How to Teach Punctuation and Have Fun Doing It
Uncle Donny’s, my program for teaching punctuation, is Socratic learning wrapped in a game show. It is learning through questioning, trial and error, and lots of practice. In my book I explain the punctuation game that is the heart of Uncle Donny's, and I've written it so that by reading the first quarter, you can digest the basics of the game in an evening and begin playing it the next day. More
From the Preface to the Smashwords edition
"In June of 2000, after twenty-three years of teaching English, I retired. My experience was all at the secondary level, much of it with students who had experienced limited success in previous English classes. Over time, my classroom became centered around their greatest weakness: the ability to write effectively. Once in the job market, regardless of the eventual extent of their education, almost all of them would at some point need to answer effectively, in writing the all-important question: “Why should I hire you instead of the other 100 people who’ve applied for this job?”
"For a majority of my students, the biggest stumbling block on the road to effective writing proved to be punctuation. As one student put it when asked what he found to be the most difficult part of writing, “I don’t know where the dots go.” To this student and many others, punctuation seemed either an innate ability that defied explanation or an incomprehensible set of rules force-fed them through rote memorization and repetitive drills. This was not, and is not, an effective blueprint for engaging students.
"During my ninth year in the classroom, an extremely rambunctious, last-period 8th grade class had me at the end of my rope—and it was only October. One evening, as I was at home pulling out my hair, the muse of education smiled upon me, and Uncle Donny’s (my system for teaching punctuation) was born. At its heart, Uncle Donny’s is Socratic learning wrapped in a game show. It is learning through questioning; trial and error; and practice, practice, practice within the context of a student’s own writing. It turned that rambunctious 8th grade class around and became the cornerstone of my teaching for the rest of my career.
"I used Uncle Donny’s with junior and senior high students, both traditional and alternative, but I believe that virtually any element of any curriculum in any subject matter at any level, from elementary through adult education, can be incorporated into the overall umbrella that is Uncle Donny’s."
In my book, I explain in detail the punctuation game that is the heart of Uncle Donny’s: how it works, why it works, and how you can integrate it into your entire curriculum. It’s a fast read (42,000 words), and I’ve written it so that by reading the first 10,000 words (the equivalent of eleven Word for Mac pages), you can digest the basics of the game in an evening and begin playing it the next day. All you need is a chalkboard, your imagination, and a willingness to make the hard work of learning more fun for all involved. Enjoy!
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