Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekly $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway April 24, 2017



My class is knee deep in state-testing this week! I always like to plan for easy activities during our non-testing time because my students are burned out!  One of my go-to places to find activities is Teachers pay Teachers.  If you also turn to TpT, you will LOVE this giveaway!



GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 



Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 5/1/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Thursday, April 20, 2017

Writing Strategies Goal 3: Generating and Collecting Ideas



Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo! I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!    

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are represented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valuable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.  Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section.  There are over 300 strategies in the whole book!




Sometimes students struggle with writing because they have a hard time coming up with ideas to write about. This section of the book gives you strategies to help students generate ideas. 

 Serravallo specifically suggests that writers in grades 3 and above keep a notebook to store ideas that they can return to again and again.






When choosing this as a goal for your students to work on, you may want to consider students who:

* have a hard time getting started during writing time.

* say, "I don't know what to write about."

* You might also check writers' notebooks to see which students have generated short lists during class lessons on idea gathering.  These students may benefit from this goal as well.


Focus Strategy 1: Important People

In this strategy, students make a list of people that are important to them.  They then list memories they have of those people.  

I have done similar lessons to this one in the past at the beginning of the year.  I decided to try a slightly different version after reading this.  Instead of modeling myself with people who are important to me, I modeled with a character in our read aloud How to Steal a Dog.  The students were able to help add the people and the memories since they were familiar with the character.  I felt like this gave them more of a guided experience than just listening to my memories.


Student examples:





This student could benefit from working on this goal.
Focus Strategy 2: Moments With Strong Feelings

Using this strategy, students choose a strong feeling (worry, fear, embarrassment, etc.).  They then think about the memories they have that connect to that feeling.

I think this might be a fun activity to do using emojis.  Have the students pick and emoji, and then think of memories they have that relate to that emoji!


Focus Strategy 3: Jot Today, Write Tomorrow


This strategy really gets students living like writers by carrying around Post-Its or small notebooks to jot down things that happen around them.  My students LOVE using their small writer's notebooks for this!




If you would like to purchase the book mentioned above, you can find it here.



This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  


My Button

Don't forget to stop by Melanie from Momma With a Teaching Mission who is our official host of this week's chapter!

If you would like to link up your own blog posts about this book, feel free to do so in the linky below!  Don't forget to check out the other bloggers' posts as well as they write them for even more ideas!





Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekly $25 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway


For those of us in the United States on traditional school calendars, we are heading towards the home stretch of the school year.  I only have 6 more weeks left!  Now is a great time to find new activities to keep your kiddos engaged the last few weeks or to start prepping for next year.

We would like to make that a little easier on you with a $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card!



GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)




Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 4/24/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 





Sunday, April 16, 2017

My Class is Eggstraordinary! FREEBIE



The past two months I have decorated my door with reasons why my class is amazing.  My students have absolutely LOVED it, so I have decided to keep the tradition going!



I placed a sign up on my door that said, "My Class is Eggstraordinary".  Then I printed out egg templates on pieces of card stock and cut them out.  In prior months I wrote out various shout-outs for the class as a whole.  This month, I decided to create an egg for each student.  



Every day I added a few more eggs.  I let them know that I would be adding an egg for each of them.  The excitement was high as they checked each day for their egg.



They even made one for me!



I have made a freebie for you just in case you wanted to try this project out with your students.  You can download it here.

Class Shout-Out Freebie My Class is Eggstraordinary

If you do decide to do this project, I would love to see pictures!  Please email me at kellys3ps@sbcglobal.net or tag me on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter!



If you would like to see the other months' projects you can find them here:



And... before you go, make sure to visit my Giveaways page to enter our weekly giveaway to win a $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card!



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing Strategies Goal 2: Engagement



Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo! I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!    

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are represented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valuable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.  Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section.  There are over 300 strategies in the whole book!

You can find my posts for other chapters here:

Goal 1: Composing With Pictures




Anyone who has ever taught children to write, will know that there are always kids who struggle with writing.  They hate writing, or they don't know what to write about.  You may wonder, is it possible to teach children to have more energy for their writing? Serravallo says, "Yes, this is a teachable skill"!





Serravallo says that her favorite tool for determining which students need support with engagement is an engagement inventory.  You can download the one she uses here.



An engagement inventory is essentially a kid-watching tool.  Teachers watch and record student behaviors and signs of engagement (or lack of) during a period of independent writing.  This is done in place of conferring or small group instruction.  

You keep track of things like how often students get up to sharpen pencils, use the restroom, talk, etc. You might also keep track of how long a student is able to write before they lose steam.  You can then analyze the data looking for patterns, and possible students who might benefit from this goal.

Another way to measure engagements is by tracking writing time: i.e. the amount of lines or pages a student writes in an allotted time.  Serravallo provides volume expectations for writing stages/grade levels in the book.

When choosing this as a goal for your students to work on, you may want to consider students who:

* spend a lot of time off task during independent writing.

* write very little despite being given plenty of time to write independently.


Focus Strategy 1: Listen.Praise.

This strategy is great for your reluctant writers because they often are reluctant to write because they don't think they are good writers or they don't think that anyone would want to read what they write.

In Listen.Praise. the student reads their writing out loud to their partner whose job it is to listen for interesting spots.  They stop the writer and praise them.  

I also love this strategy because I feel my students get better as writers when they work with a partner.  





Focus Strategy 2: The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

Sometimes it's all about the pen!  I know that I have some favorite pens that I reach for when I am writing - flair pens and gel pens anyone?



Our students are the same!  I know my students will do just about anything if I let them use my special pens or markers.  Serravallo recommends letting students try out a variety of pens and pencil types.  You might even try different pens for different tasks - such as special flair pens for revising.

I will often let my reluctant writers use iPads or computers to type when they have trouble getting started.




Focus Strategy 3: Set a "More" Goal for the Whole Writing Time


In this strategy, she recommends telling the student to think about how many lines they tend to write in one writing period.  Ask them to set a goal for themselves to write more.  She suggests having them write a "finish line" on their notebook to see if they can write to (or past) that line.

I often have my students make a small star in the margin as their finish line.  They are always excited when they beat that line! 



If you would like to purchase the book mentioned above, you can find it here.



This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  


teaching, life, and everything in between

Jen over at Teaching, Life and Everything in Between is the official host of this week's chapter.  Head on over to check out her post as well!  Make sure you leave some comment love!

If you would like to link up your own blog posts about this book, feel free to do so in the linky below!  Don't forget to check out the other bloggers' posts as well as they write them for even more ideas!





Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Make Your Word Wall More Effective



Word Walls can be used to improve literacy in 
all curriculum areas by helping students build vocabulary, improve spelling in written work, and explain ideas through oral communication.



When I first began teaching, I made the assumption that more is better when it came to my Word Wall. I put up EVERY word I could think of, but the students never used it.  

Then I tried the opposite approach (well, I didn't really try - I just kept forgetting to put words up).  Again, not surprisingly, the students didn't use it!  

I knew there had to be a better way! I started digging into research about vocabulary and here were some key things I learned:  

1. A vocabulary gap exists among students in different socioeconomic groups.

2. Vocabulary knowledge affects long-term student achievement.

3. Vocabulary growth accumulates over time.

I also learned that current research (Akhavan 2007) suggests that we shift our thinking towards:

1. Connected word learning where the focus is on content units.

2. Students brainstorming words they know that are connected to a theme of content area.

3. Example lessons that unveil how to think about words and how to remember word meanings.

4. Explicit vocabulary lessons that teach new words concepts and meanings.

5. Children learning new words from lots and lots of reading.

6. Children discovering words and sharing them with the class.

7. Having students become word sleuths, finding words they want to learn, or discussing new word meanings and use.

I will be devoting some future blog posts about various strategies for vocabulary instruction, but for now, here are my tips for making your word wall more effective:






Limit the words on your wall. 

Keep the number of words on your wall manageable.  I try to have between 5 and 10 words up at any given time.  

Using  a smaller number of words offers several benefits.  For one, it's easier for students to find a certain word when there is a smaller number of them. 



The second benefit, is that students are more likely to remember the words if they get several interactions with a small number of words rather than limited interactions with a greater amount of words. 




The third benefit - you save space!  I don't know about you, but wall space is a premium for me.  You could even devote a small corner of your white board for this.

Generate words from the books and content you are studying. 

Students learn words the more they interact with them.  By choosing words from the books you read and the content you study, you increase the number of times students interact with these words.



I chose the words in these pictures from our read aloud How to Steal a Dog, but one of my students found one of our words in her Mercy Watson book as well!

Interact with the words frequently

The biggest mistake I made in using my word wall was not interacting with the words frequently enough.  Just because the words are posted, doesn't mean students use them. Students need several chances to hear, see, and use new words in order to adopt them into their own vocabulary.  




I will be writing a post soon with different ways to interact with vocabulary.

Include Pictures

Another mistake I made was just putting up words on the wall.  Until my students really know the words and their meanings, they didn't have any context to use them.  Adding pictures really helped give the students a reminder of what the word meant and really increased the students ability to use the word wall.




Mix-It Up

As students become comfortable with words on the wall, change them out occasionally for new words. Little by little students will add words to their vocabulary and your word wall will change throughout the year.  I try to only change 2 to 3 words at a time to go along with working memory

If you want to learn more about vocabulary instruction you might want to check out this book:



You can also check out this previous blog post I wrote about my prefix, suffix, and root word word wall as well.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekly $25 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway April 10, 2017





I just finished up my Spring Break, and am headed back to school for the home stretch to finish out the year!  I like to use this time of the year to not only work on finishing out the year strong, but also some early planning for the following year.  

Whether you are like me and like to plan ahead, or are just looking for some resources to stay afloat now, a Teachers Pay Teachers gift card could come in handy!  Enter to win one now!




GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 



Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 4/17/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Writing Strategies Goal 1: Composing With Pictures



Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo! I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!    

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are represented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valuable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.  Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section.  There are over 300 strategies in the whole book!

You can find my posts for other chapters here:

Goal 2: Engagement


Believe it or not, but Serravallo says that writing instruction can begin before students can write or spell a word.  In fact, many experts say that it should be.  Serravallo says that by teaching students to write with pictures, they realize that meaning comes first.



Most of the strategies in this section are geared towards young or emergent writers, but I personally believe that even older writers can benefit from drawing as a pre-writing strategy.  I have written about using comics to help my reluctant writers in the past.   

Serravallo also mentions in this chapter that she struggled with the idea of separating the strategies in this chapter from the others because she believes that the process of good writing that we teach to older students can be taught to younger students as well.  As a 4th grade teacher, I believe this goes both ways!



When choosing this as a goal for your students to work on, you may want to consider students who:

* may not know many letters and sounds, or who are just beginning to develop this awareness.

* write words or sentences that are disconnected from meaning.


Focus Strategy 1: Talk (as you Draw)

In this strategy, students talk as they draw, saying more about each part as they draw.



This strategy is definitely one that can be used by writers of all levels!  The more kids talk the more they can write.  Often students get bogged down with the idea of writing and don't think about the details that they could add.
Focus Strategy 2: Reread Your Pictures So It Sounds like a Storybook

Using this strategy, you ask students to point to the part of the picture that shows the beginning of the story.  Ask them to tell it like a story using what the characters say and do.

You can watch a video of a student using this strategy on the product page from the publisher here.  Scroll down to Companion Resources - Watch a Student reread her pictures (Strategy 1.3).
Focus Strategy 3: You Can Come Back to a Piece and Do More

I absolutely love that Serravallo includes this idea for revision even for the youngest of writers!  I know many of my students often are reluctant to come back to a piece!  Maybe if they learned this important skill in their earliest writing instruction it wouldn't be so difficult to get them to do it now.

In this strategy, she recommends telling the student to reread and look at a piece they worked on the last time they write.  Ask them to think, "Is there anything else I want to do?"  "Is there anything I want to change?"

Again, this strategy can be used with any writer! What a powerful lesson to let them know that they can be in charge of adding details and more information!


If you would like to purchase the book mentioned above, you can find it here.



This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  

If you would like to link up your own blog posts about this book, feel free to do so in the linky below!  Don't forget to check out the other bloggers' posts as well as they write them for even more ideas!





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