I just had an epiphany the other day. I have always felt puzzled about why students don’t capitalise the first letter and put a full stop at the end of their sentences nowadays. I assume that they are negatively influenced by the prevalence of social media. That anything and everything goes as long as you can get your point across. Hence, the removal of all caps and punctuation marks in their communication.
Then, I came across something that provided food for thought. This author stated that dyslexic people often have problems with putting capital letters and full stops. So, it is not a case of them being careless or indifferent. Rather, it’s a manifestation of their condition.
Then, I Googled to find out whether this was an isolated opinion of the author or whether it was a popularly accepted one accepted by educators. Firstly, writing is a complicated, multifaceted process, so when there are so many things that they have to look into, dyslexic people naturally let punctuation fall by the wayside. It makes sense since they are struggling to capture fleeting thoughts and put them down in the form of ideas. Secondly, some of them may be confused by the symbols in the first place. To me, a question mark looks distinctively different from an exclamation mark. But this mayn’t be the case for them due to their visual processing difficulties.
Knowing this made me determined to teach them punctuation. This was particularly so when I got my students to write a request letter to their principal on Padlet (https://padlet.com/hkaile/lockersinNLS). I had to guide my students to capitalise my principal’s surname and even the personal pronoun “I”.
So, this was in essence the focus of my lesson today: to get them to capitalise the first letter at the start of a sentence and put a full stop at the end of a sentence. I swear some of my students only realised that they needed to capitalise “I” today.
It seemed juvenile to teach my 14-year-old how to punctuate their sentences. But I did derive joy from this lesson, particularly when a student remembered to capitalise his name.
I guess teaching is a tapestry of small wins like this!