Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Organizing Writing Mentor Texts

If you read my recent post about my closet, you are probably surprised that I would title any future post with the word "Organizing". My closet is, of course, an embarrassment I have recently shared with the world, but in general, I'm pretty good at creating organized systems. One of these I just started this year is our writing mentor texts library.
Not all of these books are writing mentor texts but about half of them are!
It's working for us, so I thought it might be the perfect idea to link up with Primary Powers' Organization Blog Hop!

As a Literacy Coach, I help teachers plan for writing. Sometimes, we are desperate for another kind of writing model text for a specific skill or strategy, and we are stumped! To help us plan effectively, I started ordering books based on specific traits. You can find one of the lists I used here at Empowering Writers. 
After the books came in, I set to organizing them. I wrote a specific characteristic of writing on each index card and made piles of books. 

From there, I divided them up into baskets and put them on specifically designated shelves:

 I labeled each basket with the writing skill or strategy that the books were great models of. Some of these are great beginnings, great endings, character development, sensory description with the five senses.

Of course, Patricia Polacco gets her own baskets, as do these other great mentor authors: among them, Tomie dePaola, Cynthia Rylant, Gail Gibbons, and more.

To help us use the books well for planning, I made little stickers that go on the inside cover of each book. The image and label on the sticker correlates with the basket label. I printed the labels on sticker paper.

I cut them into strips to stick inside the books.

Here's how it works. This basket is labeled "Generating Ideas for Writing." In it, I also include books about the idea of writing, like "Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street" and "What Do Writers Do?"
This book, Little Red Writing Hood, tells a story of a pencil character writing a story. It blends Little Red Writing Hood with writing tips. 

 On the inside cover, I include notes: just some ideas about how to use the book to teach writing strategy.

Throughout the book, the tips about writing are interwoven with the story. I used post-its to mark pages where there were writing tips, strategies, or potential for teaching. 

It's still a burgeoning system, and we're adding to our library a little at a time, but it's a start! Want a freebie to get started? Grab the basket and book labels for free!
Check out our other organization tips by hopping to the next post - Mrs. Richardson's Class, and learn all about organizing guided reading groups! 

Mrs. Richardson's Class
Or, if you'd rather, start at the beginning of the hop and check out all the great organization tips!
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Five for Friday

This week was chaos. Between early release happening unexpectedly on Thursday (we saw snowflakes. We live in the desert. We apparently don't know what to do about that) and late start on Friday (it was cold), it was hard to get much accomplished! 

 I did try, though. So here is some evidence that things did happen this week at school...or wherever.

I am so excited about this room! We've been working on making a reading lounge; a room full of cozy spots to read! We have the rugs, we have the furniture, and we're working on the lighting. It's almost ready for students!

This picture is so cool because our second graders did such a great job this week on their interesting people museum projects! They researched an interesting person, created a presentation board and presentation and presented them to each others' classes. 

 I worked with my fifth grade group this week on making meaning out of informational text. We worked on pulling out important ideas and using the text features to gather information.

In my Potter Fans Book Club, we started some fun character maps. Each student chose a character they were interested in and started to use the book to record details that help us understand the character. 
I modeled expository writing in a fourth grade class this week.We each had to choose a career we would love, so of course, I chose being a writer! Then we had to brainstrom reasons we would love that career. Not surprisingly, the first reason I thought of was... notebooks! I love office supplies.

That's my Five for Friday! Head over to Doodle Bugs to check out other pictures from this week!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Real Teacher of Blog County

So, I'm a real teacher of blog county. How can you tell?
I drink coffee in the morning and wine all night.
I wear comfy shoes that allow me to walk (and run when necessary) all day.
I take my lunch because school lunch is yucky.
My guided reading table is clean 90% of the time.
And I haunt the Target Dollar Spot.

All of these things make me a real teacher. 
But there's one more thing. 
A dark secret.
Something no one should ever see or know.
my closet.
This, seriously, might be the worst closet you've ever seen. It's so bad there could be a child living in there and I would never know. There could actually be a whole Lord of the Flies situation in here and I'd never know. 

I'm really just a secret slob. Honestly, I like a neat desk and a neat guided reading table. I like my pens and pencils in separate cups and I have one notebook and calendar I use ALL THE TIME. But when it comes to out of sight, out of mind, I am the worst offender. There should be most wanted posters with my name on it that say, WANTED: HORRIBLE SLOB. Because my closet, where I stuff and shove all things someday useful but not today, is horrendous.

This is why it got so bad. I run a lot of school events. So I house the materials for those events along with my other personal junk. So I bought these handy storage drawers.

I filled them up with the supplies for the school programs I ran last year. And then I ran out of space. Syrup, goldfish, crayons, and scissors were stuffed in here.

So then I filled up this tub with other stuff from the schoolwide programs. Bags, yarn, pencils, glue, and more found their way to this tub. And when this tub was full, I made stacks and stacks and stacks. I can't seem to make the time to clean it! Something else is always more important.

This might be the best part. I had a bag of plastic spider rings for Halloween and one fell out and landed right inside the door. Every time I open the closet, my heart leaps and I think, "EEK!" and then I remember it's only plastic. But do I pick it up? No. I'm too busy for that. 

So now you know my dark secret. You should share yours! Or, if you don't have one, just check out everyone else's and be smug about how tidy and perfect you are. Visit Second Grade is Out of this World to check out the link-up!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Several years ago, I wrote about some activities my students and I did on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. You can read about that series of lessons here.

This year here are some new activities to try!
This is my favorite project: Martin Luther King mobile! On each little piece, students write about what King thought, said, saw, did to change the world, and more. It's a cute craftivity and a good way to have kids write in little bits about his life.
 I think this "I Have a Dream" bunting would make such a lovely decoration - string your room up with the kids' dreams for the future!
A few years ago, we made Martin Luther King fact cubes. These are fun and an easy way for students to think about what information is important about King's life.
To round out your unit, here are some great book titles to read aloud! 

(I like Adler's books - they always have a lot of information)

You can grab the above activities at TPT! Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
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