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*


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…


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


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.


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.


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.


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.  :)


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.


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.


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!


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:


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!


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.


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.





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


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


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!


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.


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!!



  1. Angela Hardwick says:

    I love your blog! I am a new 4th grade writing teacher this year in Texas. I am working in a departmentalized campus so
    I teach 4 classes of 24 students. I have an hour a day with them. I wanted to know what you think would be the best way to break up my lessons to maximize my time with them. I am responsible for spelling, grammar and writing. Any suggestions?

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Hi, Angela! I’m in the same boat…and still trying to figure it out! I want to do my Daily Writing Review, grammar lesson, journal entry, and writing, but the grammar part is what I start with and seems to be taking more than half of my time. : / When I get it all figured out, I’ll post it. I feel like once the kids are in a groove, it will get better, but as of now, I’m pulling my hair out trying to get it all in. Best wishes…and stay tuned! I plan to blog at the end of each week.

  2. Martha Heidari says:

    Thank you for such detailed descriptions! They really help. We’re following your lessons and the students are loving them!

  3. Angela Valadez says:

    I love your blog!!! I too am departmentalized, but we are only three teachers in fourth grade. I have two hours for Spelling, Grammar, Writing, and Science. two hours is NOT ENOUGH TIME :-( I am planning to implement Grammar Keeper Lessons and also Text Structures this year for sure.

  4. Alexandra Payne says:

    Your blog makes me soooo happy. I am a 4th grade Writing teacher as well, teaching 4 classes! I am using your scope & sequence from TpT, so I’m (almost) on target with you right now. I taught nouns yesterday, my very first Grammar Keepers lesson, and it was SO MUCH FUN!

  5. Trulie Trevathan says:

    You have so many awesome ideas! Is the noun foldable you used available? I looked on TPT and couldn’t find it. I’m looking forward to more blogging!

  6. Kristen Dodson says:

    Gretchen may be your writing hero, but you are my writing hero! You are always so willing to help others and answer questions! Thank you!!!

  7. Do you sell interactive notebook activities for all the proofs? I love what you have done with the nouns. Im still getting in the groove myself. We have 3 classes and I teach writing for each class. The periods are 90 minutes long, but I am focusing on grammar currently because they were doing very poorly on their sentences. I hope to start writing within the next 2 weeks, but I do like the journaling idea.

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Hi, Krystal! I’m not selling them YET! I’m adding to the collection. I’m hoping to get at least one set up his weekend. If you follow my sore, you will be notified when they are posted. 😉

  8. Tiffany Washington says:

    Where are the sheets with the 6 boxes that has analogies and punctuation? Please let me know.

  9. Where did you get the FlipBook activity? Is it in one of Gretchen Vernabei’s books? I am not totally clear about how to explain them to my students. Thanks for these blog posts. They help me get excited about writing with my students, something that I have avoided in the past.

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Hi, Christine! I can’t remember if I replied or not, so if I did, just disregard this post!

      Gretchen talks about filpbooks in Crunch Time. If you search “flipbooks” in the search bar, you will see how we use them in my classroom. :)

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