Sunday, January 26, 2014

The WRITE Stuff... Oh, oh, oh, oh, OH! FREEBIE!

Ok - just to start this blog post off right - take a minute, kick, back and reminisce :)  


Yeah, I definitely just stopped and watched the entire thing... Aaaand maybe even danced and sang along.  NKOTB was my very first concert.  I even owned all of their 'barbie' dolls.  Ok - enough self embarrassment!  Let's talk about writing.  

In my district we use the 6 + 1 writing traits.  If you're not familiar with them, check out this fantastic resource by Ruth Culham.  She has many different resources for all different grade levels.


We spend about 2-3 weeks on each trait and then end those weeks with a full writing piece.  There are a lot of great resources out there for the traits, but coming up with 2-3 weeks of mini lessons on one traits can sometimes be difficult.  Earlier this year, I put together a week's worth of mini lessons for the trait of Organization for my grade level and shared them.  I've been meaning to share them all with you, but just haven't gotten around to it until now.  

There's really not a 'set' order to teach the traits, but there is definitely a good flow on when to teach them.  We teach:

Ideas
Organization
Voice
Word Choice
Sentence Fluency
Conventions (which is really taught during all of the other traits)

As you can see, it was a while ago when I taught organization - but better late than never right!?  Below is a week's worth of mini lessons for the organization trait.  Each lesson is provided with a hook, a teacher model (I do), a practice portion (We do), and a independent practice (You do).  It also has listed the materials needed for the lesson.  


The overall objective of the week's lessons is to teach the students how to organize their writing by giving them small tips they can use when writing independently.  There are a lot of pages that are needed in order to use the lessons above.  Would you like those too?  Ok!


Just click on the above photo to download the week's lesson plans and any papers that you need to teach them!  

*Disclaimer*  This item is being hosted by Dropbox.  It is NOT to be sold in any way, shape, or form by others.  

Can you tell I <3 teaching writing.  All of that JUST for a week's worth of plans!  Whew!  You know what else makes writing a lot easier to teach?  Educents' new The WRITE Stuff bundle.  It's truly amazing!  This bundle has over 900 pages that will make your writing time really come to life!  Click on the photo below to check it out!  


Speaking of writing (see the theme here?) Want to know more about this little poster?  Click on it to find out more!  


And to thank you for reading all the way to the end of my post - the first 5 readers to comment below will receive my Pickin' Paragraphs activity for free!  Click on the photo to check it out.  (Make sure to leave your e-mail!)

Have a great week everyone!



Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Mustache You a Question - How to Get Your Kids to Ask Questions!

     One of the best ways to see if a students has understanding of a specific topic is to have him/her ask questions.  Asking questions is a higher order thinking skill that allows knowledge of the topic, along with questioning skills to make the questions meaningful.   Sure - most kids can probably ask the Who, What, When, Where, Why questions.  But how do you get them to ask questions like "Explain how you found the main idea."  or "Can you compare your answer to another problem we've done?"  This is where it can get challenging.

     At my school we're each given a specific skill, based on our needs, to focus on as a teacher for the year.  Mine was getting my students to ask questions during lessons.  So to help with that I came up with the idea of having the question words that I wanted to the students to use out for them to see.  Of course we all know mustaches are all the rage right now, so how could I pass up the opportunity to use them in my new questioning bulletin board?  So ta-da!  My new bulletin board!


There are a lot of different ways I use the board.  On each mustache is a question word that I'm wanting the kids to use.  The one on the yellow piece of paper in the middle is the 'question word of the week'.  This gives us a chance to focus on one specific word a week and how to use that word to ask meaningful questions.  If a student asks a question using the question word of the week - they get a small prize.  They're allowed to use any of them.  


At the bottom of the bulletin board you'll see some of Melonheadz ADORABLE mustache kidz!  LOVE THEM!  Each kid has a talk bubble with a question starter on it.  This gives those kids who need a little extra help coming up with a way to start their question some guidance.  


The mustaches are just push pinned on for easy movement around the board.  

I encourage the students to ask questions any time during a lesson, but there are two specific times when I focus on it.  For each lesson, I always model the concept of what we're learning.  When I'm done modeling, I USED to stand up and ask the student "What did you see me do?"  The students would then repeat back to me important steps they saw during my modeling.  I've changed that up now.  Instead I say, "Ask me a question about what you saw me do."  You should see them!  All of their heads turn to the bulletin board to search for a question word to use!  They ask such meaningful questions that allows me to then go back to what I modeled and teach!  

The other time I really focus on the questioning is during the student to student interaction part of the lesson.  Whether the grouping method is partners, small group, or whole group - questioning is important.  Having the students ask questions to one another strengthens their understanding.  To help make it more 'hands on' I created smaller mustaches that the students could hold up to their mouth (at a distance of course) to help ask each other questions!  Check them out!


I copied the exact same questioning words from my bulletin board onto these smaller mustaches.  I made multiple sets for whenever we are working in small groups.  These have become such a unique and important tool in our class.  The types and levels of questions my kids are asking is unbelievable!  


Sometimes, after I model in a lesson - I'll pull a mustache out of a cup at random and make a student ask me a question about the lesson using the word on the mustache.  It keeps them on their toes and they love it!  Yes, those darn little mustaches were a pain to cut out - but so well worth it!!  

I've put together the materials you need to create the bulletin board and small mustaches in a free packet on TPT.  I hope you find it useful!  Just click on the pic below to download.  


How do you get your kids to ask questions in class?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Indiana Snowpocalypse 2014!!


So today SHOULD have been my first day back to school, but instead I'm home.  Why you ask?  Because of SNOWPOCALYPSE 2014!!  We just got over 8 inches of snow on top of the 5 inches we received just a few days ago.  On top of that we're having -13 degree temps with -40 wind chill factors. Whew!  Glad I'm inside all warm and snuggly with my family!  We don't plan to go anywhere!!  

Here's a picture of my backyard.  It's hard to tell how much is actually out there, but it's over a foot of snow!!

So to help celebrate this Snowpacolypse 2014, the Indiana bloggers have put together a $1 SALE!  We have each chosen a few fun items from our store and put them on sale for just ONE dollar!  I'm not sure when the sale ends...  I'm going to keep mine on sale until I go back to school.  So maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow? You never know!  I'd stock up now!!  Check out the linky below to see everyone's amazing $1 products!  

I've put on my two new winter items in the sale!  Get them for just $1!  You can click on the pictures below to go directly to TPT.  :)



Stay safe and warm friends!  




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