Week 9: What We’ve Done

Another week is in the books, y’all!  Woo hoo!

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We started off the week hitting the ground running.  I know I’m behind, and I’m trying diligently to catch up.  So…we hit writing hard this week!

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We needed to finish up our flipbooks, so we took the first of the week to do that.  When they were finished, I had them color up their own writing.

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I told them that in order to visit revision stations, they had to come to me and tell me what they noticed about the colors they used in their writing.  It was great to hear them tell me exactly what they needed to work on.  In the picture above, you’ll see that I wrote “Actions” at the bottom of this flipbook as a reminder of what this student needed to pay particular attention to as they visited their stations.

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When they were done, they published their writing. In the picture above, you’ll see another flipbook that had been colored up and then moved to publishing.

We are having our Writers Celebration tomorrow.  I have invited people from the school and the district to attend.  They have worked SO HARD on these writing pieces.  I know it will be a GREAT day tomorrow!

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In grammar, we worked on they’re/their/there this week.  It was so neat to watch them “argue” about the way they spelled the word in their journals.  For those of you who don’t use Grammar Keepers, you are seriously missing out!

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This week, we had our lesson, then journaled for 8 minutes, and then spent two minutes proving their words with their table groups.  They had to practice the conversation mentioned in Grammar Keepers with each other.  Then I allowed 5-7 kids to give me their sentence and argue it with me.

They REALLY enjoy proving me wrong.  And I REALLY love that they are able to do it.  We all have a good laugh during our “argue session.”

Week 10 coming at ya this week!  Bring it on!! :)

 

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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 6: What We’ve Done

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Ok.  Seriously.  Life has been overwhelmingly a *little* hectic these past couple of weeks.  I’m not gonna lie…I might even leave out some things because two weeks ago feels like 2 MONTHS ago.  Anyone else?  Tell me I’m not alone!!

I’ll get week 7 up soon.  Just not tonight.  I have a presentation tomorrow and I kinda need some sleep.

So here goes…

After finishing up our narratives, we dove headfirst into looking at expository writing.  But I didn’t let them start writing one yet. *Insert evil laugh: Muahahahaha* No, not because I’m mean and evil, but I wanted to try something a little different.

"Grandma"

We started our week with “Grandma.” I’m totally using an old picture because I forgot to take a picture of our new one.  It’s really cute.  It’s the same basic information, but I decided to allow kids to draw their balloons rather than cutting and gluing.  I’m feeling the time constraints BIG TIME this year, and it was just faster.

We did this for two days.  And the kids really enjoyed it.  So it was a complete WIN!  You can read a previous post ALL about Grandma here.

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After that, we spent the rest of the week looking at expository writing.  I pulled some expository essays (from right here on my blog) and allowed students to look at them and study them.

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Table groups came together and created posters (Ok, it’s totally just some big sheets of manila paper cut in half…don’t judge) to write down what their groups noticed about the writing.  I really wanted them to notice that they can use the same tools in expository writing as they learned about and used in their own narrative writing.  But THEY figured it out rather than me having to tell them.  Great when it works like that, eh? 😉

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Grammar was so much fun this week!  We started working with what makes a complete sentence.  The first step is to look at two word sentences.  It ROCKED their little worlds when I told them a sentence only has to have two words.  Like…they didn’t even want to believe it.

We started with the lesson from Grammar Keepers, but then we had to make it a little fun 4th grade style.  I wrote out words on little pieces of paper (I *might* have written them in the 10 minutes before the kids arrived) and handed them to each table.  We had a competition to see which table could come up with the most sentences.

Some were right.  Some were very wrong.  Kids struggle with this.  But we talked about each one they created and discussed why it was complete or not.  The silver lining in all of it is that they really don’t deal with two word sentences on a daily basis in writing.  So there’s that.

We did talk about how sometimes authors use it as a craft to slow down a moment or show specific emotions.  In their journals, they did a great job trying out that strategy.

Oh…almost forgot.  We also did the lesson on verbs again since it’s part of The Sentence Wringer.  Nothing special with that one since we had already covered it.

And there you have it.  Week 6 is in the books.

Are you feeling the sluggishness of school right about now?  Feel like you’re running in quicksand, making lots of moves but not going very far…or anywhere?  You. Are. Not. Alone. Let’s talk about it!  Leave a comment below.

Let’s hear it! :)

 

 

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NEW Interactive Notebook Parts of Speech Folding Pages

I’m so stinking tired today.  I’m hoping to get our Week 6 blog post ready to go tomorrow, but I thought I’d just drop in really quickly to say thank you for all of your wonderful comments and inspiring words over the past few weeks!  It is very appreciated and does NOT go unnoticed!

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Many of you have asked about the folding parts of speech pages that I’ve been using with my kids. I finally got them ready and uploaded them to my TpT store.  If you are interested, you can grab your set here. You can read about everything that is included in the description.

This is what they look like…

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But I also have adjectives and adverbs.  I need sleep, so that’s what I have for you.  Haha.

See you tomorrow!  :)

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Week 4: What We’ve Done

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Last week was another whirlwind.  But we managed to get quite a few things done.

It was actually a 5 day week, so we had our full time each day to get our routines down.  EVERY day we start with our Daily Writing Review.  The kids are enjoying it, and I’m already seeing some of the rules and things we talk about each day in their writing.  So that’s a huge win!  If you are interested in those sets, you can click here.

As soon as we finish with those, we go to our journals.

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This week our focus was verbs.  I created another folding page with some mentor sentences for the students to look at during discussion.  Then, students wrote for 10 minutes and were invited to try out proving verbs in their journals.  If they could find 3 and PROVE them, they got a star on their page…which means 1 extra point on a daily grade.

**Update** If you are interested in purchasing the parts of speech folding pages, you can grab your set here.

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And I’m totally going to be honest with you right now.  I was in a major hurry for a couple of my classes to get their writing pieces published…because the principal wanted us to have some writing in the case up by the office by Thursday night…OPEN HOUSE…so I dropped journaling time down to 5 minutes on Tuesday, and they got no time on Wednesday or Thursday.  GULP!  And I didn’t like that.  Not one bit.  But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do….  *sigh*

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Their daily grade for Friday was to write a journal entry and prove 3 verbs.  Again, they all did very well.  And they feel confident.  What an awesome thing, huh?  😉

In Writer’s Workshop…yes, that’s what I call it…

Can we have a side conversation for a minute?  *Crowd nods head*

Ok…so many people ask me about using my scopes or Gretchen’s lessons in Writer’s Workshop.  I even had someone tell me that she didn’t see how to do that.  Y’all. You can use Gretchen’s lessons in ANY framework or format you need.  I use Writer’s Workshop AND her lessons.  They are lessons for good writing.  Period.  End of story. Make them fit your needs.  They can.  They will.

*Drops the mic*

So where were we?  Oh yeah…Writer’s Workshop! (DUH!) This week we finished up our flipbooks.

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Once we were finished, we went through revision stations. (You can grab a copy of the narrative version here.) It’s so fun to watch how much they actually add to their stories as they walk around and read the questions at each station.  And their responses are comical priceless! “Man!  This makes my writing so much better!” or “Wow, Mrs. Shook! I didn’t know I could write like this!”

Hmmmm….I have a good idea EVERY now and then, kids….  :)

I didn’t get a picture of the kiddos at the revision stations.  Oops.  Dang it!  Now you know I’m human.

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I hate to admit this…but this is my first year actually focusing on Sparkling Sentences. Sure, I’ve read student samples before to the class, but I didn’t make a concerted effort to pull out awesome sentences at least a couple times a week to show kids.  Boy, was that a mistake!

My kids are LOVING Sparkling Sentences!!  You should see their little faces light up when they see that I have chosen their sentence to share with the class.  They just glow!!

These are the two I selected for last week.  Both of them are very different, but they both pack some serious punch.

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Then I had them write down their sentence for me and illustrate it.  They got a big kick out of that, too.  These are now posted on my wall above my whiteboard.  Once I get a bunch more, I’ll take a picture of the collection.

If you aren’t doing this, what are you waiting for?!?!  Get up and dig some awesome sentences out of your kids’ writing and show off their skills to everyone!

Guess what?  I already have students imitating those sentences!  Another WIN!!

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By the end of the first 4 weeks of school, this is what is in our writing folders: kernel essay, flipbook, mentor text for Color It Up, and two sets of the Daily Writing Review.  Just thought I would include that.

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So as I told you, some students actually finished their publishing this week.  Not many, but some did.  We should have everyone published by tomorrow…Wednesday of week 5.  Sheesh!  It’s so slow in the beginning!

Anywho.  That’s our week.  Thanks for reading along.  I hope you had a great, productive week.

Until next time…

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Weeks 1 – 3: What We’ve Done

Well hello there!  I’m baaaaaaaack!  :)  I hope you all have had a GREAT start to your year.  It’s been crazy busy already!!

I’m going to go ahead and jump right in.  I wanted to share with you the things we’ve done so far this year.  It might not look like a lot, but we are getting it done…and that’s ALL that matters!

Let me start by saying that I have 60 minutes this year for writing.  Turns out…I’m teaching 4 classes of writing this year.  Long story on that one, but that’s what I’m doing.  It’s pretty awesome, if I may say so myself!  *happy dance*

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We began our time together with setting up our classroom rules and all that fun stuff…if you call it that.

Then we began telling stories.  Telling stories is so important in writing.  Why, you ask?  Because students can’t WRITE a story until they can TELL one.  So we also talked about HOW to tell a good story.

We also created some lists in our journals.  We only have ONE journal this year.  I decided that we would dedicate 1o pages to our lists and the rest for journal entries.  We will do our drafting on flipbooks or on notebook paper and keep those in a folder.  We shall see how this goes!

Here are the four lists we have so far…

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This is a house blueprint with stories to the side.  Some chose to do their neighborhood instead.

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On the left is a Best/Worst Memories list.  This person didn’t have enough time to finish apparently.

On the right is a Times I Felt list.

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And then a Narrative Quick List.

Everyone has different amounts of memories on each list.  That’s ok.  It’s just the beginning.  We will revisit these often.  NO EXCUSES for that dreaded sentence, “I don’t know what to write about!”  Yes, you do.  You now have FOUR lists to choose from.  Pick something and write!  Muahahaha! 😉

And that’s pretty much all of Week 1.  Not even gonna lie.  That Quicklist is from Week 2…but it just made more sense to put it with all the other lists.  Forgive me.

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We began using our journals this week to JUST JOURNAL.  You have to give kids time to just write in their journals.  Otherwise…it’s a miserable fail.  Just ask last year me.  It was bad.  I went straight into lessons the first day I asked them to journal….yeah…deer in the headlights looks.  All. Over. The. Place.

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So we just journaled for 10 minutes every day.  Some students thought it was fun.  Others not so much.  But it’s ok.  It’s getting better by the day.  By next month, they will forget that they complained about it.  :)

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I ask students to put the date on each entry.  Then when they are finished for the day, they draw a line underneath the spot where they stopped.

Oh yeah…journals are ALWAYS their own choice of topic.  I NEVER tell them what I want them to write about during this time.  Some write fantasy stories, other write personal narratives, and still others write about Minecraft or Call of Duty.  It’s 100% their choice.

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In writing, we experienced our first (and my FAVORITE) lesson: Color It Up.  This is from Gretchen Bernabei’s awesome book, Fun Size Academic Writing.  A couple of classes had to have a little more than one class period to finish, but that’s ok.

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Here is one of their final pieces.

You can read more about this activity here. If you’ve never experienced it, you’re seriously missing out!  You NEED this book!!

And that pretty much wraps up Week 2.  Slow going…but we’re trucking along!

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This week I finally felt like we made some progress!  Our very first lesson from Grammar Keepers on nouns happened!  Woo Hoo!

I made a little something to help cut down some time since I don’t have any science time to take.  (I *might* have taken a lot some time from science last year.) You can see it here:

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My new district wants us to use more mentor sentences, so I decided this would be fun AND take less time AND help me comply with district policies.  Do you call that a Win-Win-Win?  I think so!

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Here’s what it looks like in their actual real-life journals.

Each day, I invited students to find three nouns in their own writing in their journals.  Some students like to try it out right away, while others wait for awhile.  If they DO find them and prove them, I put a star on that entry and give them one point towards classwork.  They REALLY liked that idea!

By Friday, it was time to SHOW ME that they got it.  (We had an early release day Wednesday and Thursday I had to have them complete a district BOY writing piece, so I didn’t have all week like some people did.) Their assessment for the week was to write for 10 minutes and prove 5 nouns for me.

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And guess what?!?!  EVERYONE made a 100!  I’ll call that a success!!

We also started our Daily Writing Review.  Here are all four days that we got completed this week.

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The students are actually having a pretty good time with these already.  We will start Week 2 of them tomorrow.

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We also began our first draft.  Of course we had our handy dandy Writer’s Tools anchor chart by our sides.

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We completed a kernel essay and began our flipbooks. Check out this AH-mazing introduction!!! If you click on the picture, you can enlarge it to see it better.  You should.  It’s totally worth it!

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For some students, I asked them to draw out the beginning, middle, and end of their story. This helped BIG TIME!  Some students are ok with just writing words, but some need that picture support.  You can see the pictures below.

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This one is from a story about hitting some frogs with a stick.  I know it might sound terrible, but they weren’t killing them.  And these drawings absolutely cracked me up!!

From those drawings, students created their sentences for the middle part of our text structure (First Moment, Next Moment, Last Moment).  Success!

And there you have it.  Our first 3 weeks.  I guess we got more done than I thought.  If you’ve stayed with me this long, you’re a rock star!  And I hope that the pictures help you to see what’s REALLY happening.

How has your start been?  I’d love to hear about what YOU are doing!  Drop a comment below!

See ya next week!  Ta ta for now!!

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