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.

 

blog post TTT

 

 

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:

 Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 5.29.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.29.11 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.02.04 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.30.45 PM

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….

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 5.42.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.24.47 PM

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!

signature

Pencil Sharpener: A Teacher’s Best Friend

A few months ago I received an amazing pencil sharpener from a company called Classroom Friendly Supplies.  This is a company started BY a teacher, FOR teachers!  Ya gotta love that, right?!?!

(null)

This thing is AWESOME! You know how you sharpen pencils and they never seem to get very sharp? Well, my friends…THIS sharpener will knock your socks off! No more dull pencils!! Take a look.

(null)

The pencil sharpener comes with a temporary clamp so that you can move it around. I would highly recommend purchasing the permanent mount once you find the perfect home for it.

This pencil sharpener is easy for everyone to use…even the kids! :)

Head over to Classroom Friendly Supplies and show them some love! Get one of these!! You know you want one! They come in several colors to match your theme…or not…whatever you like! 😉

signature

December CURRENTLY

It’s that time again!  Time for CURRENTLY with the fabulous Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 9.36.17 PMHave I told you yet that I LOVE Christmas?!?!  It’s my FAVORITE time of year.  I love giving gifts and watching as people open them.  I also love to shop…so this gives me a good excuse to do BOTH of those things!

With that…I’m listening to a Christmas movie playing on the TV…sort of.  It’s what’s on in the background as I surf Instagram.  😉  My little man is also sitting next to me watching YouTube videos of people unwrapping new Mario Kart toys.  He’s a little obsessed, I think…

And…yeah…I am LOVING that Christmas is coming soon.  I always get so bummed when it’s over because I know I have to wait so long for it to come again.  Funny thing is…it comes sooner and sooner every year.  Hmmm…how exactly does that happen?  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  That MUST be it!

So…life is good!  Hot chocolate.  Christmas tunes on the radio.  Christmas movies on the TV.  Houses enveloped in lights and decor.  The weather getting colder.  Yeah.  Life is good!

However…I COULD use an extra day or two off from school to soak up some more time with my family.  It’s been SOOO nice to have some time off FILLED with family time.

Confession.  I don’t have my Christmas tree up.  Why?  *Ugh*  The stand is apparently not sturdy enough to hold our heavy tree…and it has a serious lean!  We’ve been looking for one to replace it but can’t find one.  The hubs is going to work on it tomorrow to try to get it at least somewhat straight…then it’s GO TIME!  😀

In the spirit of giving, I’m putting a link to my Figuring Out Words posters that I have in my store.  It’s yours…for free.  :)  I hope you and your kiddos enjoy it as much as we do!!!  You can snag it here.

If you haven’t gone over to Farley’s blog, be sure to do so!  There are so many interesting teacher bloggers out there that link up each month for this fun linky partay!

 

signature

November CURRENTLY

So…I missed the October CURRENTLY.  Things in my world were pretty cah-razy…as Amy Farah Fowler would say!

I’m linking up EARLY this time for the November CURRENTLY linky from Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade.  I really enjoy this linky because it’s fun to learn schtuff about other bloggers.  It’s just fun!  😉

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 9.34.40 PM

 

So…EVERY Saturday…college football is on.  Yeah…every Saturday!  But I don’t mind because I enjoy it, too.  Nothing says fall like college football. Ok, cooler weather (which I am SOOOO enjoying right now), too, but still…

I’m loving the fact that I did absolutely, positively NO school work today!  Yay for me!  I just can’t ever seem to get away from it.  Anyone else like that?  If it’s not something for school, it’s something to put in my TpT store…which is something that I use with my kids…so yeah…school, school, school.  Nice to get away…even if for just one day!

Today marked the first day that Target puts one toy on 50% off on their Cartwheel app.  Did you know that?  I’m a couponer, so I look at stuff like that all the time.  But yeah…I’m starting to think about Christmas shopping!  I love it!  It’s my favorite time of year.  I love everything about Christmas.  I *might* have even watched Home Alone already, too…  You’ll never know!

I would love some calm moments at my house this evening.  It’s been…interesting…to say the least!  Our little guy is potty training…and he’s pretty much “trained”…but boys and toilets…yeah…it’s pain staking fun!  Between that and a 14 year old dog that doesn’t want/can’t go down the stairs anymore…just imagine the messes we have right now.  Good thing we invested in a Spot Bot and Tide Oxi!  Those two things are GOLDEN!

Fall back.  THE best day of the year…besides Christmas, of course!  I can ALWAYS use an extra hour of sleep.

Ok, I have to admit…I’m not actually CURRENTLY reading Daily 5…but it’s next on my list.  I really want to try it out with my kids.  We use the Balanced Literacy approach in my district.  I have talked with our Literacy Coach about how I can merge the two together to give my kiddos more teacher time.  I would love to do my mini-lessons in small groups rather than whole groups…and also allow more time for choices about reading and writing.  I’ll be blogging about how it works…if it does.  Pray for us!  If you have a post about how you use it, will you PLEASE comment with a link to your post?  I would LOVE to read how others use it!!

So there you have it…my CURRENTLY list.  And I might even get in the top 20.  Must hurry!

Peace out!

signature

Differentiated Decimal Task Cards with QR Codes

I just wanted to drop in to tell you that I have just put up a new set of task cards in my store.  This time they are differentiated…so it’s actually like getting two sets of task cards in one!  It’s a total of 44 cards.  These cards are just like the rest of the task cards I have made…with QR codes.  I don’t think I can create anything without QR codes anymore!  Ha.

And….they AREN’T writing!  Shocker, I know!!  😉

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 8.27.05 PM

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 8.27.17 PM

 

These pics aren’t the best, but you get the idea.  There is a preview up in my TpT store that is much clearer!  :)

Decimals, decimals, and more decimals!  These task cards cover reading, writing, ordering, comparing, adding, and subtracting decimals in different ways.  Some have pictures, while others just use digits.  Each card with a star in the top right corner indicates that it is a remediation card.

You may want to use some of the remediation cards with the regular cards, or you may want to create two completely separate groups.  Or…you might want to divide them into 4 groups.  For this reason, I did not number them.  It gives you the freedom of picking and choosing the ones you want.

Hop on over to my store to check them out!

signature

CURRENTLY September

Whew!  It’s been quite the busy day around here.  I’m JUST now getting around to posting my CURRENTLY for September.

Here goes:


Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 10.01.20 PM

Can you believe that I have not turned on the T.V. ALL day?!?!   Yeah…I’ve been too busy for that!  I created two new products for my team and put them in my TpT store.  I didn’t create them FOR that, but since I spent the day on the computer, I figured…might as well, right?

I love, love, LOVE 3 day weekends!  Especially the one that follows the first week of school.  You know that saying, “There’s no tired like a teacher at the end of the first week of school tired?”  It’s SOOOO true!

I’m currently thinking about how much I have to do in the morning before my kidlettes come streaming in the door.  Procrastination at its finest…  Well, not really…just needed to get some things off of my computer at home.  The filters at school are ridiculous strict…and things that I had saved on my blog…yeah, I can’t get to them from my school computer. *sigh*

This 3 day weekend…and my first week…has gotten me wishing that I could just stay home with my little guy.  I love spending time with him, and I miss him so much when I’m at school.  This year has been extra hard for some reason.  I know the feeling will probably pass, but for now…just missing the heck outta him!

Right now…I need some water.  Speaking of the little guy…he drank the rest of the water in my water bottle, so I need to go downstairs and get another one.  But…I don’t really feel like it.  I’m sitting here typing instead…haha.

My top 3 places I’d like to visit: First up is New York.  I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go, but I’ve never been.  The hustle and bustle of the big city entices me.  I might not sleep the whole time, but it would be so much fun!  Second is Switzerland.  My husband has been and he said it’s one of the most beautiful places ever.  Plus…they have good chocolate, right?  Right?  And last is Hawaii.  I know, I know, everyone says they want to go there.  But it just looks so darn pretty with all those bright colors and gorgeous flowers.  The vegetation is so different than here in central Texas.  It’s probably not all brown…

So there you have it.  My LATE entry to Farley’s CURRENTLY linky.  If you haven’t already, head over to Oh Boy 4th Grade and check out TONS of other bloggers and get to know them a little bit better.  It’s always lots of fun!

Bye for now!

 

signature