Adult Ed

Comma Chameleon

Overview | Activities

Introductory Activities | Learning Activities | Culminating Activity
Cross-curricular Extensions |

Introductory Activities: "Rules of Punctuation" Video

  1. WRITE the following text on the board. Ask a student volunteer to read the text as written, without stopping.
    when we speak we can pause change our tone of voice or stop speaking when we write we use punctuation marks as signals to the reader punctuation is used to emphasize and clarify what we mean
  2. DISCUSS with students how much easier it would be to read and understand the text if punctuation and capitalization rules had been applied to the text. Explain to students that the text is the opening narration for a video that will be viewed as part of the lesson on punctuation. Distribute the COMMA CHAMELEON handout to students; this handout will be used to guide students through the viewing of the "Rules of Punctuation" video.

  3. PLAY the video. Make sure to stop during viewing to pose questions provided on the teacher version of the handout. There are additional questions on the teacher version of the handout that are not on the student version. These questions will help students stay focused and give learners on various levels an opportunity to collaborate with peers and/or benefit from whole group discussion.

Learning Activities: Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation Pre-test

  1. DIRECT students to LOG onto the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation Pre-test If there is limited or no Web access in class, copy and paste the test into a document for overhead projection or distribution as a handout.

  2. GIVE students at least five minutes to work on the pre-test independently. Encourage students to work together after five minutes. Students at a Beginner level may need more time. Direct students to Click on the "Show answers" link to check their responses.

  3. CHALLENGE intermediate and advanced level learners to complete at least four more quizzes. After completing each quiz, students can check their work by clicking on the "Show Answers" links on each page. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Rules Index provides a reference list of punctuation and grammar quizzes.

Culminating Activities: Analysis of Text

  1. DIRECT students to LOG onto the California Rice Commission: Diversity Web page Ask a student volunteer to read the text or assign each student a portion of the text to read out loud. (In the first paragraph, there are three sentences; in the second paragraph, there are four sentences; in the third paragraph, there are three sentences.)

  2. POINT OUT to students the different forms of punctuation used in the text. MAKE a list of the punctuation marks used in the passage. Commas, periods and hyphens are used in this passage of text.

  3. REVIEW with students the list of uses for commas generated on the COMMA CHAMELEON QUESTIONS handout. A quick reference for all of the comma rules is available on the Blue Book of Grammar Comma Web page DIRECT students to minimize the site while completing this lesson.

  4. DIVIDE class into two groups. Assign each group a paragraph (Paragraph 1 or 2) for analysis. Instruct students to decide which comma usage rule applies to each sentence in their assigned paragraph.

Extension Activities

Cross-curricular connections

MATH (Punctuation usage in math): Review with students the use of commas and periods as decimals and place holders. Depending on the language/country of origin of your students, there may be different conventions used to express very large and very small numbers. Give students the opportunity to get used to American English usage of punctuation in math. Direct students to visit the Place Values Web site to practice identifying place value notations for numbers smaller than one.

GED (Multiple-choice format): Comma usage is critical in the construction and evaluation of sentences. Go to to practice answering questions in a multiple-choice format. This interactive, 20-item quiz reinforces the skills necessary for appropriate comma usage in writing. To facilitate skill development, students may use this quiz independently or in groups, in class or at home for practice or evaluation.

For a comprehensive review of all of the punctuation, or to determine readiness for commencement level exercises, students can take the mastery test at the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation site

Community connections

SOCIAL STUDIES (Writing more about agriculture): In the video, one scene showed rice planting using an airplane. Since rice is a staple crop that supports many economies in the United States and throughout the world, give students a chance to research and write about the similarities and differences between these farmers. Make sure that students use commas and colons to make lists and you will extend the learning objectives of this lesson to include real-life applications to this basic assignment. Visit the California Rice Commission Web page on "How rice grows" to learn more about rice production in the United States. Visit the "Diversity" page to provide cultural text for students to analyze for punctuation or content.