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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomatoes for Tuesday, Again

Okay, so more tomatoes... I didn't do so well teaching about characters this past week. Therefore, I am continuing to teach the concepts this week. Yesterday, I read "Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-this-world Moon Pie Adventure" by Tony DiTerlizzi. Jimmy is a very imaginative character. My students helped fill out a character web and during their independent readign time they will be asked to complete a web about a character from one of their story book characters. I used a link from
I clicked on "Cluster/Word Web 3." I hope with more modeling and discussing characters this week my students will become more proficient.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

W.O.W Website of the Week!

This week's website is helpful for teaching alphabetical order. It starts with single letters, then words, and finally to the third letter!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tomato Tuesday

I remember an assignment I was given when I was student teaching. I was asked to write a reflection each day. The reflection had to include flowers and tomatoes. Flowers were the teaching moments that went well and tomatoes were the moments I wanted to forget! Last week, I felt like I was hit with a bushel of tomatoes. I had a substitute teacher in my room on Wednesday. I felt like it ruined the whole week. This week, I am going to try very hard to teach the concept of characterization. Not sure how it will go, but if I write my goal here it is more likely to be accomplished. Next week, I hope to share bouquets of flowers.

I am using Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure since Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is described so well in the beginning.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sidetracked: Voice vs Conventions

Most of us were probably "taught" writing the same way:  a bunch of red pen all over the place or one nice "ok" in red at the bottom.

It's hard for us to let go of that red pen.

Teaching the process of writing, however, calls for the students to hold the "red" pen and to make their own revisions and edits.

They may not catch every error we would (and why should they?) and might not write every sentence to perfection, but making changes at all is pretty remarkable when most students just love to rush right up after a period of time writing and shout, "I'M DONE!!" while waving a notebook or paper in your face.

It's important to "listen" to students' writing, too.  Even while actually reading it.  Overlook the conventions:  the misspelled words, the lack of punctuation, the sentences that aren't made up of all the right parts.  We have to remember that the benchmarks we "grade" and the components of writing are SEPARATE for a reason.  PROCESS, CRAFT, CONVENTIONS.  Don't dock a student on voice just because the handwriting or spelling is illegible. 

Here's an example of some great student voice from one of my second grader's writing pieces.  This is a personal narrative that she brought to completion (through the entire writing process) back in September. It was her first piece of the year. I've typed it for you with the correct conventions, but even without, her VOICE was amazing!

First, it was almost night time.  We were playing with the puppies. I was five years old.  My dad, grandpa and I fell in the green grass.  I got covered with puppies.  I was laughing.  Next, I saw my dad fall in the green grass.  We played until the stars came out.  The puppies fell asleep.  It was time to go in the house.  Then, I called my cousin over and we crawled into bed.  Mom and Dad kissed me on the cheek goodnight.  "Sleep tight.  Don't let the bed bugs bite!"

(I bolded my favorite lines.)

Look for great voice in your student's writing today.  Overlook their errors in convention and process.  Celebrate the personalities and stories they bring to their writing through the craft!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Student Revisions (and some Edits)

I typed up a "story" of my own.  We practiced "conferencing" so the students knew how to help each other.  They helped me with my piece.  After offering suggestions, I let them revise it for me (on the SMART board).  Then they went to revise their own writing pieces.  After revising their own, some met with friends for some additional feedback before conferencing with me and moving on to editing.

Here are some student revisions and edits from December.  I'll post more throughout the course of the year to see if we improve!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fun Friday

Try this for fun!
At this website games are separated by grade level. 100 Snowballs is just for fun, especially on a Friday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sidetracked: Taking Responsibility

( Sidetracked from my plan to post about how writing is going in my classroom.)

How do you "teach" students to take responsibility for their actions (meaning:  poor choices)?  I know how to hold them accountable.  One way:  offer two choices. Examples:  "You can do your work now or you can do it at recess."  "You can speak quietly and politely or we can write a note to your parents about your manners at recess."  Pretty much a "you take class time to make bad choices, you lose your free time to deal with the consequences" mentality.  I'm sure there are pros and cons to that, too.  (Love and Logic vs. Red, Yellow, Green Chart or a bit of both...)

Okay, so while they're sitting in at recess writing a note home explaining why they're sitting there at recess and pointing fingers at everyone BUT themselves, how do I "help" them admit that they are the only one to blame for the choices they made?  How can I help students internalize an apology?  Is it even possible?

The other day two boys from my room asked to use the bathroom.  I watched them walk down the hall and enter the bathroom.  I returned to my task of checking students' agendas and homework.  I checked for them in the empty hall.  I went back and finished my morning task.  A staff member poked his head in my room and told me the two students were messing around (loudly) in the bathroom.  The boys returned and I told them we'd talk about what happened at recess.

Recess came and at first neither would admit to being loud or messing around.  After a while one admitted he was loud and, of course, told me the other had been, too.  Student number two still denied having any part in the misbehavior.  Although, on the plus side, he did tell me that the staff member had not lied about the noise.  This student was in for recess for a second reason also.  Several times that morning he "stopped by" his friend's desk to chat rather than staying in his seat to complete his work.  HE was the one out of his seat, yet he repeatedly blamed HIS FRIEND for being in for recess. 


Suggestions for me?  How can I help my students take responsibility when they make poor choices that affect their learning and the learning of others?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

W.O.W Website of the Week!

KOL Jr Stories are great for the SMARTboard!
Check out all my favorite websites at

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