Correctly using quotation marks is a skill that all readers and writers need in order to be successful in the academic setting. The lesson describes when to use quotation marks, how they should look, and where punctuation is placed in relation to the quotation marks. Without appropriate use of quotation marks, students cannot properly include and cite works, include dialogue in writing, or use quotes in expository papers. Using quotation marks appropriately is also key to organizing writing and maintaining correct structure when dialogue is used.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:
- Choose a page that has lots of dialogue from a novel that your class is reading or that is appropriate for your class age range. After reading the page aloud, ask your students what was happening between the characters in the book- ie, they were talking, having a conversation. Show students the page, walking around the group so they can see the page. Point to the dialogue sections in the book and state, “Each time a character speaks, do you see the marks around their words? What are those called?” The students should identify those are quotation marks, and if unable to identify them as such, introduce the term.
- Ask students, “Why do you think we need to use quotation marks around speech, referred to as dialogue? What is the purpose?” Students might suggest that it helps to identify a speaker or show when different characters speak. Ask them to imagine that as they were reading a book, all the character dialogue was put into the text without any markings. It would be difficult to tell when characters were speaking, or when characters switched. That could create confusion for readers, especially in texts where the author relies on characters and dialogue to drive the plot.
- Now that students have a purpose for the use of quotation marks, it is time to explain the rules for the use of quotation marks. Write a this sentence on the board: Jane said, I can’t wait for my birthday party this weekend! Have students volunteer where they believe the quotation marks should go. Remind students that quotation marks should go around the sentences that a character says. The corrected sentence should read: Jane said, “I can’t wait for my birthday party this weekend!”
- Create an anchor chart that follows the rules for quotation mark use as seen on this example:
When to Use Quotation Marks “ ’’
Quotation marks come in pairs.
You need one set of quotation marks at the beginning of the title, dialogue or quote and you need one at the end.
Quotation marks surround dialogue/conversation:
“I had a fantastic time at the zoo,” Jill said.
Joe said, “I got an A on my math test!”
Jill whined, “I’m hungry!”
Quotation marks surround some titles, (some countries use single quotation marks):
One of my favorite movies is “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
My sister really likes Gaelic Storm’s song “Lover’s Wreck.”
Note: Make sure that you also discuss when punctuation marks go inside or outside of the quotation marks. For example, using a comma before the quotation marks indicates that you are starting the quote, such as: Mary asked, “When is the paper due?” . Including the comma inside the quotation marks indicates that you are ending the quote and about to indicate who spoke such as: “I can’t wait for lunch,” John grumbled. Exclamation points and question marks go within the quotation marks as they are part of the dialogue, and indicate the way in which a speaker spoke.
- Hand out activity page one which has sentences that are missing quotation marks and punctuation. Work through the first five with the class, and have them finish the remaining five independently.
- Assign activity page two independently. This page has them correct missing punctuation and quotation marks, and has them also write example sentences of their own.
- After going over the activity pages, assign the homework page.
- Review the homework page and meet with any students who had trouble to correct errors and remediate.
- Assign additional worksheets from the additional resource page if necessary for struggling students.
Have students complete the quiz as your final activity for the quotation marks lesson
Common Core State Standards:
Class Sessions (45 minutes): 2-3 class sessions.
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