Saturday, 1 December 2012

Punctuation Pets - going all Pokemon on them.

Hello everyone.  It's a cold December 1st, and now the joy I gained from my advent calendar has waned, it's time for another post.

An endangered Apostrophe
Yesterday, trying to engage my Yr8 literacy-boosting group with the idea of apostrophes, I hit upon the idea of presenting them as an endangered species, struggling to survive in the modern world.  I led the students along a while - one of my favourite techniques - wanting them to think we were going to talk about snow leopards or minke whales or something.  Then I hit them with the apostrophe, and a suitably cute illustration of what an apostrophe looks like under a magnifying glass.

This had them hooked.  Now, I understand that engagement is not the same as learning, but it is certainly a damn good foundation to it.  Over the course of the session, I instilled in them a sense that missing out an apostrophe was a little like saying 'I don't believe in fairies'.  After they'd stopped sobbing at the thought of the needless murder of hundreds of little apostrophes, we decided it was time to act.  So, every time an apostrophe is placed in their own natural habitat (possession/omission), we will make a point of adding another line to the tally of happy, healthy apostrophes living in the wild.

The rationale behind all this childish madness is this: students usually understand apostrophe rules (and those for capitals, commas, full stops and connectives); the issue is that they just forget to use them as they write at speed, usually under pressure.  It is this forgetfulness which needs work, and what better way to help them remember than giving punctuation personality?  In our school, with the help of literacy-freak @letterland123, we are hoping to create a Pokemon-inspired 'points gathering' affair, whereby punctuation is very cute, collectible and a source of small prizes.  Watch this space...

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