Adventures in Literacy Land: Writing

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

4 Sight Word Strategies for Emergent Readers

I believe in sight words IF they are taught carefully and consistently. Students must have a working knowledge bank of words to help when reading.
I won't drone on about the importance of sight words.  I believe even the earliest learners can be taught to recognize sight words...even before they know the letters.  I, personally, don't want them to think of the words as parts (l, o, o, k).  I need them to think of the words as a whole.

Here are 4 ideas for making sight words (word wall words) meaningful and easy for all students.

1.  Personal Word Walls

In a recent post on Virginia is for Teachers, I talked about personal word walls.  This is a great tool for students.  This personal word wall is Jamie's.  He is a struggling reader and this personal word wall is focused on just the words he has been introduced to through his guided reading lessons.

2.  Sight Word Phrases

Sight word phrases are an easy way to get students to use the words in context, not just in isolation. Having a phrase section on the word wall can help them practice the phrases as they read.  They can use them in writing and in centers.

3. Sight Word Games

Sight word games are a fun way to help the students practice their words.  The Roll-a-Word game can be played independently or as a team.  Independently students can roll the dice and color a square to build  a tower.  When they roll one word enough times to make a tower touch the top, they are done.  Adding a quick tally lesson, the class can tally which words make the tower each day.  At the end of the week, you have have a sight word winner.  If you want it to be a partner game, each student will need a different color crayon.  Each student will roll the dice and color a square with their color.  Whoever colors the square that reaches the top, will be the winner.  The Fluency Races are especially fun.  Students roll the dice and read the column as fast as they can. They have to start over if they mess up, but they think it's fun.

4. Sight Word Centers

Having a sight word component to centers makes the centers strategic, as well as independent.  Each week the Art Center and Poetry Center are the poem of the week from the week before.  The poems are familiar. They circle word wall words and color in yellow.  The ABC Center above was an activity with in/on.  The Dry Erase Center is set up with sight words and phrases.  Students can practice writing.  

CLICK HERE to get a FREEBIE set of Sight Word Activities.


Using Framed Paragraphs to Help Young Writers

Hello, again, Literacy Land!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars. I have been working closely with our second-grade teacher to help her struggling readers {and writers} to show success in literacy activities.  Recently, took on the writing aspect with these 5 students. We started by writing about someone in the group.

I started by modeling the entire process for them.

First, I made  T-chart about my "friend" Beth.  Now I don't have a friend named Beth, but she reminds me a lot of my daughter. We chose three items in each column to use in our paragraph.

Then I used the T-chart to write a short paragraph describing her.  The kids helped a little, and we talked about making sure our sentences were not all the same.

The best part of the process was letting them work on their own paragraphs.  They first interviewed a person in our group and wrote the information on the T-chart.  _____ looks like and Things _____ likes to do.  Then they chose their items wisely.

Finally, they used a framed paragraph that I created for this purpose to help them write a paragraph.

They loved doing this because they could feel successful in writing something that makes sense. It's amazing how something so simple can help students be successful in writing and take that success with them everywhere they go.


6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder
I was born to be a teacher.  My brother and sister will attest to that...I made them play school from the time they could hold a pencil.  I had a Raggedy Ann chalkboard and a box of carbon paper.  That's right, I could make 2 worksheets that were identical. See, I was supposed to be a teacher. I am excited to share all about writing folders for kindergarten and emergent writers.

Kindergarten students can be given Writing Folders in January of the school year.  By the time, they get their folders they are ready for them.  We have practiced writing and learned procedures for our writing time.  Let me walk you through the folder.

1, Front Pocket Label

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder
As you can tell, I use 2-pocket, 3-prong folders.  The front pocket is labeled "Works in Progress" and the students learn to put their writing in this pocket while they are still working on it.  Before students have folders, we are doing whole group writing on chart paper.  Students walk through a daily process for writing that includes storing their writing day-to-day.  Creating this habit while it's a whole group activity, supports the students independent activities.  
6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder

2. Writing Ideas Page

Once students are asked to write independently, they need to be allowed to CHOOSE their topic.  Providing topic cards, picture word books, and writing lists, students can choose 2 or 3 topics.  This sheet can be kept in the front pocket...behind the works in progress.  As they finish a story, the student moves the writing to back pocket and the writing ideas page takes center stage again.  Students can either choose a topic on the existing list or find new topics.  I have found the more they are allowed to choose what they are writing about, the more they write.  

3. Sound Chart

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder
I'm kind of a freak about sound charts.  Emergent writers need something to hang their sounds on...and I want to be in charge of the connections.  I want short vowels.  I want hard c and hard g.  We practice these sounds every day and they are "experienced" in using this chart to stretch words and write sounds through our whole group writing lessons.  There are sound charts all over the room, but having another sound chart easily available is optimal.  As the students progress from this initial sound chart, I like to add a blends linking chart.

4. Rubric 

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing FolderAnother tool we use ALL THE TIME is the BIG 3.  We have made a giant anchor chart.  We sing the song every day.  We have hand motions to make sure we include capitals at the beginning, spaces in the middle, and an end mark at the end.  I like including a Big 3 rubric in the writing folder as another reminder for students.  Providing the rubric also allows students to self-evaluate their writing.

5. Personal Word Walls

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing FolderIncluding a personal word wall allows students to be independent and grow as writers and readers.  I include all the words introduced in the first and second nine weeks.  At the beginning of the third nine weeks, I switch out the word walls to include all of the words that will be introduced that 9 weeks.  I do the same at the beginning of the 4th nine weeks.  I can also add words as students ask for them.  I try to add sight words not topic specific words.  The word walls should be useful with all writing and I don't want to fill the word wall with story-specific words that won't help them beyond that one story.

6. Back Pocket Label 

6 MUST-HAVES for a Writing Folder
Finally, the back pocket is just as important as the front pocket.  I include a label that reads, "Completed Works."  Students put their "completed works" in this pocket.  When they have 3 completed stories, they are allowed to publish.  Students are allowed to choose their favorite of the three stories and re-write the stories on "special" paper.  "Special" paper is simply paper with a decorative edge or design.  When they choose the story for publishing, the others go home.

Allowing students to have choice and control over their writing will inevitably produce better writing.

If you would like a FREEBIE writing folder handout, click the link.


Writing Models for Younger Students

Hello, everyone!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars here with some writing help for young readers.

As I work with students throughout the day, I am constantly working to make sure they are getting every aspect of literacy instruction to help them get the full picture of all things literacy.

One easy way to help young readers learn to write is through models.  This may seem simple, but it is such a perfect way to introduce them to the conventions of writing.

I read a simple book with the students called Color It Blue from Scholastic.  After reading it, we made these books with other colors.

 The students first made a Circle Map to list some things that were the color they chose.

Then they used the book as a model to help them write and illustrate their very own books.

I love using this to help students understand the conventions of writing.  It is a simple way to help them gain insights into the conventions of writing with sentences and words.


Engaging Kinesthetic Learners

Hello Literacy Land Readers,
I am enjoying my final week of summer!  I know many of you are already in your classrooms.  I hope everyone has a great Back to School 2015!  I am Deniece from This Little Piggy Reads.  I have a great recipe over at my blog today!  

I am very excited to share my post with you today.  I don't know about your classroom, but in mine it seems that well over half of my students are kinesthetic learners.  This idea popped into my head one day during a design challenge.  A light bulb went off in my head.  Why not incorporate building and writing?  

I had a vision, students were given a prompt, they made a Lego creature and then wrote a story as if they were they the creature! Wow, great idea...why hadn't I thought of it before?

So, I ran to Target to get Lego's.  Um....Lego's are EXPENSIVE!  I decided to ask for donations from parents and from my family.

Once you collect enough Lego's, store them in cheap dollar store containers.  I have 10 containers and an "extras" bucket.  If I find any stray pieces I put them into the bucket - that makes for easy clean up.

Normally, I post a prompt, we read the prompt as a whole class.  I give students about 3 minutes to brainstorm ideas by sketching, listing or making a web.  Then, my students get into groups and they have 15 minutes to build.

It's very important to set a time limit for building.  My students would seriously spend HOURS building, taking apart and re-building Lego's. So, I set a 15 min. timer for my build time.  After they build, tables share their "ideas".   Then, my students spend 30 minutes writing.  Since my students are bused to my classroom daily, we don't normally get to go through the whole writing process. However, this year I plan to allow them to choose their favorite writing and present it for Open House.  I want students take a picture of their Lego structure and make a bulletin board with the writings.  I think kids and parents will both like it!  

If you want to engage your kinesthetic learners, I just added my Lego Writing Prompts to my TPT Store.  They will be a Dollar Deal for the month of August!  

How do you engage kinesthetic learners in your classroom?


Crafting Sentences Video and Freebie

 One year I was working with a group of first graders who were struggling with writing a complete sentence.  They were very good at using a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and ending punctuation at the end of the sentence.  However, the middle part of the sentence was a little fuzzy for them.  The question I asked myself was, "How do I teach writing a complete thought to first graders?"

Instead of typing everything I did, I created a screen cast showing you the Smart Board Notebook I created to go with this lesson.  Click the video below for the lesson.  I also put up my Notebook file on SMART Exchange, and you can check out the file by clicking HERE.  Disclaimer:  I know that this doesn't work for every type of sentence, but it was great beginning for us to start writing complete thoughts.

To get the sentence graphic organizer and lesson plan I used with the lesson, click the image below.

crafting sentences

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer!

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HELP! I don't know what to write about!

HELP! I don't know what to write about!

The key to teaching writing is to take away the fear and the excuses.  "I don't know what to write about," is the worst excuse EVER!  If your students give you this excuse, you need to rethink your brainstorming activities for Writer's Workshop.

Three ideas

1. Topic Cards 

I am an admitted thrift store junkie.  I have some thrift stores in the area I frequent for specific things. I go to the book section first.  Can't pass up children's books for 78 cents!  I also look for word books, but that's coming later.  Then I look for "Topic Cards."  Most people know these as flashcards, but they are really topic cards in disguise.  I put the cards in a container labeled "Topics."  If students want a new topic, they can choose a card.  Easy.  Last week I found old cards for a peg board (young teachers won't know what I'm talking about).  These cards didn't have words, but it was easy enough to add the words with a permanent marker.

2. Word Cards and Word Books

Seasonal or Topic-based Word Cards can provide students with many, many topics.  These word cards can be related to your state standards or could be fun word cards, like FIRE FIGHTERS!  This word card excites boys and girls. These Word Books or Picture Dictionaries are perfect topic books.  These books contain words with clear photographs.  

3. Vocabulary and Classroom Anchor Charts

Finally, using Vocabulary Anchor Charts in the classroom can provide a wonderful topics for your students.  They could want to write a new chapter for "Dinosaurs Before Dark" or they can write their own Jack and Annie story.  They might even want to write a completely different story about dinosaurs.  

I hope these ideas will end the "I don't know what to write about" excuses.


End of the Year Memory Books

The end of the year is! It's Jen here from An Adventure in Literacy to share an easy, authentic, LOW PREP, idea for an end of the year memory book.

There are hundreds of options for end of the year memory books. Many teachers have a favorite memory book (I always do an end of theyear countdown book) but here is an idea you may want to do in addition to your "go to" book to provide an authentic writing experience for your students.

Like many other teachers, I stocked up on the Target Dollar Spot blank books earlier in the year. I chose the 16 page version that had 8 in a pack for $3. That's will cost less than $10 for a class set of books. If you don't have blank books already, you can always just staple blank paper together.

This is an ongoing project for my students during the last few weeks of school. They work on their books for morning work or when they finish work early. I give each student a blank book and a sheet of printed subject labels. They choose the topics they are interested in and want to include in their memory book. I believe student choice is SO IMPORTANT, especially in something as personal as a memory book. One student may love word study while another may cringe at the thought of it, hence why it should or should not be included in their book!

Students simply stick the topic label to the top of the page, write about it, and illustrate. It is so sweet to read what they write and what they consider important. The open-endedness of this project really allows their writing to be authentic and focus on what is important in their school lives. I print a set of class pictures complete with our class name, year, and school to glue to the front of the book. Students can also get autographs from their classmates on the back inside cover.

To help with the prep of this project you can download the FREE labels

These are just a word document to be printed on standard address labels in comic sans (blahhhhh), but I figured you could edit the font to your favorite and change the topics as necessary. I used Hello Olive from Hello Literacy Fonts for mine. Wishing you and your students a great end of the school year. Summer is near which means lots of soaking up the sun while enjoying a great book!


Word Building...the Foundation That Never Fails!

Hello, this is Cathy from The W.I.S.E Owl.  As you know from my previous posts, I love Kindergarten.  It's the best!  There has been some request for some Kindergarten Word Building Ideas.  I have 3 for you today.

Word Work

I'm not trying to start an argument, but I believe Kindergarten is the MOST IMPORTANT GRADE! Tools provided to the student in Kindergarten are invaluable.  They are truly the foundation for all other skills to be built on.  With this in mind, each lesson is important.  Word Building is the culmination of letters and sounds and their relationship.  Here are 3 ideas for word building that can be done in whole group, small group, and even independent learning centers.
Vowel Posters
We use vowel posters in classroom with yellow backgrounds.  Not only is this visually easy for children to see, it will help with a future activity for word building (you'l see in number 3).
The first, and most supported activity is word building with CVC mats.  These mats are designed to help the earliest learner. These seasonal cards have the CVC picture with the letters at the top of the card.  Students need to rearrange the letters to spell the CVC words with magnet letters, letter tiles, or dry erase markers.  The emphasis is practicing the order of the sounds:  beginning, middle, and end.

Another idea for word building, is practice with CVC word puzzles. This CVC activity supports the student with choice.  The students are still asked to stretch the word and color the beginning, the middle, and the ending sounds.  The colored boxes spell the picture.  To create a clear connection to the classroom vowel posters, students are asked to color the vowel yellow.
Finally, the last activity includes a stoplight.  Students know about a stoplight.  Ask any kindergartner, "What does a red light mean?"  They will confidently tell you "STOP!"  Using that background knowledge, teach them to build words.  When stretching words, make sure you allow them to hear the beginning, middle, and end of the word.  When writing the sound representations, they will write the beginning, middle, and end.  BUT, the true value in Stoplight Writing is the yellow light. Just like we "slow down" for a yellow light, we need to "go slow" with our vowels.  "We have to go slow...they can really trick us."  Once we practice this in a whole group situation, it is put in a CVC center for independent practice.  Stoplight Cards can be laminated or put in pockets to be used with dry erase markers or magnet letters for mastery.

If you would like FREE Vowel Poster Set, CLICK HERE!