Friday, January 25, 2013

Keeping Up With All the WRITING in Writer's Workshop

I had a teacher contact me with this question:

"I am in DESPERATE need of suggestions on how to handle the writing that is done during Writer's Workshop.  I am using the two taped together folders right now, but I need suggestions about how to go about saving some of those writing samples when their folder of drafts is overflowing?!  Any ideas?" 

I decided not to just write her back, but to tell the world (or at least the people who read my BLOG!) First, the folder idea she is talking about is one that I share in my Writer's Workshop trainings. Its very simple really- two folders stapled and taped together. The front could even be a bradded folder for even more writing awesomeness! The front two pockets become a Writer's Toolbox. Students can keep anything in here that will help them do their writing. Spelling Words, editing checklists, word wall words, personal dictionaries, small copies of anchor charts for use in the current genre study, you name it. Anything that helps kids keep their eyes down and focused at their desks during writing time. Let the rest of the day be spent having them search around the room for their resources- but during writing workshop- I want focus to stay on their writing.

The second two pockets become a place for kids to put their writing. One side is what they are working on right now and the other side is work they might work on later. You might label it "Writing I'm Working On" 
"Writing to Work on Later"

This teacher's question is about how to keep up when the Writing to Work on Later section is overflowing. First, can I just say, this is an amazing problem to have and I wish every classroom across the country was experiencing this "problem". Right? Classrooms where kids are writing so much they are running out of folder space! I love it! 

So here's how I have combatted that problem in my classroom. And it is typically this time of year when there is a need for an activity like this. Happy January Writing Folder CLEAN UP!

I ask students to look through their drafts- keeping ones they may want to come back to and work on- about 5 of those- and the rest go in a storage file that I keep.  Kids are so cute when they look through the writing that they did back in September! They can't believe they "used to write like that".  If you want to add a reflection piece to this assignment- have kids write down some things they "used to do" in their writing that they don't think they do anymore. Some kids say things like "I used to scribble and now I use my letters" or "I used to not put any spaces in between my words" etc.

What they don't keep in their folder, you will just file these away- a file folder per kid.  You'll want to hold onto the writing from back in August/September, but you don't need kids to keep it in their folder all year long.  


Saturday, January 19, 2013

My FIRST Guest Blogger...

Let me introduce my "kid sister teacher". That is what I feel she is. She is a doll. She has been a participant in many of my trainings and she is just cute as a button. Here is a picture of the two of us... now you know who that girl is with me on Facebook too! My teacher little sister!

Now I will turn it over to The Frizz In First Grade!

Hello!  Or should I say “Howdy?” 

I am the Frizz in First Grade, and I am very excited and honored to be guest blogging from Texas.
Today I want to share with you a great procedure to incorporate into your Writer’s Workshop.
 It’s called “No Walk. No Talk.” and it’s simply brilliant. 

I cannot take credit for this great idea.  I thought I had learned it from a Writer’s Institute Training with Melissa, but when she asked me to guest blog about it she also mentioned that it was not from her workshop.  Needless to say, this idea is like one of those pinterest ideas that never actually links back to the original source.  I will try not to disappoint you in that same way. 

Here are the basics of “No Walk. No Talk.” 
I teach my long winded half an hour 10 minute mini lesson and send them away from the carpet to do their writing.  The first part of writing time is No Walk No Talk. 

This is what it looks like for the first 10 or so minutes of writing time: No walking and no talking.
My students know that this time is their 10 minutes of real, authentic WRITING. 
With a pencil.  Without talking.  (And you may not get out of your seat.  Or raise your hand to ask me how to spell a word.  Or talk to your neighbor about your story.  Or get up to get your ninety-ninth tissue of the day even though you don’t have a cold.  Or talk to your friend across the room about your birthday party.  Or raise your hand to tell me you are wearing new shoes or what kind of birthday party you are having.  Or come tap me on the shoulder to ask me if it is time for PE.  Or walk around the room.  Or talk.  PERIOD.  End of story.)

Don’t get me wrong.  There is a time and a place for all of those things. I am not a crazy-uptight, control-freak teacher (on most days).  Because I set clear expectations and procedures, my students are fully engaged in the writing process. By telling my students what they can and cannot do during this time allows the class to settle into writing and actually WRITE.  It gets them started quickly and sets boundaries for the workshop. 

After the ten minutes is up, I flip the anchor chart to the other side so that the students know No Walk No Talk has ended.  This signals a different set of expectations.  During this time, students are allowed to whisper read their story to themselves, talk to their writing partner about what they are writing, glue ideas into their Writer’s Notebook, move around the room, and ask me questions (although they usually don’t because they are too busy writing!) 
This time usually lasts for 10 minutes depending on our schedule for the day. 
We always We usually We try to end our time with the share chair.

Now that you know how the time is structured, let’s get back to setting the expectations of No Walk No Talk with an anchor chart. 

Here is the one I use.

The most important thing to remember is to make guidelines based on what you, the teacher, are comfortable with. For example, I noticed that my students were spending a LARGE portion of their writing time coloring their pictures.  This is an important part of the writing process, but I felt like it was getting in the way of their writing.  So I decided to ban crayons during No Walk No Talk.
I also noticed that students were spending way too much time gluing ideas into their Writer’s Notebooks instead of actually writing.  Again, I told them “No Glue.”

Before you get caught up in what you DON’T want them to do during this time, think about what you DO want them to accomplish. I wanted my students spend a large amount of time writing words with their pencils because I know they need lots of exposure to the writing process. 
I wanted them to be able to draw a quick picture to help them brainstorm their story parts. 

I knew they would need to use their Writer’s Gum and their Writer’s notebook when they got stuck.  Those were the things I focused on.  Those were the things I made sure to model a LOT of before I introduced No Walk No Talk.

Practice makes perfect better than the next day. Get out there and try it!  You will be surprised at how quickly your students become comfortable with writing. 
Special thanks to Melissa for letting me guest blog. 

Reading with the Stars

First let me say that this is NOT my idea! But I loved it so much that I HAD to tell all of you about it! First... this is the blog post I read about it. You can find it here. Peace, Love and Learning

So, what is the idea? It's called reading with the STARS and it is so simple. You print out pictures of STARS and then have those STARS available for reading in a center. How simple is that? The hard part is coming up with the list of stars! Yes, I will admit it, I am not cool and I don't know what is happening out there in the lives of kids because I don't have any and am out of the classroom trenches.

I started the list. I didn't get very far. Then I found myself on Google searches. I spent the night in front of the TV watching every commercial for new ideas to add to my stars list.  I even found myself at CVS looking at an issue of Teen Beat... yes they still make it... but when I used to buy it, it had the cast of 90210 and New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) on the cover.  So I have compiled a list. Maybe you are cooler than me and you can add to it? Then it was a Google Images search to find pictures. I would share my picture file with you here- but I'm sure there is a copyright issue.  So you have to find the pics on your own.

I have uploaded the list however, and the label for the front of the folders.


I can't wait to use it for my training on Guided Reading and Literacy Work Stations for DC Public Schools in January.  (I've since used it and teachers loved it! So I hope you will too!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thumbs Up Thursday or Techie Tuesday?

Seems like my Thumbs Up Thursday's are all Technology Related... maybe I need to change this post to a Techie Tuesday?

Nonetheless, here is my Thumbs Up Thursday...
Don't have a Projector?  Want to show things from your computer so kids can SEE it?

A teacher mentioned that she bought HDMI cords (Less than $20 at Best Buy, Target, or Walmart) and hooked her computer up to her classroom TV!  Take your computer to the store- tell them what you are trying to do- they'll get you hooked up! Seems like some other troubleshooting can be done here.  Overall... seems simple enough to me... you just have to be able to operate your computer while you are sitting near your TV.  I think it is worth a try and it may be a cheap answer to your lack of projection power!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Roll, Say, Keep FREEBIE

I love these games and many of you know about them too! I decided to make one for my teachers to use in a training for DCPS on Guided Reading and Literacy Work Stations. While some of them had seen the idea before, they had never thought to put a recording sheet with it.

I have uploaded the game FREE to my TpT store. Only one request, if you download it, please follow my store! Thanks! It is in a WORD file so you can make any changes to it that you need to.

Hope you have a great weekend- find some time for some fun! Fun is on my list this weekend!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thumbs Up Thursday

Today I'm posting about a site that it my absolute FAVORITE!
If you don't know about We Give Books then this is going to be a big THUMBS UP for you!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year's LINKY

I am doing another LINKY y'all. They are so fun... I just may have a new obsession!

Thanks to Making it as a Middle School Teacher for this fun Link Up.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Guided Reading Grouping Folder

Guided Reading- I love it- and hate it all in the same breath! Let me explain, I love its ability to differentiate reading for my students. I love that it gives me EYEBALL time with students. I love that I feel like a SUPER teacher when I'm just teaching 3-5 students. However, it is not easy.

I hate that there are so many groups- too many to see all in one day. I also hate that kids move from group to group so often. I know that means my teaching is working, but it makes my grouping paper look like THIS! I like things neat and orderly... and this... this is ugly!

I would make a new sheet every week it seemed! I just couldn't handle it not being neat and pretty. I was explaining that to a group of teachers at a training a few years ago. I told them that it drove me crazy, but if you wanted "proof" that your teaching was working, it would be to keep a folder of all the sheets like these where you have scratched and added kids to different groups. That's the proof that your teaching at the table is working.

After the training, a teacher came up to me and what she shared with me, changed my Guided Reading LIFE. I'm serious! It changed my LIFE! 

Ta-da! Guided Reading Grouping Folders! The picture below is one a teacher made in MY training now that I have started sharing that teacher's idea with the world!
It's a simple file folder (go ahead and get a cute decorated one if you wish) and it has white Avery labels- I would have 8 labels in case you ever had 8 groups! Leave yourself the option. Now LAMINATE! After it is laminated, you can write groups/levels on the labels and wipe them off as they change throughout the year. 

Then of course the velcro- put 5 velcro pieces under each label- groups in guided reading are 3-5- trying to teach more than five is nearly impossible. This teacher used student pictures, my folder just had student names.  Now, when kids have to change groups, it stays nice and pretty! TA-DA!

Don't you just love this?

I went ahead and designed a cover for the front of the folder.  You can get it FREE in my TPT Store

If you download, please also take a second to follow my store!  You won't want to miss the next freebie and the next... and the next...


Thursday, January 3, 2013

NEW January Currently

So you are going to laugh, but I JUST figured out where every blog is getting the SUPER CUTE CURRENTLY from! I wanted to be part of the "club", but was making my own! Not anymore!
Happy New Year to me!

If you want it, just follow the rules at Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Blog.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thumbs Up Thursday

This Thumbs Up Thursday is another great site that I happened upon one day when looking for something on the Internet! 

I am just amazed at the wealth of resources that teachers are sharing with other teachers on  this site- and they are all FREE! Yep, that's right, FREE! 

If you haven't bookmarked this site, or better yet, added the blog to your blog reader, you must do so! Enjoy!

Classroom Freebies Too
From the creator, "I wanted to come up with a website where teachers who were willing to share their great ideas for free could all be pooled together and have a central place for which all other teachers could come and "shop" around, even with minimal classroom budgets.  All teachers K-12 can benefit, and the posts are actually only labeled according to the relevant grade levels, which makes it super easy to search.  For more about how to find your freebies, start {HERE}"