Punctuation Pains

I’m wondering if teachers have seen a noticable drop in spelling/punctuation standards in recent(ish) years. 

I am currently preparing my fourth year for their Standard Grade exams and, worryingly, the main area they need work on is their punctuation.  This is obviously not a new concern: I’ve been trying to improve their punctuation skills over the past two years.  Bizarrely, there is not a lot of space within the standard grade curriculum to focus on it intently though.  My attention on this area, outside of general marking and discussion with individuals, has been sporadic.  Furthermore, when I have found the time to teach and practise punctuation points the majority of the class have successfully proved their ability to use full stops or direct speech or commas or apostrophes or whatever.  Applying these consistently within their every day writing is the problem. 

I’ve spoken to the fourth years about this several times and they know that it’s an area they need to work on.  I told them exactly what my concerns were and they decided what they needed was just lots and lots of practise.  Preferably in the form of games or competitions with rewards.  Of course… And that’s what I’m doing.  Can’t help feeling that I’ve failed them in some way though. 

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