Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts

Student-Created Gingerbread Variations

Students worked in groups to create their own gingerbread character and story elements to accompany it.
I'm sure many of you have read multiple versions of The Gingerbread Man story.  I decided to take it a step further this year and have my kids work in teams to create their own gingerbread story.

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Keeping Them Motivated To Write

Looking for ways to motivate your students to write in the weeks before Winter Break?  Read to see a few ways these kindergarten children have been engaged in writing.
This year, my students are struggling with writing.  Most of them do not enjoy writing, but I think for many of them it is because they struggle with it.   With the holidays approaching and interest in school dwindling in favor of all things snow and Santa, I wanted to find ways to make writing exciting in hopes that the excitement will carry over into the new year.
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Encourage Imagination and Oral Storytelling with Spot

Encourage students and children to use their imagination to tell stories.  The Spot app provides a platform to support this.

With each new set of students that we meet each year, one thing has become increasingly evident: oral language needs to be strengthened.  This could be for a number of reasons: more screen time, meals on the go, less playtime (recess too), or other changes in a culture.  But regardless of the reasons, as teachers we have to support language development.  Without oral language skills, comprehension, writing, and math explanations are much more difficult.  So what can we do?

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I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie!

Make your own big class big books using sight words and student pictures.

Up-to-date big books can be hard to come by.  They are expensive and not a priority in many school's budget.  So how can I implement big books in a classroom when I don't have the money to do so?

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Authentic Writing at Home

Check out these 9 ideas for encouraging your children (or students) to write at home.  Fun, easy, and authentic writing formats included.  Perfect for summer!
With summer vacation here for many and just around the corner for others, we hear a lot about summer reading and making sure kids read at home while not in school.  But what about writing?  Reading and writing go hand in hand.  So, whether you are finishing up the school year or at home with your kids on summer vacation, don't forget to encourage them to write!  Here are some simple, fun, and authentic ways to incorporate writing at home this summer (and all year round)!
If you are a teacher, consider providing your students with your address or an email address so that they can write to you about their summer adventures.  As a parent, encourage your kids to write letters to relatives whom they may not see as often or friends that have moved away.  Or find them a pen pal...even if it's a kid just a street over, it would still be a blast for younger kids to write back and forth.  It's also usually possible to find an address for celebrities your child may be interested in online...can't guarantee a response though!
Post cards are so cheap to buy!  Purchase them when you go out of town and have your children write about their experiences and send them to a friend or family member.  Super easy and quick writing practice.
The year is so hectic we often run out of time for handmade cards when school is in session.  Have your kids get ahead by making birthday cards for relatives in advance.  They could even make cards for upcoming holidays or decorate thank you cards to use in the future (just leave the inside blank).
Have your kids write reviews about movies they see, books they read, restaurants they eat at, and places they visit throughout the summer.   They can rate the places using stars and then describe why they gave the rating they did.  You could even compare their ratings to those found online.
Do your kids have friends over throughout the summer?  Any family barbecues or birthday parties?  Have your children make invitations for these events complete with the date, time, place, and events.
Get some neat note pads and use them for lists.  Your children can write lists of what they need at the grocery store, things they need to get done on a particular day, books they'd like to read this summer, etc. 
Visit the dollar store and stock up on post its.  Encourage your kids to use them for reminders and messages for family members.  Maybe a message to mom to get some more popsicles at the grocery store, a note to dad wishing him a good day at work, or a reminder to clean up the play room tomorrow.
Have your kids keep a journal of their daily activities.  If you have a little girl, she'd probably love a diary with a "lock" on it and it would probably encourage her to write about her summer days.  Or bring a journal along on vacation so that your kids can write about their trip, the places they visited, and the observations they made.
Before playing a game, have your child write down the step by step directions.  Follow them and see how accurate they were.  You could do the same with recipes before making lunch or even how to get somewhere in the community.


Do you have any other ideas?  Leave a comment and share them with me!

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The Research Paper Made Simple

Even young children can write simple research papers with an easy mentor text and model for writing.
Even our youngest students can write  simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.

When I help students write their first research paper, I love to use The Important Book  by Margaret Wise Brown. If you haven't seen this book, you really need to check it out! It has a simple way of telling about something that makes it easy for students to learn more about something and provides a great mentor text for helping students write in an easy way.
After reading the book aloud to them, I started out by modeling what I wanted them to research. I used a Tree Map to show them the information I found about horses. This also served as the information I wanted them to search for their research. I put a star next to the "important" fact and circled the other information I wanted to include.
Even our youngest students can write simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.

After I created my Tree Map, they chose their animals to research and researched to create their Tree Maps.

Even our youngest students can write simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.
They chose their important thing with a star and the others were circled.

Then I wrote my paragraph using the information and creating a model for them to use.
Even our youngest students can write simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.

They used my model to write a rough draft to edit and revise. Their final copy was complete with a picture at the top.
Even our youngest students can write simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.

Overall, these second graders learned a lot about some simple research to get them ready for third grade. They really enjoyed working on this and took great pride in it ~ something they all need!

Pin for later:
Even our youngest students can write simple research paper by using a fun and easy mentor text. The Important Book helps students write a simple research paper after doing some quick research.








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Making writing stick!

Writing in Kindergarten can be such a daunting task at times.  So many kids have never been exposed to writing before.  Sometimes they don't even know how to hold a pencil!

In order to teach Kinders how to write a complete sentence, they also need to understand what a complete sentence is.  So often, students at this age speak in single words or phrases.  In my writing center, I combine these two skills and embed my sight word lessons into it at the same time!

While planning the order in which I teach sight words, I always try to make sure that we can use them to build sentences.  For example, the first sight words that I teach are "I" and "see."  This way we can use our new sight words to write a sentence, "I see ___."

Here is my list of the sight words that I use and the sentences that we create with them!


So on Monday, I introduce our new sight words.  We even practice reading a few sentences with these sight words in them.

On Wednesday, we do a shared writing. I give each student a word card to help them with building our sentences.  I have several word cards with different themes that are stuck in a folder with Velcro.  This way students can manipulate them when we get to center time.  Once each student gets a card, I have them take turns using the word in a complete sentence using our new sight words.  I write them down as they tell me.  We discuss spacing, capital letters, periods, etc, all while writing the sentences.  Once every student has a had a turn, we practice reading everything that we have written.



On Friday, each student writes their own sentence using our sight words and a word card that they have chosen.  They illustrate their picture and then we put them together into a class book.  Our book goes in our library so that our kids can read their own writing during library time!

The following week, during writing center, our students will practice building their sentences with word cards, writing them, and illustrating them!  They have gotten so good at sight words and writing with this center!







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When Whole Group Writing Transfers to Independent Writing


Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Isn't that every teachers dream?  

You do whole group lesson and after whole group lesson you want the students to transfer your whole group lesson to their independent journal writing.  Creating routines in kindergarten is as much about giving them tools, as it is about giving them time to practice the skill.  Our school system has adopted a new reading program and one of the writing lessons is persuasive writing.

Michelle Brinn, a fantastic kindergarten teacher, was tasked with 2 things:  Introduce your students to persuasive writing and do it in a 1/2 day kindergarten program.

We talked about how we could expose our youngest writers to persuasive writing and get it done in a 20 minute daily writing lesson.  Another obstacle in Michelle's lesson would be time.  She decided it would be a modeled writing, just to manage time.  We mapped a plan:
Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Monday

Decide what two items the students will compare.  The topic needs to be something that is easily understood...not every child will have opinions on soccer v baseball (of course, soccer is better) or whether summer or winter is the best season (of course, summer is better).  BUT they will probably have an opinion about whether dogs or cats are the better pet.

Tuesday

Talk about Option 1:  dogs.  What are 3 reasons dogs are great.  The students were eager to tell why their liked dogs, but we stuck with 3 ideas.  She asked them to keep all their other ideas for later in the post.

Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Wednesday

Talk about Option 2:  cats.  What are 3 reasons cats are better.  Once again, students were eager to share their ideas.  Students liked how cats were quiet.  

Thursday

The vote!  Students were asked to vote for their favorite pet.  They chose dogs (of course, they did).  Michelle asked for more reasons why dogs were the best choice.  Their ideas were fantastic.  

Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Friday

The wrap up!  Students were finally asked to write a closing sentence.  Michelle asked for MORE reasons dogs were chosen and the students came through with great ideas.

It was a success.

As a whole group writing lesson for the week, it was definitely a success.  The students were excited about pleading their case for why dogs were better than cats OR why cats were better than dogs.  BUT the really exciting part was getting ready to happen...

Independent Journal Time

With all the chatter and opinions about cats and dogs going on in her classroom, Michelle asked the students to write about it in their journals.  We were THRILLED with the results and I think you will be, too.
Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again:  Too often we give students excuses, instead of tools.  Michelle did a fantastic job of giving her students a tool for persuasive writing.  She gave them an easy plan...and time to practice. 

If you'd like a FREEBIE Persuasive Writing Card, click the image below.



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Math and Literacy Connection: Poetry

According to LaBonty and Danielson (2004), "reading and writing poetry about math involves students with listening, speaking, reading, and writing in order to develop and demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts and relationships."
Using poetry in math can develop an understanding of mathematical concepts and relationships. Visit this post on Adventures in Literacy Land to learn more.

Patterns are important in math as well as in poetry and both are dependent on students' skill with language (symbols/signs and verse/rhyme).  Poetry is an alternative vehicle for students to fine-tune their skills with the language of mathematics.  Reading and listening to poetry about math allows children to be immersed in the language of math.  Collaboratively writing poetry helps children function as "problem solvers rather than information receivers" (LaBonty and Danielson, 2004).

What does this look like in the classroom?

  • Lakeshore Learning provides a "read and respond" version of "Arithmetic" by Carl Sandburg
    • This would be a great beginning of the year activity to get students thinking about how they use math every day.
  • Using Shel Silverstein poems in math lessons from We Are Teachers
    •  "One Inch Tall" could be used to introduce the concept of an inch and what that measurement looks like in real life.  Then students can use the poem as a mentor text to write their poem using a different measurement (one centimeter, one meter, etc.).
    • Using the poem "Smart," you could see if students understand the difference between number of coins and the value of coins.
  • Illuminations lesson using "Shapes" by Shel Silverstein
    • Great to use in kindergarten after learning about all the shapes - read the poem out loud to the students and have them draw a illustration that depicts what is happening in the poem. Then students can discuss with each other what words/phrases in the poem helped them decide what to draw.
  • For any topic that you are teaching in math, students can write a poem that shows their understanding of the concept being learned.  I suggest only doing this after you have given students multiple examples of poetry (math and non-math related).
    • Each student can write a poem and they can be collected into one class book with a title that encompasses all the poems (for example:  Multiplication in Mrs. Wilson's Room or Quadrilaterals in My Life)
  • Looking for students to use mathematical terms but in a different way, you need to read this article about a collaboration between a high school math and English teacher - loved it! 
  • A second and third grade teacher used The Important Book as a mentor text to have students write about a geometry term.  This article "Mathematics and Poetry" details what she did.
If you missed previous posts in the Math and Literacy Connection Series, no fear, I have linked them for you:
  • January - introduction on why the connection is important and learn about the vocabulary strategy: word splash
  • February - teaching academic vocabulary in math using strategies from your literacy instruction
Next month I will continue the series with writing strategies that help students in math.

Math and Literacy Connection Series at Adventures in Literacy Land

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Already Ready

Years ago a friend of mine would host soup nights. She would make a few pots of soup (her mom’s beef stew was my favorite), the kids would run around and the adults would visit. Flash forward a few years and we were all too busy with our growing kids to have soup nights, but one of my soup night friends wrote a book about Preschool and Kindergarten writers. In 2008, Matt Glover published his first book with Katie Wood Ray. This book, Already Ready Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten changed my teaching and classroom writing environment forever. Ray and Glover believe that children do not need to “get ready” to be readers and writers, but that they are already readers and writers. They believe that writing may be a better way to lead children’s literacy development than reading. I have found this to be true in my classroom. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Ways that writing has made my Kindergarten students 
become better readers…

Kindergarteners will write books about topics that interest them. When you present children with mentor texts that they can make connections to, they will write about their own experiences or knowledge and want to have that book in their book box.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
The writing workshop model builds stamina for writing and reading for long periods of time. The more they practice writing and reading the better they become at writing and reading.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Using invented spellings transfers to confidence and phonetic skills that students use to stretch out words when reading. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
It is difficult to make something if you don’t know anything about what it is you are trying to make. Developing an understanding about texts gets students excited about literature and gives them a deeper understanding of stories and how to write them. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Sharing the books children have made with others builds fluency skills and allows children to express their intended meaning…and they are reading. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
When children buy into literacy activities it makes others want to join the club even before they know much about reading and writing.  Our littlest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. It is our job as teachers to inspire, support and lead them in the right direction. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.


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