More Expository Writing Samples

We finally finished up our third expository writing pieces.  This time, we wrote about our role models.

We started off by looking at some mentor leads in Gretchen Bernabei’s book, Fun Size Academic Writing.  I asked my students to put a star by their favorite one and try it out in their own writing.  Wow!  They are SOOO powerful!

**Updated: We used this structure: Who I admire, Internal Characteristics, External Skills, That’s Why

Some of us are still getting the hang of adding in details to our writing, while others of us have REALLY gotten that down!  I wanted to share four of my favorites with you.

Click here to read.

After you read them, I know that some of you might be wondering…is EVERYONE writing like this?  And the reality is…no.  They aren’t.  Some don’t even come close to these at this point.  The good news?  They will soon!  I have faith!

I want to be real with you…and the hard truth is that many writers are still very much struggling to get depth and details into their writing.  This is something that we will be developing throughout the year.  It’s pretty simple to get a kernel essay down on paper.  It’s that NEXT step of adding in details to flesh out a paragraph that seems to hold up so many of our young writers.

So…that will be the focus for our near future!  Sure, leads and conclusions are great…but without the MEAT of the writing, it doesn’t matter how much you grabbed your reader’s attention at the beginning.  We have to KEEP them interested!

Please feel free to print these out and use them in your own classroom.  That’s what I do…use other students’ writing to share and talk about what worked and what didn’t.  That’s how our students learn the best.  Without a mentor text, they have nothing.  For many students, creating something from nothing is near to impossible.  With a mentor text, students are given examples of what good writing sounds like…which for some is the crutch that they so desperately need!

I say all of this to let you know that we ALL have areas to upgrade.  I know that right now…for us…it’s adding in those meaningful details.

What about you?  What are your kiddos struggling with the most right now?  I’d love to know…and I KNOW that many others wonder who else is in their same boat…  Please let us know in the comments!  :)

signature

Grammar Keepers Wall Cards

Well, hello there!  How are you?  How is school going?  I know, I know…many of you are on Thanksgiving break and are enjoying your time off and not looking back at the moment.

BUT…I wanted to share this little tool with you.  I created some cards (really small anchor charts if you prefer that term) that can be easily put onto a cabinet door  or in a small space in your classroom.

If you are like me, by now you have basically no more room on your walls for ANOTHER anchor chart.  So….I made these little guys that will be easy to put up.

These cards go right along with the lessons we use in 4th grade out of Gretchen Bernabei’s newest book, Grammar Keepers.  If you don’t have a copy yet…I HIGHLY suggest you get one.  It has been a HUGE game changer in my classroom!!  You can click here to get your copy.

Here’s a peek at what they look like:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.05.20 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.05.09 PM

I made cards for all of the common errors on the Keepers 101 4th grade chart that I posted awhile back, along with parts of speech cards.

You can snag a copy of it here.

Do YOU use Grammar Keepers?  If so, what do you think?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

signature

Expository Flipbooks

Several of you have asked about the flipbooks we use for expository writing, so I pulled some out from my presentation box to share with you.

We are finishing up our first “real” expository pieces tomorrow, so I’ll have some to share with you soon!  These flipbooks I’m showing you tonight are from previous classes and have been through numerous trainings…so excuse their condition.  😉

These below are some that we used with a prompt about someone we admire.  We wrote our kernel essay sentences along the bottom, and then underneath the flaps we wrote more information to flesh out the paragraph.  The sticky notes were answers to questions that our peers had, and we incorporated that into each paragraph, too.

FullSizeRender

IMG_3642

FullSizeRender2

IMG_3644

That bottom one, of course, is mine that I wrote along with my kiddos.  It’s always good for them to have an example.

These next flipbooks are more recent.  I used this style with my students THIS year for this same text structure.  You will still notice the kernel essay sentences along the bottom, but then we thought through the piece and put down icons on the flaps that we could then turn into sentences on the inside of the flaps.  Just a little FYI…I’ve decided it works better without cutting the flaps…just leave one long one…it’s more durable and doesn’t fall apart when they rip them out of their folders… *sigh*

FullSizeRender3

FullSizeRender4

Again, notice that the icons on the front of the flaps turned into sentences underneath.  This helps them to write longer.  :)

I’ve created some expository revision stations, but they aren’t quite finished yet.  Right now they are all on one piece of paper without clipart…and just plain BORING!  I’ll hopefully have those up in my store by tomorrow night.

I’ll update this post soon with examples from this year…along with the FINAL piece!  Eek!  :)

Hope this helps!

Happy Sunday, y’all!!

signature

Our FIRST Expository Essays-In 12 Minutes

Just like in years past, I begin our expository unit with explaining the difference between narrative and expository with my “Grandma” page.  You can read more about that here.

After we grasp what an expository piece should be, I ask students to write a 12-minute essay (Gretchen does it in 11 minutes) based on a picture and a truism.  We use the same truism each year to begin because it deals with pets…and most students have SOME sort of experience with pets.

Truism: Pets can be a big part of a family.

I give students about a minute to think about that statement.  Then we begin: 2 minutes to describe what that statement means to us, 3 minutes to tell how it is true in a tv show or movie they have watched, 3 minutes to tell how it is true in a book they have read, 3 minutes to tell how it is true in their own lives or someone they know, and then 1 minute to tell what it makes them think or wonder.

And just like that…in 12 minutes…they wrote their very first expository essay.  I explain that due to the things they wrote, they have explained something…they didn’t tell a story.

Students are always so proud after finishing.  They count their words and the room begins to buzz with excitement.  It’s pretty awesome.

If you want to try this with your kids, you can find the truisms here.  You can use any of them that you like. I use several throughout the year.  The one about pets isn’t too far down.

Curious what they wrote?  Click here to read a sampling from my kiddos.

I couldn’t be more proud.  :)

If you have time…leave them a little note to let them know what you think.  Yeah…they read this.  :)

signature

I See HUGE Improvement!!

Whew!  We finally finished our first “real” piece of writing this week and celebrated today!  Woo hoo!!

While these aren’t even close to perfect, they are a HUGE improvement from the writing sample I took the first week of school.  My heart is full!

We started with three kernel essays.  I didn’t give a prompt…and won’t for awhile…so it was their choice.  From there, we chose one to take into drafting.  We filled out our flipbooks (which you have seen if you’ve been following) and added as many details as we could.  Then it was time for revision stations.  Although it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, they DID add some details while rotating around the room to each station.  We’ll get there. 😉

To my surprise, my kiddos were able to complete their published piece in one day.  That made up for some lost time!!  Today we celebrated by walking around the room and reading papers that were laid out on our desks and made positive comments about them.  Tomorrow we will go over some common trends and talk about how to make this next one EVEN BETTER!  I can’t wait!

But…I needed to show off their hard work.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of how far they have come with just ONE lesson from Gretchen Bernabei’s book.  Have I told you that her strategies are EASY and FUN for everyone involved?  Just take a look for yourself….

Oh, and if you click on the pictures, you can see them much larger and actually read them.  :)

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.26.22 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.39.03 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.40.19 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.43.04 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.44.06 PM

I don’t have room to show off EVERYONE, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a small sampling of awesomeness.  Y’all…this is HUGE!  Can you even believe this transformation?  This is going to be an AH-MAZING year!  I can’t wait to see what our future holds!

How are your kiddos doing?  Are you using Gretchen’s strategies?  You should be… 😉

Ta ta for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

signature

Keepers 101 for 4th Graders

***UPDATED***

Last night when I posted this, I didn’t realize that I had two boxes with “there” on this sheet.  I had meant to put “me/I” in that box.  Oops!  This post is now updated with the version that you see below in the picture.  I also updated that terrible pic since it was…well…terrible!  Be sure to grab the CORRECT version from the link below!!

Quick post tonight.  I recreated a document that Gretchen Bernabei used with her 7th graders.  It’s called Keepers 101.  It is a chart that has all of the grammar rules that we teach during the year except for parts of speech.  I’ll be making one of those, too.

It looks like this:

If you would like to grab a PDF copy, click here–>Keepers 101 4th

Enjoy!!

signature