I don’t even know what week it is anymore…

Wow!  Did anyone else blink and it was the end of January?  Seriously.  How can February be Wednesday? Someone please slow down the clock!!

 

So…it’s been awhile…CLEARLY!  I don’t even know what week it is anymore.  I had great plans to get this whole weekly blog post thing going…and then I blinked.  And I hadn’t written in awhile.  #lifehappened

You see…we are trying to get our house ready to put on the market…I’ll cut this short by saying it’s been a living nightmare at times dealing with contractors.  The good news is: we’re almost done!  Woo hoo!

Ok.

A lot has happened since I wrote last…too much to fill ya in on ALL the details…but I’ve taken some pictures along the way and wanted to show off some awesome students doing what they do best…LEARNING!  :)

So sit back.  Relax.  Enjoy your favorite tea.  Lots of pictures coming.

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We’ve been practicing our mad revising and editing skills with several sets of task cards lately.

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Students worked in groups to answer the questions to this Revising and Editing Task Card set.  They worked their way INTO the correct answer by talking about why all the answers were correct or incorrect.

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They had a blast and did VERY well with everyone participating and talking about the rules.

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Don’t you just love it when students enjoy what they’re doing…and it works just as well as shoving a worksheet their way? Yeah.  So. Do. I.

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We’ve also had some interesting entertainment around here.  Our principal, counselor, and literacy coach all got pies in the face from some lucky students who raised lots of money for our school.  That was a sight to behold!

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And then came the days of craziness before Christmas.  You know what I’m talking about.  Haha. This was my sign to encourage my friends to be on their best behavior for the week.  And I must say…they were pretty darn good! 😉

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Quick mom moment.  I am so lucky to work at the same school where my son attends kindergarten.  And I have great administrators who allowed me to visit my handsome little boy during his Christmas party.  All the heart eyes for this one. :)

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And then the break was over.  I blinked.  It was over. (I might have blinked a few more times than I thought.) When we came back to school, we looked at our writing portfolios that follow each student from year to year.

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They loved looking back through their old writing.  I told them to look for something that they liked, and I challenged them to find one mistake they made in their younger days.

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It was so fun to watch them as they pilfered through their old writing pieces, reminiscing about stories from their past. “Oh, I remember THIS!” and “Look at how much my handwriting has changed!” and “I used apostrophes on all my words!” Haha.  So stinkin’ fun!

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New years come with new goals.  Students were challenged to come up with one to three goals for the new semester.  I was very proud of what they came up with.

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We played some revising and editing games, too. Y’all…they have so much fun with these.  I’m so glad I created them.  It’s such a great way to practice that puts a little fun into it.

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If you need a set, you can click here to get one.  I have a few others in my store, too.  :)

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Almost done!  We’ve started our newest expository piece, and we tried out two of the introductions from my Expository Writing pack.  We created a riddle and a thought introduction for this piece.

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Wow!  They came up with some AWESOME introductions!  I’m so impressed!!  I can’t wait for them to finish these so that I can show them to you. I know you will just love them!!

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Oh yeah…I got to go down to a first grade classroom and do a little writing with them.  They were so adorable!!   We used “I’m a Little Teapot” to think about structure in writing.

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And then we created a short story as a class.  We pretended to be an elephant.  Did I say how incredibly adorable they were?  I love them!!

When we were done, they created their own.  Do I have a picture of them? No.  AHHHHH! I’m hoping to get one soon.  I’ll have to share them with y’all because they are great!!

This comes from the new book that I’m coauthoring with Gretchen Bernabei.  It’s going to be an amazing tool for lower grade teachers to begin the process of teaching text structures to little minds.

 

Whew!  If you’ve stayed with me this long…thank you for reading all about what we’ve done in the past few weeks.  We’ve had a lot of fun together, and I’m looking forward to much more.  Our next Writer Celebration is this Thursday.  I’m going to try to share all about that this weekend….but don’t hold me to it!  I’ll try my hardest.  I promise!!  :)

How have you been?  Is there something you’ve tried that the rest of us just HAVE to know about?  Do you have a question that you’d like us all to address?  Just drop those in the comments.  Let’s all help out!!

Until next time…

(And don’t blink too much!!)

 

 

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What We’ve Done: Week 10

Can you believe it’s already the end of October?  I know I can’t!  It’s going by so fast!!  EEEEKKKK!

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We started the week off with another Writers Celebration. It was so much fun.  Of course, I forgot to take pictures of it, so I don’t have those to show.  However…

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I DID manage to get a picture of my plans for the day.  Notice the “Evaluation” piece.  LOL.  😉

On Tuesday we started our lessons on they’re, there, and their.  Those continued through Thursday.  It’s so fun to see how much easier it is to make that decision when they know their proofs!

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In the picture above, you can see the “there” lesson with the proof.  I changed it up a little from Grammar Keepers because the proof of “here” doesn’t always make sense to my kids.  I told them that if “they are” and “our” doesn’t work, it’s “there.”

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This is just another quick shot I got of another student’s journal.  :)

On Friday, I asked them to write sentences I gave them and fill in the correct word for there/their/they’re.  They did very well on that.  I also took a grade on using capital letters and punctuation at the end.  We REALLY might need some more work on that one! *insert face palm*

Wednesday and Thursday were short days due to parent conferences.  Friday was a little crazy because of Bus Safety.  Gotta love those interruptions, right?

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In writing, we looked at expository Ba…Da…Bing sentences. Rather than trying to implement right away, we sat together on the carpet and discussed them and what they do for the reader.

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Many still had a hard time making them present tense, but we will get there.  I had a few students create some to go up on the wall. Hopefully this will help!

From there we started our kernel essays for our next expository piece.

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We are writing about someone who is important to us.  It’s interesting to see the variety of people who these kiddos think are special in their lives.

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We wrote very simplistic kernel essays, and then we added an expository Ba…Da…Bing sentence to it.  They did a pretty amazing job.  You can see the original sentences crossed out and their newly formed sentences below them.  (If you click on the picture, you can see it bigger and maybe read the writing.)

We had a shortened day on Friday, so after our journal entry and our they’re/there/their assessment, we really didn’t have much time left.  And it was costume day.  So, yeah…

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In case you wanted some costume cuteness, this is my son.  He is Dan TDM from Roblox.  Don’t ask.  I have no clue. It’s what he picked out.

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And we got our school pictures on Friday.  This is me…and my mom says she can see the mischief in my eyes.  I have NO IDEA what she’s talking about!

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I can’t leave out the “Opas” that came to talk to our kids about the German heritage of New Braunfels.  They were so great!

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And that’s pretty much our Week 10!  I remembered to snap a picture of the complete sentences task cards that we used a couple weeks ago.

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This is what I used as a quick daily grade to see if students were able to use the Sentence Wringer to figure out where to split the sentences.  😉  If you need a set, you can grab them here.

So how are things going for you?  I’d love to hear!

Until next time…

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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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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.  :)

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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.  :)

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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