Thursday, July 31, 2014

Writer's Workshop Part 2

Well so much for blogging daily during the girls naps! One goes down, I spend a little time with the other one, put her down, and the 1st wakes up.  Get her down again, and the 2nd wakes up.  So here I am, hoping I can type this in about the 5 minute span I probably have before one wakes up!

In my last post I said I would talk about writing folders and notebooks.  I wish I had pictures, but since I went out on maternity leave and missed the last few weeks of school, I left them all there :(  So try to use your imagination!!

I bought 5 different colors of 3-pronged folders (a class set) and the same colors of folders without prongs, but were already hole punched.  I turned the flat folder inside out, and then inserted it into the 3-pronged folder.  I taped the flat folder together with duct tape, and labeled the sections blank paper, draft, ready to revise/edit, and final.  The students wrote in their notebooks everyday (I'll show you that setup in a minute), and then we chose one to take thru the writing process to publish.  In all honesty though, a regular 2 pocket folder would've been fine.  Half of the time Most of the time students didn't put their paper in the correct pocket, and it drove me crazy way more than them.  They knew where they were in the process and didn't need 4 different pockets to help them.  So this year, 2 pocket folders it is!

The notebook was a better idea.  I got this idea from Pinterest, but it came to this blog Apples of Your Eye! 

All of the writing teachers 3-5 decided we wanted to follow this setup.  I liked how it had their writing ideas at the beginning for them to refer back to, and a table of contents to be able to find their writings.  Surprisingly, they really kept that up!  But now that I've used this setup for a year, I plan to make a few changes.  For one, I think I will organize it by Narrative, Opinion and Informational.  I will still have them put their writing notes in the notebook, but under the category that it refers to.  I think it will help with their understanding better, and they can flip straight to that section and have everything about Narratives together. I will update once I get back into the classroom as to how well I think that is going!

What about do you organize your writer's notebooks? 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Writer's Workshop Part 1

Last year my principal decided that our school wide focus needed to be on writing.  This was partly because of Common Core, and the fact that our students had to answer critical response questions on a Social Studies and Science test, and they did horrible.  So we implemented Lucy Calkin's Writer's Workshop.  For grades 3-5, this meant we departmentalized so we could get the writing component in.  I was lucky enough to be chosen as the writing teacher :)

We had 5 different blocks, that lasted 55 minutes each.  It was tough at first because you really have to get on a good schedule.  I needed a 5-15 minute mini lesson, 35-40 minute writing period, and then 5 minutes of partner time and 5 to share at the end.  If you add all of that up, you can clearly see it exceeds 55 minutes! Some days I had the students share with their partner instead of having a few share to the entire that saved us some time.  But I was having difficulty with the mini lesson part!  I decided to implement a timer, and if I didn't get to a certain point, we would pick up where we left off the next day. At first it annoyed me like crazy because I hated having to quit in the middle of a lesson, but I quickly learned that our writing is evolving anyways, so it wasn't THAT big of deal.  Plus, if I noticed that a student was ready for that particular lesson during our conference, I would go ahead and share it with them and challenge them to work on it in their writing.

I have to admit, I was worried how my students would react to A) having a writing class, and B) writing in general.  They really hadn't been taught HOW to write in a couple of years, because of such a big focus on Reading and Math.  But they stepped up to the plate beautifully! I think it helped that they were able to pick their topics (for the most part) and they REALLY got into it! It will be interesting to see how the upcoming group does considering they have a year under their belt now.

Next time I'll post about our writer's notebooks and really helped organize their writing!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do I have any followers left?

Holy Smokes Batman! I haven't blogged since last August? I'll be surprised if anyone even follows the blog anymore :( I promise I have a good reason....

If you recall, last April I had baby girl.  She is so full of life, and has definitely kept me on my toes and entertained! In October, our house sold, and we bought our house in November! So we were very busy!! Not to mention, this also happened...

That's right...there are now TWO girls!  14 months apart...yikes! This little bundle was born June 30th (which was my dad's birthday...he passed away the day after hubby and I got married), so needless to say, my days are FULL!! But I promise, I am going to try to be better about blogging, hopefully during nap times, and get some writing ideas out there! I couldn't believe how far my students came with writing in just one year :)

Anyways, I hope you're still out there in bloggy land as a follower...