Sunday, June 16, 2019

Writing Classroom Transformations, Anyone?

It's hard to believe I've had my little TpT Store since 2011. For the first time this summer, I'll have the opportunity to attend the TpT Forward Conference in Austin so I can learn how to create even better resources for my students and yours! (I'm traveling alone, but I'm actually content with that since I'll be able to focus! I'm a super nerd like that.) As I mentioned in a post from last summer, The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King inspired me to take some major risks and incorporate classroom transformations this year. Believe it or not, I did SIX this year, and my students loved every minute of each one! I was blown away with how engaged they were, and yes, their long-term retention of the content. My next step is to turn at least one of these classroom transformations into an all-inclusive TpT resource so other teachers can take this awesome mode of instruction to their own ELA classrooms! I have a quick 2-question survey. Will you take a few seconds to help guide my planning?
Create your own user feedback survey

I truly appreciate your help. Anyone else going to TpT Forward this summer? Leave me a comment on this post. I'd love to network with you!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

TpT Sale Time!

It's August! How do those two words make you feel, teachers? One of the great things about August 1st-2nd is the sitewide sale on Teachers Pay Teachers! I've put everything in my store on sale (20% off) today and tomorrow, and TpT is offering an extra 5% discount with their code. Happy shopping!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Painting With Words

This lucky library find is word choice perfection. I often encourage my writers to use more specific color adjectives than just your basics. (Ex: fire engine red instead of red, sandy instead of brown, etc.) I explain that when they do this as authors, it's powerful. They don't even need illustrations because they're "painting with words!" Budding writers always seem motivated to try this technique at first. Colors are easy, right? Eventually though, their limited vocabulary and/or tendency to shy away from risk-taking often gets the best of them, and you see less and less of those vivid colors in their writing. By pairing Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger with plenty of modeling and mentoring, I'm hoping my future 4th graders will dilute the dullness and make "painting with words" a regular practice.

This book celebrates the beloved color GREEN!

Each 2-page spread showcases a unique shade of green.

Some are not what you'd expect.

The book leaves you with fresh adjectives to add to your vocabulary and a new appreciation for this lively color.

Once we read the book together, "painting with words" will be worked into our revising workshop. Rather than telling my students a new color to use, I'll question them to fish one out. If students claim they "don't know" the name of the color they're wanting to use, I tell them to think of something that is that color and make one up! (One of my all-time favorite student originals was "basketball orange!") Slam dunk!

No matter how hard we work as teachers to help our students improve their writing, it sure does help when published authors come through with solid gold green books like this one!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Repairing Run-On Sentences

One of my goals for next year is to help my students really strengthen their sentence control. Many teachers feel daunted by this, so it's no wonder the confusion trickles down to the kids! Understandably, it's hard to keep it all straight: simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, fragments, comma splices, run-ons, etc. On top of that, our budding writers are expected to vary their sentences throughout a written piece! It's like the never-ending writing skill, but it's vital in fourth grade and in life. One thing I can do over the summer (that I actually enjoy) is beef up my collection of resources. I'm thrilled with these task cards I created today:

 CLICK HERE to download the set from TpT!

Rather than relying on multiple choice answers, this exercise enables students to:

1. Identify if the sentence is truly a run-on sentence.
2. Rewrite run-on sentences in a variety of ways.

It will take lots of front loading (reviewing parts of speech, reteaching subject and predicate, etc.) to give my students the foundation they need before tackling those tricky run-on sentences. Modeling sentence writing, explicitly teaching the compound sentence pattern, and showing them a variety of mentor sentences helped my most recent group of fourth graders. Other tips include encouraging students to read their sentences aloud and revising drafts as they go (rather than finishing an entire draft before rereading it.) 

How do you teach your students to develop sentence control? Please spread your knowledge and leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pass the Prompts, Please!

Usually when I make an anchor chart, it's for students. This one, however, is for a special group of educators I'm presenting for at an upcoming convention. I thought the resources were too good not to share!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Refreshing Reads

Just like that, my tenth year teaching 4th grade flashed by. It was one of the best school years so far because my team and I were blessed with an extraordinary group of kids. (Don't you just love years like that?) Trying my best to be a good teacher and mom has really forced me to put my blog on the backburner, but now it's summer! Here I am again! As I type this. there are two shiny new books on my night table. (Now, if I actually have time to finish them this summer, THAT will be an accomplishment!) I've read the first few chapters of both, and I'm loving them so far!

The Wild Card
By Hope & Wade King

These two dynamic educator-authors teach at the famed Ron Clark Academy. Although they are a married couple, they come from different backgrounds and share how their personal struggles and triumphs have molded them into the educators they are today. The Kings also provide insight on how to be the most engaging, authentic teacher you can be and why it is so important to do so. (Did I mention I just wrapped up year 10? I believe it's perfect timing for me to read this book.)

The Happiness Advantage
By Shawn Achor

My principal did a book study on The Happiness Advantage with some of her colleagues, and she is living proof of its main theme: Happiness leads to success; NOT the other way around! The bits and pieces she's shared with us as a faculty have sparked my interest. I'm hoping to gain a fresh perspective and some useful tools for being a true optimist!

I realize this post wasn't quite what you'd expect given the title of my blog, but what kind of writers would we be if we weren't readers? What kind of teachers would we be if we weren't learners? 

If you are gifted with some quiet time, what books are you reading this summer?

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Favorite Book

Isn't it funny (and a little sad) how teachers finally have time to READ over summer break? If you're a teacher-mom like me, even that time is limited! I recently received a copy of this book at a professional development session I attended, and it's one of those solid gold books that gives you more fresh ideas than there are places for bookmark tabs. 

Jennifer Serravallo (also the author of The Reading Strategies Book) has organized her genius mini-lessons and writing strategies into student goals. Each page throughout the meat of the book provides a new, easy-to-implement strategy such as "Revisiting the Language Gems in Your (Writing) Notebook" to "Finding the Heart" of your story to narrow your focus. Most strategies include an anchor chart or work sample photo, which clarifies a lot for busy teachers. If you are blessed with some real reading time this July, I highly recommend this "gem" of a resource! I already feel like a better writing teacher, and I'm not even back to school yet!