As mentioned before, my English class is formatted like a grammar class in the United States. This week, my students are learning to apply comma rules to sentences. They are still trying to perfect capitalization and punctuation for 4 types of sentences, so adding another set of rules can be quite a challenge.
A few years ago, I came up with an activity that helped with punctuation. I’ve since tweaked it and applied it to several grammar/mechanics activities.
During oral reading, students who aren’t reading have a hard time following along. To improve this, we put sounds to all the punctuation. As one student is reading, the others make the sound effects for the punctuation. One student, several, or all, can be chosen for the sound effects.
- End punctuation: BOOM!
- Comma: WHOOSH!
- Quotation mark: PING!
This activity helps students in many ways:
- Involves all students in oral reading.
- Keeps students focused on the text, so the next reader knows where they are.
- Keeps the reader paced, so he/she isn’t reading THROUGH the punctuation.
- Puts the focus on punctuation in a sentence—saying “boom ping!” enough will teach them the correct order for end punctuation and quotation marks.
- Creates questions: “Why are there 2 sets of quotation marks here?”
As students are learning the comma rules, I want to keep them focused on the skills we’ve already covered. As we practiced our first comma rule today, I had several students read the sentences, calling for boys to do the sound effects. Then girls. This allows for more oral reading practice, but also focuses attention on the commas (WHOOSH!).
I noticed students were still forgetting capital letters, so I added a new sound effect: The trumpet call, much like that of Jerry Stiller’s character in Zoolander. As the students were instructed to work independently, I told them there was no talking, but that I wanted to hear their sound effects as they wrote.
So my classroom sounded like this: “Ba ba ba baaaaa” … “WHOOSH! WHOOSH! BOOM!”
No one forgot their end punctuation! And they remembered to capitalize.
Students wanted to add their own sounds, so I allowed “KABOOM!” for exclamation points, and reading BOOM? like a question for interrogative sentences.
Some students wanted to make the noises to be funny, but were not working. I reminded them that I only wanted to hear the sounds if their pencils were working.
A couple kids got a little out of control with the sounds, and I had to reel them back in, but overall, the activity was definitely more successful than not.
How can you use this in your classroom? What would you add?