I don't know about you, but "punctuation" and "inquiry" never sat well together in my mind. It's was not something I particularly enjoyed teaching because there were all these rules and endless worksheets which all seemed to be a HUGE bore.
Then Steve Peha came to my rescue...yet again. On his awesome website there is a great document called "Conventional Wisdom". He showed the way to do a punctuation inquiry which adapted very well for my Grade 2 class. I found it to be very student centred and they turned out to have a pretty keen eye on how punctuation and other convention rules are used. Below is Steve Peha's example...I will share how I used it.
Then, I read them a story. I chose Little Beauty by Anthony Browne because it was a sweet, simple story that had the punctuation we were looking for. I didn't want the students to work too hard understanding the story, I wanted their focus on punctuation!
After I finished reading the story, I took example sentences and showed the students how to complete our punctuation charts. I talked about JACKPOT sentences, ones that had all the examples of the conventions we were looking for. Those sentences could be written more than once on each chart. Basically, the students were given these instructions:
Search in books for sentences that have the punctuation we are looking at.
Choose one sentence and copy it on the relevant chart.
Underline the punctuation.
Look for JACKPOT sentences, you can use that one sentence on ALL the charts!
Here are the students completing their charts.
Once we started wrapping things up...I kept thinking, now what? I thought things went very well but it didn't seemed quite finished. How could I get the children to think about all of this in the context of their own writing?
I thought if students completed a Learning Journal, where they applied the rules to their own writing, things would seem more buttoned up in our little inquiry. In the first column of the Learning Journal, they had to copy the rules they had come up with from the chart. Then, they had to search for examples of these rules in their own writing.
This worked out well because they noticed places where they had not included punctuation or capitals...places where they really should have. They were allowed to revise their sentences in the Learning Journal
First, I had the students brainstorm conventions they see in book they read. They came up with a list:
- periods, exclamation points and question marks (I kept them together since they are at the ends of sentences)
While the students went out for snack, I whipped together these charts....a la Peha!
Once we filled in the first columns of our punctuation charts, we looked at each sentence on each chart.
For each sentence, we did a Think-Pair-Share where students discussed why they thought that punctuation was there. We called these "convention meetings". Once they had agreed on why, I recorded it on the chart in the WHY column.
This took a LONG time. We did one chart a day until we were finished. The class got better at it as we went along. As you can see on the right, they were very insightful. I was especially surprised with their ideas on commas.
After, we shared questions we had. There were not too many questions but I think we will see more questions as the students become more aware of punctuation in their reading and writing.
Altogether, this was the most fun I had teaching punctuation and conventions! I know this topic will still need review and revision with the class but it was certainly a great way to look at it deeply in a student centred, authentic way.
Research is like writing, the more connected a student is to the topic at hand the more relevant information they will find and higher quality presentation they will create. This makes for better learning experience students will receive from the process. Scaffolding young students research will support their success and set productive patterns and honest approaches in their future. They time we can spend teaching young students how to research productively (and enjoy it too) will save much future time and energy regarding issues of plagiarism.
So what is the 'teaching solution' to text-copying problems?
Get your students connected to their research.
How do I get my students connected to their research?
I'm glad you asked. The UOI Research Support worksheet will help guide your students (and maybe yourself) through the process of formulating a question, reading and selecting information (FINDING OUT) and the making of and sorting notes (SORTING OUT).
Before you begin, as is true with anything new, I would provide a short period of time for students to openly explore the topic (chosen or nominated), its boundaries and possibilities. This will make the process richer, quicker.
I've been trying find ways in which to approach even the smallest of curriculum aims, through inquiry. Instead of turning to a text or a series of hands-on activities I could prepare and set up for my class, I thought about the type of learning that was most engaging for my students this year. It has always been when there has been a structure, organizer, process or schema to support their learning but at the same time keeping it open for them to explore freely and learn within it. Processes always delivered an appropriate balance between independence and support. I turned to my students prior knowledge and thought of using parts of the Scientific Method they had learned about and successfully used in a previous Unit of Inquiry. My aim was for them to use our thinking skill of application: making use of previously acquired knowledge in practical or new ways. After a brief discussion, note taking and a walk-through example, each student was able to work out the probability of a single event of their choosing.
My aim is for students to use responding as fuel for their creativity and to expose them to a freer more creative writing format for poetry.
Tomorrow I will repeat this task but use Music instead of Visual Art. In addition, Jennifer Pittaway, our Music teacher and co-collaborator for this unit, has taken this idea and replaced the words with the elements of Music. I will try to collect this idea and post it up too.
I hope that you enjoy this and find it useful. Your comments and ideas are warmly welcomed.
Waves of reflection throughout the process, in an Arts Journal through drawing, writing, pasting etc, provide the opportunity for students to capture ideas and develop them. Students learn about how they are being creative eventually informing themselves of their own creative process. Reflecting on feedback from others during the three phases, formally or informally, will help students improve their ideas, expression and understanding of their own creativity.
Inspiration and Exploration
The child remains at the center and any inspiration (internal or external) he or she must feel strongly connected to. Exploration is free and open without structure and goes hand-in-hand with finding inspiration and being inspired. Towards the end of this phase, students capture their inspiration in their Arts Journal and catapult themselves to consider the Audience. Once they have done this the come back to continue into the next phase.
Student's consider what they want their Audience to feel. They describe what connections they intend to make with their audience and what connections they want the audience to make with them. Students need to understand the ideas they will convey to their audience. They need to think of the messages they want their audience to leave with.
Which of the Arts or combination will best express their ideas, feelings, experiences, messages or make connections? Which elements of Arts will help them achieve this?
Students make their expression permanent by writing their script, making their art, filming their dance, notating their music and so on.
Students perform and share. They reflect on the influence they have made on others through expressing themselves creatively.