fbq('track', 'ViewContent');

Developing Writing Fluency

I was struggling with my Writer's Workshop time, thinking about how I had children with fantastic ideas, yet their writing wasn't flowing. I knew they had it in them, but I was struggling to get them past that hesitation... the fear of it not being "just right". A lot of writer's workshop time is being wasted because their writing isn't fluent. 

Developing Writing Fluency: Do your students have great ideas, but struggle to write down those ideas? A writing warm up might help!

After much thought, I remembered a writing exercise I'd done in the past at seminars and training on writing. I also thought about how I believe in a need for a warm up in all areas... reading, math, even singing and sports! 


I've used discussion as well as graphic organizers for a writing warm up. Although these definitely have value, they didn't quite do the trick, so I made these booklets. They use these booklets, and write anything they can think of for two minutes. The only rules: No erasing and they have to keep the pencil moving. If they can't think of anything, they simply write "I can't think of anything". The purpose is to get the thoughts flowing from their brain, through their fingers, onto the paper.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Workshop-Warm-Up-Booklet-192620?utm_source=Developing%20Writing%20Fluency%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=Writing%20Warm%20Up


Here's a bonus: we have been finding that these booklets are helping the children come up with new ideas for writing!


See here: Writer's Workshop Warm Up Booklet or explore the image to download the freebie or design your own booklet!


I've been noticing a difference in their writing fluency!


Developing Writing Fluency: Do your students have great ideas, but struggle to write down those ideas? A writing warm up might help!



Lessons Learned

This is a story I often repeat to parents of my students. It's about my daughter's first ice skating experience. 

Lesson Learned: I had a valuable lesson when I brought my daughter ice skating for the first time. This is a story I share often with parents.

When my daughter was 6 years old, we went ice skating with a couple of friends. My daughter had never skated before, so I was a little nervous about how she'd take to it.  We both laced up our skates, I took her by the hand and we both stepped onto the ice.



She started skating right away! A couple of times she started to lose her balance a little bit, but I was right by her side and helped her find her balance every time.


After a while I noticed something odd: she was no longer trying to keep her balance. That's when I realized I was doing exactly what I frequently advised parents not to do. I was catching her every time she lost her balance! I knew what I had to do.



Of course, I backed off. She fell a few times. She got right back up and skated. By the end of the day, she'd gotten her balance and had a nice rhythm in her skating stride. She was a skater!


It was a nice reminder to parents how we sometimes need to let our children fall. It's definitely not easy, but it's not in the child's best interest to constantly be there to catch them. Sometimes we have to let them fall.


How do we know when to step back and let them fall?

Lesson Learned: I had a valuable lesson when I brought my daughter ice skating for the first time. This is a story I share often with parents.

Martin Luther King Jr. Books, Videos, and Resources


I love teaching my students about Martin Luther King Jr.  

He was an incredible man, and stood for peace.


Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King.


Although I'm giving away my age, I remember when he was shot. I was a little too young to understand the impact at the time. (I was far more interested in the boys than the politics of the day.) Today I can't watch his speech without tears rushing down my face.  It disturbs me to think that a peaceful man who worked so hard for non-violence was killed in such a violent way.

I find literature to be a valuable part of my teaching. I've read many books about Dr. King, and they always keep the children engaged.  He was clearly a powerful man.  Here are some good ones: (Each image is a link to Amazon.)
                                    
Explore each image for a link to Amazon to learn more about that book!  A video also grabs the attention of the children. Check out this one from Brain Pop.





Or this one from YouTube:




Although his speech is kind of long for the little ones, this is the last part of that famous speech, and it's worth showing at least part of it to the children. This video from Youtube is the last part of his speech, and I think the children will understand Dr. King's passion:


Dr.  King taught the world about peace.  Here are some children's books that help with the concept of peace. 




 Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King. 


I also recommend this video:

It certainly tells the story of peace that I want children to learn, and I suspect it's the peaceful world Dr. King dreamed of. Plus, the lyrics are right on the screen for the kids to sing along... over and over!

Here's one more video, a song that warms my heart! It goes right along with the teachings of Dr. King, and something children will understand:

Finally, here's one my own resources - it's a freebie sorting activity that's sure to get the kids talking! And their conversations defending their opinions are amazing! See the image for the activity Just or Unjust?

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Just-or-Unjust-a-Civics-Sorting-Activity-190743?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=Just%20or%20Unjust


Speaking of activities, I have a couple of MLK activities in this resource: Science and Social Studies Activities for January




It includes a close read about Dr. King.
Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King.

A mapping activity, based on important places in Dr. King's life.

Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King.

And making timelines based on Dr. King's life.
Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King.

See any of the images above to see Science and Social Studies Printables for January! (There is other fun stuff in there, too!)

I'd love to see your ideas for MLK too!


Martin Luther King Jr. Resources: This great man represented solving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Here are several books and video suggestions to help your students learn about Dr. King.

Writer's Workshop

Have I mentioned I'm a big fan of Writer's Workshop


I've been doing Writer's Workshop in my classroom for more than 30 years, and have seen a great amount of growth in the children's writing skills.
 
Writer's Workshop: Help them learn to love writing by writing about what they love!

I've been very lucky to have worked with several wonderful mentors who have helped me learn how the Writing Process works, and how to set it up in my classroom. I've watched some fantastic examples of writing conferences and mini lessons. I've used many materials, and have tweeked them to fit my personal style and the levels I teach. I've learned about 6 Traits as well as the Writing Process and have combined it all to fit my needs. 

In case you're not familiar with Writer's Workshop, it's about children writing what is in their hearts. It includes free writing time, conferencing with friends, conferencing with teachers, revising, proofreading, and publishing their written work.

I've been working on some materials to share with you that I've developed for Writer's Workshop in my classroom.


Explore the images below to see my Writer's Workshop Starter Kit:
 
Writer's Workshop: Help them learn to love writing by writing about what they love!
 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Workshop-Starter-Collection-180055?utm_source=Elementary%20Matters%20Blog&utm_campaign=Writer%27s%20workshop%20Packet 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Workshop-Starter-Collection-180055?utm_source=Elementary%20Matters%20Blog&utm_campaign=Writer%27s%20workshop%20Packet

 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Workshop-Starter-Collection-180055?utm_source=Elementary%20Matters%20Blog&utm_campaign=Writer%27s%20workshop%20Packet

Explore the image to see my Writer's Workshop Horizontal Paper.
 
Writer's Workshop: Help them learn to love writing by writing about what they love!

Explore the image to see my Writer's Workshop Vertical Paper.
 
Writer's Workshop: Help them learn to love writing by writing about what they love!

Explore the image to see my very favorite book on Writer's Workshop. (It's an affiliate link to Amazon.)

How do you use Writer's Workshop in your classroom?

 
Writer's Workshop: Help them learn to love writing by writing about what they love!

Band aid or Lasso?

Do you have students who use apostrophes for everything that ends in s?
Band aid or Lasso? Do your students put an apostrophe in every word that ends in s? Here are a couple of cute tricks to help the kiddos remember when to use apostrophes and when NOT to!

I remind my kids to think: does the apostrophe works as a band-aid or a lasso. If it doesn't, it's not needed. 

I don't claim the band aid story. My students gave it to me, but it sure is clever! They told me the apostrophe is like the band aid in contractions. Since the two words were squashed into one, some of the letters popped out, and the band aid is needed to heal the spot where the letters popped out. Of course, this story has evolved, and now I tell them certain letters were "surgically removed." They really enjoy saying "surgically removed," so I enhance the story to keep their attention. I also mention that the surgery doesn't hurt at all, in fact, it tickles! If you listen closely, you can hear the letters giggling.


I do claim the lasso story as my own. When teaching possessives, I make sure the kids know the word "possess" means to own or have something. I'll get into stories of rodeos, telling them how cowboys throw their lasso and claim their cattle. I show them pictures I've googled of cowboys and lassos. In a possessive, the noun with the 's owns the following item. (or nearby, in the case of an adjective) I even get into turning the apostrophe into a lasso and circling the next word.  They practice this on their whiteboards (I'm a whiteboard fanatic!) and love to draw the lassos. 


Naturally, if the word they're thinking about doesn't need a band aid or a lasso, they shouldn't be using an apostrophe. 

We know how these little stories help the children remember. After 35+ years of teaching, I have lots of little stories and "tricks up my sleeve." Recent brain research shows us these little stories help make the connections in the brain so the children can build their knowledge. Plus, it's fun! 

One of my favorite resources has this Band-Aid/ Lasso theme. It has these two stories to help the children remember when to use apostrophes, and has 4 activities to practice contractions, plurals, and possessives.

Explore the image or here: 

Band-Aid or Lasso?

 
Band aid or Lasso? Do your students put an apostrophe in every word that ends in s? Here are a couple of cute tricks to help the kiddos remember when to use apostrophes and when NOT to!

 How do you help your students remember when to use the apostrophe and when NOT to use it?

Band aid or Lasso? Do your students put an apostrophe in every word that ends in s? Here are a couple of cute tricks to help the kiddos remember when to use apostrophes and when NOT to!




Dabbling in DIBELS

Last week I went to a two day training period for DIBELS Next.  DIBELS Next is an assessment program for early readers.  It stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. 

We learned how to deliver every part of the test for every level.  Typically the assessment is given 3 times a year:  the beginning, the middle, and the end.  Different levels are given different parts of the test.   Teachers are able to Progress Monitor children who don't meet benchmarks.  The best part?  All the materials are available online for free.

The tough part?  It takes about 10 minutes per child at my level.  The tests are given individually.  The tricky part is finding time to do this while keeping up with all our classroom responsibilities. 

But it's a wealth of information!  This is the first time in years our school district has used any kind of assessment that is standardized.  The older children have the state mandated tests, starting in third grade, and we've had the unit tests from the reading program we use.  DIBELS will be giving us specific information concerning what our students know (or don't know) about reading.

Why is this good?  Because it tells us specifically what we need to teach the children!  (I suspect you already knew this!)  With all the testing we've been forced to do over the past few years, it's a pleasure to have an assessment tool that helps us figure out what we need to do. 

DIBELS doesn't necessarily tell us what to do to raise the scores, but there are tons of resources,  many of which we explored through the 2 day training. 

So, I've started Dabbling in DIBELS.  During the last couple of days, I've Dibbled 4 of my students.  It's a little late for the beginning of the year baseline, and a little early for the midyear assessment, but I'm just practicing giving the test.  (And getting information about my kids!)  Honestly, there's not really anything I didn't already know about these kids, but it's valid information that I can bring up at meetings and share with parents. 


So far I'm happy dabbling in DIBELS!  Whatever keeps them reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format