Monday, September 29, 2014

Classroom Snapshot! Writing Part 3: Writing Conferences.

Hello all!  Today I wanted to write about Writing Conferences.  Now, if this seems a little out of order to you, you are not alone.  I really mulled over the order I wanted to do my Writer's Workshop posts in and #3 was supposed to be about Writing Mini-lessons.  Here is why it is not:  
I have too many writing mini-lessons to put in one post!

So, my plan is to do the mini-lesson post last, then do periodic Mini-lesson posts as I teach them throughout the year.  Does that make sense?  

So, today I want to talk about Writing Conferences.  
I think that conducting writing conferences is the most difficult (but rewarding) part of teaching with the Workshop method.  It is also the most successful at meeting the needs of all of the budding authors in your class!  It is differentiation at it's finest!
Where do I start?

I am the type to just kind of jump right in. Once the kiddos have had time to get used to our routine and build up their stamina I start doing Writing Conferences.   I do a mini-lesson where I show the kiddos what a writing conference looks and sounds like, then I start conferring that day!

I have the kiddo I am conferring with read me what they are writing.  While they are reading I am thinking of what we should start with as far as a goal goes.  I always start with a positive or two about what they are already doing well!
You have such a great picture!
What a good idea!
I can't wait to hear more about...
I love the colors!
Your first sentence really makes me want to read more.

Then, I try to hone in on something that will help take the writer to the next level.  I base all of the kiddos goals on our 2 classroom goals:
1. My audience WANTS to read what I write.
2. My audience CAN read what I write.

Obviously I could write on and on about what types of conferences that I do. 
Here is how I organize and keep the kiddos on track.

I keep all of my conferring sheets in my writing notebook at the back.  Each kiddo has their own sheet.  When I fill up one, I get out another one.

I write down the date, title of the piece we confer about, I circle the goal W for Wants to read, C for Can read.  Then I write down any notes about the child's writing.  I also ask the kiddos to rate themselves and I write down how they rate themselves and how I would rate them.  The next time I confer with that particular child, I read back over my notes so I know what I am looking for.  

I also give the kiddos a goal or "I CAN" sheet.

I write down for the kiddo what their goal is, what their strategy is and some suggestions for things that they can do to help meet the goal.
This one is a CAN goal.  Their strategy is to write at least 5 sentences each writer's workshop (the audience has to have something to read).  The ways that they can have more things to write about are:
Label your picture.
Talk to a partner about your topic.

Then, the kiddos rate themselves on where they are with their goal that day.
Once they are at a 3 or 4 more than one time, we start on a new goal.  The kiddos declare their goals on our Writing Board with a sticky note.
As you can see my board is just getting started this year.  Then, I send them back to work on their goal.
Each Writer's Workshop I remind the kiddos to work on their goal and during Turn and Talk, tell their partner what they are working on.  This helps them to remember and keeps them focused on their writing goal.
So far, so good.  I still have a few more kiddos to conference with before everyone has had their first conference.
Next step will be to do some small guided writing groups based on kiddos with similar goals.

How do you do writing conferences in your room?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Winner! Hurrah!

Drumroll please......
the winner of the $25 Teachers Pay Teacher Gift Certificate is...

Andrea L.!
Please check your e-mail because it is on the way!
Thank you to everyone who entered!  This has been fun, I will have to do it again soon!  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Win a $25 Teacher's Pay Teachers Gift Certificate!

I am so thrilled and a bit humbled by making it to 700 followers on Teacher's Pay Teachers!  So, I thought "How should I celebrate?"  With a giveaway for Teacher's Pay Teachers of course!  It's pretty simple!  Just enter in the Rafflecopter below!  Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 22, 2014

Classroom Snapshot! Writing Part 2: Our Writing Notebooks and a little freebie!

Thank you to Creative Clips and The Enlightened Elephant for the clipart and Kimberly Gerswin for the font for my button.
In my 13 years of teaching I think that I have tried every different kind of writing notebook out there.  I still haven't found one that I LOVE.  This year, I am trying writing binders. So far, so good.  I wanted the kiddos to be able to decorate them with writing ideas, so I got the view binders.  

The first thing that I did was to send home some writing homework so that the kiddos could design their Writing Notebook covers.  I sent home 2 pieces of colored paper and a note explaining what I was looking for.  Of course I made my own as an example, that is what you see here.  It really was a lot of fun.  I made sure that I chose a variety of things to put on my covers.  

The kiddos rose to the challenge and created some great Writing Notebook covers:


Here is the note that I sent home for homework:(Click on the picture to get your own!)

So, now on to the important part!  What is on the inside?
Our notebook is divided into 3 sections:

This section is where we keep all of our writing. Once we get past the rough draft stage we will be storing the story in the front pocket (we are not quite there yet!).  One thing that I have really tried to work hard at this year is keeping our notebooks cleaner and more organized.  On Fridays instead of sharing time we do a "Rough Draft Cleanout".  We talk about which stories to keep and which stories to take home.  So far, this is a routine that is working well.  

The next 2 sections are for writing helpers,  lesson papers, and anchor charts (paper sized versions). Our two goals for writing for the year are inspired by a blog post that I read by Lisa Mattes from Growing Firsties.  You can find that post here:


The second section is the "My audience WANTS to read my writing" section.
My teammates and I divided the 6 traits to fit our 2 main writing goals.  Here is what we came up with:

We figure that you have to have a good idea for someone want to read what you are writing.  Word choice and Voice make it more interesting.  Sentence Fluency also works here, but we decided to put it in the next section. 
Keep reading!  I have a feeling that there might be a freebie in your future!  :)
The first 5 people to post a comment on what they would put on their writing notebook cover with their e-mail address will get the my Writing Notebook inserts for free! (They are a bit different from the ones posted due to copyright rules).  

The 3rd section is "My audience CAN to read my writing".  

We figured that a story needed organization, conventions, and sentence fluency in order for someone to be able to read it.  We chose sentence fluency as the third one because: 
1.  If all of the sentences were the same it would be difficult to read.  
2. We wanted 3 traits for each goal.  

This section is also going to hold any grammar lessons/anchor charts that the kiddos might need.  

If you are looking for a kid friendly, easy way to make the tabs for each section check out my blog post about it HERE.

So, that is our writing notebooks this year! Thank you so much for stopping by and check back soon for the next installment:  Writing Mini-lessons.
How do you set up your writing notebooks?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Ideas! Easy Tabs!

I LOVE using binders in my classroom!  I didn't love buying tabbed dividers, or trying to figure out ways to make my own.  Then, I had a brain wave one day and here is what I came up with!  Easy peasy.  I was a tad bit nervous because I could see the kiddos not getting it, but they did and it has worked beautifully!  Here you go: 

I have a circle punch from my scrap booking collection. This would be even easier with a Circut or Silhouette machine.

Each kiddo needs 2 construction paper circles.

They put glue on the back sides of both circles (I made glue sponges, that is what the circles are on in this picture).

They put the 1st circle on the backside of the paper that they are putting the tab on.

They put the second circle on top of the first one on the front side of the paper.

Then, they can write on their tab to mark each section!


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Snack Time!

Today I am blogging over at Who's Who and Who's New about snack time in my room!  Head on over there to check it out.  There is a freebie snack note for you to enjoy.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Classroom Snapshot! Writing Part 1: Our Writing Workshop Routine.

Thank you to Creative Clips and The Enlightened Elephant for the clipart and Kimberly Gerswin for the font for my button.

Hello!  Thanks so much for stopping by!  Today I am starting my little series on the kinds of things that I do in my classroom.  I thought that I would start with my favorite part of the day: Writer's Workshop!

I have been using some sort of Writer's Workshop in my classroom ever since I started teaching (a while ago).

This is what is working for me now.  Of course, I am still tweaking and each year it changes a bit depending on my cherubs, but this is the basic structure.

I start with a sistersesque I chart.  We talk about the why's and how's and then add or subtract from the chart as we go.

So, after our morning meeting we always take a restroom break.  The kiddos know that during restroom break (with lots of reminders of course) they need to get their materials ready for Writer's Workshop and put them on their desks.

Everyday they need:
Writing Notebook

Then, we gather together on the "magic carpet" for our writing mini-lesson.  Here is the schedule for our Writing Time:

10-15 min. writing lesson
Turn and Talk with a partner about plan for writing
Silent 10

Everyday I do a mini-lesson on a writing topic.  Obviously right now we are in the procedure stage and the setting up our writing notebook stage.

Then, I give them time to turn and talk to their partner about their writing plan for the day.  I find that this helps the kiddos to come up with something to work on before they have to go back and start.

Silent 10.  The first 10 min. of our writing time is Silent 10.  This is their chance to pre-write, think, draw pictures ect.  I mark this time by playing at 10 min. song (it is 9min. and 14 seconds, but that is close enough). The kiddos are to stay in their seats and be silent the whole time.  I use a musical cue for this part of Writing Workshop.  The song that I use is: Allegro moderato, Violin Concerto No. 2, K. 211.  It is the second song on the Mozart Effect Music for Children Tune Up Your Mind C.D. I put it in my itunes and play it with my classroom ipad.  The kiddos know when the music is over they can move (1x) to another spot in the room.  

The next part is our writing time.  They can write anywhere in our room that is comfortable for them. During this time the kiddos are free to move if they need to get something.  They may also use a whisper voice to talk with others about their writing.  This writing time usually lasts between 15-25 minutes.
Then, comes sharing.  This is the way that I hold kiddos accountable for writing everyday.  
At the end of writing time I choose 5 students to share.  I use popsicle sticks to choose.  Those kiddos come up and show me what they worked on during W.W. time, then they can share part of their writing.  If they don't have anything written for that day, they stay in at recess to do some writing.  My philosophy is You write during writing time and play during playing time.  If you play during writing time, then you have to write during playing time.  (This goes for any part of our day).  Then at recess I have a writing conference with those kiddos to see why they hadn't written anything, and how we can be more productive during our Writer's Workshop time.     If you don't want to share that if fine, but I still need to see your writing.  All of the sticks go back in the can, so you can be picked more than one day in a row.  The kiddos know that everyday they have a chance to be picked.  The amount of writing that I would expect obviously depend on the child.  This has really helped the kiddos to have something written down.
So, that is how our Writer's Workshop runs in our classroom.  Please check back soon for my next post:
A day in our classroom: Writer's Workshop 2:
Our Writing Notebooks

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