The 2014 National Curriculum asks that children learn to use commas in lists from Y2 onward. This article is a set of tried and tested teacher ideas for introducing and then consolidating the use of commas in lists.
The Standards and Testing Agency’s English grammar, punctuation and spelling test framework sets out that the use of the serial (or Oxford) comma will be penalised in lists of single items. Consequently, when introducing commas in lists you may then want to introduce the idea that ‘ands’ are frightened of commas so will never be seen in a sentence next to one. This won’t stop you and your class from encountering texts where the serial comma is part of the publisher’s house style but it will offer an opportunity to reinforce your own house rule – no commas next to ‘and’ in a list!
The 2014 National Curriculum asks that children learn to use apostrophes for singular possession from Y2 onward and apostrophes for plural possession from Y3 onward. Bearing in mind that apostrophes for contraction are also expected from Y2 onward, and that errors with apostrophes are common-place in the ‘real world’, it is little wonder that children find possessive apostrophes difficult to master. The introduction to Appendix 2 of the 2014 National Curriculum stipulates where content should be introduced but also that it may take considerable time to be embed; nowhere is this more apparent, than with the teaching of possessive apostrophes.
The bone belonging to the dog.
Understanding when an apostrophe for possession is necessary, requires children to understand the notion of possession or ownership. A first step then in understanding possessive apostrophes means that children must be able to identify ‘to whom the object in a sentence belongs’. Provide lots of sentences (with single actors), and ask children to identify to whom the object belongs. e.g.:
The 2014 National Curriculum requires children to start using inverted commas to indicate direct speech from Year 3 onward. This work should then continue throughout Year 4 so that children are able to accurately use the full range of punctuation when writing dialogue. Here are a few quick tips for teaching the use of inverted commas.
Create a speech progression
Writing dialogue correctly with all the punctuation in the right place and a new line for each speaker is challenging, and that’s without the demands of asking children to have interesting, engaging dialogue with a variety of synonyms for ‘said’. The 2014 National Curriculum recognises the challenge of speech, which is why both Y3 and Y4 have objectives relating to speech (see National Curriculum Appendix 2). As a teacher, year group, school have a clear idea about how children will progress through the writing of speech. I like to think:
Identify speech in texts
Write in speech bubbles
Use inverted commas
Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the reporting clause before the speech
Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the reporting clause after the speech
Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the speech broken by the reporting clause
Write dialogue punctuated correctly with a new line for each new speaker
I’ve made a handy classroom prompt for punctuating the three patterns of direct speech which you can find on the Resources Page. This is free to download and is handy if you need to remind yourself where the commas and capitals go in each pattern of direct speech.
The 2014 National Curriculum requires children in Y1 to be able to demarcate sentences with full stops, question marks and exclamation marks. By the end of Y2 children need to be able to use these punctuation marks whilst also recognising the sentence types with which they work: statement, question, exclamation and command. In this article I look at ways to introduce question marks in Y1 and Y2 and also how to reinforce their use throughout KS2.
Create a classroom ‘question display’ with the words why, what, who, where, when etc. on display. Add to this over time with further question words such as ‘how’ and ‘which’, and question phrases (or question stems) such as what is the most…how can I tell…who is the…
Quick tips for grammar: capital letters and full stops
Using full stops and capital letters to demarcate sentences is a requirement of the 2014 National Curriculum from Y1 onward. The following activities have been devised by teachers for working with the youngest children in school but they may still be useful to teachers working with older children who continue to struggle with demarcating sentences accurately.
Use strips of paper to create human sentences with children. Say a sentence, write the sentence, cut-up the sentence and then give separate words to different children so that they can then work collaboratively to recreate the sentence. Use the capital letter and full stop as clues to work out where different words go in the sentence. Over time this game can be repeated with the omission of the capital letter and full stop for children so that children can activate their own understanding to punctuate the sentence accurately.
Tennis ball full stop
Use a tennis ball or other small ball to mark the end of the sentence when building human sentences as a class.
Create actions and sound effects for full stops. Use these actions and sound effects when reading text as a class. Encourage children to use them to decide which punctuation marks to use when reading unpunctuated sentences.
Drawing children’s attention to beautiful books is all part of promoting a love of reading and is essential if you’re aiming to create a reading school. In this blog post we take some of those beautiful books and consider how to use some of the quotations within them to inspire children to read.
Use quotations as advertising soundbites
Consider collecting quotations that you love and display them in the classroom or library. Display the books from which the quotations come side-by-side. This way the quotations work as short adverts for the books.
Set a challenge and develop home-school links
Create a collection of great quotations by working as a staff team. You could also consider asking the children and their parents to offer their favourite book quotations. Set it as a challenge with book related prizes for the most quotations, or a particularly funny or poignant quotation.
Get visual with a rolling Powerpoint of beautiful book quotes
Create a rolling Powerpoint presentation of book quotes (or ask some children to make one). This can then be displayed in the library, as children enter the hall for assembly, or in classrooms as children arrive in the morning. You could share this one that I made if you’re able to access YouTube in your school.
Build vocabulary by collecting great words from great literature
Encourage children to collect interesting words that they find in book quotes. Provide them with notebooks to record the words they find and then ensure that they have time to use dictionaries to research the words so that they can go on to use them in their own writing.
Get grammatical by spotting grammar in practice
Look for examples of grammatical forms in different quotations. The Charlotte’s Web quotation in my video uses the perfect form. Other examples in my video make good use of question marks, inverted commas and apostrophes for contraction and possession.
Don’t forget poetry
There are many, many well-known and well-loved poetic quotes. Why not create a collection of poetic quotes to promote a love of poetry in your school?
These are just a few thoughts about how to use book quotes in your school. Let me know how you use book quotes in your school
Rachel Clarke – Director: Primary English
All content on the Primary English website is protected by copyright and owned by Rachel Clarke.
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RIP Assessment Focuses. Hello content domains
In this short blog post, I introduce the updated Primary English suite of materials for reading.
From September 2015 onwards, the new national curriculum has been taught in all year groups across the primary range but it’s not just the old curriculum content that has gone. The Assessment Focuses have also been retired. Of course, this makes total sense; if you’re going to change the curriculum then the criteria for assessing it must also change. So, in this blog post we say RIP Assessment Focuses, and welcome to the world Content Domains.
KS1 Reading Content domain reference
KS2 Reading Content domain reference
draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts
give / explain the meaning of words in context
identify / explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information
retrieve and record information / identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
identify and explain the sequence of events in texts
summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
make inferences from the text
make inferences from the text / explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
predict what might happen from details stated and implied
identify / explain how information / narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
identify / explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
make comparisons within the text
For more information about the reading content domains click KS1 reading here and KS2 reading here.
The content domains work in much the same way as the old assessment focuses. They’re not the curriculum but the broad headings under which skills have been grouped for assessment. They were initially formulated for test developers so they could ensure their materials covered the range of the curriculum programmes of study. Just like the assessment focuses they are also useful to us as educators for assessing where gaps exist, for analysing formative and summative test data, and then for planning next steps in learning. As I said, they’re not the curriculum but knowing the content domains and how to ensure that they are all covered in teaching and learning is important.
In a tiny blog post, I muse on the crossover between poetry and music and share a few things I’ve enjoyed listening to recently.
Two things have prompted me to write this blog post. First up, this week I have been mostly enjoying this advertisement on the television:
I love Dr John Cooper Clarke’s poem, the sound of the sea in the line ‘Dishevelled shells and shovelled sands’, the rhymes ‘shrieks, creaks, weeks’ and the repetition of the ‘And that’s where the sea comes in…’ at the end of each stanza echoing the tide repeatedly breaking on the shore. As an inhabitant of landlocked Coventry, this poem makes me yearn for the coast. It isn’t finished yet and you can help Dr John Cooper Clarke finish it by sharing your memories and love of the coast using #lovethecoast. To get an idea of the ideas being shared for this Nation’s Ode to the Coast just click here.
A blog where I mine my experiences of the end of year ‘pack-up and preparations’ with a few quick tips to ensure you get the most out of your summer holiday. Oh, and a tenuous link to one of the most notorious football kits ever.
The end of the academic year is almost upon us and with it comes the annual classroom tidy-up and pack away. As the old saying goes, “It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it…”
Be ruthless – if you’ve not used it in three years, the chances are that you’re not going to. Tough I know. A couple of summers ago I finally sent my old Junior Education magazines to the paper bank. They were great resources: at the time (circa 1995 – 2000). However, there have been goodness knows how many reinterpretations of the National Curriculum since then and even the gorgeous topic posters look dated by today’s standards.
But not too ruthless – if you still keep a paper diary (and I do), don’t throw it out just yet. I‘ve lost count of how many times I’ve needed to go back through my diary to check the dates of: a course I attended; meetings I’ve had with colleagues or parents; or to help determine which week should be set-by for the disco/school fayre/trip because it had worked so well last time.