Each year I have my students create a gratitude project. I got the idea out of a scrap-booking magazine eight years ago. The project has progressed from a scrapbook to a poster to a power point. I have found that the power point is highly effective. Students learn technology skills along with using writing in a nontraditional way. My students are to write 5 entries of gratitude. On each slide they must include pictures and why they are grateful. I work with the computer teacher so that they work in computer classes 3 times throughout the month of October and at least 2 times in my English classes. Students are to incorporate slide transitions and music in their power points. This is a learning process for me as well. I get to know my students more, which is truly a blessing. Once the students have finished their power points and edited them, we invite their parents in to view their projects before Thanksgiving. I create one BIG gratitude sideshow with all of their projects combined. I love this project; it puts the ordinary of every day in perspective. I am grateful for my students because I get to see them develop and grow into wonderful human beings!
Peer Responding October 21, 2010
Last weekend I attended our writing project’s writing retreat called WOW (Writing On Water). It’s a time for us to get together and write. This year we wrote teaching stories and one point during the retreat we had a peer response session. Each person read some part of their piece while the rest of the group listened and responded on post-it-notes. After the read aloud, we placed our post-its on a sheet of paper with the person’s name on them. I enjoyed reading all of the comments my fellow teacher consultants wrote.
I decided that I wanted to bring this to my classroom, so today my seventh graders peer responded in this manner. Instead of the whole class reading, I placed students into groups of 6. Before the students responded, I asked them to write a praise and write in question form something that may be confusing or need of revising. As my students read and responded, I traveled around the room and responded to those students I heard read. After the read aloud, I passed out a colored sheet of paper so they could place their post-its on it. Tomorrow my students will be turning in their writing of choice piece with those post-its.
I look forward to reading how they responded to each other. I am curious to see what they wrote. I did poll my classes to see if they liked this way of responding. Some did like it and others did not. One student said that she didn’t like sharing in front of everyone.
Writer’s Notebook Strategies October 19, 2010
Each day I try to give my students a new writing strategy with their writers notebook. Aimee Buckner’s book Notebook Know How has several strategies and ways to incorporate writer’s notebooks into your classroom. I also use Roberta Allen’s book The Playful Way to Serious Writing. I have decided though that any mini-writing lesson can be a strategy. I have branched out on my own and have come up with a few strategies on my own.
I do grade my students’ notebooks. 9 weeks have come and gone. Last week I graded my 6th and 7th graders’ writer’s notebooks. I was impressed with how many students used the writing strategies taught in class with their own entries. My classes are to write 3 home entries a week in their notebooks. At the end of the quarter, I have my students count all of their class entries and then all of their home entries. I like to separate the two so I can tell who is writing at home.
This week my 7th graders are working on writing of choice so I wanted them to have another poetry type idea, so today I read them several examples of odes. I got the idea from Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home. I would like to share with you the ode I wrote today with my students.
Picture came from Babycenter.com
Ode to My Hair
I love thee
Your wispy strands
Glistening in the sun
You are a fashion
I would be
Peer Revision June 30, 2010
Last week my coworker had our writing campers peer revise. She had each student paste their writing on a large sheet of construction paper. Students were then advised to go around the room and revise each others’ papers by writing comments on the construction paper next to their work. The students enjoyed reading what everyone had written on their papers.
This week I have been facilitating a writing camp at my school. I have 6 lucky students to be involved with writing. Each day they have left with smiles on their faces. We have written several pieces. Today I taught my students the STAR strategy I blogged about last week. I also used Nancie Atwell’s spider leg technique; however, I changed it up a little. I first had each individual find 2 places (2 legs) where they could use STAR in their writing. After each student added 2 legs, I passed out 2 lime green “legs” to each student. They were to go around the room and add “legs” to their peers’ papers. I heard the comment that I should use this technique in school this year, and I will!
Graffiti Walls June 24, 2010
I learned about graffiti walls from my student teacher. It is a simple way to help students understand concepts. To create a graffiti wall you will need a piece of paper. In the center of the paper, draw a circle or any shape. I like to do a squiggly cloud shape. Write the concept in the center of the shape and everything that has to do with that concept. On the outside of the shape, have the students write everything that the concept is NOT.
My students and I created a graffiti wall bulletin board on vivid verbs. We added as many vivid verbs to the center. Some verbs we came up with are scampered, casting, stroll, animate, devoured. On the outside of our wall we placed helping verbs, conjunctions, linking verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives. Students were then allowed and encouraged to add to the graffiti wall whenever they heard of an excellent vivid verb.
I also tweaked this idea by creating a huge idea wall for my students at writing camp this week. I used a huge piece of butcher paper and across the top I placed the headings onomatopoeia, instead of said, adjectives, adverbs, and vivid verbs. I wrote words under each category to start the brainstorming process. When I introduced the wall to my group on Monday, I had them brainstorm aloud and I added words under the category. Throughout this week my students have added words to the wall and have used the words in their writing, which was the goal!
My co-worker had my writing camp students choose a topic that they knew a lot about. After choosing their topic, she had them brainstorm any and all words pertaining to that topic with the ABC’s. They had to try to write at least 2 words per letter within 5 minutes. I thought this was a great idea to get their minds thinking. They didn’t have to use all of their words, but would have a spring board of ideas. I plan to use this technique during the next school year. You could use this idea to brainstorm a list of topics or use it on a interactive bulletin board for student ideas.
STAR: a way to revise June 22, 2010
This week I am teaching at a summer writing camp in Martin, TN, which is affiliated with the West Tennessee Writing Project. The students have been writing stories using the Harris Burdick poster series. One of my co-workers had the students answer questions to create a round and dynamic character. After creating their character, the students were to choose a plot, which was a poster from the Harris Burdick series. We had the students write their story using the character questions and poster.
Today, for my mini-lesson on revision, I used Kelley Gallagher’s idea on revision. He uses the acronym STAR. Below is the meaning of star:
Take things out
As a group we brainstormed ways to use STAR in our writing. After brainstorming and discussing how to implement star, I brought in Nancie Atwell’s revision idea of spider legs. The main concept is to add “legs” (revisions) to your writing. We made a spider head and pasted it to the top of the writing. I modeled to my students where I would place each “leg” in my writing. Soon the students were revising. This was a good opportunity to share our revisions too.
Getting the Hang of it September 9, 2008
School seems to be going pretty smoothly for me now. We have been in school for about 4 weeks. In each 6th grade class I have 24 students, which I am used to 18-20. I am amazed of how well my new middle school students are getting the hang of “middle school.” They love writing in their writer’s notebooks and want to share more than ever. I am so excited that they are excited about writing. I can’t wait to take up their writer’s notebooks to see the creativity going on.
I have been using Aimee Buckner’s Notebook Know How to get ideas on writer’s notebooks. I love her rubric she uses to grade notebooks too. I have also used her idea of cutting and pasting notes/handouts in the notebooks–what a time saver! Her idea on how to keep notes and entries separate is priceless. Last year I got tired of thumbing through notebooks to find their entries b/c their notes were mixed. I even told my students to turn their notebook upside down if they didn’t like writing from the back of the notebook. I have learned a lot from last year’s trial and error with notebooks — I am still learning!
Writing Workshop Questions July 30, 2008
I am in the process of revamping my writer’s workshop because it is not working for me. I am curious to how you manage your writer’s workshop. I teach middle school so time is a factor. I have read that it needs to be at a consistent time each week–whether you do it 3 days a week or 5 days. I am considering 3 days a week, but what do you do on the days you don’t have writer’s workshop? Do you incorporate grammar within your writer’s workshop? How do you manage the noise level? (you know middle schoolers like to talk and it’s not usually about school) Is writer’s workshop only for lower grades? Most of the books I have read deal with grades 1-5. How do you incorporate writer’s notebooks into writing workshop? So many questions!!!!
The End for Now May 27, 2008
The 2007-2008 school year is over! Last Friday was the last day of school. It went by so fast this year, but I am glad it’s over. I am ready for some R & R. The only thing about the end of the year is the process of packing up everything. At my school we have to take everything off of the walls and store it. It’s a daunting task, but I guess it’s a good thing because you start the next year off fresh.
This summer I am looking forward to reading literature about writer’s notebooks and how to implement them better. I will be attending an advanced institute where I’ll be researching more of my inquiries. Right now I am thinking of the following questions:
How can I better implement a writer’s notebook into my writer’s workshop?
How can I use a writer’s notebook to model and teach revision and editing?
If you have any ideas, I would love to hear about them on either topic…