Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Writing Workshop Tuesday Toolkits

I recently went to a workshop at the TCRWP reunion called Toolkits Can Make your Teaching More Ambitious, Memorable and Efficient. Celena Larkey the presenter began her talk holding a big binder, loaded with goodies. Throughout the presentation, Celena shared how she goes about using different tools to teach writers in her primary class. A toolkit is a collection of various types of tools to help meet the learning needs of all of your students. The toolkit below is something I plan to use when I conference with students during writing workshop.

Although Celena shared her toolkit and my initial reaction was to copy everything she shared, I know a toolkit will be more powerful for me if I am the one who creates it over time and takes and add to it when needed. 

What I love about a toolkit is that when working with students, everything you need is in just one place. Celena’s toolkit was a binder that can easily be carried; I have also seen teachers make toolkits out of huge sketchbooks. 


Celena had her toolkit broken down into categories with a pocket folder for each category:

•    Gather Ideas, Plan and write
•    Revise, Fancy Up and Publish
•    Qualities Tools
•    Strategy Reminders
•    Inquiry 

Inside the pockets she shared:

•    Mini-Anchor charts
•    Post-its to leave with students to remind them of what they are working on
•    Mini-word wall
•    White off board
•    Boo Boo tape
•    Samples of writing by students 
•    An example of writing by an adult but written like a five-year-old
•    Mentor text 
•    Checklist modified by cutting up parts 
•    Rubric from TC
•    A blank checklist

When creating a toolkit, it is best to take small steps by asking, “What do my writers need?”

Currently, I am working on a section for where writers gather ideas:

Below are some of the things that I plan to put in my toolkit to help primary writers. 
If a child is stuck on what to write, they can take out their THINGS I KNOW AND CARE ABOUT SHEET.  Click here for TOPICS I CAN WRITE ABOUT  sheet.

 Take a picture of your anchor charts or bulletin boards.  The picture below is a bulletin board that we made about topic ideas. If someone is stuck, we can look at some of the class suggestions.

A student can get a topic idea from a favorite book.

 Put mentor text that you use with your students.
If student's made HEART MAPS they can look to them for writing ideas.

In closing, if you do plan to create your own toolkit (which I think you should) what would be important to have in your toolkit?

Coming soon...part two of Toolkits!

Joyful yours in creating toolkits to teach beginning writers,

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five For Friday

 Lots of great things have been happening at my school this week. I loved watching kindergarteners learn about reading mats.
Students learned about putting  Post-its on the back of a book and making tallies every time they reread. This is an easy way to recharge and energize students to reread books in their book bins.
                     Reading and listening new spring books.
Teaching a strategy lesson on reading smooth. I love this anchor chart from Jenn Serravallo's Strategy book. This book is an excellent resource to have for reading workshop. 
Watching a focus lesson on SEE SAW reading in kindergarten. The classroom teacher demonstrated the lesson with the song below. I love how she made little symbols on the song chart. The teacher first modeled with another adult and then had the student actively engage in the lesson by doing it with her. 

Lastly, I have enjoyed watching second-graders learn about making their reading more fluent. Teachers love the lessons from the reading units of study. My favorite day of the week is today because I am off to the TCRWP reunion this weekend...I can't wait!!!

Joyfully yours in reading books at a JUST RIGHT pace,

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Science Sunday Story

I am a big fan of Jim Arnosky books. Just looking at the titles in his series gets me excited for what kids can learn: Creep and Flutter, Shimmer and Splash, Slither and Crawl, and Wild Tracks are just to name a few of his titles.

To me, one of my most favorite things to do, when I get a new Jim Arnosky book, is to look at the author’s note in the back of the book. Jim always gives the reader insight into his journey of creating his books. When the reader looks closely upon this text, they will notice that the author uses color and sketches throughout.

Today I will be reviewing Jim's book Frozen Wild How Animals Survive the Coldest Place on Earth. His book has a beautiful feature of pages folding out and becoming extra long. This book has an excellent balance of information and illustrations. I think this is a great book to have students notice whether it is fiction or nonfiction book. Students could go on a book walk and list the features they notice.This book looks like a storybook but has many nonfiction text features.Jim gives the reader a sneak peak of all his beautiful sketches on the side of the book.

 This book is loaded with information about how animals survive in the coldest place on earth. Did you know that lightweight animals such as the squirrel do not sink into the snow? Squirrels and mice have the ability to tunnel underground when looking for snow? When a deer is in the snow, it can be impossible for them to get away from predators. This an excellent book to read with Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart.

Classroom Ideas 

Use an Alpha box to collect important words and phrases from the book. Once students record important words, it will remind them later of the facts they learned about animal survival. Students can use their Alphabox as a resource to write a piece of nonfiction writing. In the primary classroom, the teacher can record important words or phrases.

                                               Here are some facts we collected from Frozen Wild

One trick that researcher learn is to limit the number of words they use when taking notes. The trick is to jot a phrase or bullet facts.

Teach Students to Mark Key Words

Teach students to collect keywords and phrase that capture the most important information. I love how this first-grader made a little key on the post-it in which they put in their books.

What are we learning when we read nonfiction?
These are some of the strategies second and firsts graders are learning. This teacher is implementing the Lucy Calkin's nonfiction reading units.

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