Tag Archive: writing


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We are cruising along in Kindergarten.  At the beginning of March we transitioned into READING BOOKS!  This is such a big deal.  Learning to read is such a monumental life experience when you think about just everything you need to do at once to be able to read.  For the last several months we’ve been “practicing” getting ready to read by labeling, word by word matching, learning letters and sounds, putting sounds together, learning word parts, building simple words, and finishing sentence starters.  We’re reading basic patterned books and still working on those word by word matching skills, but we’re getting there.

IMG_0413One thing we’ve had to work on is keeping our eyes on the text unless we need to check the picture for help with a word.  Many friends memorize the pattern and only look at the picture, but when a page changes the pattern of the text then students have difficulties.  We’ve had to really work on even if we think we know the pattern making sure we are correct by looking carefully at words.

IMG_0417We’ve even transitioned from finishing a sentence Ms. Acuff has written to students actively participating in the Interactive Writing and writing the stories themselves.  They practice words on their white boards while another student adds the word to our chart.  I help with more difficult words I know they don’t know.

We still do the cut up sentence portion of the lesson, but instead of students copying the cut up sentence, they then write their OWN sentence about the story we wrote together.  Most of the kids are doing a great job of using parts they know (ee, ou, ow, oa) and applying them into their writing.  Some IMG_0416students still need a little more support and structure with the writing as this is very new for us.

I’m starting to notice students writing in capital letters as they are more comfortable with those than lower case letters and we’ve had to work on when we use capital letters and also working on letter reversals.  These are common and we just keep practicing the correct way to write them.  We’re also working on different punctuation–periods, exclamation points, IMG_0415and question marks–when do we use them and how do we make them?

We are seeing lots of great things in Kindergarten and are overjoyed with how well students are applying their phonics knowledge every day.

Social Stories

IMG_0394It’s getting to be that time of the year when friends are going a little stir crazy and patience for each other can sometimes be low.  I’ve noticed in 1st grade especially patience for dealing with peers has been a challenge for students.  We took this as a learning opportunity.

I had the students read Calming Down and The Rude Robot to learn about ways we could practice patience and kindness to each other.

In Calming Down students learned that it’s ok to get angry, but to channel that anger into something positive and find ways to calm down.  Once we finished reading the story, we created a group anchor chart of ways we could calm down at school to help us stay positive and on task.  Each student then received a pocket-sized version of our chart to keep in their book box as a bookmark to use when they found themselves getting upset with another classmate.

IMG_0395We also read The Rude Robot about a boy who gets a robot for a birthday present, but the robot is rude to everyone so the boy has to teach it manners so his friends will want to come back and play.  When we finished reading the book we came up with a list of ways we could be more kind to each other in the classroom.  They also got a pocket-sized version of this anchor chart to keep in their book boxes as continual reminders on how even when we get mad at someone in the class we can still be kind to them.

I was impressed with all the great ideas students had.

Welcome Back…

That moment when you return back to school after 2 weeks off, ask students to write about what they did over break but give no length requirements…img_0368

1st Grade Writing

img_02401st grade has been transitioning into only doing Interactive Writing to doing some independent writing applying CAP (Concepts About Print).

We’ve been working on transferring skills from the classroom to the work we do in groups by writing about the books we are reading.  In the picture above, we read a book called Yes We Can about things we can do at school.  We wrote a group story about different things we can do at school and then writing an independent story about things we can do at school.

We’ve had to work hard on stretching words out to hear multiple sounds in the word, using word parts we know to build words, and using words similar to build new words.  This has been a struggle, but that’s why Ms. Acuff has us doing a lot of magnetic letter work to help us build up our word knowledge and known word bank.

img_0257In 1st-grade we are still working on Interactive Writing and learning those foundational skills.  Ms. Acuff has us reading books and applying concepts we are working on in the classroom.  In our class, we are working on the beginning, middle, and end of a story.

This day we read a story about a frog that can’t find his red pajamas.  He has to tear his room apart looking everywhere for them.  We started by making -ed words with magnetic letters.  We’re doing a lot of work with “chunks” to help us problem-solve our reading much more efficiently and quickly.

Next, we read the book and then talked about the book.  The next day we wrote about the book after re-reading it.  We wrote the story together.  We got to write the words we knew and Ms. Acuff wrote the words that are still unknown.  We practice those words on the white board so they become known words in the future.

We practice one-to-one matching by using the large pointer and checking Ms. Acuff didn’t forget anything.  (Sometimes she does and we have to fix it for her!)  We’re working really hard on good spacing between our words so it’s not just a string of letters.  It’s hard work, but we’re really proud when we do a good job.

Zeus and Hercules Books

IMG_8675I have to give a big shout-out to Ann Hollingworth.  She has been a big supporter of my blog and has inspired me to write some of my own books.  It’s one of my long-term dreams to write books about my chihuahuas, Zeus and Hercules, for Reading Recovery.

IMG_8676I’ve finally written a couple books and shared them with my Reading Recovery students as a read aloud.  THEY LOVED THEM!  They have really enjoyed seeing pictures of my dogs and love when they interact with my son, Houston.

While we are no “Bella and Rosie” books, I hope one day I get to share my books beyond the wall of Lowell, but for now I will continue to be inspired by the work of Ann and many other authors around the world!

Happy reading!

IMG_0101IMG_0109I have noticed my 2nd graders have needed more support than just Guided Reading Plus.  I decided to layer interventions with this group, which was something new for me.

We started out by doing a study on snakes.  I read 2 mentor texts on snakes and then I had the students read a book about snakes a couple levels lower than their instructional level because I wanted the focus to be on writing and writing more complex sentences.  This happened to tie in perfectly because this is exactly what they have been doing in the classroom as well. (I get to go in during their writing block and help in the classroom with writing.)

After we read our snake books, I wrote a snake story in red. (To the left)  I did take input from the students as I wrote on interesting facts I could write about.  The following day I took my purple marker and I had them help me come up with ways we could add more details to make our sentences better, change word choice, and make our story more interesting.  They were very engaged and involved and loved telling me how I should make my story better.  They were actually quite good at this and I give big kudos to the 2nd grade classroom teachers for their awesome teaching on this.

IMG_0108The next day I had them write their own snake sentences. (Photo at the top of the page.)  I highlighted lines so they would write every other line and that way they could easily go back into their writing and add details, change the word choice, make edits.

Once they had had a writing conference with me, they were able to put their sentences on chart paper.  We then had to conference again about how once we make edits on our sentences and fix mistakes, we have to make those changes on our final copy, too.  We can’t put those same mistakes back on our final copy.  Thank goodness for post-it white out tape! 🙂

The next book we ended up reading was Hang On, Monkey and we did some work on monkeys.  I wanted them to then apply the skills they learned with snakes by writing monkey facts.  I did type up their stories and print them out for them so they could then go back through their writing and highlight capitals in IMG_6742the wrong place, forgotten punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

After they had gone through their writing on their own, I then was able to have individual writing conferences again.

This whole process took us about two weeks, but I feel like we got a lot of great work done.  I’m super proud of the 2nd graders for their hard work.

Writing Boo-Boo’s

IMG_0106My 2nd grade groups have been doing a lot of writing.  (A side note: I also get to go in at the end of the day and help 2nd grade within the classroom on their writing during their writing block.  This has opened my eyes to a lot more of their needs in writing since I get to spend 60 minutes a day with them.)

One thing I’ve noticed in the writing is there is still a lot of missing punctuation marks and many inappropriate capitals sprinkled throughout words.

Last week I did mini-lessons on capitalization and punctuation.  I read Punctuation Takes a Vacation and The Case of the Incapacitated Capitals both by Robin Pulver and Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno to go over some writing rules.

I then wrote a story with lots of writing boo-boo’s and had the students come in and correct them.  It’s funny how quickly they find MY mistakes, but when I ask them to go back in their writing they act like they wouldn’t ever have a possible mistake! 🙂 Hmmm…I wonder why that is?

After they corrected my story, they then went back into their writing journal and had to pick one writing piece they would go back over and look for punctuation and inappropriate capitals.  We will continue to work on being more precise in our writing!

IMG_0107My 3rd graders have not been too enthusiastic about writing lately and I decided one fun way to write is to do stop light paragraphs.  I have done this is the past with 3rd graders, who seem to be the age group that get the most Picture 50burned out from writing, and it’s always been a favorite and memorable activity.

In the past I’ve had students use a graphic organizer, but this year I had the students help me with a group message using the chosen animal of rats!  They were just so anxious to get going, I sent them on their way after our group message.

In their journals they wrote in green, orange, and red to symbolize what sentence they were on.  I went around with black pen to help while we conferred.

They were able to then write their final sentences on sentence strips after we had writing conferences.  We had read Animals With Wings and they each had to choose an animal from the book to write about.

They did a really great job and it wasn’t even like pulling teeth to get them to write! 🙂 Hmmm…maybe I’m onto something!

Fractured Fairy Tales For Days!

IMG_0419My 4th graders just did a mini genre study on fractured fairy tales (my favorite!)  I read 4 versions of The Three Little Pigs (Three Samurai Cats by Eric Kimmel, A Wolf at the Door by Nick Ward, Wolf’s Coming by Joe Kulka, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz) and then they had to read their own version. (A Surprise For Big Bad Wolf)

IMG_0420The students were able to go through all of my fractured fairy tales for inspiration and then come up with their own ideas for their own fractured fairy tales.

We got kind of carried away with enjoying reading all the different fairy tales that we didn’t get a chance to spend too much time on the writing, but I can’t be mad at the kids for being so engulfed in good literature.