Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson#13- Setting Writing Goals

I am going to do a little throw back Monday.  Oh that is supposed to be on Thursdays?  Well, I never formed to the mold so I might as well keep being me.  I created a post on writing goals last year and I didn't have anything to add at this point.  So read on!

Before moving on, I wanted my students to create a writing goal.  Since we have already covered complete sentences, fragments, run-ons, capitals, punctuation, and some spelling patterns, I told them to choose something that I frequently have to correct in their writing.  If I don't have to correct many errors (just a select few) then they may use things like using a thesaurus or adding figurative language.  I had a student say, "I can't wait to write this story!"  I love hearing their anticipation.  I explained that everyone who listens to the lessons and follows directions in the notebooks, should have no problem getting an A on the final product because we are going to go through this first writing piece step-by-step so they completely understand the best strategy to take them through the writing process.  Here are some of my students' goals.  I was proud of them for thinking about these goals.  I probably would have chosen the same ones for them!

Now this creative student took her goal and although I didn't provide or instruct for students to make their goal interactive, she took it upon herself to make hers more fun.  She made my day!  I loved her "Secret Door" with the goal inside!

And she had even more doors to open!

Stay tuned for #14- Graphic Organizers for Prewriting!!!  Woo woo!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mini Lesson #12- Task, Purpose, Audience for Narrative Writing

Now that your students are excited about writing a narrative story and finished their brainstorming, it is time to make sure your students understand the task at hand, the purpose for their writing, and the audience who will be reading their stories.

Common Core Standard W.4.4. "We can produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience."

Task:  What are you asked to write?  (Make sure to read all the task expectation.)

Purpose:  What is the reason for your writing?  (Ex.  narrate?  persuade?  debate or express opinion?  provide information?  entertain?  describe?)

Audience:  Who is the intended audience?  Do you need a formal voice or casual voice or combination of the two?  (peers, family, school administrators, businesses)

 The next mini lesson will be on creating goals in writing!!!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #11- Prewriting for Narrative Essay

Moving forward from Elements of Narrative Writing, we are ready to ROCK 'N' WRITE!!!!  I am going to jump back in time and use part of a post from last year and mix it with some examples and ideas from this year!

I love love love our notebooks and referring back to our previous lessons!  I hold my little elves accountable for the skills already introduced!  For example, since we've already covered complete sentence structure and paragraph writing, I expect my class to use these skills in their writing.  I even have my Math/Science partner on board and she keeps them accountable too!  Woo woo!

Step One of the Writing Process is PREWRITING.  Let the writing begin!!!!!  I showed my class this poster about brainstorming:

Next, I showed my class the next poster and I talked out loud so they could hear my thinking.  I used "A Shattered Window."  I talked about why I chose it for my writing and how I could come up with many ideas to go along with it.  Then I showed this slide that shows different scenarios for the shattering of the window.

We added a few more ideas to the list together, then it was their turn to brainstorm ideas.  I gave them a light bulb to place in their interactive notebooks and asked them to take notes on ideas that they could possibly choose and add as many as they want.  Then they chose one for the plot of their own essay and placed it under the light bulb.  I showed the students how to cut the bottom, paste only the bottom and the top of the bulb.  Then lift up the bulb to write their choice.  I have some creative students who wanted to make their light bulb interactive differently and I absolutely allowed it!  

My students enjoyed coming up with ideas and working in their notebooks.  I can't wait to see them build a mystery with each tiny little mini lesson!  I explained that we will take weeks and weeks to write one story so they could see each important step!

Next lesson:  Stay tuned for task, purpose, and audience

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Freebies Galore!!!!

Wow!  So many cool things going on!  Upper Snapshots is having a super amazing deal!

I'm sure you've seen a sign or two...

and now December 3rd is finally here!

So what is it that they have up their sleeves?

Here's how it works:
Stop by their blog every day between now and December 14th.  Each Upper Elementary Snapshots contributor is hosting a day, and she will be making one of her resources FREE for that one day!

You will also have the opportunity to win one of

TWO $125 Target gift cards!!

Remember to go back tomorrow to find out which resource is being given away for free and enter the giveaway!!!!!!


50 teachers Grades 3-5 came together and created an ebook filled with freebies and holiday advice!  You don't want to miss it!  Click on the picture below to go to Rachel Lynette's store for your free download!  Rockin Resources can be found on page 37!!!!  Rock it out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Writing Mini Lesson #10- 3 Steps to Prepare for Narrative Writing

If you are still in the shopping mood, TPT is still having a gigantic sale!  My entire store is 28% off so if you want to skip on over there first, click on the sign below!  Don't forget to come back ya hear?  I will be waiting!

Welcome back to the next lesson to get your students ready to ROCK 'N' WRITE!  Now that your students have been exposed to paragraph writing and the writing process, it is time to move onto Narrative Writing.

1.  Begin by reading a mentor text, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell.  Place the poster for Narrative Writing Elements on the board and discuss each element and how it relates to the mentor text.  For the student portion, I've done this two different ways.  I've had them take notes from the story or I've had students draw pictures relating to the element.  Then have students place the printable in their interactive notebooks.

2.  Next, review the Common Core Standards for Narrative Writing and inform students that they will accomplish all the standards during this unit.  Have student also place this in their notebook to use as a checklist as they progress through the unit.

3.  Last you will need to plan out a few things.  Decide how you would like to have students write for this essay.  If you follow my mini-lessons, it is designed to form a 5-paragraph story.  Since this is the first large paper my students write in my classroom, I like to pair them up for partner writing.  This may take a little time to pair up students who work together efficiently.  I expect both of them to do the writing portion but they collaborate to help think deeply about their story elements.  Also, plan to be working on Narrative writing for several weeks!  I take each mini-lesson and allow students time to take notes in their notebooks about the skill AND time to work on their story focusing on that lesson.  Finally, decide on a prompt that works for your age level or allow them to decide on their own plots.  If you have my Interactive Writing Bundle, there is a prompt fully modeled with all the bells and whistles along with a list of prompts that you may use.  


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Around the World Web Quest and More!

Coming off of Thanksgiving break and knowing that Christmas is all around us, it is often difficult to keep my little elves motivated to learn.  I like to find interesting project-based activities to keep their attention!  This week, we will be doing a Christmas Around the World project!  Last year, my students LOVED this!  I did the background work by looking for websites that provide the following for different countries:
1.  Flag
2.  Location
3.  How to say Merry Christmas
4.  3 History Facts of the country
5.  Environment/Climate
6.  3 Holiday Traditions
7.  Recipe

It took a while to find all of these items for different countries.  I had to narrow it down to the ones I could find all items for so the students would be able to find the information without going onto different sites.  I thought 29 different countries would be enough since I've never had more than 28 students in my class.  To start, I tell students they are going on a trip and need a passport.  They choose a country from my list in a hat or container.  Then they fill out their passports.

Next, the students are given a booklet to record research and a website where I have their web quest all ready for them.

Here are some examples from last year:

The last example above is from presentations.  As students present their projects, other students have to choose four other countries to take notes about their traditions.

Students are also given a doll pattern to dress according to the traditional clothing of that country.  I have a Pinterest board that helps with this section!  Christmas Around the World Pinterest Board  Look how stinkin cute some of my students made their dolls last year!

Although my students loved this project, they loved the International Food Fair even more!  If you have time to do this, your students will remember it forever!  I have prior students who tell me how they remember this project and Food Fair as being the highlight of their year.  There is always so much food!  I usually offer extra credit for anyone who wants to bring in food.

If you are interested in conducting this research with your students, you can download my web quest and printables for only $3.  Christmas Around the World Project  It is also included in my larger literacy bundle:  Christmas Literacy Bundle

Keep your students engaged with project-based learning!


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.


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