pointing out what happens to the reader’s voice when it hits a mark in the reading. The voice stops at periods. The voice goes up at question marks. The voice gets louder at exclamation points. The voice pauses at commas. View a chart of punctuation marks and their effects on the reader’s voice.
- Break the class into two groups and read aloud the picture book Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. The entire story is written in a series of short sentences with powerful punctuation marks. Let the students practice reading and manipulating their voices.
- Deborah Bennett, sixth grade teacher at Jerry Ross Elementary (Crown Point, IN), took the words from the Yo! Yes? picture book and put them in alphabetical order. She asked the students to create their own storyline using the same words, paying close attention to the punctuation marks they chose. Print the list of words.
- At the end of every sentence, have students clap when they hear the reader take a breath, indicating there should be a period. I call this Punctuation Clapabout. First grade teacher Nancy Young at Royerton Elementary (Muncie, IN) added an additional component to this lesson. She explained, “Since we also teach exclamation points and question marks, we clap and immediately lift our hands in the air when the sentence ends in either one of these to show that our voices go UP at the end of these sentences! If we read a sentence without punctuation we say “UH OH” and quickly decide which form of punctuation we want to use.
- Using the alphabet, have students create a series of “alphabet passages” utilizing different punctuation marks. Download some examples. Kindergarten teacher Mackenzi Braun, from Monroe Central Elementary (Parker City, IN), took this idea and added giant, colorful glasses! Thank you for sharing the video and your colorful chart paper!
— Mrs. Braun’s K2 (@MCE_K2) February 23, 2016