Writing Workshop... A Little of This and a Little of That... and a couple FREEBIES!

I used to HATE teaching writing!  I really felt that I just wasn't any good at it.  Well, many years ago, I had the luxury of having a Literacy Coach in my school and because of her, I learned a lot about teaching writing.  Now- I LOVE it!  I have realized that the biggest part of teaching writing is establishing good routines right from the start and making sure that the kids feel like real Authors and Illustrators.  We have done that- and for the 45 minutes of daily writing workshop we have a nice peaceful classroom.  The best part is- the kids are loving it!

I have missed Writing Workshop over the past 9 years.  This is really one of the main reasons I wanted to get back into the regular classroom!  This blog post all has to do with writing but it's a little of this and that.
On Friday, we sent some time going through our folders.  There have only been a 21 days of school and I already have folders that look like this...

So, we cleaned out.  I had the students take home all of their writing except for their "best" story.  I plan on doing this every Friday (or maybe every other Friday).  

I always worry about sending the students writing home.  I worry that parents are  going to have the students "fix" all of the errors.  I don't want them to do that.  I want them to feel successful as writers, even if they do have a lot to work on.  So, I sent a letter home.  I am sharing it with you.  It is editable so you can change whatever you want.  Also, the font I have used is from Kevin and Amanda.  It is called A Little Pot.  You can download the font for free or change it to whatever font you want.  

Now, you may be wondering... How can you send so many writing samples home?  Don't you need them to do grade cards?  The answer to this question is NO- because of a great website/APP that I found.  I couldn't be more excited right now!  Let me share-  it is called Evernote... and it is going to make my Writing Conferences so easy!

In Evernote, you can make different Notebooks.  I made a notebook for each student.  Then, inside their notebook, you can make notes.  I make a new note every time I conference with a student.  I write the date as the Title.  Then, before conferencing (and fixing up their writing) I take a quick picture of it. It shows up immediately in the note and then I can conference and write down what we talked about.  My plan, is to then be able to quickly and easily look at their writing when I am doing grade cards.  I won't have to take mounds of paperwork home and if they take a story home because they want it- it's no big deal because I have access to it at any time!  And... the best part is, it's a free app!  (They do have a Premium App also but I haven't checked it out enough to know what the difference is).

Here is a screen shot of one of the writing samples.  Sorry, I had to cut off the picture.  As you can see, I made my notes after the picture.

I think the possibilities are endless with this APP and I am really excited to give it a try and see what all I can do with it.
One other freebie I have to share with you today.  I have a Writing Freebie that helps students to remember some of the mechanics of writing.  I have had this as a D'Nealian Font but have had several requests for a Print (ZB) Font.  So, here it is!

I hope you enjoy these freebies!

I'm linking up with Manic Monday over at Classroom Freebies!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Read to Someone- Daily 5 Days 2 and 3

We have been plugging away at learning the procedures of Daily 5.  I feel like we are going at a snails pace, but I also know how important it is to practice, and practice right.

Day 2 of Read to Someone

We reviewed our "I chart" that we made as a class.  

We then introduced two new ways to read.
"I Read, You Read"
"Read Two Different Books"

"I Read, You Read" is when both partners are reading the same book and they basically "echo" read.  The more fluent reader is supposed to read one page and then the partner reads the same page.  Then partner one reads page two, partner two reads page two... and so on.  This is a good way to work on reading fluently.

"Read Two Different Books"  is when partner one reads one page from their book (at their level) and then partner two reads one page from a different book (at their level).  They continue to read this way going back and forth.  **Note:  personally, I don't know how much I really like this type of reading.  Sometimes it is difficult enough for students to follow a single story and comprehend, let alone two different stories.  With that said, I am trusting the expertise of The Sisters and trying it.  I figure, if I don't like it, then it just won't be a choice anymore.  So far, it has been OK from what I have been able to observe.

We are definitely going to have to continue to practice these types of reading.  It has been somewhat difficult for my Firsties to understand exactly what they are supposed to do.  Practice, practice, practice.

Day 3 of Read to Someone

"Let's Make a Deal"- that's what we talked about today... 

I asked them... 
"What happens when you and your partner just cannot agree on what you want to read for the day and how you want to read it?"

I told them that they have to "Make a Deal" and I encouraged some of the students who always think they have to go first to be the one to say... "Why don't you go first today."

We practiced all of the ways to Read to Someone...

Check for Understanding
I Read, You Read
Read Two Different Books
(I let them choose)

And then, I even heard a few students say "Let's Make a Deal" (in their whisper voices of course) so at least a couple were listening:)

Are you doing Daily 5?  I would love to hear how it is going:) 

For more Daily 5 posts, check the labels to the right:)

Birthday Bash Winners!

We have winners from our Birthday Bash!  Jennifer W. won the $25 Gift Card to Kohl's Department Store and Irina N. won the $25 Gift Card to Amazon.  Be looking for an e-mail!  Thanks to everyone who entered and "celebrated" our birthday with us!


Read to Someone- Daily 5

We have been working on our stamina for Read to Self.  We are up to 8 minutes.  They are really doing a great job with it!

So, I introduced Read to Someone on Friday.

This is what I did...

 I introduced to them that we would now be learning how to read with someone else.  I told them the story about my friend Amanda who is horribly afraid of spiders and when she sees a spider, she yells EEKK!  I showed them how EEKK will help us read together.  I then used the EEKK poem to help them know how to sit while they are reading with a partner.

Here is a link to the one that I used.

I then had two students model how to sit EEKK.

We then looked at our I chart from Read to Self to see what we would keep the same for Read to Someone.  We had 5 things for the students to be doing.

1. Sit EEKK!
2.  Get started right away.
3.  Read the whole time.
4. Stay in one spot.
5.  Read softly.
6.  Work on stamina.

I had a student model how to use a soft voice and it really wasn't that soft when she did it so we all practiced whispering.  I don't know why, but this can be a very difficult skill.  I would whisper a sentence and then they would whisper it back to me.  

Then, I had a student read a few sentences out of a book to model a whisper voice.  Their partner could hear them but nobody else could.  

Then we learned about Mr. Check In.  I am having the students use it when they finish the entire book. The "listener" is to tell WHO and WHAT the book was about.  Click on the picture to get Mr. Check In.

It took us forever to model today but I know it was a really important part of learning how to read to someone.

Then, we ALL practiced- for 5 minutes.  They did pretty well.  For today, I had the students take turns reading a whole book.  Then, they would use Mr. Check In to check for understanding.  We will practice again on Monday and learn a new way to read to someone!

To see my other posts about Daily 5- you can click on the Daily Five label on the sidebar.

Also, you can still enter my birthday giveaway for a $25 Amazon or a $25 Kohl's Gift Card!  Click HERE!

Zero the Hero Appears on day 10!

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Zero the Hero!  He arrived in our classroom before school yesterday on the 10th day of school.

One of my co-teachers has had Zero the Hero visit her classroom for a few years now and I decided I wanted to join in on the fun.

So, he flew in and left us all a little treat.

He left us a note letting us know that he would be visiting our classroom every ten days.  We will learn about the numbers that end with a zero, read some books, and play some games.  And he will leave us a special treat in the shape of a zero every 10 days that he visits our classroom.  Yesterday, he left Fruit Loops.

We played a game to see who would be the Zero the Hero of our class and get to wear the Zero the Hero jersey that he left for us.
We stood in a circle and counted backwards from 10 one at a time.  The student that ended up at zero sits down.  Then we do it again- count backward from ten one at a time and whoever ends up with zero sits down- and on and on and on...  We continue around the circle until there is only one child left standing.  They become Zero the Hero for the day and get to wear the  special jersey!  Here is our hero!

Zero the Hero also left us a book to read and a math paper to do during math time.  We learned about the number 10!

We had a great day with all of the goodies that Zero the Hero left us.  Most of the activities came from a packet I purchased by Kreative in Kinder-  Click here to buy the packet:)

I also have some ideas of my own that I would love to create... it's just trying to find the time!  Maybe some day:)

I can't wait to see what he will bring us on day 20!