Hyphens

The Hyphen (-) is used to connect words or parts of words together to make a new word. In some cases the hyphen is no longer used between words and they are directly joined. For example, co-operation can be written cooperation. With the blurred rules on when to use a hyphen, writers are encouraged to consider if using the hyphen helps to avoid confusion.

Strategy

General strategies

For students to gain a better understanding of when and how to use hyphens in their writing, they need to be exposed to the use in a genuine context, specific to your KLA. This can be achieved by identifying examples of this punctuation in your current class texts, then discussing the impact it has on the writing. Where possible, provide students with an opportunity to practise using this in their writing.

For more targeted punctuation lessons the following strategies may be used: investigation groups where students complete inquiry based tasks to discover meaning; creating story boards or scripts to incorporate content and punctuation skills; punctuation corrections/editing; or graphic organisers such as the frayer model (PDF 65.19KB) to show characteristics of the punctuation.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: fix this

Using a piece of text related to your current topic, retype it with some deliberate punctuation/spelling errors. Whilst reading through the information, students are to identify and correct the errors. To cater for different abilities in your class, the task can be differentiated through the amount of ‘clues’ given. The top level are to attempt with no clues, middle group are provided with the number of errors, lower ability are told how many of each type of punctuation error.

Activity 2: punctuation experts

Students, in groups of 5, are given a punctuation device to become the ‘expert’ of. They are broken into the ‘expert’ groups and are required to come up with a resource pack to teach their original group. Within this pack they are to cover: definition, rule, examples and non-examples, and a short practise activity.

Note: clear guidelines need to be set for the group work and roll cards might need to be implemented. Strict timelines need to be expressed and adhered to.

Teachers are to act as a facilitator and validate learning. Probing questions and timely feedback to see how students know the information will encourage deeper investigation as well as demonstrate students understanding.

For example:

  • where did you get that answer from?
  • how do you know that it is correct?
  • how would you describe this punctuation?
  • why do you think it is used?
  • what is most confusing or interesting about this?

Punctuation devices: semicolon, colon, dashes, commas, hyphens.

References

Australian curriculum

ACELA1539: Expressing and developing ideas: Understand how to use spelling rules and word origins, for example Greek and Latin roots, base words, suffixes, prefixes, spelling patterns and generalisations to learn new words and how to spell them.

NSW syllabus

EN4-3B: Outcome 3: uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts  (EN4-3B) - Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand how to use spelling rules and word origins, for example Greek and Latin roots, base words, suffixes, prefixes, spelling patterns and generalisations to learn new words and how to spell them

NSW literacy continuum

WRIC13M7: Aspects of writing, Cluster 13, Marker 7: Self-regulates spelling and applies spelling knowledge and strategies to spell complex and subject specific vocabulary.

Teacher resources

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