Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quotation Marks are NOT Confetti

As an ENL teacher I often push-in to writing instruction at multiple grade levels.  One thing I notice students struggling with over and over is where to put quotation marks. Either they put quotations around the entire sentence or only a few words!  I tell students all the time, "Quotation marks are not confetti!"


So how do I combat the quotation confetti?  Every year at every grade level during the narrative writing unit the topic of how to use quotation marks comes up.  In first grade I teach students my trick.  What's my trick? 


It's that simple... I tell them to imagine a speech bubble.  Any words in the speech bubble go inside the quotation marks.  Then we practice with some sentences! 

I show three examples; one with the dialog after the tag, one with the dialog before the tag, and one with the tag in the middle.  I will briefly touch on putting in commas and capitalizing the first word... but don't expect them to remember that one right away. (I usually start emphasizing it in second and third)  

Find these practice sheets for FREE here

Then, they will have a laminated blank speech bubble in their writing binder or folder.  If they are confused in the future they can use their dry erase markers to test out what goes inside the speech bubble and therefore inside the quotation marks.

Birthdays are a popular narrative topic!
Is this a perfect strategy? Certainly not!  Students still need reminders to think of their speech bubble. After the initial lesson in first grade I will ask in second, third (etc), "Do you remember Mrs. H's trick?"  Many students who were in the class the previous year will remember.  By third grade they are explaining my trick to their classmates!

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