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Lesson Plan

Inside or Outside? A Minilesson on Quotation Marks and More

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Inside or Outside? A Minilesson on Quotation Marks and More

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students often have difficulty knowing when to place a punctuation mark within quotation marks or outside them. It's not too surprising, since the rules shift depending on how the dialogue is used, and what is done can vary depending upon the country you're in. In this minilesson, students review the general rules on using quotation marks with other punctuation and work through a sample dialogue, keeping the conventions in mind. They then look closely at their own writing, mark the quotation marks they've used, consider how the conventions of punctuation apply, and make revisions to their work.

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Quotation Marks: Purdue OWL provides this resource covering the general rule of when and where to use quotation marks.

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By teaching students how to identify the conventions used in their own writing, self-editing activities help students become more responsible writers. The power is shifted from the "correcting" teacher to the writers, who are able to make their own corrections.

Constance Weaver argues in Grammar for Teachers (1979), "There seems to be little value in marking students' papers with 'corrections,' little value in teaching the conventions of mechanics apart from actual writing, and even less value in teaching grammar in order to instill these conventions" (64). Instead, learning about grammar, conventions, and text structures is most effective when student writers "learn through language." Jeff Wilhelm concurs in his brief "Undoing the Great Grammatical Scam!" (2001). Wilhelm explains, "If we want students to use language more correctly in their own writing and speaking, then we must teach them to do so in that meaning-producing situation that will co-produce and support that learning" (62).

Further Reading

Weaver, Constance. 1979. Grammar for Teachers: Perspectives and Definitions. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. "Undoing the Great Grammatical Scam!" Voices from the Middle 8.3 (March 2001): 62.

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