Of the many issues faced by teachers in recent times, it was a tiny punctuation mark that forced the government to make a change!
The traditional media were incensed. The Independent told us the ’excitable, text speaking youth of today are being told to curb their exclamation by the Government’ with ‘strict new rules on use of exclamation marks’.
‘How strange!’ wrote The Guardian, it was ‘…effectively proof that the government wants to penalise enthusiasm!’
The Telegraph described it as ‘Nonsense!’ that would take ‘writing back to the 19th century’.
BBC Breakfast debated the issue with linguistic experts who agreed in their ridicule.
Meanwhile a mighty battle erupted on social media between the punctuation pedants and the grammar anarchists, until both sides realised that neither agreed with the government’s stance.
The mounting outrage drove the Department for Education to issue a ‘clarification’ and just to be sure, the Minister of State for Schools published his personal guidance that:
“the exclamation mark will continue to be acceptable in children’s responses in the test” and “pupils will not be marked down for using an exclamation mark for emphasis”…however should they be asked to write an exclamation using the “correct sentence format, starting with ‘what’ or ‘how’, will be required”.
While the exclamation mark was safe, teachers now found themselves charged with teaching not only exclamative sentences but also the ‘variety of sentence forms’ that might end with an exclamation mark!
For many primary school teachers, particularly those without a specialism in English, the new pedantic code is a complex and scary beast. Thankfully teachers can now recruit their own monster: the Punctuation Monsters!
Designed to help teachers retain an emphasis on creativity while meeting the needs of the new curriculum, the ‘Unpunctuated’ series uses a theme of ‘Mermaids & Water Monsters’ to challenge students to rewrite unpunctuated sentences and then consolidate their learning with further creative thinking and writing challenges.
After completing the Challenge Sheets, students can mark their own work (and their friends) with the ‘Sentence Check’ sheets. The whole class can then take part in class challenges to add their own punctuation and rewrite the sentences using the powerpoint challenges included with each module.
Teachers can take confidence from the simple step-by-step guidance to each form of punctuation and they may take a particular interest in: http://thinkythinky.com/shop/exclamation-marks/?ref=33
I Can Write Exclamative Sentences http://thinkythinky.com/shop/introducing-exclamations/?ref=33 How to Use Exclamations (which includes a template to create an Exclamation Comic!).
At just £3 each the modules are excellent value for teachers with plenty of activities to use throughout each term. Full details can be found at www.monsterpunctuation.com
Complete Unit: Module 1 Capitals, Full Stops, Exclamations, Question Marks
“A great resource – well differentiated and suits my intended purpose of using with intervention groups in Year 2. I particularly like the ‘unpunctuated’ texts as some of my target children struggle to use capital letters and full stops accurately. This was a great time saver! “