UPDATED as of 11/15/13
If you're frustrated by the inability of your students to master comma usage, this strategy, awarded "IDEA OF THE YEAR" in by the TEACHING FOR SUCCESS Journal, is exactly what you need.
This method begins humorously with 5 thumbnails that illustrate how omitted or misplaced commas can TOTALLY change an author's intent!
You will use the mnemonic "DESPISE"-- which students memorize easily--where each letter represent a reason to use a comma. Easy *tricks* are also provided that result in students becoming proficient comma users!
Because this method eliminates confusing jargon (i.e. main clause, subordinate clause, etc), it is USER-FRIENDLY for EVERYONE....but it should be the "GO-TO" method for students with learning disabilities of ANY age.
Using this technique, teachers guide students through 5 sequential steps for each reason, progressively increasing skill and independence. Upon completion, many students report feeling comfortable with commas for the first time!
Once they learn the system, students should write "DESPISE" at the top of every paper to keep them mindful of the rules. Require them to insert a letter over every comma, so they THINK before they punctuate!
A side benefit of mastering commas is improved sentence structure. You will magically notice a decline in sentence fragments and run-ons.
Try this UNIQUE, CREATIVE method of comma instruction- it REALLY WORKS!
(Thumbnails and answer sheets included)