Thursday, December 31, 2015

Make Every Student a Writer:

And I mean EVERY student!

Click the arrow to see this quick video.

This method is great to develop oral language and give your students a foundation for composing a sentence. I used it with my English Language Learners as well as my fluent English Language students and they loved it. The best part is that once you have taught this method a few times in a small group setting, you can turn it into a fun writing center.
You can create your own "Instant Writing" kit or you can purchase my "ready-to-go" kit on my TpT Store. Here is how you can make your own:
1. Collect pictures (from magazines, old workbooks, or a web site that offers free images) of "characters" like people and animals. (You will need 6 pictures for each child in your small group.)
This is the noun page that your run on pink paper.

2. Collect pictures of people or animals doing specific activities like running, swimming, singing, & dancing. (You will need 6 pictures for each child in your small group.)
This is the verb page that you run on green.

3. Collect pictures of places like a barn, a school, a store, or a park.  You can also include pictures of things like a mailbox, a bed, or a swing. (You will need 6 pictures for each child in your small group.)

4. Label all of the pictures. You might want to type up labels with a lined font so children can copy each label correctly.
This is the 2nd noun page that includes places and things.You run this on blue paper.
5. Glue your collection of "characters" to pink construction paper squares leaving a 1/2" pink edge all around each picture. Do the same thing with the "activity" pictures, but glue those to green construction paper. Last, glue the "places" or "things" to blue construction paper. 

If you use my "Instant Writing" kit, you copy the pages labeled "pink" on pink Xerox paper, the ones labeled "green" on green Xerox paper, and the ones labeled "blue" on blue Xerox paper. 
Each student will need one of the white templates in the kit or you can also use a sheet of lined paper with an area at the top for a picture. That is where your students can glue one pink, green, and blue card in that order. 

You will also need a list of "helping words" which is included in my Instant Writing kit. I run one copy for each child in my small group on yellow card stock and laminate it so we can use them all year long. These include the words they will need to complete their sentence like "the, that, a, my, on, by, under, over, near, around, through,...". I included an image of the "helping words" page below. Scroll down to see it.
The Procedure:
In a small group setting (of 4-6 students) give each child 1 pink, 1 green, and 1 blue page. Each page has 6 images on it. They should cut apart the pictures on each page and put them into a sandwich size zipper bag. (If you are using your hand-made kit, give each child 6 pink, 6 green, and 6 blue pictures to put into their zipper bags.)  They will also need one white page for writing and a yellow "helping words" page.

This is my small group table.
I was in the middle of attaching lined dry-erase contact paper to each laminated sheet of construction paper.
The dry erase paper allows me to write words for students to copy and easily erase.
They can also write on it, practice their printing, or work on a math problem and then erase it.
Have each students reach into their zipper bag and pull out one pink, one green, and one blue card and glue them to their white writing page in that order. (The white writing page in the Instant Writing kit is labeled with the color names.)
Choosing one pink, one green, and one blue card.

Help each child to tell you what each pictures is and have them verbally create a sentence using those three pictures.  For example, if a child has a pink card with a cat on it, a green card of a girl singing, and a blue card of a kitchen, he/she might say, "The cat, sang in the kitchen." Or... "My cat is singing near the kitchen." There are so many ways to use each set of cards. Have fun and encourage them to create silly sentences like, "The black cat will sing to the kitchen!" 
You can see that I wrote the word "The" for her
using a capital "T" and then, I wrote it with a
lowercase "t" so she could use it in the middle
of her sentence.

Once they have settled on their sentence ask them which article (A, the, that, my, etc.) they wish to use and circle that word on their yellow "extra words" card so they can copy it. Then, they copy their pink labeled card.
This is the "extra words" card that I copy on yellow card stock
 and laminate one for each student in my small group. When they
need a word, I just circle it with a dry erase pen.

Next they write their verb from their green card. If they wish to change the tense, you just write the new word on the back of their card for them to copy. 

Last, they decide which "helping words" they need to add the last blue card to their sentence. You ask them if their character did that activity in, near, by, on, over, etc. the last noun. Use the "helping words" chart or write the extra words on a lined Post-it so it can be easily copied.

At the end, sing this little chant which came from one of Heidi's teaching CDs which you can find at "I'm done, I'm done, oops, I forgot! I have to write a period, I have to make a dot."

Then, your students reads their sentence to the group and they get to press the Easy Button!
Available at Staples Stores in English and Spanish.
Do this for 6 days (at least once a week for 6 weeks) before setting this up as a writing center. 

You can send these pages home, bind them in a book that they can take home after 6 weeks to read to their parents, or post them on medical file clips on your bulletin board.

You can keep adding pages to these clips all year long.
And here is a super discount code for you: Get $40 off of one year of the fabulous online testing, ESGI. Use code : KFUN at checkout when you sign up for your FREE 60 day trial and the credit will be on your account! CLICK HERE for more info, see the tests I wrote, and sign up for your free trial.
Click the image for more info.

Remember to check out my KFUNdamentals blog too:

If you liked this idea, check out the other teaching ideas I have on my blog:

AND... have a Happy New Year!

See you all next year!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Freebies for Your Winter Writing Center!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

Have you tried using whole class journals? They're an easy way to add a little spark to your writing center choices!

If you haven't tried whole class journals yet, let me give you a quick rundown on what they're all about. Instead of writing on paper or in their own journals, writing journals give your students a place to collect of their writing on the same topic. You provide the writing prompt on the cover, and all of the writing in each of the journals will be on the same topic. The combination of the prompt and the opportunity to take a peek at their friends' writing will help motivate even your reluctant writers!

Here's a free seasonal set for you, filled with snowy options for writing! Read on for some ideas for using whole class journals.

Whole class journals are simple to put together, whether you choose to print on cardstock, laminate, and bind with blank pages, or just glue the cover to the front of a spiral bound notebook. Sometimes you might want to model writing a story for the first page, and give some reminders for the procedures and guidelines you have for the use of the journals ... use one/both sides of the page, story length, etc.

Then just put the journals in your writing center as an option.  I usually kept a checklist of student names on the inside cover, for them to mark off their names after they wrote. Another fun option is to let each of your students put a sticker on the cover or first page after writing.

The set above has both color and grayscale options.  Choosing the grayscale will save you some ink, of course, but it's also a nice option because when one of your students is the artist who colors the cover illustrations, there's more ownership, and of course that increases the likelihood that your journals will be treated with the care they deserve!

Although these are writing journals, they also become very popular reading materials in the classroom! Put your finished journals with other class books you've made and they'll be flying off the shelf! The children love to read each others' stories, and of course, they love to read their own work over and over, too! {Read, "fluency boosters"!}

Once you get started using these journals, you'll find that new ideas for topics will come easily. As a matter of fact, my first graders frequently supplied me with terrific suggestions, from writing about their favorite books that we'd shared to journals about the field trips they wished we could take (no limits to a firstie's imagination on that topic!).

Have fun with your new journals this month!  Happy Teaching!

Friday, December 4, 2015

What happens in New Hampshire...

... clearly doesn't stay in New Hampshire!

I'm here in beautiful Nashua, New Hampshire at The New England Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Conference!   So, what's not staying in New Hampshire???
If you didn't get the handout, scroll down to the bottom.

I have been giving things away! Like a FREE year to ESGI. What is ESGI, you ask?
Well, it's the one thing that saved me umpteen hours every year when it came to testing students and analyzing data. And my students LOVED it so much that they often begged me to test them! Really!
Click the image to go to ESGI's website.

They loved looking at the screen and telling me the names of the letters, the sounds. the names of numbers, and the sight words, just to name a few.

All I had to do was click "yes" or "no" and I was done!

Then there is the data, lots of useful data! There are bar graphs that allow you to click on the green portion to see exactly who has mastered each skill.  More importantly, if you click on the grey portion, you see exactly who has NOT mastered each skill. And there you have it: your R.T.I.  

Let's not forget the individualized flash cards you can print for each child and the parent letter (in English and Spanish) that clearly shows the skills their child has mastered and the skills their child has not mastered yet. 

Sample parent letter. 

I also love that I can view raw scores from the beginning of the year pre-test to a score for each trimester so I can clearly see growth over time. And we can view scores based on each teacher's class.

And did I mention that you can even schedule parent conferences on ESGI? Well, you can!
Click any of the images to get more info.

If you didn't get to attend this wonderful New England conference and win a year of ESGI, don't worry. You can still try it out for FREE for 60 days!  You will want to enter the code KFUN while requesting your 60 day trial so you will qualify for the $40 discount should you decide to enroll for your first year. Don't worry, they won't do anything tricky like automatic enrollment. This is a great company which was founded by a kindergarten teacher and managed by a super friendly and knowledgable staff who is always ready to help.

Click the image.

 I also got to wear my tutu apron wherever I went! Even in the hotel elevator where I scared a man.
Yep, I was rushing onto the elevator in my bright pink tutu apron and this man actually jumped backwards when he saw me coming. I just smiled and said, "Don't judge, I'm presenting at a conference." He replied (kind of slowly), "To who?"  I told him I was presenting to kindergarten teachers and he just say, "Ohhhhhhhhh," and stepped off of the elevator!.

Check out all of the cool apron styles offered at Show And Tell Aprons.