Adult Ed

Comma Chameleon

Overview | Activities


Have you ever thought, "How can I demonstrate the importance of punctuation to my students?" Punctuation is one of a writer's most basic tools--when used well it helps readers see ideas more clearly. Unfortunately, the rules of punctuation are sometimes difficult for students to remember, especially English language learners--but fortunately, each punctuation mark has its place. This lesson will build skills in effective use of punctuation marks like commas, semi-colons, colons, dashes, and exclamation points. Awesome! Using video accessed through Unitedstreaming and various Web-based activities, students will build skills necessary to write using American English conventions of punctuation.

Grade level: GED

Content Area: ESOL, ABLE Language Arts (Basic/Intermediate)

Learning Objectives:

Learners will be able to:
  • list the types of punctuation commonly used in American English writing

  • explain the purpose for using punctuation in various contexts

  • analyze writing samples for appropriate punctuation as well as alternate punctuation


New York

ESL Standard 3: English for critical analysis and evaluation.

Students learning English as a second language will use English to express their opinions and judgments on experiences, messages, ideas, information and issues from a variety of perspectives by developing and presenting clear interpretations, analyses and evaluations of issues, ideas, texts and experiences, supporting positions with well developed arguments.

The rationale for using writing with the ESOL population as applied to this standard is to help students "identify, explore, and recognize how the…structural features of English affect readers' and listeners' understanding and perception of the issues being discussed" ( NY-ReasontoWriteIntermediat.pdf).

Media components:

100% Educational Videos (2003) Rules of Punctuation. Available through (Registration required)

Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Rules Index
This index list of grammar rules will help students to learn writing conventions for all of the punctuation marks shown in the video as well as provide students with alternative forms for punctuation. Several examples are provided for each convention to help learners see appropriately constructed sentences.

Punctuation and Capitalization Pre-test
This forty-two (42) item pre-test can be copied from individual computer desktops, printed as a handout, or projected on a screen.

California Rice Commission: Diversity Web page
This Web page provides a small passage of text that uses a variety of punctuation. Students can make connections to the historical and economic significance of rice by analyzing the content of the text.

  • Chart paper, chalkboard or large instructional writing space (per class)

  • Notebook paper

  • Transparency film/overhead projector (optional)

Handouts Prep for Teachers