In addition to teaching our students phonics, we also need to explain basic punctuation as we go along. The main reason I do this is so that as the student learns to read aloud, he is enabled to read more expressively.
In order to introduce the exclamation point, I show one to the child. I ask, “Do you know what this is?” Most of the time, his answer is in the negative. I then tell him the name of it.
Next, I’ll write out two very short sentences and have him read them. They are identical except that one ends in a period, the other with an exclamation point.
I ask the student to look at the sentences, and ask him how they are different. At this point, he will point and say that the exclamation point is the difference.
I ask the student to read the sentences, and he does, and he reads both of them the same. I ask him why the sentences didn’t sound any different, and he will say something about the words being the same.
“Would you like to hear me read the sentences?” I ask. He nods, and so I do, exaggerating the differences. The sentence with the period is very sedate and calm; the sentence with the exclamation point is very loud and aggressive.
“How did the exclamation point make the sentences different?” Now he says something about the volume. “Yes! Yes!” I exclaim (ha). “The exclamation point tells us that this sentence is loud.”
Here is the binder card for this lesson:
In future lessons, when this card comes up for review, I do two things. First, I point at the exclamation point and ask the child what it is called and what it denotes. Next, I have him read both the sentences, showing the difference in his volume.
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