Monday, November 24, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #9- The Writing Process

As I write this post, my heart is very heavy.  A friend of mine lost her son today to his car falling on top of him.  He was her world and I can't imagine the forever pain she will carry with her.  It saddens me to no end.  Please squeeze your babies tight tonight!  Rest in Peace sweet boy.

Our last mini lesson #8 was on Table of Contents.  I pretty much have to remind my students every lesson to add the title to the Table of Contents and add the page number to their page!  Can you hear me through the computer saying, "Errrrr?"

Step One:  Prewriting:  Brainstorming and Graphic Organizer

The first part of prewriting is brainstorming ideas.  If there is not a prompt to follow, then have students go back to their "Ideas" section in their interactive notebooks.  Remember where we brainstormed ideas for our I, heart, hand, home, question mark?  This will get them thinking about a topic that is interesting so their ideas can flow.

Whether it is a free writing paper or a prompt, students will need to choose a graphic organizer that will work well for that type of writing.  Click on the graphic organizers below for a free download!

Step Two- Rough Draft

For this step, I tell my students to JUST WRITE!  Don't worry about spelling or anything else.  Put your story together by writing writing writing!  Get your thoughts down!  I tell my kiddos to skip lines to have room to revise later.  I love to model this step and my students want to correct all my mistakes and I tell them, "Let me write!  I don't want to lose my thoughts!"  Get comfortable, sit around the room, and wwwwwrrrrrrriiiiiiiitttttteeeeeee!

Step Three-  R.E.A.D. to Revise

Read your story out loud!  The best advice I've ever given for this stage is for students to listen to their own writing.  They can read it out loud or record themselves reading their stories.  I guarantee they will find fragments, run-ons, or words that just don't make sense!  R stands for rearrange, E stands for exchange, A stands for add, and D stands for delete.  In a later mini lesson, I will go in more depth with each of the READ to revise components.  While revising, I require my students to use a different colored pen or pencil so I can see their attempt to making it better.  So many times these little cherubs think their rough draft is their best draft.  Time to pump them up to REVISE!

Step Four-  C.U.P.S. to Edit

Capitals, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling.  When my students are editing, I ask them to use a different colored pen or pencil.  However, if they want to use multiple colors, I allow that as well.  My philosophy is as long as they are editing and I can see their attempts, that is what matters!  Don't forget that National Punctuation Day is September 24th!!!

Step Five- Peer Reflection

I allow this step so students can get feedback from a peer.  I supply them with a reflection form, sticky notes, and a writing checklist.  I ask them to take this step seriously and pretend they are a teacher or editor.  I remind them that we not only give advice on how to fix their peer's paper, but we need to let them know the parts that ROCK!  Students should not write on each other's papers.  Many students take such pride in their work and don't want anyone else writing on it.  This is where sticky notes are a blessing!  After they receive the sticky note and reflection form, it is completely their own decision on what they want to change OR not.  This is their last chance to make their papers better!

Step Six- Final Copy

Time to be neat!  Depending on your instructions, students need to write final copies neatly.  If they are handwritten, I ask them to sit a desk or table to help assure proper handwriting posture to optimize their final outcome.  If it is a typed paper, it must also be neat and free from typos.

I have a TWEEN version of these posters as well and guess what?  They are free!  Oh yeah!  No lie!  Click the picture below for version above!  Notice in the picture below, I have clothespins.  I have my students mark the step of writing they are on so I can quickly glance and see who may need help.  I can't take credit for this nifty idea, but I do LOVE it!

I hope your students got a good grasp of the writing process!  Stay tuned for Writing Mini Lesson #10- Narrative Writing standards and elements.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #8- Table of Contents and Progress Grade for Notebooks

How was your clincher lesson #7?  I like to stop after clinchers and revisit Table of Contents.  I have students double check page numbers with their Table of Contents and fix any mistakes.  It is also a good place to pause and grade their progress!  Here is my example of Table of Contents.  I like to add the picture related to the skill so students can quickly think back and remember our lesson.


I feel it is important to grade the notebooks on occasion.  Since this is the end of paragraph writing, it is good place to pause and grade.  The grading sheet is set up so you can grade once or take four grades at 25 points each and count it as one grade.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #7- Clincher and Hamburger Model

Now that you have finished Mini Lesson #6- Relevant Details, it is time to finalize the paragraph with a CLINCHER!  FYI-  This lesson is for ending a paragraph not a concluding paragraph for the end of an essay.  That will come later!

1.  Share the slide to explain clinchers.  They need to close the door to their paragraph!!!

2.  Students need to take notes about clinchers on the door.  Then glue the left side of the door to the notebook.  Swing open the door and write the clincher to their paragraph started in lesson 5-6.

3.  Have your students use the HAMBURGER MODEL to put their ideas from the previous lesson together.  Topic sentence from lesson 5, relevant details from lesson 6, and today's lesson on clinchers.  When they are finished, have them write the paragraph out in their writing section of their notebook.


4.  If your students need more practice, give them examples of paragraphs without the clincher.  Have them create the clincher!  This is a great homework assignment to revisit the day's lesson.

5.  Now that the paragraph lessons are complete, why not give an assessment?  

I hope you enjoyed this lesson!  Lesson #8 will be about TABLE OF CONTENTS!
as always:  ROCK 'N' WRITE!!!

Secret Garden Unit Revised!

I am so stinking excited to teach Secret Garden this year.  I took my old version of the unit activities and completely did a facelift!  You won't even recognize it!  This extensive unit is based on the story, Secret Garden, by Frances Hudgson Burnett and is a aligned to COMMON CORE standards with oodles of reading skills!

It has chapter questions and activity sheets that I create into a student notebook, a vocabulary quiz and a unit test.  The test has 26 questions based around BLOOM'S TAXONOMY!!!!  Answers to all the questions and tests are included.  If you are a Facebook fan, I am offering a free copy today to a winner.  Go to to enter!

Knowledge- multiple choice
Comprehension- sequencing
Application- predicting and finding results
Analysis- Figurative language related to the story
Synthesis- Relating character behaviors
Evaluate- Explaining thoughts and ideas

Here is a sneak peek!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #6- Relevant Details

Are you ready for your next mini lesson?  The previous lesson was on topic sentences which leads us into this lesson on relevant details.

1.  Start off with a whole group discussion.  Introduce the teaching slide.  Make sure to talk to your students about how they don't need to include all of their details.  Choose relevant or powerful ones.  Point out the example given below.  Notice how the writer left out information about swimming.  There were enough experiences and relevant details that swimming wasn't needed or maybe the writer didn't have enough details about swimming to include it.

2.  Notebook with partners:  Remember to write first!  What are relevant details?  They are VIP-P- very important pieces to the paragraph!  Other notes are found in the yellow box above!  Answer the question, "Why do you think the writer did not include all the details?"  Choose relevant or powerful ones.  The writer can leave out information if there are enough experiences and relevant details to make a strong paragraph.  This example was taken from an essay about choosing summer as a favorite season.  The topic sentence is a reason for liking summer----going on vacation.  Have students write relevant details to support this topic sentence.  Then color and cut out.  Glue the title at the top and the organizer on the page first.  Next, glue just the top of the VIP-P box and place it over the organizer.  Now you have a flippy flap!

3.  Students then use this organizer and form a paragraph.

4.  Come back to whole group or small groups and share paragraphs.  Be proud!

5.  Do your students need more practice or do you want to reinforce the skill?  Use a printable where students search paragraphs for details that are not relevant.

Waaaallllaaaa!   You have given your students a valuable tool for writing!  Next up:  Clinchers!  

Rock 'N' Write!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mini Lesson #5- Topic Sentences

You made it to lesson 5!  Woo woo!  Now that your students are writing complete sentences and fixing fragments and run-ons. it is time to transition into paragraph writing!  Paragraphs need to have topic sentences.  It is a way of organizing and telling the main idea of the paragraph!


This is an awesome place to introduce indenting paragraphs.  Remember that pointing out indentions in their text books or stories can always reinforce your lesson!

Once the students understand topic sentences, pass out the printable and let them work in notebooks.  Just like in previous lessons, they need to write first!  Then color, cut and paste.  Paste the title at the top and then the graph in the middle of the page.  Paste just the the upper edge of the "Main Street" square on top of the graph.  This will allow the students to flip it open for an interactive feel.

For this section, students brainstorm ideas for a paragraph of their own.

Next, students use their brainstorming skills to write a paragraph using a topic sentence.  Shoulder partners can point out the topic sentence or share as a whole group.  Students can hold a hand up to their ears if they hear the topic sentence.  This will help keep their attention!

Last, the following independent printable will give students more practice.

Wahllllaaaah!  I hope you enjoyed the lesson!  Stay tuned for Mini Lesson #6- Relevant Details!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Can I brag?

I don't like to brag but when I got this feedback on one of my Interactive Writing Notebook bundles, it totally made my day!  It amazes me that she took the time for such a thoughtful comment.  Whoever you are Diane P., you rock!!!!

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