I taught a lesson about full-stops, so why aren’t students using them correctly?

This kind of question indicates that the teacher’s expectations may be developmentally inappropriate, and that they are not taking conventions and proof-reading at all seriously enough. I mean, if they think one lesson is enough, they’re wrong. Fluency with conventions requires seven things:

  • Explicit instruction and much reteaching.
  • A poster showing how the convention is used must be on display, and be large enough for the child furthest away to read it.
  • Lots of time allowed for reading, and seeing how authors use the convention.
  • Examples of the teacher using the convention in the mentor texts they write and sharing them with their class.
  • Daily and sustained opportunities to write. 
  • Plenty of meaningful experiences in proof-reading for that particular convention.
  • Time.

Approximation and over-applying the rule are to be expected at first. However, it’s important that we always praise these approximations before providing clarification. It’s also important that we don’t get into the habit of blaming our students for their failures. Rather than blame our pupils, we need to look at the list above and think about what we can be doing to help children’s application of the convention in question.

If you are interested in reading about how to develop a whole-school approach to developing proof-readers, buy our latest eBook:

In No More: My Pupils Can’t Edit, Felicity Ferguson & Ross Young invite schools and teachers to make proof-reading a rigorous and meaningful part of their class writing projects. Despite the fact that expectations for transcriptional accuracy have never been higher, schools and teachers often find it difficult to teach children to proof-read with precision and enthusiasm. This book looks to change that.

This practical guide offers an overview of The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s approach, and provides a progression for proof-reading from the EYFS-KS2. It also contains over 50 exemplar lessons taken from their affiliate schools. These lessons cover the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum objectives efficiently and effectively.

What’s special about this book is the way in which each lesson teaches children the whys of proof-reading procedures and illustrates how, as editors, they can use them for themselves. Children learn to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’ prior to publication for real audiences.

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