Friday, March 11, 2016

Writing Process---From a Student's Point of View

I recently spent a few days in a writing workshop hosted in my district that featured both poetry and non-fiction writing.  In the workshop, we discussed the merits of different writing programs such as 6 Traits and ideas that are taken from Lucy Calkins but spent a lot of time on developing mini lessons and how to make the most of the writing conferences.  Amid the discussions that we had in how we presented topics and edited with students, we never talked about the writing process as a whole.  We discussed the different steps of the writing process, but as we talked in groups or in pairs, I noticed something that was universal among us.  We all added 'extra' steps into the writing process.  Even more interesting to me was that these 'extra' steps were added at the same exact place by each teacher.  We may not have referred to them with the same vocabulary, but they were there, just the same.  I identified 12 steps needed to help students improve their writing:

Step 1:  The student brainstorms with a graphic organizer.

Step 2:  The student begins illustrating and labeling  the ‘nouns’ which will help with adding details.

Step 3:  The student begins writing a strong lead, a beginning, middle, and end, and a conclusion.

Step 4:  Conference with student. Is the student ready to convert this from 5 sentences to 5 paragraphs?

Step 5:  Check for a problem and solution or opinion. 

Step 6:  The student rereads and edits again if necessary. This can be done with a partner.

Step 7:  Conference with the student to revise the story.

Step 8:  The student rereads to make further changes and checks for clarity of the story.  The focus is on adding more details!

Step 9:  The student begins to rewrite the story to work towards a final draft.

Step 10:  The student rereads for clarity again.

Step 11:  The student adds details to the illustration to help tell the story.

Step 12:  Ready to publish!

Here are those same 12 steps in a poster format for you! I included a check off sheet, too!

I know that realizing this validated not only me as a teacher, but also me as a writer.  I had never thought about breaking it all down so that I could analyze the way I taught the writing process.  I hope that this helps you strengthen your writer's workshop like it has me.  

Here is a poster that I have used for a long time, but I lost the name of the author a LONG time ago!  If this is your graphic please let me know and I'll note you as the source.  But, it is so helpful!

It is incredible when something that you have thought about makes a connection with such strength that it changes the teacher's heart inside you.  

Here are 3 other things to remember....Maybe these can be the beginning of a few anchor charts for you.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

All About the Desert Habitat!

Desert Giant is one of my favorites to use when teaching about habitats. 

I have a unit that goes with this book.  Bet you didn't guess that!  So, here is what the cover of the unit looks like:

The unit covers these skills:
*  Knowledge of desert animals
*Saguaro (plant) life cycle
*Uses of the Saguaro Cactus
*Desert Animal Habitats
*How plants and animals rely on each other
*How plants, animals, and people benefit from each other
*an illustrated booklet for students to write about the desert
*locating the Sonoran Desert on a map of the U.S.

Here is a freebie from the unit!  Enjoy!

I also use the book Cactus Hotel when teaching about deserts as well!  The kids love it because of all of the information it has in it!  Here is the link to my unit for it!

I also wanted to share this book with you!  These are some pictures from the book Creatures of the Desert World that I blogged about a bit ago.  I use this as part of my unit also.  Aren't the illustrations beautiful?  Makes you want to walk right in! The illustrator, which I guess is National Geographic, is unreal!!

Also, for those of you that have your own laminator, I found these sheets CHEAP and they work really well.  These are the ones I have started using.  Just click on the pic to go look at them.  I use the 5 MILs when doing cards for centers and the 3 MILs when laminating a whole sheet.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Puzzle Pie Giveaway!!

Have you heard of Puzzle Pies? My friend and co-work, Heather from Hojo's Teaching Adventures worked together to create these fun little manipulatives to help kids with their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and <coming soon!!> division facts.
math center materials

How do I pull off a Puzzle Pies?

I've used these as a whole group activity to introduce them and my class is now working on them independently.  It is interesting to watch them as they turn the pie around to get a different view point!  My class is totally silent when they are working on them as a whole class...they are intense in their 'battle' to figure out how to complete the pie.  It is awesome!  For the kids that were ready to do them independently, they didn't want to be bothered by others because they wanted to 'do the puzzle' and were super engaged. I follow the Pearson and Gallagher model of Gradual Release of Responsibility very closely <you model, share it, guide it, and then move into the independent range.  Some kids can do this all in one demonstration or class time....for others, it takes a little longer and those are the kids that you pull to your table in small groups or even independently. 
The puzzles are so cool because it allows the kids to practice their basic facts and get in some much needed review work, but they have fun while doing it.  Plus, it gives you a way to move away from 'drill and kill' while having paper proof that your kids know their facts or just gave up and glued the pieces together.  If you aren't yet convinced, go grab our freebie and give it a try!
Here’s a quick little video of one of my kids working a pie.  You can even show this video to your class the first time you introduce them so that they have a little more understanding of what you expect them to do!
Here are the Puzzle Pies currently in our shop:

Puzzle Pies for RTI?

Let's say you have students that struggle with their math facts and it is delaying their understanding of other skills you need to be working on with them.  You test them and they end up in your RTI group.  You can pull these students together at your table and work on those pesky math facts as a group or in pairs.  Use manipulatatives to make them even more kinesthetic! Hint:  Start off with a smaller pie and then work up!

Puzzle Pies for Enrichment?

So how do you enrich your Little Einsteins?  Easy!  While others are working on addition or subtraction, go ahead and introduce math arrays and show them the connection between repeated addition and multiplcation and have them begin working on those pesky tables to get them ready for the next grade level.  (I'm coming at this from a second grade perspective).  Have them complete an array for each problem so that they can find the answer!
basic facts math center
Notice that the student here (she is working on an enrichment pie) is actually working on her pie without using the template.  Who said you needed a template?  It looks like she is ready to go to the next step. If they don't need the template to guide them with the gluing stage, drop that from the expectation.  And hey--it saves you from making another copy!  Just give them a piece of construction paper for gluing so that you have a paper trail.
You can even have the students create their own Puzzle Pie using this free template!

Puzzle Pies for Centers?

Once your kids are familiar with how puzzle pies work, put them into a work station, or as we call them here, 'purposeful practice'.  *I* just call them 'centers'!!  Be sure to have a place for students to put them until their dry or they will all get stuck together!  I have my students place theirs in the hallway to dry.  Now you have an easy assessment!

Puzzle Pies for Display?

math facts
Now is the fun part!  Puzzle pies make a great bulletin board display.  Other teachers or YOUR PRINCIPAL will ooooh and ahhhh over these because they are not 'the norm'.  They are great to show that you are showing higher order thinking or critical thinking skills in your classroom, don't you think?  =)  Also...if you have a tree in your room, you can punch a whole in them and add a string and you have an awesome little ornament or decoration.  Just let the kids color all of the pieces first and you can even use bottled blue to trace the lines and add some glitter for a little extra sparkle!
Here’s the FREE download we promised! You’ll get 11 pages of Puzzle Pies that you can use to introduce the concept to your students. That’s three addition puzzles, four subtracting puzzles, and four multiplication puzzles.
The giveaway is over, but thanks for dropping by!

Contact Form


Email *

Message *