We've all seen those run on sentences that never seem to end. It's great when a student has lots to say and can include many details in their writing, but sometimes they forget about structure. It is important to teach them how to use proper punctuation and capital letters in their writing. Editing sentences and paragraphs regularly is a good place to start. The more often students are writing, the more likely it is that they will remember to use proper form.
Using Capitals and Punctuation Marks
It is good to start teaching this skill by showing what a complete sentence looks like. It starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. Coming up with a list of when to use capital letters is a good idea. Be sure to hang the list somewhere in the room so students can refer to it when needed.
Next the students correct sentences that are missing the capitals and periods. This helps them to clearly see the beginning and ending of each sentence. Review the different types of punctuation marks before beginning to edit sentences.
If you haven't yet taught your students about the 4 types of sentences, it might be a good idea to do this first.
Students should know about declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative sentences. It will help them to know which punctuation marks to use at the end of each kind of sentence.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Once students can edit simple sentences, you may want to have them work at a literacy center and practice their skills. For a hands-on activity, set out some task cards and have students edit the sentences either on the laminated cards or in their notebooks.
When they have had enough practice correcting sentences, students can start correcting short paragraphs. They will develop the skill of seeing where one sentence ends and the next begins.
This is a little harder, so you may have some students working on paragraphs while others are still working on single sentences.
Go Back and Check
In addition to daily worksheets, students should also evaluate their own writing to see if they are using capitals and punctuation correctly. After the first draft of a writing piece, students can go back and revise and edit their work. This is where they may discover that they have missed some much needed punctuation.
Students need to edit for Capitals, Understanding, Punctuation and Spelling. The acronym CUPS is often used as a helpful reminder.
When they are finished writing, encourage students to switch papers with a partner and they can correct each others' work. Maybe one student will see something that is missing where another student did not.
Many of the activities shown above are included in my Sentence Editing/Correcting Worksheets & Activities resource.
I am also working on a growing bundle of Correct the Sentences Worksheets for each month of the year! See it here:
If you are a second or third grade teacher, you may also want to check out my blog post about Paragraph Writing.