Monday, February 22, 2016

Engaging Young Writers Chapter 3

I could not wait to read the next chapter of this awesome book and share my thoughts with you. So once again, I am linking up with 3 amazing educators for our book study on the book, Engaging Young Writers written by Matt Glover. 

Last year, my kiddos and I were beginning our organisms unit. We received our first box of plants for the terrariums and the aquariums..... or so we thought it was just plants. When we opened up the box to check the contents, there was a round container that said chameleons. Well being that it was in the box of plants and we do not get chameleons in this kit or any kit that comes to first grade, we assumed that this was a plant. So we left it in the container until Friday. friday was the day that we were going to set up our terrariums. So it is friday, I open up the box and we are all excited to be placing the plants into the terrariums. I open the round container and what should happen, 7 yes 7 little heads started popping up and out jumped lizards, yes lizards. they were running all over the room. I was in a skirt, crawling around trying to get these quick little critters. I have kids screaming and laughing. The lizards are jumping on the kids. What an experience! But this experience produced the most detailed writing, I have ever received. It also broadened my kids choices of writing! They got into looking up lizards on the computer and writing about them. This led to them looking up all sorts of things and writing about them!

Experiencing this first hand definitely deepened their engagement. Also, the fact that they learned what research is and the enjoyment they received when looking up the lizards on the computer to see what kind they were and other facts really deepened their engagement. I think also, I created name badges and gave them special notebooks because they were being researchers/reporters and they needed these tools to create their  writing pieces. My excitement deepened their engagement!

We discuss different things they can write about during their writing conferences as well as during our writing block. My writing center is set up with many examples of the different writings as well as a variety of materials for them to use when creating their writing piece. I do not tell them what they need to write. By providing them the choice, they are more apt to write and write meaningful pieces then when they are told to write a particular piece. they need to have ownership over what they are writing.

We must remember that many of our kids do not have a lot of experiences or a lot of background knowledge about many things in the world around them. Many have never left their neighborhoods. This is where we must teach before we expect them to write. They need to experience things before they can write about them. Field trips, assemblies, curriculum unit of study, class visitors, skype, etc are all experiences we can provide so their writing is more meaningful and enjoyable!

So when you read these questions, how do they apply to your classroom? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us! We would love to hear them!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Engaging Young Writers Chapter 1 and 2

Hi, Everyone!

I am so excited to be teaming up with my awesome education buddies for a magnificent book study! We will be doing this for the next 5 weeks. Please feel free to read along or to add any comments as we blog about this awesome teacher resource.

So, thanks to +Kristen Poindexter for bringing this book to our attention! Writing is an area that I love to teach!  

I just wanted to share my favorite writing quote before I shared my responses to the chapter questions!

And now onto the questions!!!!

How does this encourage children to be writers?

I love book making! I love it when my kids make books! When children make books, they are showing me their love for writing. They are not afraid to write, illustrate and share their ideas and thoughts. My most favorite part of book making is the looks on my kid's faces when they show me their finished book! It is truly a masterpiece. 

The idea of them creating their own books and becoming an author is so important to them! It makes them feel so important. 

One thing I always do is stress how they can all be writers, that we are all authors! Even if we just make picture books to start with, we are being writers!

I love how the author, Glover, talks about book making! He talks about how books are what children have a vision for and this vision makes it easy for them to write. 

One thing I do is make sure my writing center has all materials needed for them to write whatever they choose. There is also a small stapler for them to create their own books! 

Here is a video I thought you would enjoy about a First Grade Maker Space: Book Making!

The next question is: What are some ways you honor your students' approximations in writing? 

First, I think we need to list what the approximations are!

I love all aspects of my kids' writing. Depending on the developmental level of my students and where they are in the writing process, their approximations are at different stages. I highlight all of their successes. I make a big deal of all of their writing and I have a writers' gallery where all children's writing is displayed. All kids share their writing, no matter what approximation they are on. I love to see the proud look on their face when they read it to the class and receive the round of applause the class always gives to the speakers for the day!

Now on to Chapter 2! The next question is Which kind of writing do you tend to lead your students towards?

I will have to say personal narratives and how to writing are the kinds I tend to lead them towards. I love when they write about things that are about them. They really love to write about themselves and to share this writing. i also find that personal narratives are easy for them to understand and feel successful with.

The other type is how to writing. I love to teach this type because it is a more active type of writing. I model this type by making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and writing about how I made it. I love it when they think of an activity and write how to do it. I also have them perform the activity they are writing about. So they actually teach us how to do what they are writing about. They love it and so do I!

How does the idea of various entry points fit into your classroom writing routine?

Entry points are a great way to differentiate the writing in your classroom. This is where it is important to know your kids. There are kids who are ready to write books, write narratives,  create poems or just ready to raw a detailed picture and add a few letters. By having different entry points, we are allowing them to be successful. This will create an environment where writing is looked at as something they want to do not have to do. If we want to instill a love for writing then we need to be mindful of where our children are and use various entry points! 

I leave you with a final quote about writing and with a thank you for reading my post. please feel free to share any ideas or writing tips! It is through collaboration that all teachers and students are successful!

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Blog Design

I have a new blog design and I absolutely love it! Thank you to Erika at Honey Bunch Blog Design for all of her hard work!

She is amazing! She listened and put up with my ignorance (yes, there were times when I felt like I was being ignorant)

Not only did she design an awesome blog design but she got Melonheadz to make me my own personal Melonheadz (Can I just faint now!!!) This was the highlight of my year!!!! 

So thank you to both Honey Bunch Blog Design and Melonheadz for my awesome new blog design!

Just click on their buttons to check them out! I highly recommend Erika for your next blog makeover or if you are new to blogging and need a design. She is incredibly talented and easy to work with!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Big Word Club

How many of you have tried to teach vocabulary and your children are just not that into it? Do they moan and groan or just zone out?

I have an answer to your prayers!!!

This program was created by Shane DeRolf, author if the amazing children's book, The Crayon Box That Talked!!

This program is amazing! My kids love it! 
There are 4 components.

Each week there is a new word for each day. The video for each day is animated. It shows the word written with the pronunciation written next to it. 

Then the definition of the word is seen and heard. 

Then they ask the kids to use the word in a sentence.  This is where I stop the video and have them turn to their neighbor and use the word in a sentence. I walk around and listen. Then I give 4 kids a warm call card so they know that they will be sharing their sentences. 
Click to see the video for the word.

Then after you do all the vocab words for the week, there is a review!!!!

Another component is the story! This is an animated story using the weekly vocabulary!

I play this everyday! The kids love it! They even begin using the words in their writing!

Another component is there is a song using the Vocab words for the week!

My kids sing along with the song. These songs are loved by the kids and easy to learn. They sing these songs as they write!

The last component is the Dance! Yes, they have a dance for the vocabulary words. This is an amazing feature for those children who learn kinesthetically!

Then I have taken this one step further and I have taken the story and typed it up on one page. My children each week work on their fluency using the story of the week. They time each other each day to see how far they can read. I also have made vocabulary review sheets for them to use. They love to fill in the blanks with the correct word and then drawing the pictures to represent each vocabulary word!

So this program is a great resource for vocabulary but also for fluency as well!

This is a program for all grades, PreK through 5TH. It provides all of the students with meaningful vocabulary instruction!

I love the quote that is on the site!

So click on the video below to see the Pilot of this awesome program and then click on the Try it for free button to try it yourself! I promise you, you won't be disappointed!!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February Pick 3 Pinterest Linky

I love the beginning of the month! I am once again linking up with The Inspired owl for the monthly Pinterest Linky! This is a linky where educators share their top 3 monthly Pinterest picks to be used in your classroom!

Here are my three picks for the month of February:

I love these bags. they are adorable!

Doesn't this look like fun?????

These are really cute!!!!!!!

So there were my three picks for February!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Currently February!

I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her monthly linky! I love this monthly linky and you gotta go check out her new blog design! It is awesome!!!

Here is my February Currently:

I am currently:

Listening: I am listening to Investigative Discover! I am addicted to this channel! True crime is one of my favorites!!!

Loving: I am in love with all of the videos on Growth Mindset by Class Dojo! They are amazing! My kiddos love them. There will be 5 of them. Please check them out at the class dojo website.

Thinking: I really need to organize my classroom. I have papers galore to file and things to put away! I have a desk that desperately needs to be cleaned. I guess in between parent conferences will be my cleaning times! 

Wanting: HMMMMM... I want a Starbucks Hot Chocolate! Unfortunately, there is not a Starbucks close by so I am not able to fulfill this want!

Needing: More time! I know who doesn't need more time! I feel like no matter what I do, I can never get accomplished all that I set out to. Between being a single mom and a teacher, I don't even have enough time to go to the bathroom (at least that is what it seems like at times)

Swooning: I just love Melonheadz Clipart! I just bought a whole bunch of new sets and I love them all! I can not wait to use them!!!!!

So there you have it, What I am Currently doing! Please click the button below to check out what some other amazing educators are Currently doing!