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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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.

img_5434 But I DID remember to snap a picture of what I asked them to do for their first time editing.  So there’s that.  Haha.

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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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6th Grade Writing Scope & Sequence NOW Available!

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Hi, friends.  How is your summer going?  Hopefully you’ve had a little time to relax and enjoy some time with friends and family!

On a side note, this school year I will once again return to blogging at least twice a month, with a particular focus on grammar.  I’ll be starting at a new school, and I’m in a really NEAT position!  I will be co-teaching with 4 other teachers…all subjects.  It’s kinda complicated to explain, but I’ll probably blog about it soon.  So be on the lookout for that.

I’m thinking about also blogging about my adventures with two teachers in the room…ALL DAY LONG!  I’ll be traveling from class to class as an ADDITIONAL classroom teacher, so I thought it would be fun to let the world know what good things can happen.  :)

Anyway…I’ve completed a 6th grade scope and sequence for writing.  It has the same components as the 7th and 4th grade scopes.  Just scroll back or search for “scope and sequence” and you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about.

You can grab your copy by clicking here.

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7th Grade Writing Scope & Sequence

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.27.37 PMDo you know someone who needs help implementing all of the wonderful strategies from Gretchen Bernabei?  Could that person be YOU?

If you answered yes to either question, I have a little something for you!  I just finished a scope and sequence for 7th grade that uses Fun Size Academic Writing for the entire year…and covers 100% of the TEKS.

Here are the components:

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An Overview page for each unit

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A 2016 – 2017 calendar with an activity for EVERY day

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A page with notes for each week.

In addition, I included a resources page to help you locate everything you need to be successful.

So…if this looks like something you or someone you might know could use, head over to my TpT store and grab a copy.  Just click here.

Hope everyone is having an awesome summer!! 😉

 

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