Margin Notes



Stephen King’s forward to Castle Rock Kitchen: Wicked Good Recipes from the World of Stephen King by Theresa Carle-Sanders is delightful. This paragraph in particular caught my attention:

When I think of Maine cuisine, I think of red hot dogs in spongy Nissen rolls, slow-baked beans (with a big chunk of pork fat thrown in), steamed fresh peas with bacon, whoopie pies plus macaroni and cheese (often with lobster bits, if there were some left over). I think of creamed salt cod on mashed potatoes—a favorite of my toothless grandfather—and haddock baked in milk, which was the only fish my brother would eat. I hated it; to this day I can see those fishy fillets floating in boiled milk with little tendrils of butter floating around in the pan. Ugh.

King uses an array of punctuation to add variety and complexity to his sentences, making this excerpt a terrific mentor text for a punctuation exploration. Students can notice and name the punctuation moves King makes by following this adaption of Project Zero’s Parts, Purposes, Complexities thinking routine:

  • Record each of the four sentences on a large piece of paper with enough space around each one for groups of students to capture their thinking. (I know sentence #4 only contains one word and one period, but there is a lot to discuss about this intentional stylist choice.)
  • Ask students in small groups to discuss the sentences one at a time and capture their thinking about these invitations:
    • What are the parts of this sentence? What are its individual pieces or components?
    • What is the purpose of each of these parts? What does each part contribute to the sentence?
    • How does the punctuation support the complexity of this sentence? How does the punctuation connect the individual parts to the whole?

Once groups have finished discussing and annotating the sentences, invite them into a whole-class discussion to share their noticings about Stephen King’s punctuation use.

Close by giving students time to try out some of these punctuation moves in their writer’s notebooks by drafting their own “When I think of __________, I think of __________” paragraphs.

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