12 July 2016

Help Students Become Comma Rock Stars!

I just found out that I will be teaching 6th grade this year!  I taught one section of 6th grade my first year in middle school, and was just trying to keep myself one step ahead of the kids while I learned new curriculum!  Now that I'm feeling confident with my 8th graders and 8th grade curriculum, this is a great time to dive back into 6th grade, too!

So, guess what have I been up to this week?  CREATING new activities!

The major grammar focus in 6th grade is commas.  Commas can be so confusing to kids because there are SO MANY rules about when to use them!  Commas are either over-used or under-used by novice writers...some people sprinkle them all over their work, and others avoid using them at all costs!  I've always been pretty confident in my comma usage - I was taught to use a comma anytime you take a breath - I still think about that when I write, but that was pretty much my entire education regarding commas. It wasn't until I began teaching with a heavy focus on grammar that I really researched ALL.THE.RULES.  I never realized how many different ways the cute little comma is used!  Nor did I realize that standards involving comma usage are found in all grades (1-10) in the Common Core State Standards!  That means that every single school year, students are being explicitly taught how to use commas in their writing!  That's awesome!  Our students will be comma rock stars by the time they hit high school and never misuse that cute little comma, right?

WRONG! Even though teachers are teaching commas starting in 1st grade, 8th graders don't always know when and when not to use commas.

Now that I'm teaching 6th grade, I've got the time to really dig deep into commas with my students (and hope I won't have to spend as much time re-teaching commas with them as 8th graders!).  This month, I've been busy creating activities to help me review and teach commas.  The first thing I did is create anchor charts to hang in my room to answer this question:

I created one poster for each major comma rule (10 in all) ranging from 1st grade standards on up through 8th grade standards.  I know it seems odd to be reviewing 1st grade skills with 6th graders, but believe me, they need reminders!  (Of course, I won't tell them which are 1st grade standards, like using commas in dates and lists, but it sure doesn't hurt to review!) No matter what grade you teach, you can use some or all of these posters in your room! You can see samples of all 10 posters in the product preview in my TpT Store.

Here's a sample of a poster for a 6th grade standard:

Once I finished the posters, I got busy making a few new Color By Code activities!  My 8th graders loved these and actually asked me to make more!  If 8th graders actually admit to liking something school-related, it must be good!  So, I made 2 versions to review commas- one with elementary comma rules, and one with middle school comma rules!

In the process, I discovered a super-cool new clip artist who calls herself "Mae Hates Mondays" and draws big-kid friendly clips. Even her store name is PERFECT for middle schoolers!  I'm loving her clip art teens so much that I had to make another picture with them!  So I made a third Color By Code activity to help students identify simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, compound-complex sentences, and sentence fragments.

I mean how great are these characters???

So now, I'm ready to head back to school to teach these 6th graders how to use commas like rock stars!  Click on the pictures of each product to learn more!  I hope you find them useful, too!

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