The Passion of Punctuation

This group of lesson plans presents punctuation in a fun and interactive manner. Students explore an argument about the author's right to choice of punctuation; they identify use of comma splices in an exercept of Steinbeck's The Pearl; and they participate in a fun activity in which they determine which punctuation mark best represents them.  Other activities include a Seinfeld clip on YouTube, identifying errors in young adult literature excerpts, and handouts on specific types of punctuation. The assessment for these lessons is the creation of a postcard utilizing different aspects of punctuation. Teachers can use these lessons in whole or part, as many aspects of this lesson can be easily disconnected with the others, but still be effective.  The activities in this lesson are creative and engaging and focus on students who may not respond well to textbook grammar instruction.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.1.1
Demonstrate control of Standard English through grammar usage and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling).
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • learn the appropriate uses of, and practice using, the semicolon, comma, colon, and exclamation point.
  • examine the opinions and attitudes that various published authors hold concerning punctuation choices.
  • become familiar with the punctuation choices found in published texts.
  • add meaning, style, and voice to their own writing through deliberately placed and chosen punctuation marks.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Semicolons: Allow students to analyze published authors’ use of the semicolon.
  • Commas: Allow students to practice correcting comma splices in another published piece.
  • Ask students to apply what they are learning about end punctuation to their own ongoing compositional writing of poems, essays, and stories.
  • Ask students to apply what they are learning about end punctuation to their academic and outside readings, bringing in examples for discussion.  Students can also be encouraged to examine how the use of these punctuation marks vary as writers move across the genres of expository to narrative to poetry writing. For example, how do poets (including e.e. cummings) use punctuation?  Why do they tend to take more liberties in their punctuation use?

Helpful Hints

  • Computers with Internet access
  • Ability to project videos from a computer screen to a white board, projection screen, interactive whiteboard, etc.