SOL #28 2018

A Slice I shared with my students this morning ….

This morning, I was visiting a second grade classroom.  The teacher, who by the way is a dynamic educator, was teaching her students about capitalization.  Her students were so engaged, participating in the discussion and sharing when to capitalize words.

“Be sure to start every sentence with a capital letter,” one child excitedly told her friends.  “Always use a big letter when it’s someone’s name,” chimed in another enthusiastic boy.  “I always use a capital when writing the word ‘I’,” shared Johnny.  “What about names of months?” asked Mrs. Smith.  “Of course!” they all shouted.

There was a long pause in the classroom.  Mrs. Smith made sure she had full attention from all of her students.  “Second graders …” long pause.  “You know all of the expectations for capitalizing your letters!  You’ve just shared them with each other.”  Lots of nods and smiles spread all over the classroom.  “It seems that you just need to remember to use what you already know.”

With that, an even longer pause.  As the second graders mouths dropped open a bit, I could see it in their eyes and expressions-“Oh boy, she’s onto us!” they thought.

FOURTH GRADERS … I challenge some of YOU!  Are you using what YOU already know about capitalization?  Challenge:  Go back to a couple of your previous Slices … add capitalization (punctuation too…).  I think your audience will be VERY grateful!

Fellow teachers … This is ALWAYS a struggle for me as a writing teacher.  Clearly, conventions are necessary, but I continue to have students that do not edit their work (some that even wait until the very end to add punctuation and capitals!)  When writing, I always speak to the fact that our audience deserves to read a piece that has been edited.  In the same breath, I worry for our reluctant writers and sometimes find myself excited when they entertain the idea of writing.  How do YOU foster this aspect of writing development?

5 thoughts on “SOL #28 2018

  1. I teach 7th graders, and I feel your pain! Once I have reviewed conventions they should already know, I make a list of “non-negotiables” – things like numbers under ten written in words, comma before conjunction in a compound sentence. If they continue to not care enough about their writing to edit for these than they pay the price on their grade. I believe it is laziness for most of them. Of course I am much gentler on my reluctant writers.

    That being said, I hate grades! However, it seems like the only thing that motivates some of my kids.


  2. Oh yes, the capitalization free for all is rampant in my classroom. I have put a poster up in my room that looks like a mountain with a road .. the mountain is the capital letter. It’s helped a few kids!


  3. I feel your pain too! For my 6th and 7th graders, I made a list of the things I knew they had been taught and told them I expected them to use these conventions correctly the first time, even as they were drafting. We talked about how it doesn’t make sense to waste time correcting things we already know how to do. With lots of reminders during drafting, a lot of kids made a concerted effort to do it right the first time, making it a habit. I used peer editing to help correct these mistakes as well. (But, inevitably, I still ended up with a few students who weren’t capitalizing consistently.)


  4. If it’s something short they are writing (like on a notecard or post-it), I ask them to rewrite it with the correct capitalization and punctuation. If it’s a longer piece, I have them read through it during the editing phase and correct for capitalization and punctuation at that time. It’s not perfect, but at least it gives them space to write during the drafting phase and then correct during editing.


  5. I struggle so much with figuring out the right balance. Thanks for another way to approach this with my students.


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