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Grammar and Punctuation

Anyone remember this gem?  When I was in high school, I took a year long course where we did nothing BUT exercises from this book.  We even diagrammed sentences on the chalkboard!  
I loved it!  Unfortunately, I cannot dedicate my entire year to teaching grammar and punctuation.  Therefore, I have to think carefully about what to teach and how to teach it.  
This year I noticed that the majority of my students did not know when to use a comma with a coordinating conjunction. I began by teaching students FANBOYS, the acronym used to remember for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.   That was easy!  Then, I began to teach them the difference between an independent and a dependent clause.  This proved challenging for many students.  After  taking notes, punctuating sentences together, and watching a video on the subject, I had students fill out an exit slip on the day's lesson.  I asked students to explain in their own words when to use a comma with a FANBOY, as well as to rate their understanding on a scale of 1-10.  This was valuable feedback, and I realized I needed to think of another way to teach the concept; many students were still confused. 
That's when I came up with the idea to use a  hands on activity. I typed out the FANBOYS, a comma, the words dependent and independent clause, as while as various independent and dependent clauses.  I cut them all out and put them in envelopes.  This took awhile!  In partners, students had to put all of the FANBOYS together,  Then I asked them to sort the phrases into either dependent or independent.  

Students did this in partners, so it was easy for me to walk around the room and assess their understanding.  Finally, students created sentences with instructions from me.  I would say things like, "Create a sentence using for and two independent clauses. "  Students had to read their sentences aloud and say whether or not they included a comma.  

After this activity, students completed another exit slip.  The majority of students stated that this activity helped them.  Finally, they took an official assessment using GoFormative.  Most students did well.  However, some are still struggling.  For those students, I will reteach them individually in another way and allow them another opportunity to take the assessment!

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