Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turning signal, texting and punctuation rules

Are you familiar with the turn signal that is installed in your car? Are you accustomed to using it or ignoring it? Do you use it when the rules state that you should use it or are you a last minute user--you know the moment you need to change lanes and the other driver is not being helpful?

Did you see the photo above? I like to see the orange lights light up when the car in front of me wants to turn. But too often THIS DOES NOT happen! It greatly annoys me! Is there a reason that the manufactures have not found a way to make the turning signal light up immediately when you the driver tries to turn? They have managed to lower the emissions, install CD players and blue-tooth inside the car; they have even managed to increase the amount of miles we get on a gallon of gas. Why not improve the function of the turning signal?

In a very similar fashion, all my students can tell me that a sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a period, or another end punctuation mark. But in practice, very few of them are consistently using capital letters and end punctuation. Many of them believe that commas work just as well as the signal that the sentence has ended. It is like driving on the two lane highway, you want to get over to the right lane in order to exit a little while later. You don't feel the need to turn on the turning signal because the other drivers should realize that when you start moving towards right, that is the signal that you are changing lanes. No need to bother reaching the turn signal; after all, that would mean moving your hand an inch or two. When you starting driving towards the other lane it is obvious what you are trying to do, right?

Some experts are saying that forgetting to signal when turning could be as dangerous as texting. Are my students learning from texting that punctuation is no longer a necessary? Are students using punctuation as randomly as they use it when texting? Is this a problem only with the older students or are you seeing this with younger ones as well?

How do we counteract the culture that does not use punctuation according to rules? What are you doing in your classroom to help students continue to follow the rules of mechanics when writing? 

13 comments:

  1. This is the perfect Slice of Life -- noticing something that we don't often notice and wondering about it. The issue of how texting is influencing writing is an ongoing one, with mixed observations. Yes, many students use u to mean you and forgo the period mark, but they are also writing more than ever before in ways that are meaningful to them. We need to find a balance -- show how important audience is for the kind of writing they are doing (no need to add a period in a text but it is necessary in that essay).
    Thanks for sharing
    Kevin

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    1. Thank you Kevin for your kind words!

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  2. Great post, Jaana - as Kevin said, this wondering leads to interesting thinking. What a great way to notice and note!

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    1. Thanks Tara! Turn signal is one of my pet peeves just like end punctuation.

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  3. I am working with 3rd and 4th graders who have yet to set these standards into practice - they are not always sure about capitals, periods and commas. We are doing lots of modeling - when do we use capitals when do you skip them -we are talking about formal writing and quick notes - texting, e-mail and formal papers, books and publishing. So much to think about but they are slowly getting it. They are asking all the time - is this a place I should use a capital, what about when I write a poem?
    The fun of teaching - the rules are always changing.

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  4. What a good question. A comma is always needed, as turn signals are needed. I shall have to make sure my daughter using her turn signal tomorrow when she takes her test, and I will make sure my students learns about proper punctuation.

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    1. Turn signal on the test---a must! Period at the end of a sentence, also a must.

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  5. Yep, it's an epidemic everywhere. I try to remember that when students are 'using but confusing" a punctuation mark it is often just part of the learning progression. I praise their attempt and show them the distinction for how to use it properly.

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    1. Thanks Dana! There are times when I need that reminder!

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  6. I never thought about using the analogy of turn signals and punctuation. I teach 4th grade and I do believe that texting is hurting their use of punctuation. I would love to hear answers to this problem.

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    1. Leigh Anne, I wish I had answers! Maybe others can help us.

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  7. What a flow of thought. The punctuation question is up in my third grade also. It has helped them a bit when I have reminded them that they have to consider their reader, and not let the poor reader go out of breath and turn red because there are no signals (capitals, punctuation marks) for breathing points.

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