Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Writing Tips

 Workshop Wednesday: Writing Tips

Wow, it's been a LONG time since I've been able to link up with Jivey (which is sad because she has SO many great ideas and has become one of my go-to people), but I really wanted to make sure I joined in this week for some writing tips.

I'm not sure about you, but writing is something I've always struggled to teach. I love doing it and actually wanted to be an author growing up (still do), but it's SO scary to teach. Plus, when I was in 4th grade and we didn't have a writing SOL, it was one of the first things that I cut ::hangs head in shame:: because of time. Now that I'm the reading specialist, I don't get as much of a chance to do writing. HOWEVER, I now work with 5th grade students who DO have a writing SOL, and it's coming up quickly. Eeek!! So I have been working writing practice in to help them get there, especially since we've lost a lot of days because of snow.

Long story short, I want to share a quick little tip that I will be going more in depth with next week, so stay tuned! We had this FABULOUS speaker, Fred Wolff, come to our school over the summer and again last week to share some great ideas and lessons for Six Traits Writing that we just implemented in our school. When he came last week, he actually taught a lesson in each grade level, and the teachers observed the lessons. I got to see the 5th grade lesson on sentence fluency, and it was FANTASTIC! So simple, but the students were engaged the entire time.

Like I said, though, I will share more next week. Today I want to give my quick tip. Fred read one page from Harris and Me (the scene with the pancakes, if you're familiar with the book).

Students just listened the first time. It's a GREAT excerpt to teach "exploding the moment" as well, and he did that with us over the summer. It made me want to read the book (but I haven't had a chance yet). Anyway, after we heard it once, he read it again and had us stop him after the first word in each sentence. One student wrote them on the board. We discussed how his beginnings were varied and circled some words that students didn't usually use for beginnings (with, in, etc). Then he gave the kids 5 "power" words to start sentences. I don't remember them exactly, but these are the five that I've been using with my kids:

He suggested as young as 1st grade having a "When Week", where students create tons of sentences starting with "when". Then go through each word doing the same thing. Already, I've noticed that my students are beginning to think outside of the box instead of starting every sentence with "I" or "The"!

What's your writing tip?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Three Million Teachers Strong Sale at TPT

So, you may already know this...but TPT is having another sale starting Thursday! My store will be one of many participating and marking products (all in my case) down 20%. PLUS you can get an extra 10% off of that by entering TPT3 at checkout. How exciting!

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to move on from winter and all of this cold (that's adding 10 minutes to our school day for the rest of the year, but fortunately no extra days) and start thinking about spring! Here are a few of my favorite products that you may be interested in:

The Case of the Missing Pot O' Gold - an activity for draw
March hosts my second favorite holiday - St. Patty's Day!! I have a whole slew of these mysteries (they're my favorite thing to make), and each one is presented in a PowerPoint that includes the clues, suspects, a recording sheet, and the correct answer. These are great to do whole class, and my students love them!

Spring Literacy Centers - Comprehension and Word Knowledge
If you just need a general review of comprehension and vocabulary skills, you may want to check out one of my literacy centers packs. I print these and laminate them to pull out and use during the year, and they are a fun review for my kids. This pack includes main idea, cause and effect, fact and opinion, drawing conclusions, synonyms, antonyms, guide words/abc order, and suffixes.

Character Analysis Posters and Graphic Organizers
These are some of my cutest anchor charts to really understand characters and dig deep into what the author wants us to learn about them. I specifically created these for our 5th grade teachers using the Virginia SOLs, so they force the student to really think beyond the basics.

Inferencing "Scoot"
And finally, my Inferencing "Scoot" is one of my bestsellers and is already only $2.50. I know we spend a LOT of time reviewing inferences in the upper grades!

These are just a few of my products. I hope you will visit my store to find even more, then check out all the other great stores that are participating in this linky!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm Blogging at Adventures in Literacy Land

It's another snow day for me today (we got 4 inches yesterday and are supposed to get up to 4 more this evening), but I'm blogging over at Adventures in Literacy Land. Click on the button to learn about how I teach Fact and Opinion!

Adventures in Literacy Land

And don't forget to check out yesterday's post to see all of the amazing products linked up for the big snow day sale! That ends at 10 EST tonight.

Carla Fedeler's photo.

I may take a nap and then go play in the snow. Or clean. I should probably clean...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Day Sale

Carla Fedeler's photo.

Looks like a BIG storm is headed this way (like maybe 14 inches HERE in Richmond)... a few of us Virginia bloggers (and more) decided to put together a little snow sale. We each chose two of our products to put on SALE, but it will only last through tomorrow night! Here are my two products:

The Case of the Carrot Nose Bandit- an activity for drawin
A fun little mystery for post-snow inferences: this product is usually $4, but I've marked it down to $2! I use these mysteries to practice making inferences, and my kids love them. This one is more science related and would be great if you're teaching animal adaptations.

President's Day Writing Craftivity
And for those of you who are last minute planners (like me), you can score this deal for $1 today! I know we're supposed to be in school for President's Day, so this fun little craft is on my schedule for Monday.

Have fun shopping, and stay warm! I'm crossing my fingers and all that jazz for a snow day tomorrow!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Five for Friday and Slim Down Saturday

Yes, apparently I am still capable of working an entire week! After all of the snow we were getting, I was beginning to doubt it. Of course, now they are talking about more snow next week. We still haven't gotten back into the routine, so I kind of hope it isn't enough to really affect us...

Even though it was a full week at school, it was an off week because we HAD to do benchmark tests for Reading and Math. I spent my week at school doing small group tests. I was excited to see that it helped to have less distractions for some of my kids, and I hope that it will also pay off when SOL time comes around. Still, I'm looking forward to actually teaching next week!

What did I personally do during testing? Read! I finally finished The Forgotten Garden yesterday, and I really liked it! Oh, I have to share a cute comment from one of my 3rd graders when she saw the book (it's about 600 pages and very thick). "Don't tell me you actually read all of that! When did you start?" She felt a little better when I said I had been reading it since Christmas. Haha! She couldn't imagine someone reading a book that big, though!

On Thursday, I had a Scholastic order come in, and it felt like Christmas! I didn't think to take a picture, but I ordered some small group sets of picture books I love to teach with. I figured they would come in handy since I only have students for a short time. I got A Bad Case of Stripes, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Owen and Mzee, Abe Lincoln's Dream, Scaredy Squirrel, and John, Paul, George, and Ben. I also tried to get Interrupting Chicken, but they were sold out.

In home news, Keagan is now officially sleeping in a big boy bed! I was a little surprised at how easily he transitioned to it, but he's always been easy to put to sleep. One night, he actually walked  himself upstairs and crawled in bed!

Oh, and I love that he sleeps with his Pound Puppy. Does anyone else remember those from growing up?

Finally, I'm linking up with Gina for Slim Down Saturday. I skipped last week and almost didn't join in this week because there has been no progress. But then I realized I needed to stick with it for some accountability. Maybe pushing myself to share each week will help motivate me to get off my lazy butt and do something. Especially since warmer weather is somewhere around the corner, and I'll want to look good in a swimsuit!

I'm thinking since I haven't been able to get up and do my morning workout, I will set my goal a little lower and just plan to log some kind of active time for the week. I would love to make it to 2 hours, but one sounded like a better plan to shoot for. Achievable goals...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Currently February and a giveaway

It's February!! January was such a mess with all of the snow days and craziness, so for once I'm actually excited to see February here. Usually this is my least favorite month of the year (because I hate the cold, and I'm not so into Valentine's Day), but I'm supposed to get a niece at the end of the month!!

Listening: I'm just sitting in my room at school waiting for the hubs to text that he's on his way. Did I mention we work next door to each other? We actually traded in both of our cars to buy a new one, so we ride everywhere together.

Loving: I guess I could have also said, "I'm getting a niece at the end of the month", but that could happen next month instead. My sister is due February 28, and I can't wait! Of course, she lives in Mississippi, so I'll have to wait until April to actually hold the baby and see her with my own eyes. Still, pictures will be pretty exciting!

Thinking: In the past two weeks, we've only had kids at school for one full day and two partial days. It's been a mess, and they're talking about more snow this Friday evening. I never thought I would get to the point where I don't want snow, but I'm here right now. Maybe at the end of February/beginning of March when I need a little break...

Wanting: I've been reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, and I can't wait to finish it! The only problem is that I have to find bits and pieces of time to read it. I meant to bring the book with me today to read while I was testing, but I forgot. Maybe tomorrow...

Needing: Speaking of testing, it's been interesting. We have a mobile lab that's a piece of junk. I went to get the laptops set up today, and none of them would work. I got one child through this morning on my teacher computer, but I was supposed to do a group of 4 in the afternoon. They never got past the first passage because we were having so many problems. We finally called it a day and will try again tomorrow, hopefully. It all depends on the laptops...

Before I tell which is my fib, I wanted to let you know about a great giveaway going on over at Jessica and Rosie's blogs right now. Click on the button to go check it out!

Okay, now for my 2 Truths and a Fib:

  1. I DID have a poem published when I was in 8th grade. It was super sappy and not something I was actually proud of. But I sent it to the Jr. Beta magazine, and they decided it was great. When it was published, my school made a huge deal of it and recognized me in front of all of my classmates. The newspaper even took a picture. Did I mention 8th grade was a rough year for me? Yeah, I just wanted to hide in a closet, especially after they read it out loud to my classmates...
  2. I DO know more about football than my husband. He's not into sports at all, but my family's life seems to revolve around them sometimes. I've been going to football games since I was a baby. I was very proud of Steven yesterday, though. We watched the entire Super Bowl (not at a party or anything, just the two of us), and he got into it. It was kind of funny to see how much Seattle stomped all over Denver. (Note: I'm not anti-Broncos. I actually like Peyton. But the game was so bad, you have to admit it got a little comical.)
  3. I never HAVE nor will I EVER run track. Running is a bad word to me. Unless I'm running for my life.  Or maybe for the last slice of peanut butter pie. But only if it's on the other side of the room. My niece does run track for her college, though.

How many of you guessed my lie?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Sale for a Super Game

I may not be watching the Super Bowl this year since my team is out, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it as a fun time to celebrate. So I'm joining a few other bloggers this weekend and having a sale in BOTH of my stores! Today and tomorrow, you can save 20% in my TPT store. Then come back tomorrow and Monday if you would rather use TN.