Saturday, May 5, 2012

Question marks and periods

I found this snippet of conversation randomly when looking for a file the other day.  I don't remember this conversation occurring, but I know it was with a 3rd grader with autism that I worked with several years ago.  It still makes me smile. 
           "Alissa, do you know what a question mark looks like?”


            “Can you draw one for me?”  I handed her a pencil and she made one correctly.

            “Awesome, Alissa.  You use question marks at the end of a question.  A question is when you are asking something, like "what's your name?' or 'is this your hat?'  Do you know what a question is?”

            “Yep-uh,” she said, after a pause.

            “So if I said, 'Alissa, do you like apples?' is that a question?”

            No response.

            “Listen: 'do you like apples?'"

            “Do you like apples?” Alissa said softly.

            “'Do you like apples?' is a question because I’m asking you, and I need you to answer me.  If it needs an answer, it's a question.  Your homework today is to put a question mark at the end of the questions, and a period at the end of the sentences.  Okay?”

            “Okay,” Alissa said, taking the pencil I offered her.  We did a few more examples, and then I asked her to complete the questions on the homework sheet. 

            About fifteen minutes later, she was finished and only about half of them were correct.  It was obvious she didn’t understand, so I explained it again, and asked her a few questions.

            “Alissa, what does this say?”

            “Does the man have the hat?” Alissa read.

            “Does that need a question mark or a period?”

            “A period,” Alissa said.

            “Think again.  Is it asking something?”


“Yes it is, it’s asking if the man has the hat.  So if it’s asking, it’s a question.  What do you put at the end of questions?”

“A period.”

“No Alissa.  What goes at the end of a question?”

“A question mark,” Alissa said, happily.

“Hooray, awesome Alissa, that’s right!  What about number four?  Read number 4.”

            “The cat is in the chair.”

            “Is that a question?”


            “Look again.”

            “I mean no.”

            “No, it’s not, so what do you put at the end?”

            “A period.”    

            “That’s right Alissa, great!  Now read number 6.”

            “Do you have a cat?” she read.

            “Is that a que…”

            “Question mark,” she said, putting a question mark at the end of the sentence.

            “Alissa, that’s right!  Awesome!  That’s so great!  Do you understand?”


            “Why did you put a question mark at the end of that sentence?”

            “Because I like question marks,” she said, smiling.

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