Top Apps and Teaching Tips to Learn Punctuation

Learning correct use of punctuation starts from the youngest writers – using capital letters and full stops to correctly demarcate sentences – and progresses through to more mature writers – using colons, apostrophes and dashes to enhance higher-level writing.

Punctuation is a really important sentence and text-level aspect of the writing processes and one that can baffle and confuse unless learnt and practised. Correct use of e.g. apostrophes is something that, unless mastered, can continue to course confusion into adulthood! So helping your students to master punctuation – and giving them plenty of opportunity to practice and use a wide range of punctuation – is important in helping them become proficient writers.

Punctuation is something that needs to be taught and is something that needs to be continually put into practise through real-life written contexts: apps can offer a fun and interactive way to practise punctuation.

Here are our top tips for using apps to support punctuation in your classroom:

1) Punctuation should be fun: Punctuation should not be a chore but rather a fun and exciting part of learning and mastering writing. Once students become more proficient in using different punctuation marks, their writing can be a more exciting experience. Apps can make learning punctuation more interactive, with opportunities to practise in a different context. Try the Nimbl apps for ages 5-7ages 8-11 or ages 9+ as great (fun) punctuation resources.

2) The all-important editing processes: Make sure you leave time for students to check through their writing. I have known students to have improved their writing by over a grade by simply checking it through before handing it in. It can also help for them to peer-to-peer edit. Sometimes seeing the punctuation errors in other student’s works helps them to realise and identify the errors in their own. Or seeing a friend’s correct use of a punctuation mark can be provide a ‘light-bulb’ moment for them. Encouraging the use of 5-star Punctuation App (as part of the editing process) could really help too.

3) Encourage students to ‘read it aloud’: Before a student hands in a piece of writing, reading it aloud (and sounding out the punctuation marks) is a really good way to check for errors or find opportunities for improving their punctuation choices. Often times, hearing themselves sounding out the text can allow for this identification and can improving their grades. To find some great punctuation worksheets and resources for all ages, check out EdPlace.

4) Paragraphs are punctuation too: Although it is not widely known, paragraphs are classified as punctuation. This text-based convention needs to be mastered too. A neat way of remembering when to start a new paragraph is with the mnemonic TIP TOE: TI= (change of) TIME, P=(change of) PLACE, TO= (change of) TOPIC and E=(change of) EVENT. The fabulous Sentence Builder app can help students create longer pieces of text – for lots of paragraphing opportunities!

5) Less is more: Students should be striving to improve their understanding and use of a variety of punctuation and increase their repertoire of punctuation marks. However, there is a balance of not enough (omission of basic punctuation marks like full-stops is the biggest culprit!) and using too much (such as over-using comas within a sentence). The key is, if a student is not sure, they should choose a more basic punctuation mark which they are confident in using and not try too hard to fit in ones that they aren’t too sure about. Kids Grammar and Punctuation is a great early resource to get them started and for revision of all the basics.
Have fun with perfecting punctuation in your classroom!

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