Calling All Commas

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
pausing slightly and thoughtfully, Lori

Take a second and think of your favorite lesson. If I put you on the spot and asked you, I can bet you an entire box of glue sticks that you wouldn't say anything about comma rules. Day 3 of our Foldable Frenzy is a little bit of a cheat because it doesn't involve folding so much as it involves scissors and glue or tape. 

These comma rules come from Jeff Anderson's book, Mechanically Inclined. If you've never worked with this book before, he shows you how to teach grammar visually. Essentially, he teaches five comma rules. 

  1. A comma in a series
  2. A comma to off and end an appositive phrase in the middle of a sentence
  3. A comma to set off an appositive at the end of a sentence
  4. A comma to introduce a sentence beginning with an appositive
  5. A comma plus a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses
That's a lot of description that means a whole lot of nothing to a lot of people (mainly our students). Today's Comma Collection is a visual way for students to learn the comma rules, to collect samples from published literature, and to create samples for their own writing. Begin by downloading the template here.
  • Two students share by cutting the template in half.
  • Cut out the individual boxes, but not on the black line. Check out the picture so that you can be sure to leave enough space 
  • On three sides, tape the boxes into your interactive journal. Leave a long edge completely open to form a pocket.
  • You can stagger 3 pockets on one page and the remaining two on another page.
  • Fill the pockets with index cards or small sheets of paper that have been cut to size.
  • Label one side, "Examples From Reading" and the other side, "Examples From My Writing."
This is cute, but most importantly it's FUNCTIONAL.
  • Instruct students to find particular examples (but not all) as they read. 
  • For example, you may be reading an essay that utilizes two examples of a comma in a series. Tell students to find one example.
  • On writing days, tell students they need to pick two comma rules to use. They should update their collection and include those sentences in their draft. 
This Comma Collection does take time on the front end to build, but when it is something that will continually aid in my instruction, I don't mind spending the time on it. 

Check back with us tomorrow for Day 4. It's a practical solution to a seemingly difficult problem!

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