In the middle grades, learning about writing mechanics often occurs through inauthentic language drills, which do not expose students to the practical and contextual implementation of punctuation and syntax. This study, conducted with seventeen seventh-grade students, explored how students can gain knowledge of basic conventions by reviewing the writing of a published author to observe the correct placement of punctuation. In this study, students, provided with excerpts from Tomie dePaola’s rendition of The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, were guided to discover how the author used commas to communicate with his readers. Subsequent to the lesson and to assess how much information they had retained, students were asked to describe the different uses of the comma. Results showed that while students needed additional practice to apply their understandings, most were able to recall the five major comma rules. The findings of this study serve as a foundation for further exploration of how mentor texts can be used with other aspects of English language conventions.
Berg, Tara and Ellsworth, Ann M.
"Teaching Punctuation: Seventh Graders, Mentor Texts, and Commas,"
The Montana English Journal: Vol. 40
, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umt.edu/mej/vol40/iss1/8