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Poetry Writing

Mother's Day is just around the corner and if you're a Last-Minute Lucy like me (hand raised, here!) then you're still looking for great ideas for Mother's Day gifts. We're smack dab in the middle of a poetry unit so, naturally, we've been writing poems for mom this week!
 Y'all...there is nothing more genuine than hearing fourth grader's poems to mom. Most are sweet and a little bit silly, but there are some that are downright hilarious. I've got to get some pictures for you once we complete the finished product!

We used this little page to brainstorm and get our brains thinking about what we should write about Mom. Snag the freebie up {click the picture below} then head on over to my store to check out the rest of the pack!

Building confidence in writing


Every one of us has had that moment with a child...they shut down and simply refuse to write. I remember my first student...a kindergartener who would hide under the table and say that she didn't want to write. :( It was my first year of teaching (in kindergarten) and I really wasn't sure what to do. Writing is not as natural to students as reading, and it takes hard work!

Now that I teach fourth grade, at the beginning of the year (on the second day of school) I ask my students to write freely. I ask them to write "When I write I..." and write every little detail that comes to their minds while writing. I write right along with them every time we write. Once we finish this activity, I have my students place their journals in two baskets: one for me to read, the other if they don't want me to read. I'm always amazed at how many students actually want me to read their innermost thoughts about writing. I spend that second day of school reading and writing kind little comments back to them in their notebooks. Use this knowledge as you conference with your students through the year. I love seeing how many go back and read these comments as the year progresses.
{click the image to snag up the freebie}

At the beginning of the year, only use the kindest comments to give feedback to your students' writing. Sometimes it is hard, but you can find at least one positive thing about their writing. Even if it is just "Great capitalization at the beginning of your sentences!" "Great complete sentences!" "Nice handwriting!" Building your students' confidence in writing is one of the most important things you can do all year. Start super positive at the beginning... you have all year to critique! 

Who likes to be told what to write about every. single. time?! I know I don't! Give your students some guidance but then give them free reign to choose a topic! If you're working on narrative, let them choose what story they want to tell. We spend a great deal of the first few weeks in writing learning how to think of a topic and making list upon list of brainstormed ideas that they can refer back to any time they need to. I know you're thinking "But what about the test?!" There will be a time and place for writing from a prompt. If you can't let it go....choose some fun topics to write about:

- The funniest thing that's ever happened to me.
- The most embarrassing thin I've ever done.
- My most prized possession.
- The best day of your life. 
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

If you aren't having fun teaching it, most likely your students aren't having fun learning it. Play grammar games, have snowball fights with writing, allow your students to sit wherever they want when they write.  The list could go on and on! Writing is hard work, but if your students are having fun learning writing, chances are it's going to show through in their writing.



Intro letter {FREEBIE!}

I believe that a fresh start for the school year is the best place to start! Every year, I always send out a letter introducing myself so that hopefully I can create connections with the families of my students. I'm a pretty open person and I feel like this helps my parents relate to me and make connections with me, too! This year I'm not sure where to start (yet) since each school has their own set of rules/procedures/ etc. so I'm not sure to start with my back to school packet- but I know this letter is tried and true!

Hop over to my store to download an editable version for yourself!

Writing

Hi friends!

I have been really working on some PD reading this summer! The latest book I'm reading is "But HOW Do You Teach Writing?" By Barry Lane. It has been a wonderful, easy read!

I am taking on a new challenge this year teaching 4th grade writing...and I am *so* nervous about it!! eeks! I really love teaching writing in the younger grades and I enjoy writing myself, so I am excited about the change!

That being said...I feel like I understand how to teach kindergarten children to love writing...but 4th?! I'm still not quite sure what to do with big kids! I'm going to need a lot of moral support, y'all! So, my goal this summer has been to get my hands on as many writing books as I can!

And you know what? It seems that the basic idea is the same as teaching a 6 year old to write. Give them choice. Have a writing block every day. Write with your students. Conference with your students. Encourage questions.

So maybe it won't be so bad after all?

Have you ever been in a workshop where they ask you to quick write about a certain topic? Teachers become the students and begin feverishly jotting ideas down. Scratching out, erasing, re-writing?

I HATE quick writing. I usually get to the point in about 3 minutes and have been given 5 minutes to write. I feel like I have adequately explained my ideas without further elaboration needed. Then I start second guessing myself...

If everyone else is writing, do I not know something I should know? What more could I add? How can I make this piece better? Maybe a doodle down the margin? ;)

So when Barry Lane began his chapter by encouraging you to do a quick write with students I cringed. NO! Not a TIMED quick write!! I can't stand it!

But I *love* that he encourages you to dig a little deeper in with your students and ask them for a little sneak peek at what happens behind the scene when writing. This is where I don't know what to do with big kids. Can they really do that?! Is it that simple??

I'm going to try it...I want to see what the result is. If it's a #teacherfail I'll just go with the flow ;)

I made up this little page to try it out. {click on the image} Snag it up if you could use it! I plan on reading mine to my students the first week that we try this!


Capture Summer Giveaway!

I am almost a month into summer and now that I've had a time to take a breather...I'm back to blogging! We've been to the lake, to Dallas (twice!) I've taken (and passed) my ESL test and the kids are in swimming lessons. I'm ready for my relaxing summer to start! ha!

Some of my wonderful blogging friends and I are having THE BEST giveaway! I am so excited to be a part of it!
I don't have a Canon - I have a Nikon; we bought it long ago after our first (who is now 7! 7!!) was born. I *love* my camera and the 50mm lens produces the most beautiful bokeh (the blurred background) pictures. Here are some of the pictures I've take with my camera. I love how her hair is captured flying around because she was running!
Seriously, anyone could take great pictures with this camera! You will definitely want to enter for a chance to win this giveaway!!


Chocolate Milk, Por Favor

I'm happy to share one of my favorite new children's author's book today- Chocolate Milk, Por Favor. In my first year of teaching kindergarten, Maria Dismondy released "Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun" and I fell IN LOVE with her books.
http://www.amazon.com/Chocolate-Milk-Por-Favor-Celebrating/dp/0984855831/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425555546&sr=1-1&keywords=chocolate+milk+por+favor
I love the character traits lessons that her books touch on and how authentic the writing is. As a teacher, I am always looking for books with great teachable lessons, and because I teach 5 and 6 year olds a lot of their character is still developing!

Author Bio: Maria Dismondy is an award-winning author, specializing in
books about challenges children face. A topic close to her heart,
Maria’s own childhood experience inspired her first book, Spaghetti
in a Hot Dog Bun. Maria’s dedication to empowering children with
courage and confidence has reached new heights, touching the
hearts and hands of children the world over. Grounded in her belief
that all children deserve a voice, Maria’s latest book, Chocolate
Milk, Por Favor, drives home the important message of celebrating
diversity with kindness, inclusion and empathy. As a sought-after
speaker, Maria spreads her message by presenting at schools and
conferences across the country. She holds degrees in education
and child development. Maria lives in southeastern Michigan with
her husband, Dave, and their three book-loving children.

After receiving "Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!" I read it to my kids that night. Luke loved that the story was about a boy and Ella instantly related to being the new kid at school. Although she does not speak a different language, she moved schools this past year and made a few transitions to her new school.
Book Synopsis: Johnny is a big fan of school but that all changes when the new kid, Gabe arrives. Gabe doesn't speak any English, and that doesn't stop Johnny from going out of his way to be unkind.
But what will Johnny do when Gabe starts to make new friends? Will he join in the fun of making a new friend or turn the other way? Johnny realizes a powerful message in this story where student differences are celebrated. Read to find out how chocolate milk plays a major role in the discovery of the real universal language.

I made a little connections page that you could use with your students to use with "Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!" or many other books to teach connections. Click on the picture below to snag it up!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9UlJnYD3dZGZC10cHU0MURCWVU/view?usp=sharing
 Maria has graciously offerered to give away one of her books- enter through the rafflecopter below!

Word Wall

Hi friends!

I've been meaning to post about my word wall FOR.EV.ER! I posted about it on Instagram this summer and had a lot of feedback from you guys! I wanted to wait until we were a little further into the year to post pictures so you can see what it looks like in action! I am loving it this year!

Each square is a 9x9 sheet of cardstock that I bought in this pack from Hobby Lobby. I originally wanted to use the whole 12x12 sheet but it was just too big when I started laying it out. The 9x9 size has worked out perfectly! You can snag up the little letter labels HERE for free!
The word wall is a huge statement in my classroom and my kids use it all the time as a reference! I printed my sight words in colored cardstock, also {so I can say "the blue word under letter T" to help a student who is having a hard time finding a word} I backed it with black to break it up a little bit and make it pop. Maria has some wonderful printable sight word labels you can snag for free!

My favorite thing this year is the addition of pictures on each letter. I got the idea from Kaci! For homework once a week, I have students cut out pictures that begin with the letter or 2 that we focus on each week from magazines, sales circulars, or whatever they have on hand. This is a GREAT way to differentiate for those kiddos who need the little extra support. Especially in the beginning of the year, we can look to the word wall to generate words that begin with a certain letter. It's fun to watch the word wall get fuller as the year goes on!
With this addition, my kids take ownership in the word wall and they LOVE the environmental print! Do you see the "Target" on T? Minnie and Mickey on M? Dalmatians on D? Ninja Turtles on T? 
I LOVE teaching sight words! I'll be back tomorrow to show you a few fun things I do to teach them!

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