The Grade One students are repeatedly reminded of the importance of using correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar, in order to make their writing clear and comprehensible. They understand that writing is all about communicating their ideas. They are regularly reminded to think of their audience during their writing process, ensuring that their ideas are clearly written and organized.“Conventions” is the term that is, currently, used to describe all of the above. Conventions may also be extended to include proper presentation, namely, handwriting and in later stages of development, computer formatting. They are “historical agreements”, and it takes a lot of our students’ thinking and practice time to master them.
As part of their practice, our students are encouraged/asked to present the new vocabulary/spelling they are learning in sentences. Such sentences should contain a complete thought or one piece of information, that the reader should be able to understand. Our students are reminded that readers of their writing will feel confused, if they can’t figure out where each sentence begins and where it ends. Hence, the importance of employing proper punctuation.
The Ontario Curriculum specifies the importance of “Applying knowledge of language conventions and presenting their written work effectively”. Specific expectations include:
- The spelling of familiar or high frequency words and unfamiliar words using a variety of strategies.
- The use of vocabulary to confirm spelling and word meanings using resources such as a primary/online dictionary.
- The use of punctuation to help communicate the student writer’s intended meaning, with a focus on question marks, or exclamation marks at the end of sentences; commas to mark pauses; and some uses of punctuation marks.
- The use of grammar, which focuses on the appropriate practice of the parts of speech to communicate meaning clearly.
- The significance of proofreading before publishing, and correcting their own writing, using few guiding questions.
In Donald Murray’s book entitled, A Writer Teaches Writing, he mentioned that, “The writer should not follow rules, but follow language toward meaning, always seeking to understand what is appearing on the page, to see it clearly, to evaluate it clearly, for clear thinking will produce clear writing.”