Lesson plan

Editing for Capitalization and Punctuation

Students often understand the basic conventions of writing, but may need support in incorporating these skills into their work. In this lesson, students will review some of the more common capitalization and punctuation errors and apply their editing skills to real writing.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to edit a piece of writing that contains dialogue for capitalization and punctuation errors.
(10 minutes)
  • Project your punctuation-free page from a novel. (See Materials and Preparation)
  • Ask students to share their observations.
  • Select a student, or students, to read the page aloud.
  • Discuss how this was different from reading a standard page of punctuated text. Students may observe that it was more difficult because it was unclear where a sentence and piece of dialogue started and ended.
  • If it doesn’t arise in the discussion, note that the use of capital letters helps to indicate the start and end points.
  • Summarize this activity by noting that punctuation and capitalization provide valuable information to the reader. Use the metaphor of traffic signals. The ideas and sentences are like the cars, and the punctuation and capitalization are like traffic signals and road surface markings.
  • Ask students to name a few kinds of traffic signals and what their “jobs” are. Ask students, what is the job of a quotation mark? What is the job of a period? What is the job of a capital letter? (These can have multiple jobs.)
(5 minutes)
  • Explain that we, as writers, are often focusing on word choice, ideas, style, description, and other big ideas while writing, and therefore sometimes make capitalization and punctuation mistakes in the process. This is why we need to learn to edit our work and others’ work.
  • Sometimes, if we are using a computer, the software can identify those errors, but on paper we need to use editing symbols.
  • Go over editing symbols and conventions depicted on the poster (for example, circling a spelling error, putting two lines under a lowercase letter that needs to be capitalized, etc.)
  • Demonstrate how editing symbols are used.
(15 minutes)
  • Review the rules for punctuating dialogue. (See Related Books and/or Media for more information on punctuation rules.)
  • Return to the text used at the beginning of the lesson and demonstrate how to indicate missing punctuation in dialogue, applying punctuation conventions.
  • Review the rules for capitalizing proper nouns. (See Related Books and/or Media for extra support.)
  • Have students make a T-chart and list 10 common nouns on one side and 10 proper nouns on the other side.
  • Last, review end-of-sentence punctuation, including where you would use a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point.
(15 minutes)
  • Instruct students to take out a sample of their writing that needs workshopping: a story, journal entry, poem, etc.
  • Have students exchange papers with a classmate.
  • Using the editing symbols on the class poster as a reference point, have students read their classmate's work and make editing suggestions.
  • Instruct students to return the writing to its author and discuss their edits.
  • Support: Distribute a class set of the Using Quotation Marks worksheet and have students practice applying the rules by adding punctuation. Alternatively, use the End of Sentence Punctuation worksheet and have students practice applying the rules by adding punctuation.

  • Enrichment: Distribute the Using Quotation Marks worksheet and have students practice applying the rules by adding punctuation.
(10 minutes)
  • Write the following sentence on the board and have students copy and correct capitalization and punctuation: my best friend went to berkeley california in june and visited tilden park mom declared
(5 minutes)
  • Discuss: What are the consequences of leaving your writing unedited, with capitalization and punctuation errors? How might the reader respond?

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