Launching Writer’s Workshop

Well…hello, friends! Long time no see! I AM still alive…it’s just that life hit me and I haven’t had the energy to stop in and say hello.

So…here goes!

We just started our 4th week of school. We’ve been busy at work getting things up and going in our writing classroom.

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The first two weeks we spent time getting our journals ready by gluing in our Keepers 101 chart, tabbing sections for Lists and Entries, numbering our pages, and assigning a page for our Table of Contents. We created a few lists in our journals to give students topics to write about.

Side note: When students exhaust many things on their lists, we will go back and add to them. Some run out and others rarely use them, but we need to revisit them to keep them up to date and with fresh ideas for writing.

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We also began journaling. It’s so painful to start. Kids have had off all summer, and most haven’t picked up a pencil since May. I made an executive decision to start with 5 minutes of journal time and work our way up to 10 minutes. And you know what? It was much LESS painful this way. Students were getting used to writing and easing their way into our writing time goal.

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Lessons started last week. We’ve gone over nouns with an emphasis on common and proper, verbs, and we just finished up pronouns. With this knowledge, we will be on our way to understanding how to construct a sentence…and that’s up next! (You can grab a set of these Folding Parts of Speech here)

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Our writing and grammar time really merged together the first two weeks. Writing lists takes a LOT of time at the beginning of the year. I want students to enjoy reminiscing and creating lists of experiences in their journals.

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We also spent time TELLING several stories. Students can’t write a story until they can tell a story. So that’s where we always start. Some chose to write some of those same stories in their journals. It worked for us. :)

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And don’t forget learning about the writing process! That calls for Writing Process Battle!

I’ve already started differentiating instruction for my kids. After a diagnostic writing piece (required by the district), my head has been spinning with ideas on how to help these kiddos. Many of us have a lot of work to do, but we will get there. Enter differentiation.

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For some, we started with a nursery rhyme from the new book coming out next month, Text Structures from Nursery Rhymes. Wow! It has come in SO handy! The kids are enjoying it, and it’s a fast way to introduce text structures and kernel essays. We are almost finished with our first piece. We will do a few more nursery rhymes before moving to more complicated mentor texts.

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For others, we went straight to the planning page that I use every year with my kids. We are writing about a place. Any place. A place they would like to go. A place they have been. A place they imagined. A place from a book. Any place.

I’ve had fun watching them grow in their writing just from the beginning of the year. I know it hasn’t been long, but seeing more and more appear in their journals and more smiles is a great way to start off the year. I enjoy seeing these kiddos let their guards down about writing and begin to enjoy writing in a whole new way. It’s what keeps me going back for more! 😉

So how is it going for you? Seeing any sparks yet? Feeling like you’re running in quicksand? All of it? Let’s talk about it!

Until next time…

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What We’ve Done: Weeks 7 – 8

Aaaahhh!  I’m falling behind!  I feel like every weekend, between soccer and shopping, I don’t ever have time to sit down and blog.  And everyone needs shopping therapy, right?  RIGHT? :)

Here goes…

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Don’t kill me…I have ZERO pictures for week 7.  I was there four out of the five days…and I just forgot.

In grammar, we continued to work on sentences.  We did two lessons from Grammar Keepers, The PSST! Test and Is There a Verb? lessons.  And oh boy howdy, it’s working!  I’m already seeing huge improvements!

For writing, we continued with our kernel essays, got two completed, and then finished the week coloring up the Barbie piece.  It’s meant for renaming, but it colors up REALLY nicely for expository, so I had students complete that with the sub on Friday when I was out.  We are definitely going to have to revisit it.

And that’s pretty much what I remember from week 7.

These pics are NOT from school, but what’s a blog post with NO pictures?  I had to include a couple from my conference I went to in Frisco.  It was put on by Corwin, the publisher of several professional development books…including Gretchen’s latest two books.

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This is Jeff Wilhelm.  He was a phenomenal speaker.  He has tons of great strategies for teaching reading, some of which I would have never thought to do.  You should check him out.  He has some fantastic books. Head over to QEP Books to check them out! Diving Deep Into Nonfiction is one that he referenced quite a bit.

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And of course, what’s a Corwin conference without Gretchen Bernabei?!?!  She shared some structures from Text Structures From the Masters, and we wrote kernel essays.  Especially if you teach 5h – 8th grade, you need to check this book out.  It’s totally awesome.

Always so fun to hear Gretchen, even if I HAVE heard her speak 100 times! 😉

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I started the week absent on Monday. I presented for teachers in Southside ISD in San Antonio.  It was 5th-8th grade teachers, and we had a blast.  Most of them had never heard of Gretchen’s work, so it was even more fun to watch them do things for the very first time.

Meanwhile, I had my sub get my kiddos started on their expository flipbooks.  Ummmm…that was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t disastrous, either.  Thank the good Lord for that, right? I really only wanted them to complete two parts of it, but some ended up with sentences for all four paragraphs.

The main part that was missed, however, was the line I wrote that said: Students MUST have 3-5 sentences in their paragraphs.  Yeah…upset students who knew thought they were finished with one sentence. Nope.  You will add details, kid.  I know you can. *insert devilish laugh*

It’s really not because I’m mean.  We had to have the talk of what it means to DEVELOP our writing.  After that, they knew I wasn’t going to accept anything less and got right to work. We’re getting there…little by little…sentence by sentence!

Aaaaaannnnnddd….we are STILL working on our flipbooks.  And I’m not stressed about it.  Ok, maybe a little bit…but we’ve spent SO MUCH TIME on grammar this week that I knew we were going to be cutting writing short.

With that being said, in grammar we worked on joining sentences legally and illegally.  The PSST! Test has come in VERY handy for trying to decide if we actually have two complete sentences or not.

And the importance of that verbs lesson?  Yeah…that has helped tremendously, too.  It’s so nice how those little pieces come together to make something beautiful.

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We used these task cards as a quick check to see if students understood where to separate their sentences.  Oh. My. Goodness. With the exception of forgetting to put a question mark instead of a period or forgetting to capitalize the sentence (GRRR!), they have a pretty solid understanding of where to start and stop their sentences.

Testimonial: One student had FOUR sentences in his journal entry with only one period.  I told him that I could see more sentences than what he had showed me.  And wow! He went back and found EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  You better believe I made a BIG GIANT deal out of that one!

And y’all!  On Friday, I asked my students to write a journal entry and combine two sentences for me.  I noticed so many more REAL sentences in students’ writing.  They are using AAAWWWUBISes (however you are supposed to write that!) with commas!  My little grammar heart is so stinkin’ happy!!

Man…this sounds so uneventful, but we made some serious headway this week, so I’m not complaining.  I don’t even know how far behind I am.  I’m trying my hardest not to look.  Haha. I know we will catch up soon, but for now, I am relishing in the greatness that my students are accomplishing.

How is it going for YOU?  Do you have any questions?  Drop them in the comments below!  I love hearing from you!

Until next time…

 

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Week 5: What We’ve Done

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Another short week this week.  We had Friday off for Fair Day…and oh my goodness it was great!  Except that I can’t seem to get through with everything…that’s becoming pretty common around here.

But that’s what teaching is all about, right?  Flexibility.  Yes.  *I keep telling myself this!*

We finished up our writing on Tuesday.  It was time.  Past time, really…so some of them even took it home for homework.  But ALL of them finished it and brought it back on Wednesday for our celebration.  I couldn’t believe it!  First time EVER to have 100% of students bring back such crucial homework.  Yay!

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On Wednesday, we celebrated our writing.  It was so much fun!  It was so neat to see the kids walk around and read each others’ papers and comment on what they liked.

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I’ve written about it before, but we don’t stand in the front of the room and read papers.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! (I know, it hurts me to write that…but that’s what they say, right?)

We put our papers out on our desks, along with our Writer’s Celebration page, and we walk around and make comments about the things we noticed about the papers.  It’s kind of a magical time for everyone involved. :)

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I’m not even going to lie, though…we sat together on the carpet beforehand and talked about what sorts of comments are actually helpful to students and which ones don’t do a thing.  You know…Great writing!…or…I love your story!  Those do NOTHING.  Maybe give you a self-esteem boost…but that’s about it.

Look at those comments up there in that picture!  Isn’t that just awesome?!  The author of this paper REALLY knows what he/she did well.  I love it! (We will work on how to spell “paragraph,” don’t worry!)

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Last one.  I just love celebrations.  We walk around to oldies music blaring.  We have a great time.  And I *might* bring in cookies and fun treats for them.

The best part?  The smiles.  The ear-to-ear grins that ensue once each author returns to his/her seat and reads the comments.  That’s always my favorite part!  When we sit down and talk about what we noticed overall, I always have someone who speaks up and says, “This makes me feel so good!”  It should, kid.  Well done!

That’s pretty much all we did in writing.

In grammar, we talked about pronouns.  I created another folding page to put in our notebooks, but I totally forgot to take a picture of one.  I’ll try to remember to snap a pic and put it into next week’s post.

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On Thursday, it was time to put all this hard grammar work to the test.  Students were asked to write a journal entry after reviewing nouns, pronouns and verbs.  I gave them a good, solid 10 minutes to do that.

Some students can really get a great amount written in that amount of time, while others are still struggling with getting their thoughts onto the paper.  So for their assessment, I gave them the option of using their own journal entry or something I typed up.

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Here is the page some of them opted to use.  They were asked to find 3 nouns, 3 verbs, and 2 pronouns (just like you see up there in that first picture).  Students were required to write their proofs out to the side or above so that I could tell they knew what each one was.

The kids are pretty pumped about their assessments being so “easy.”  But aren’t we supposed to assess them the way we teach them?  If you have them journal every day to try out new rules and prove things in grammar, shouldn’t we test them that way, too?  *Food for thought!*

Anywho…this is what we did for week 5.  At some point, this HAS to get faster…but for now, we are just sort of plugging along a little at a time.  We will get there.  Just have to give it some time.  😉

How is your year going?  Have you been able to move as fast as your own lesson plans? Haha.

I’d love to hear from you!

Ta ta for now!

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3rd Grade Writing Scope & Sequence NOW Available!

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Hey, there!  I’ve been extremely busy this summer trying to roll out more scopes to other grade levels to hopefully get some continuity between the lessons of the great Gretchen Bernabei!

My latest addition is a 3rd grade writing scope and sequence.  Let me tell you, friends…if ALL 3rd grade teachers followed this…the world would be a wonderful place…at least for 4th grade teachers!  LOL

You get the same things with this scope as every other one I’ve created.  It’s 58 pages of writing help…and plans for your ENTIRE year!!  Tired of writing lesson plans?  I’ve got ya covered! 😉

Head over to my TpT store and check it out!

Seriously…I promise to start blogging about school again once school starts back up.  I’m ready to get back to it!!  I’ve just been so busy creating products and doing trainings this summer that I haven’t had much opportunity to blog, other than to let you know what’s new in my store.

Enjoy the rest of your time off!!

Until next time…

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6th Grade Writing Scope & Sequence NOW Available!

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Hi, friends.  How is your summer going?  Hopefully you’ve had a little time to relax and enjoy some time with friends and family!

On a side note, this school year I will once again return to blogging at least twice a month, with a particular focus on grammar.  I’ll be starting at a new school, and I’m in a really NEAT position!  I will be co-teaching with 4 other teachers…all subjects.  It’s kinda complicated to explain, but I’ll probably blog about it soon.  So be on the lookout for that.

I’m thinking about also blogging about my adventures with two teachers in the room…ALL DAY LONG!  I’ll be traveling from class to class as an ADDITIONAL classroom teacher, so I thought it would be fun to let the world know what good things can happen.  :)

Anyway…I’ve completed a 6th grade scope and sequence for writing.  It has the same components as the 7th and 4th grade scopes.  Just scroll back or search for “scope and sequence” and you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about.

You can grab your copy by clicking here.

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Grammar Scope & Sequence with Daily Activities

Hi, friends!  I promise to start blogging more regularly again this year.  I have had an extremely busy summer, and the first part of this year I have spent SO MUCH TIME creating some products to help in writing and grammar.  Now that my ENTIRE year is mapped out, I’ll have more time with the computer to blog rather than trying to figure out my next steps!

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram (the buttons are over there to your right if you feel the need…), I’ve created a grammar scope and sequence to get you through the year using Gretchen’s newest book, Grammar Keepers. Grammar Scope & Sequence

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It is set up just like the one I did for Writer’s Workshop, with a daily calendar with activities, overview of each week/unit, notes to the teacher for each week, and a resource guide.

If you are interested in trying out either of my scopes, you can visit Gretchen’s blog to get the first 6 weeks free! The grammar scope isn’t uploaded yet, but the writing one is there.  Just keep checking back for the grammar.

Thank you to those of you who have already purchased either one or both!  I hope that you find them useful, and more than that, I hope that it eases your mind about what to do and when to do it…and how to implement her amazing strategies into your classroom EVERY day!

If you haven’t bought either one…and you’re interested in them…you can get BOTH of them for a discounted price.  Writing and Grammar Scope & Sequence BUNDLE  You’ll see this:

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You guys are awesome!  As soon as I get permission forms from my kids, I’ll be back with some lessons and pictures for you!  :)

 

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