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Cueing Students to Observe Punctuation Marks



What a difference punctuation makes. Every grandmother is thankful for the tiny comma in the following sentence, “Let’s eat, Grandma.” That tiny, eyelash-on-the-baseline punctuation mark protects grammas everywhere from hungry grandkids!

Blowing right through periods and commas is a common difficulty for students with dyslexia. Frequently, these tiny bits of print are overlooked, or viewed as unimportant by a dyslexic reader. Punctuation, which has been used since the third century BC, adds intentional pauses that clarify meaning and group words for better understanding. It is an important component for boosting reading comprehension.


An easy exercise to help students who tend to ignore punctuation is to practice comma pauses and period full stops with an alphabet rather than actual words. This frees the child from decoding tasks and brings the focus directly onto handling the punctuation marks correctly.


Prep for this exercise is as simple as writing out a few alphabets and randomly sprinkling in commas and periods. Model reading the alphabet with pauses for commas and full stops for periods, then ask the student to join you in choric reading of the same alphabet. After watching you demonstrate and then joining you for a read-through, most students will be ready to try reading solo. Try asking your student to sound as if they are begging for something, or feel insulted as they reread one of the sample alphabets. Different vocal inflections are sure to produce giggles at the implied meaning of these nonsense reads when varied inflections are used.


This month’s freebie is an abc comma and period exercise all ready for you to print out and use with your students. Be sure to check it out.


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