The key is to get students to understand that punctuation is for the reader, not the writer. Not to mention, when students begin to focus on punctuation, the reader employs a rhythmic tonal quality that is not monotonous, but captures the patterns of the language, according to Fountas and Pinnell.
Although there may be variations in the way individuals interpret a text while reading, a reader’s voice goes up and down, reflecting the punctuation and the meaning.
Comparatively, in the literacy research conducted by Fountas & Pinnell, readers respond to punctuation, usually by pausing. Likewise, in written language, punctuation helps the reader understand the intonation patterns that reflect the writer’s meaning. In essence, the reader uses punctuation as reminders to take short breaths at commas; longer breaths at a mark like a dash; and come to a full stop after a period.
In like manner, understanding of the mechanics of grammar has benefited young readers to help them to read at a “Just Right” pace with attention to punctuation. Learning the rules of language such as: exclamation points, periods, question marks, and commas is important to have as a foundation in order to improve reading fluency, and on balance together will carry-over into a child’s writing. I recommend a book titled Punctuation, written by Ann Heinrichs. Conveniently, the book is in the Big Universe library.
All things considered, reading Punctuation will aid the young reader to develop a strong foundational background of the mechanics of punctuation as it relates to both reading fluency and written expression.
In fact, understanding of the grammar of punctuation will effectually aid the reader in their ability to comprehend the writer’s intended message. By and large, when children become comfortable with the use of punctuation, it becomes much easier for them to read with ease and equally comprehend the main idea, and details as they the author intends to unfold to the reader. At first, when reading orally children may not understand that punctuation can completely change the intended meaning. Depending on the placement of punctuation marks in a sentence, or if a sentence contains commas, apostrophes, and other marks is significant because it ultimately will affect the author’s message.
Given these points, reading with attention to punctuation, rather than ignoring it, improves reading fluency and overall reading comprehension. After all, reading Pace, Phrasing, Punctuation, and Expression are closely integrated when focusing on a child’s reading fluency. Following are some highlights used in the classroom, often bookmarks, checklists and/or posters are created, that reflect the following ideas about reading fluency:
- Stopping at Periods: ……
- Taking Breaths at Commas: ,,,,,,,
- The reader’s Voice go up at question marks: ???????
- Showing excitement for exclamation marks: !!!!!!!
- Using “quotation marks” to change voice for the characters”
As has been noted by Fountas and Pinnell, when children read independently, or silently, readers can read at a much faster pace than when they read orally. For the most part, it takes much more time to say the words than it does to move the eyes over them and equally thinking about the words. In short, when reading silently the process is unconscious and the reader is deeply engaged in the text.
In brief, Fluency Boot Camp has previewed three dimensions of reading fluency. First, Week One of Fluency Boot Camp discussed the importance of PACE, or reading rate. Reading at a “Just Right” pace means that a child is reading: not too fast, and not too slow. Second, Week Two of Fluency Boot Camp emphasized the meaning of PHRASING, or breaking-up a sentence into phrases when reading continuous print. Third, Fluency Boot Camp’s topic for Week Three is PUNCTUATION, in order to emphasize that the reader needs to pause at various forms of punctuation when reading orally. To summarize, Week Four, of Fluency Boot Camp, will include discussion on intonation, or EXPRESSION, which is uniquely reading with feeling in your voice. On the whole, all Four Weeks of Fluency Boot Camp should provide ideas for a short mini-lesson to address reading fluency teaching and instruction. All and all the ideas are tools to assist children in becoming fluent readers. Have fun with Fluency Boot Camp!