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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Tips for Writer’s Workshop

Hi, y’all!  Remember me?  It’s been WAAAAYYY too long since I last posted.  Other than just taking a break and enjoying some “me time,” I’ve been staying busy with presentations and going here and there…you know, the usual.  :)

If you don’t already know, a few of us blogger teachers started a new Facebook group called Texas Teacher Tribe.  We set it up as a tool for teachers to talk to each other and get help when they have questions…all that good stuff.  It is NOT intended to be a sounding board for all the bad things that we experience or a rant page…rather an uplifting site to see what’s going on around us and for teachers to share things that work.  So…if you haven’t joined in on the fun…you should…  :)

Anywho….I’m back to share with you some tips on how to implement an effective Writer’s Workshop.

 

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I know we all struggle at times when it comes to writing….or at least MANY of us do.  Myself included.  There are just some days that you get up to teach your heart out, but something seems to be wrong…the kids are antsy and paying attention to everything OTHER THAN what you’re doing…or their eyes are glazed, totally uninterested in what is going on.  Ever have one of those days?  Yeah…me, too.

Sometimes we just need to remember things that will help bring them back together…other than the typical classroom management mantra.  You may read this and think….DUH!  I knew that…but sometimes we get lost in our day to day responsibilities and lose sight of some CRUCIAL steps in teaching kids to write.  Here goes:

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There was a time when I didn’t realize the importance of truly immersing my students in good writing.  By immersing…I mean showing lots of examples and allowing students time to share their work with others…ALL THE TIME!  Kids don’t know what good writing is until they see and hear it…A LOT!  It didn’t really occur to me that they NEEDED to see and hear lots and lots of examples of what good writing is.

And let’s face it…sometimes we have to pick up kids after work…sometimes we have to cook dinner…sometimes we have to bathe our kids after cooking their dinner…and sometimes we have to spend time with loved ones…AND WE DON’T FEEL LIKE SITTING DOWN TO WRITE A PAPER ON WHAT SEASON IS OUR FAVORITE!  I get it.  Been there.  Didn’t write that!  It happens.

BUT…there are several ways to utilize others’ work.  Collaborate with your teammates.  Share that responsibility…and make copies. Take a piece of your students’ work that shows the skill you are working on and make that student a celebrity in your classroom!  Or you can use mentor texts, whether they are books you read in class or one that you purchase (I use Fun Size Academic Writing by Gretchen Bernabei) to help teach your lessons.

Another thing that is SUPER important is allowing your students time to share out.  Not everyone will want to share…and there are lots of times when you just don’t have time for all who DO want to share…so choose two or three, and allow them to shine.  Draw attention to something that he/she did very well, something that pertains to your lesson for the day.  This is HUGE for kids…and sometimes they do things that even surprise US!  :)

Whatever you do….share, share, share!

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Just as important as sharing writing…is giving feedback.  Kids don’t know what they are doing well or what they need to improve if they aren’t given feedback.  And that means more than a facial expression.  While those are great, kids NEED guidance in their writing.

I try to make sure to conference with my students at least once a week…or when we get really busy, at least every other week.  This happens through various phases of the writing process…but NOT just at the end when you get the notorious question, “Is this good?”  *Insert a shudder* I don’t even have time to write about THAT!  But kids need meaningful feedback to allow them to grow as a writer.

An easy way to get it all in is to put a sheet of paper on your clipboard with each child’s name in a box.  I have this one if you want to use it for conferring with your little writers.  If not, a piece of notebook paper or class roster will do.  Each time you visit with your kids, just jot down short…and I mean SHORT…notes about what you talked about.  This helps to hold your kids and yourself accountable and can provide immediate feedback during the writing process.

When my kids are done, I use a rubric to assess their work.  I have this one that uses STAAR verbiage to help them see how their writing measures up to the dreaded test.  This allows them to see what areas are weak and need more tweaking…along with areas that are awesome!  And there are several rubrics that teachers use…but the important thing is to use some sort of rubric so that they know how they are being graded…whether it is for the grade book or not.

And last….but CERTAINLY not least….

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I know it seems cliche, but seriously y’all…you HAVE to have fun with writing.  If you aren’t having fun, neither are the kids.  We all know that saying, “Fake it ’til you make it!”  It’s so true.  If you don’t enjoy teaching writing see me after class! at least pretend that you do.  Tell your kids stories.  Laugh with them.  Just. Have. Fun!

I tell my kids all kinds of stories…that time I peed my pants, the time I fell in the pond and ruined my brand new white shorts my mom told me not to wear, the time I fell and busted my chin on the concrete and had blood gushing out all over the place, the time my son pooped all over my friend…stories that kids can identify with and enjoy hearing.  And every time, you could hear a pin drop in the room.  They’re mesmerized! But because I make it a big deal.  Ordinary, every day, boring stories that are made into something much better…by having fun!

Don’t be afraid of what your kids think.  They love you…the good, the bad, and the ugly!  They love to hear about your stories when you were their age…and all the mishaps you had along the way.  And when you have a little fun…they love you even more!  :)

So there you have it.  My 3 tips for Writer’s Workshop.  I would LOVE to hear your top 3!  Leave them down there in the comments!

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