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Lesson Plan

The Passion of Punctuation

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The Passion of Punctuation

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In an effort to make punctuation more accessible to students, this unit explores emotions that are associated with the artful and deliberate use of commas, semicolons, colons, and exclamation points. In addition to providing students with the tools to use these punctuation marks appropriately, the lessons urge students to experiment with punctuation in a way that contributes to the meaning, style, and voice of writing. Students will examine emotionally charged opinions about punctuation voiced by established writers and will form their own opinions, defend their own choices, and become passionate about their own uses of punctuation.

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Haussamen et al. (2003) encourages the teaching of grammatical concepts in the context of real world writing and through examining writers’ choices, asserting, “Although we turn to reference books when we want to check on the acceptability of a word or a type of phrase, the ultimate resources for judgments of the social acceptability of any language are its literature and the way the language is used by influential groups in society” (16).  Considering punctuation options as stylistic choices asks students to apply grammatical knowledge to real communication contexts and to appreciate the ways in which the diversity of authors’ purposes, contents, and contexts allow for play within conventional rules and thoughtful breaking of those rules.


Further Reading

Haussamen, Brock, et al. 2003. Grammar Alive! A Guide for Teachers. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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