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Lesson Plan

And I Quote: A Punctuation Proofreading Minilesson

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And I Quote: A Punctuation Proofreading Minilesson

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time One 50-minute session
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • explore conventions for using quotation marks and other punctuation marks in sample texts.

  • examine their own writing closely using a self-editing activity.

  • update and revise their writing based on their observations.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Use the Proofreading Website to discuss general proofreading strategies and focus class attention. Use as much detail as appropriate for the class.

  2. Turn attention to the importance of checking quotations in papers that use quotations from outside resources, tying to issues of using correct documentation and avoiding plagiarism.

  3. Pass out copies or display an overhead of the Quotation Marks Comparison Passages for the class to review.

  4. Ask students to look over the passages and note similarities and differences among the ways that quotation marks are used with other kinds of punctuation in the two columns. If students need help, point out features and ask them to draw conclusions. Jot their responses on the board.

  5. Read through the observations, and then turn to general rules on using quotation marks with other punctuation marks from the class textbook or Using Quotation Marks from the Purdue OWL.

  6. Display a copy of the Quotation Marks Cheat Sheet on the overhead projector or using an LCD projector. If desired, pass out copies of the chart as well.

  7. Ask students to draw conclusions about the use of punctuation marks based on the Comparison Passages and the general rules on using quotation marks. Add student observations to the Cheat Sheet using brief descriptions.

  8. Review the Cheat Sheet briefly and then read an overhead or computer-projected copy of Example Literary Analysis Passages with your class. Alternatively, you can use a student example (with the student's permission, of course).

  9. Using the details on the Cheat Sheet, work through the example text to demonstrate how to punctuate the sentences.

  10. Begin by going through the Example Passages backwards (that is, from the last word of the text to the first), and underline or circle all the ending quotation marks.

  11. Once the text is marked, go through the text again, this time checking the other punctuation near the quotation marks. Have students check the details on the Cheat Sheet and identify the rules that each passage demonstrates.

  12. For homework or in time remaining, ask students to use the proofreading strategy on a paper of their own, examining and revisioning punctuation as necessary.

  13. If desired, when polished drafts are collected, ask students to submit a draft that shows their application of the punctuation proofreading strategy.

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Kidwatching provides the perfect assessment for this activity. As students apply the strategy to their own writing, note which students understand the concepts and which need more practice. Provide on-the-spot help for any students who need more examples or instruction. For a simple check on completion, compare polished drafts to an earlier draft that includes circled quotation marks.


More formal assessment of the use of final punctuation marks with quotation marks works best as a part of the assessment of the paper itself, rather than as an assessment of this proofreading strategy.

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