Launching Writer’s Workshop

Well…hello, friends! Long time no see! I AM still alive…it’s just that life hit me and I haven’t had the energy to stop in and say hello.

So…here goes!

We just started our 4th week of school. We’ve been busy at work getting things up and going in our writing classroom.

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The first two weeks we spent time getting our journals ready by gluing in our Keepers 101 chart, tabbing sections for Lists and Entries, numbering our pages, and assigning a page for our Table of Contents. We created a few lists in our journals to give students topics to write about.

Side note: When students exhaust many things on their lists, we will go back and add to them. Some run out and others rarely use them, but we need to revisit them to keep them up to date and with fresh ideas for writing.

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We also began journaling. It’s so painful to start. Kids have had off all summer, and most haven’t picked up a pencil since May. I made an executive decision to start with 5 minutes of journal time and work our way up to 10 minutes. And you know what? It was much LESS painful this way. Students were getting used to writing and easing their way into our writing time goal.

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Lessons started last week. We’ve gone over nouns with an emphasis on common and proper, verbs, and we just finished up pronouns. With this knowledge, we will be on our way to understanding how to construct a sentence…and that’s up next! (You can grab a set of these Folding Parts of Speech here)

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Our writing and grammar time really merged together the first two weeks. Writing lists takes a LOT of time at the beginning of the year. I want students to enjoy reminiscing and creating lists of experiences in their journals.

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We also spent time TELLING several stories. Students can’t write a story until they can tell a story. So that’s where we always start. Some chose to write some of those same stories in their journals. It worked for us. :)

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And don’t forget learning about the writing process! That calls for Writing Process Battle!

I’ve already started differentiating instruction for my kids. After a diagnostic writing piece (required by the district), my head has been spinning with ideas on how to help these kiddos. Many of us have a lot of work to do, but we will get there. Enter differentiation.

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For some, we started with a nursery rhyme from the new book coming out next month, Text Structures from Nursery Rhymes. Wow! It has come in SO handy! The kids are enjoying it, and it’s a fast way to introduce text structures and kernel essays. We are almost finished with our first piece. We will do a few more nursery rhymes before moving to more complicated mentor texts.

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For others, we went straight to the planning page that I use every year with my kids. We are writing about a place. Any place. A place they would like to go. A place they have been. A place they imagined. A place from a book. Any place.

I’ve had fun watching them grow in their writing just from the beginning of the year. I know it hasn’t been long, but seeing more and more appear in their journals and more smiles is a great way to start off the year. I enjoy seeing these kiddos let their guards down about writing and begin to enjoy writing in a whole new way. It’s what keeps me going back for more! 😉

So how is it going for you? Seeing any sparks yet? Feeling like you’re running in quicksand? All of it? Let’s talk about it!

Until next time…

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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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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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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!!

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