April 18, 2012

Managing Behavior

Today marks the end of Day 2 of our extremely LLLLLOOOOONNNNNGGGGG state ELA test! We have one more day to go this week...then we move onto the Math test...next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Testing on a Friday...are they kidding me??!! But I digress!!

Well, with all this testing, other issues come into play...lack of routines, built up anxiety, spring fever, and senioritis (as Mrs. Thompson of Nerdy, Nerdy, Nerdy calls it in her March Madness post!)

I'm definitely feeling the same way as the kids! The jumbled schedules and the back to back lunch and prep is killing me--as well as the behavior of my class. I feel like the drama is on overdrive and it's one issue compounded with the next. (The best part is that it doesn't happen when I'm in the room...yet, I'm left picking up the pieces! Funny how that works out!)

Anywho, to help me keep track of these unwanted behaviors (and cover all my bases...a little C. Y. A., if you know what I mean ;) I put this together to help me...
Click HERE to get this

It's an anecdotal record form to keep track of what's happening with the kids in my class. (Sorry it's so blurry!!) I started using it today and it was very convenient. (I tried jotting all the information in a notebook, but it wasn't as organized. I have a thing with finding information quickly and easily!)

What do you use to help maintain order during the last months?

Also, I'd love to hear your comments about this freebie if you download it :o)

April 14, 2012

Tips to Achieve Excellent Writing

I am sharing my love of the written word as part of the Superb Writers' Blogathon. In partnership with Grammarly grammar checker, this series is giving bloggers the opportunity to share helpful hints.

My favorite tips to achieve excellent writing...here it goes!

     I keep my own writer's notebook. 
This is the cover of my notebook.

     I write the day's teaching point (TP) in it and I show the students how to tackle it. Sometimes I vary the modes in which I model--at times, I write in front of them and I show them what I'm thinking as I write. Other times, I have the TP already done and I tell them about the challenges I faced as I wrote and how I "figured" it out.
This was our unit on folktales--we wrote our own folktales using facts and details about Canada and the Inuit culture. The purpose of the table was to begin thinking about the elements of a story (lesson/moral, problem, and solution)--it also helped us to think about what we wanted to put in our story mountains.

The lesson after creating the story mountain was to begin drafting. However, as I tried to draft my folktale, I ran into a road block. That's when this lesson on perspective was born.

2. Allow for conversation
      When I read aloud my pieces, my students see how I get my ideas on paper. They ask questions, they offer suggestions (which are usually new ideas that I incorporate), and they want clarification--these are all skills I want them to use when they think about their own writing. During writer's workshop, once the collecting phase is over and the drafting has begun, the classroom is buzzing with students talking about their writing. It's amazing the how the buzz changes from September to now--they are focused and serious. They want their current pieces to be better than the last!

3. Choice
    I've always been an advocate for student choice. I know that in order for the writing to be exceptional, it needs to matter for the authors--topics and issues that are passionate to them.
    Many years ago, I taught social issues through poetry. My students used current events to help them create their poetry anthologies--some of which were on heavy topics like child abuse (this was when Nixz Mary Brown case was new), animal abuse, divorce, and 9-11. The messages within these poems were ones that filled the readers with incredible emotions--both of which would not have happened if I limited their poems to topics like the beach or summer.
This a poem about divorce titled The Suitcase.

4. Allow students to take risks
    I let my students know that writing is a way to share those stories within their hearts or the anger they feel because of a decision someone made. I show them that their writing matters and how to clearly show others their purpose.

A poem about animal abuse.

To me, writer's workshop is where the magic happens :o)