Adventures in Literacy Land: motivation

Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts

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.


Know Your Readers and What Motivates Them

Knowing your readers is the key to motivation. If you know they're reading preferences and interests, you are much more successful with motivating them to do more. Recently, I've taken some time to reflect on how we as parents and teachers have power. We are like superheroes in that we have special powers to influence our children and our students. So often, we fail to give ourselves credit for the little things we do to make our kids readers. Our children know what is important to us and even if they resist and act like we know nothing, more often than not, they end up meeting us at least half way. They want to please us and since we are in charge of their time. We have the ability to guide them through modeling, small discussions to learn their preferences, and with strategic purchases. We have the ability to take them to the library where they can be immersed with literature and keep a supply of reading material, whether it's the latest title from a favorite author, a current magazine, or a comic book, on hand in reading places at all times. We know our children better than anyone else if we just watch and learn them. Today, I'd like to share a few thoughts on motivation.

Keeping Students Motivated Through the Winter Blahs

Hello Readers!  Carla from Comprehension Connection here to share ideas on how to survive and get the most from your students in the coming weeks.The holidays are approaching, and we are sure to see a decline in student motivation to read. The kids have one thing on their minds, and let me tell you, it is not homework!  So what are we to do to keep them on the right track? How can we mix things up to get the kids to buy in to our plan? What are the secrets to motivating them even when we are not able to remind them daily?  
One option many teachers try is to have vacation packages that include activities to keep kids busy over the break.  We've put together holiday packs with reading logs, project ideas, and math practice pages in the past, and one option you might try is to include options that get the rest of the family involved and that are different from the routines at school.  My students love to do book related projects, and if the directions are not that complicated, parents might actually appreciate materials that keep kids occupied and engaged. By involving other family members, kids will be kept on track with completing the work.

If families are part of the plan, one important thing to remember is to include them in the planning. We need to make the packets easy enough and small enough for the kids to not be overwhelmed by them.  They also will not be thrilled if it looks like "homework" to them, so including in the packet activities such as cooking, websites, writing, and art projects that are easy for families to do with the student may make a difference too. Kids can use critical thinking and creativity in these types of activities which keeps the brain stimulated.
For some students, incentives make a difference.  Having a surprise for work completion and effort goes a long ways with little people, especially if they get to celebrate with their classmates too. However, keep in mind that not earning the prize can be defeating, especially if it's not entirely the child's fault or lack of effort that causes him/her to fail in meeting the goal.  If incentives are used, I would recommend making the goal attainable for all so that it's a win-win.  
Make Reading Plans and Goals for the Break
As a group, brainstorm a reasonable plan for the break and set a goal together.  Include the goal in the packet that goes home as well as a plan to meet the goal. Good readers make plans, so mapping out when and how to reach the goal during break will be easier if the plan is developed with the group.  

Encourage the kids to visit the library and/or set them up with books for break
Now is the time to solicit parents for book donations.  Have the kids bring in books to trade with their friends, let them borrow from books that are donated, and/or borrow from your library.  Students need to be set up for reading, so sending them off with a great selection and perhaps a new book (gift from teacher) will make them excited to dig in.  Encourage the parents to give books as gifts too.

Give your students an author list to check out and give them a teaser before break begins
Just like a movie trailer makes you WANT to see the movie, we need to do the same with books. Showcase the best winter reads and share a little bit of each book to get your kids started.  I am giving my kids Shiloh (5th grade) and Stone Fox (4th grade) for Christmas (Sh!  Don't tell them.), but these two titles were $1.00 per book from Scholastic, so I was thrilled to find them.  I know the kids will enjoy them.  If they've read them already, no worries!  I have alternate books I can trade with them once the gifts are opened.

Talk about Great Books to Read
Invite your librarian and principal in for a little book talk.  Discuss their favorites and let the kids just talk about what they've been reading and what they'd recommend to friends.  That will build enthusiasm.  It's amazing how the reading bug spreads when we just let the kids talk with each other. My little guy, Gary, is the inspiration in my room.  He comes in each day bursting with energy (literally) and can't wait to share with me what he's reading and what he's finished.  He is a reader, and that is spreading among the others.

Make Sure Your Kids KNOW this is Important
Talk about your celebration plans with the expectation that ALL will meet the challenge, but also emphasize the greater importance...becoming a reader and enjoying it.  Share your reading plans and how much you look forward to the time off to read.  Share how schoolwork often gets in the way of time to read (nothing wrong with that as the kids are very important), but that you look forward to a few books you've had saved for the time off.

Match Interests to the Reader
Find out what your students are most interested in and help them find books that will "call them". Kids need to feel in control (and if they're "getting" to read what they want to read, then motivation increases), connected to the common goal, and confident they'll be successful with the plan.
The "best" books for winter may be tough to identify, but as teachers, we love to find great books for a bargain price. These books are what I could find available for a dollar each from Scholastic and from my other favorite vender, The Reading Warehouse. If you order soon, you should be able to get them on time.  These choices are available from both companies for $1.00 per book.  They are from the December, November, and October listings with Scholastic and the Bargain Bin with The Reading Warehouse. Some months are not appropriate for purchases now, but this is what is available at this time and are subject to availability I'm sure.  
First Grade:
Second Grade:
Third Grade:
Fourth Grade:
Fifth Grade:
Bargain Books from The Reading Warehouse 
*Note-there are many Curious George book titles available...perfect for primary.
Certainly, we may need magic to keep some kids going through the winter break and on those snow days, but if we build a culture of reading and involve our students in the planning, we are sure to be more successful than if we just dole out the packets and hope for the best.

If you have ideas that work, please take a moment and share them, and I wish each of you a wonderful holiday filled with time to curl up with your favorite book.  

Until next time...happy reading (and relaxing!)


Celebrating Young Authors

We would like to welcome a guest blogger to our Literacy Land today: Maria from Curious Firsties. She is a first grade writing teacher.  That's right!  She teaches four 70 minute blocks of WRITING each day!  Needless to say, she has a passion for our young writers!

Thanks for joining us today, Maria!

Writing is a beautiful thing.  Can we get an amen to that?!  We are so blessed to be able to watch this process unfold in our young firstie writers.  After weeks, I mean WEEEEEKS, of sketching, writing, conferencing, sharing, conferencing some more and then finally choosing a piece to take to publication, our firsties are in need of some type of reward for their efforts. 

So we reward them with a PARTY!  And, who doesn't love a party?  Our firsties LOVE being able to share their work with families, friends, other students, teachers, and even our principal!  We love the look in their eyes when they are reading a piece THEY wrote and illustrated.  We love how empowered they feel as authors. 

Here's the fun part of celebrating authors..... THE CELEBRATIONS!  We have celebrations for just about every author we study in our writing class.  We like to mimic authors such as the GREAT.........  MO.WILLEMS. (in my best Jimmy Fallon voice)

We love keeping our decorations simple and cheap.  :) 

Next up....  Jane O'Connor
 After reading all about Fancy Nancy, we have a celebration to read our "How-To be Fancy/Handsome" to our parents.  Our firsties get all dressed up in ruffles, pearls, and suits.  For those who "forget" because sometimes that happens, we have our own Ooh La La Beauty Spa!  Here we give out mustaches, paint fingernails, tie bows in the girls hair and give the boys bowties!  It has been a BIG hit the last two years!
 Our next big celebration is for all our nature enthusiasts!  This year we added a SAFARI WALK to our research celebration. We think this was a student favorite.  Of course inspired by Pinterest we set up our classroom like this...

 And for this coming school year we have a few more celebrations in the works, but parties will not be on the top of that list. Instead, we will focus on one goal. We will be celebrating author accomplishments daily!  We are great about using our words to tell them how they are doing, but we'd like to take this a step further!  Our newest way to celebrate authors is by giving them bracelets!
Not only will our firsties love them, but our parents will also be informed about what their child is doing well at in writing class. :)  Two birds. One stone. :)

The inspiration for this came from my own girls.  They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE bracelets.  My oldest loves them so much she never takes them off.  She told me, "Mom, it's a part of me." That's when I thought..... hmmmm.... How can we do this in our classroom?  Bracelets.For.EVERYONE! 

These bracelets to encourage your young authors can be wrapped around a wrist,

                                    Put on a backpack,                   or on a lunchbox.
The possibilities are endless.  :)

Here's to an AMAZING year of growing young authors!
Click on the picture for your bracelet FREEBIE!

Maria from Curious Firsties