Thursday, February 28, 2019

Creative expository introductions mentor text lesson *free resource!

Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.
Expository introductions. Gone are the days when "I'm going to tell you all about sharks" was an
acceptable introduction. I mean really, was it ever acceptable? And yet, here were are, in the 21st century, teaching kids not to do it.

But, even if they know they shouldn't do that, they don't always know what to do. This is where mentor texts become really important. 

To help your kids learn a different kind of expository introductions, turn to the authors who do it best.

One of my favorite mentor authors is Nicola Davies. She writes about the most interesting topics in such an engaging way: sharks, sea turtles, bats, and even poop. (Yep, poop.)

One of my favorite Davies mentor texts is Surprising Sharks. It's full of interesting information and a new perspective on sharks. But the best part might be the introduction.

It's a unique introduction. It asks the reader to imagine swimming in the ocean and think about what is the scariest thing about being there.

Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.She asks a few questions to get the reader's brain ready to think about sharks, and then she introduces her topic.
To use this book as a mentor text, you'll want to follow these four steps. You may want this to be a differentiated lesson.

Writers who struggle to write more basic introductions may need more practice with those before they try out this fairly challenging one. Writers who have mastered the basics could try this out as a new challenge!

Here's a tip for using mentor texts to teach writing strategies:

Every time you read a new book, read it as a reader. When you go back and reread it, put on your "writer's hat" and read it as a writer. Notice the kinds of things the author did and think about why he/she did it that way.


Writing anchor charts for reading like a writer. Help students identify and discuss the writer's craft authors are using so they can apply it to their own writing. It's a fundamental part of Writer's Workshop and using mentor texts!
This will give you opportunities to discuss writing strategies authentically and to help you apply them as you model your own writing.

Step 1: Notice It!

1. Read aloud Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies for fun.

2. When you’re ready to introduce this type of introduction, reread the introduction and say, “I’m noticing that Nicola Davies did something interesting here with her introduction.”

3. Have a discussion with students about the technique she used in the introduction: she asked the reader to imagine something and then asked questions to help them do it.

Step 2: Name It & Explain It!

  • Chart the introduction and title it “Imagine This…”
  • Identify the parts of the introduction:
  1. Tells the reader to imagine they’re in the setting your topic is in.
  2. Ask questions to get the reader’s mind ready to think about the topic.
  3. Introduce your topic.
Anchor charts are really important for giving kids an anchor experience in examining the strategy an author used and applying it to their own writing. Here's the chart I built for this introduction to help kids understand the parts and try it out collaboratively!

Step 3: Teacher Tries It!

Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.
1. Choose a topic to write an expository introduction about. 

2. Think aloud as you identify the setting you want to introduce to your reader. For example, if you’re writing about a science topic, you could say, “I’m going to describe the setting that will help my reader visualize the setting for volcanoes. Many are on on a tropical island.” 

3. Write a sentence that tells the reader to imagine they are in that setting.

4. Think aloud about the questions you can ask the reader to get them thinking about this topic. You could say, “To help the reader visualize this topic for themselves, I’m going to ask them questions that will get them thinking about how they would feel if they heard the word, “volcano” while they were on a tropical island.

5. Write a couple of questions that help your reader envision these details.

6. For the last sentence in your introduction, name your topic.
  

Step 4: Kids Try It!


To help your kids apply this strategy, it's going to be important to give them several opportunities to practice. It's sort of a tricky one! In this handy free download, I include a handout with lots of opportunities for kids to try this strategy out, as well as some possible answers to help you! You can get this free download by entering your email below!. This free download includes...
  • A step-by-step guide to introducing this strategy to students
  • A sample anchor chart
  • A handout for students to try writing several introductions of this type, plus a possible answer key
  • A handout for students to apply this introduction in their own writing
  • Sample introductions written with this strategy for modeling purposes
Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.



And it gets even better. You can win a COPY OF THIS BOOK!
Just enter the giveaway below! As you head through the blog hop with the links I share at the bottom of this post, you can enter to win a copy of each book to grow your mentor text collection!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.
Looking for other great writing mentor text lessons and free resources? Check out the other posts in this link-up from The Reading Crew! You're sure to get TONS of ideas.

Inlinkz Link Party

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Beyond Dr. Seuss: Ideas for Celebrating Read Across America

Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids! Are you considering moving beyond Seuss for Read Across America? You may have come across  this article from the Conscious Kid that is moving you to try something different this year.

While many of us have celebrated this event with Seuss-themed activities and books (March 2nd is his birthday),  you can definitely celebrate the love of reading in a million ways that don't involve Seuss! After all, he is one of thousands of authors! This annual event is a great opportunity to celebrate reading with students expose them to something new in the world of literature.

If you're looking for new ideas to try out at your school, read on! You'll find tons of activities and theme suggestions to help you plan a fun schoolwide event!

#1 A Read-a-thon

When do you have time to just read? When do your kids have time to just read? The best way to grow the love of reading is to spend time reading! A read-a-thon is a fun way to encourage all-day reading. There are a few ways you can do this:
  • Schedule a day of reading across your school. Everybody reads, all day in their classrooms
  • Schedule guest readers throughout the day. When there's a reader, kids listen to them read. When there's not a reader, kids read on their own or with their friends.
  • Guest teacher and faculty readers. Rotate teachers from one classroom to the next to share their favorite read alouds.
  • Read with stuffed reading buddies. Each child can bring a stuffed animal, or the teacher can supply some, to read with!
  • Read with human reading buddies! Schedule older students to read with younger students. 
  • Make it into a contest: have kids keep track of their reading by # of pages or books read. Each class can have a thermometer and, at the end of every hour, you can check and see how many pages or books have been read. Color it in to keep track!
  • Everybody reads. This means that, for a certain amount of time, everyone on campus will read. Principals, coaches, office staff - everybody reads in a visible place so kids can see it. You can have each person join a different class to make sure the kids know that everybody reads!
Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

 #2 Book Battles

This would be a month- or week-long event. Choose several books and have classes read them. Have classes vote on them to determine a winner! If you do a Read-a-Thon (like suggested in #1), you can ask teachers to read the books during the day and have classes vote on them in the afternoon!

We did something similar with Dr. Seuss books a few years ago, but you could easily do this with any books you'd love kids to read! We provided each class with a tally sheet. Each book title was listed and students voted on their favorites. Then we used this data to make a bulletin board to represents which books we loved the most!

Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

#3 Have an author study week

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of authors who your kids would love to get to know. Choose a great author and feature their books and activities around their books all week! You could also do this with a book battle (which I describe above in #2!) Here are a couple of great suggestions with books that could appeal to a range of ages.

Jacqueline Woodson writes about things that kids can relate to, while, at the same time, broadening their cultural experience and awareness. Books you could use to feature this author include The Day You Begin, The Other Side, and Each Kindness. Read about how you can use The Day You Begin here!

 Peter H. Reynolds would make an INCREDIBLE featured author for Read Across America. His books are accessible but powerful to a wide range of ages! Books by Reynolds that kids will love are The Dot, Ish, and The Word Collector. Just think of the visual arts connections you could make!

Allen Say teaches us to value our stories. Spending some time reading Allen Say books and having your kids share their stories would be an amazing way to spend the week. Books you could use to feature Allen Say include Grandfather's Journey, Tea with Milk, and The Bicycle Man.

Other fun authors could be Andrea Beaty, Kim T. Griswell, and Tad Hills.

Looking for some diverse children's authors to feature? Check out this list!

    #4 Create your own theme!

    You can choose an awesome theme of your own and build book experiences, crafts, and engaging days all around your theme! Here are a few ideas:

    Reading Adds Color to Our Lives: feature crayon activities and books like The Day the Crayons Quit, and Red: A Crayon's Story.

    Blast Off to Read Across America: use fun space-themed books like Rufus Blasts Off! and Mousetronaut, and meaningful books like Mae Among the Stars, or Hidden Figures.
    Reading Changes the World: Include books about changing your world like I Walk With Vanessa, Let the Children March, and Rosa. 

    Reading Helps Us Grow: Use books like The Gardener, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and Grandpa Green.
    Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

     #5 Host a Bookmark Contest!

    It's pretty easy to host a bookmark contest! We hosted one to celebrate the Grand Opening of our Reading Lounge! Here's how you do it:
    1. Create a template. We contacted our school district's print shop because we planned to have the winners of the contest printed and distributed to kids. They provided us with a template they wanted us to use. If you're printing and cutting in-house, you can use whatever size you'd like!
    2. Distribute the template to students who are interested in participating in the contest. Provide some basic rules about content, if it needs to be related to a theme, and what kinds of materials they used. Our theme was "Reading Helps Us Grow" because our reading lounge was garden themed. As for materials, we said pencils, colored pencils and/or crayons were fine.
    3. Set a due date, a place to turn in their entries, and remind students frequently about the date.
    4. Choose the winners. Once all entries are submitted, have a group of teachers get together to judge the bookmarks. Select as many winners as you'd like and have them printed, or print them on carstock and cut them out yourself!
    5. Distribute the bookmarks to the kids! We had trouble choosing, so we had a winner from each grade level. Students were able to choose which bookmark they wanted from the eight different choices!
    6. Feature the winners somehow: we made a bulletin board and announced it on our campus TV news. 

    Found an idea you like? Pin it to remember!

    Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!
     
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