Sunday, October 18, 2015

50 (or more!) Things that make me HAPPY!

We spend time writing every day of the school year.  I love to write, and I also love to teach kids how to become better writers.  There are SO many ways to practice writing.  One of my favorite ways: lists.  It’s so fun to read the lists they create and it’s a great way to get our thoughts down on paperin a quick and easy way.  Our lists become even better when we add color and illustrations.  We started a new list last week titled 50 (or more!) Things that Make me Happy!  What a fun list to create.  They had a great time writing their ideas and it was so cool to hear the things they put on their lists.  These lists can be added to as our year progresses and is also available for us to look back on to get ideas about new things to write about. 
Fruit and Veggies ABOUND!

Thanks to everyone who has sent fruit and veggies into school.  These kids are hungry!  They munch on these delicious treats ALL DAY LONG.  CarrotsGONE.  Yellow peppersGONE.  Apples (all 98 pounds of them!)GONE.  GrapesGONE.  CeleryGONE.  KiwiGONE.  BananasGONE.  Yay! 

Wonder is WONDERful

We continue to read Wonder and kids are completely captivated by this amazing story.  As we read, we discuss what is happening and write our thoughts down on our WONDER charts.  Having them not only talk about what we’ve read, but committing those thoughts to paper is helpful, as it helps them process what has happened and helps them to remember things long after we’ve finished the book. 
There are a million things to love about this book.  One of my favorite things is how the author uses POINT OF VIEW so well.  The story begins from the point of view of the main character August Pullman.  We then get to hear the same story told from the point of view of Via (August’s sister), Jack Will (his best friend), Summer (another best friend), Justin (Via’s boyfriend), and Miranda (Via’s ex-best friend).  It is a wonderful way for kids to begin to understand point of view and how it can enhance a story to hear about something in more than one way.  The conversations we have based on these different points of view are marvelous.  The last part of the story bounces back to August’s point of view.  Here are some questions you could ask your child about the book and its characters:
Would you want to be Auggie’s friend?  Why or why not?
Why do you think Julian was so mean to Auggie?
In what ways have you been, or could be, “a little kinder than necessary?”
Which character do you relate the most to?  Why?
At the start of the book, Via felt that her family treated August too much like a baby.  What are some ways that August grew up during the course of the story?
Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from several different points of view?
How would you describe Mr. Tushman?
Why do you think August forgave Jack?
Why didn’t the author include Julian’s point of view in the original book?

We are almost done with this bookbut will continue reading Julian’s chapter next!  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Using a TOOBALOO to
EDIT our Writing

Editing is a really hard thing to learn.  It’s difficult to see your own mistakes and kids often re-read their writing without finding a single mistake.  Huh.  Well, in order to help them hear these mistakes, we have always read our pieces out loud.  When read out loud, they can better hear the mistakes they’ve made.  On Friday, we used a new tool to help us hone into our writing a little bit more than before.  It’s most often used in the lower el classrooms, but we LOVED using it and will continue to use it all year long.  It’s called a Toobaloo (in the catalog I use) and it’s a phone-like device that magnifies the voice, allowing it to be heard clearly while speaking softly.  This allows kids to focus and clearly hear the sounds that make up words and if the sentences make sense.  Kids read what they’ve written while listening to themselves in the toobaloo.  It works!  The toobaloo added a little boost and allowed them to really concentrate when editing their letters on Friday.  Thanks to Madeline for reminding me about this cool toolthat I happened to have in a drawer!  YaHOoOO!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Reading Groups

I love reading groups.  I love hearing them talk about the books.  I love discussing our predictions.  I love hearing them WANT to read out loud.  I love how the interact with one another about things they noticed about the text.  I love hearing the connections they make to the text they are reading.  I love seeing kids excited about a book they are reading.  I love reading groups.  We meet on the carpeting (there’s more room over there!) and we bring our planner (to write our assignments in), our Reader’s Notebook (for keeping track of our books and writing things about the books we are reading), a pencil, and the book we are currently reading.  We will read both fiction and nonfiction this year.  We will read short stories and long stories.  We will read about things, people, events, and worlds that exist in our amazing imaginations.  Our reading groups give us a chance to chat in an informal way about the books we read together.  There are never more than 6 people in a group (although sometimes two groups may meet together as we did last week.  They each read a nonfiction book and then switched with someone from the other group.  They had GREAT discussions with one another about the books they had just read!).  We use sticky notes when we are reading.  We use highlighters (if we are reading a RazKids book) to help us understand words, or remember important facts.  We even get completely off track.  Yup.  There are times when our discussion morphs into something else.  The book reminds us about someone or something.  That makes us remember something else.  In the end, we’ve had an amazing discussion, despite not talking about our original thought.  It happens.  In the end, reading groups are all about the effort we put into them, how engaged we are in the conversations, and remembering to finish our reading (they have time every afternoon to read!).  Ask your kids about the books they are reading.  Ask them to describe the characters.  Ask them to tell you a fact they learned.  Talk to them about what they are reading!  Ask them to show you their planners and look at the reading assignment.  It helps them to know you are interested in what they are doing.  Thank you! 

 I love reading groups. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

about our READING
We write about a LOT of things in room 306.  We write lists, poems, sentences, paragraphs, letters, cards, notes, questions, answers, and OH SO MUCH MORE.  Writing is really difficult to learn how to do well.  There are so many components to each piece of writing we attempt.  Capital letters.  Sentences that make sense.  Proper punctuation.  Adding dialogue.  Using quotation marks.  Knowing the difference between there, their, and they’re.  Being able to use POLISH and POLISH correctly.  The English language is mean.  Seriously.  It’s not nice.  

So, taking ALL of these (and many more) things into account, we write.  We write about our reading a lot.  This helps them to understand what is happening and gives them practice with their writing skills.  I love reading their letters to me.  It takes a lot of work (for them and me!) and I love to see the progress they make.  You can practice writing at home it’s fun and easy!  Sticky Notes!  Try this:  write a fun note to your child and stick it some place.  They get to write you back, sticking it somewhere else.  The bathroom mirror!  Try this:  Write a message on their mirror with soap.  This is a fun and quick way to write a few things to your kids - and they can do it back to you too.  Trust me, it's worth buying a bar of soap!

Last week, we wrote two paragraphs and put them in our READERS NOTEBOOKS.  The first paragraph was about a book they love they read recently.  The second paragraph was about an experience or vacation they took.  The experience could be in your own home (someone wrote about making cider!) or a fun trip you took.  As the year progresses, we will write more and more about the books they are reading.  Predicting what may happen next in a story.  Describing the setting of a story.  Writing an article about a favorite subject.  Describing character traits, or how a character changed over the story. 

We are a classroom full of writers.  Writing is an essential skill and it’s a hard thing to do.  Practice.  That’s what we need to do to get better.  I LOVE reading their letters.  It gives me a chance to learn more about them and I get the chance to interact with them in writing.  Bravo!

Write.  Write.  Write.