Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Personal narratives

Not sure how to structure your personal narrative writing unit? Check out the unit laid out from start to finish- from various examples for an anchor chart, mentor text, and lots of great read alouds!


Personal narratives are one of my favorite writing units to teach! My unit is an example of my Pinterest addiction. I take bits and pieces of great ideas that I find on Pinterest for my personal narrative unit. There are so many brilliant anchor charts that help out on Pinterest, I love meshing different teachers' ideas together to find something that works best for my teaching style, my students and our classroom! We do not have a set writing curriculum at my school, so I love spending time finding ideas online to create the unit that fits my own personal teaching style and interests best.

A personal narrative is a story that is a "snapshot in time." It focuses on a real-life event. However, it isn't about an entire day in the life of a kid. I borrow an idea that I hear is originally from Lucy Calkins' personal narrative unit with the idea of "small moments." To put a "small moment" in perspective for kids, we discuss the difference between a watermelon and a watermelon seed. This is a terrific visual and understanding for kids who may otherwise not see the difference between their entire Tuesday, and the "small moment" of their days.

READ ALOUDS
I always incorporate read alouds into my writing units. What better way to learn and practice writing than to hear a variety of fabulous authors?

Not sure what books to grab for a personal narrative mentor text? Check out these read aloud suggestions for your next writing unit!
What I love about each of the read alouds that I choose for this unit is that they are SHORT. Unfortunately, we do not have the best schedule this year and do not have much writing time. I have so much writing block envy toward those teachers who get a full hour a day! As much as I'd love to use more Eve Bunting or Patricia Polacco books for this unit, I simply do not have half an hour to devote to the read aloud. The ones I chose are short, great examples of a personal narrative, and get the point across quickly.

Below, I will walk you through what the unit looks like in my classroom with my group of gifted third-graders.


DAY 1
Topic: Personal narrative elements
Read aloud: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee

Not sure what kind of anchor chart to make for personal narratives? This one has all the elements and goes perfectly with every mentor text that you read!First, my students and I discuss what a personal narrative is and the elements that are found in it. We create an anchor chart for personal narratives, discussing all the elements that are in them. I found the information that I use for my anchor chart on Pinterest. Some of the ideas are still above their heads (such as vivid exact details and small moments), this is simply an introduction!

I hate making anchor charts. I love how they look and how the kids utilize them, but my handwriting resembles that of a 7-year-old boy. I have never been one who has good handwriting, and my hand always starts hurting when I write. Since I detest making anchor charts and am clearly a wimp about my hand, I use sticky notes with each read aloud so that I don't ruin the whole anchor chart if I make a mistake!

After the chart is filled out, we finish the lesson off with a Turn-&-Talk. Basically, the kids pivot in their square spots to look at the person next to them. I say "Turn-&-Talk to your shoulder partner. What are some small moments that you could write about?" They discuss for about three minutes, then I call their attention up front. We share out some of their great ideas that they brainstormed.

I tell students that tomorrow we will learn more about how to make our own "small moments," and practice brainstorming as well. Although no writing occurs today, the seeds have been planted in the students' minds regarding what they will be writing about in the next few weeks.


DAY 2
Topic: Personal narrative "small moments"
Read aloud: A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

After our read aloud, we fill out the sticky notes for yesterday's anchor chart on personal narrative elements, using a different color than the previous day to avoid confusion.

Next, we create an anchor chart about what a "small moment" truly is. We compare a watermelon vs a watermelon seed. For example:
Need an anchor chart to teach small moments? This one is perfect for your personal narrative unit!
WATERMELON               WATERMELON SEED
going to the beach -->        getting dunked by a big wave
my 7th birthday party -->  eating a slice of cake
a soccer game -->              scoring the winning goal

The kids "Turn-&-Talk" with their neighbor again about a small moment that they are thinking of writing. Then we share out. It is so much fun to watch the students' excitement for their small moments and other students' small moments!

Next, the kids return to their seats. In their writer's notebook, they draw a small circle in the middle of the page. This is their "small moment." Around the circle, they brainstorm everything they can think of about that small moment. What they heard, tasted, smelled, felt, and saw. I take about 15 minutes for this. Not all the kids are finished, but we will take more time the next day. At least with my group of third-graders, they have difficulty with the brainstorming portion of writing. After five minutes I start getting kids raising their hands with the usual "I'm done." Keeping the brainstorming portion on the shorter side makes it easier for me to say "keep going!" without getting the writing burnout from many of my reluctant writers.

Afterwards, we return to the carpet with our writer's notebooks. Each student shares their small moment and one thing that they put around their small moment. We do not make any comments or questions as we go around the circle. At the end, I ask which "small moment" from another student stuck out in their minds.


DAY 3 (during literacy stations)

Topic: Strong leads

Need an anchor chart to teach writing strong leads? This one is perfect for your personal narrative unit!
I do this topic in small groups. I think that strong leads can be a hard topic for kids, and I think the more teacher guidance the better. I do these during my literacy stations (the kids are in groups of six students each).

I go over the anchor chart I created with the kids (again, inspired directly from Pinterest!), then they pick one type of strong lead that they want to try out for their small moment. This is the first line in their personal narrative. As they finish, I check them and give them ideas to improve or to make stronger. I am always blown away by what they come up with - some of them sound like professional authors!


DAY 3 (during writing)
Topic: Sensory details
Read aloud: Fireflies by Julia Brinckloe

First, we read aloud our book of the day and fill out the personal narrative element chart.

Next, we fill out an anchor chart that I created the morning of. We discuss what a sensory detail is - which uses the five senses (touch, hear, smell, taste, see).

The students go back to their seat and we do a "Write It Out." For three minutes, I give them a topic and they write as much as they can using the topic. I tell them spelling and punctuation don't matter - just write! The topic I give them for sensory details is, "describe your favorite dessert and a time that you ate it." Afterwards, a couple of kids will share theirs with the group. It is pretty spectacular what some of these kids write!

I send the kiddos back to their seats to start their drafts. I remind them to start their personal narrative with the strong lead that they created earlier in the day. I also tell them to put themselves in their own shoes on the day of the small moment. Think of EVERYTHING that happened around you! Make the reader believe that they are truly there in that moment with you. We draft for about 15 minutes before getting into share.

Sitting in a circle, the kids find one line that shows sensory details that they want to share with the class. We go around in a circle and each student reads one line. At the end, I ask, "who read a line that makes you want to hear more about their story? What did they say?"


DAY 5-7
Topic: Drafting
Read aloud: Knuffle Bunny by Mo Williems

We read Knuffle Bunny together and fill out the personal narrative element anchor chart with Post-It notes. This gets the kids in the right direction for continuing their personal narrative drafts!

I send the kids back to their seats, and we continue the drafting process. I always tell my kids to skip lines, which makes it much easier for the revising and editing portion of the writing process.

During drafting, the kids pick one line each day that they want to read to the class. My kiddos love hearing work from their peers! I always ask at the end, "who read a line that makes you want to hear more about the story?" This gets the kids motivated to do the best job that they can with their writing!



DAY 6-end (this is flexible, depending on where the kids are at)
Topic: Revising, and final

For revising/editing, I pair kids up. I always do one high writer and a low writer. Each student gets a red pen. First they both read their stories aloud to one another. This provides plenty of "whoops!" moments for kids to revise what they wrote (they usually realized they forgot a period, need a comma, or that their story is missing a key detail!). Then they switch stories. They work on spelling, new paragraphs, punctuation, and adding stars if the story is missing important details.

When all is done, each student gets their final paper to write on. The top has a spot for an illustration. They are graded based on the overall message, organization, sensory details, planning, and grammar.



I LOVE this unit, and so do the kids! Since everything is broken down into small chunks, it isn't overwhelming for the kids. I always see enormous improvement from our first writing piece to this one, they grow leaps and bounds. Try it out if you're interested!

Do you do a personal narrative unit? What do you enjoy most about teaching it, and what mentor texts do you use?
Not sure how to structure your personal narrative writing unit? Check out the unit laid out from start to finish- from various examples for an anchor chart, mentor text, and lots of great read alouds!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bringing Election Day into the classroom



Looking for Election Day activities, ideas, and free printables in the classroom? Teach about this patriotic holiday tradition this year using writing prompts and lots of American read aloud books!
Although it's not a presidential election year, we still elect officials on Election Day! The idea of Election Day can be a tough concept to handle for kids. Many of my students don't realize that we are voting for offices other than president, and I love reminding them of this by celebrating and discussing Election Day every November.

Here are a couple ways that I bring Election Day easily into the classroom!


READ ALOUDS

Looking for Election Day activities, ideas, and free printables in the classroom? Teach about this patriotic holiday tradition this year using writing prompts and lots of American read aloud books!" class="_mi _25 _3w _2h" data-pin-description="Looking for Election Day activities, ideas, and free printables in the classroom? Teach about this patriotic holiday tradition this year using writing prompts and lots of American read aloud books!

Here are some of my favorite Election Day read alouds:

Diana's White House Garden by Elisa Carbone

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin

Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio

If I Were President by Catherine Stier

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama

So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George





WRITING 
My students LOVE this writing assignment: If I were president! Feel free to snag the freebie on TPT from Glitter in Third if you're interested in using the same brainstorm and paper. I like the way the brainstorm is set up because it is an easy transition for students to write three distinct paragraphs. On the left, they write down three things that they would do if they were president (example: feed the poor/recycle/etc.). On the right, they add detailed bullet points. After the brainstorm is looked over by a teacher, my students draft in their writer's notebook. Next, they revise/edit with a partner. Finally, they get the final papers to write on! The first page has a space for a picture on it, and the second page has lots of lines purely for writing. I love making a big bulletin board display outside the classroom with these, using lots of red, white, and blue for extra patriotic fun!



LITERACY STATIONS
Looking for Election Day activities, ideas, and free printables in the classroom? Teach about this patriotic holiday tradition this year using writing prompts and lots of American read aloud books!I sell an Election Day Interactive Notebook that incorporates election day into your language arts stations! In my third-grade classroom, we frequently work with using a dictionary and guide words. It's easy to cut (four snips total!). Then, glue it down and start looking up the words in a dictionary! It's an easy way to incorporate a holiday/annual event into your everyday literacy station workshop.


There's also a piece in the notebook pieces for a super quick persuasive writing piece about "If I were president...". I do not use this for a long writing, just as a quick "get thinking!" writing piece. I usually use this foldable as morning work to get the kids excited for the day to come and activate any background knowledge.







What do you do for Election Day in the classroom?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Using Google Forms for anecdotal notes

Do you feel overwhelmed by anecdotal notes? I did, until I realized how much easier and more efficient that Google Forms makes taking these records on students for guided reading, math, writing, and behavior. Not only is it more efficient, but Google Forms is free! This is about to make your life SO. MUCH. EASIER. (at least it did for me :-) )


Our administration is VERY into anecdotal notes. Every evaluation, referral, or parent question, they want to see them. I found anecdotal notes tedious, and honestly I hate writing by hand. My handwriting is terrible, and I dislike looking at my beautiful teacher planners covered in ugly handwriting (yes, I am aware of how shallow this is). Google Forms has made my anecdotal note-taking SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I initially got the idea after seeing a fourth-grade teacher in my hallway using an Excel Spreadsheet for her notes. I loved the efficiency of it, yet it seemed like a lot of work to continually have to insert a new row and type in the date each time. I realized that I could easily use Google Forms to make my notes instead. Here’s what I did!

STEP ONE: First, I created a new form on Google Forms. I did not insert a part for the date, because Google Forms automatically date-stamps everything- even the exact time that the note is written! How easy is that?!? I included name, note, and a multiple choice selection for Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Behavior.


STEP TWO: Push "Send," email to yourself, then bookmark this page!!!!! You can quickly click on it when you are doing small groups in math or language arts, or when you notice good or poor behavior suddenly pop up.


STEP THREE: Look at the results! Click on "Responses" on the form, then click the little green box with the white cross on it to look at your results in a spreadsheet.



STEP FOUR: Spreadsheet and data fun time! Now, I created a fake Google Form, not using my real one on the blog for privacy reason. What's great about the spreadsheet is that you can sort by date, name, or subject (looking at all the math, writing, reading, or behavior goals together!). You can look by kid to see trends over time.



My anecdotal records have gone from zero to sixty instantly. I am enthralled about using these records this year to document and witness student behavior trends! Google Forms is the best, I have started using it for so much of my data collection. Look for more Google Forms blog posts in the future! Love that it makes data and record-keeping so much easier :-)


Do you feel overwhelmed by anecdotal notes? I did, until I realized how much easier and more efficient that Google Forms makes taking these records on students for guided reading, math, writing, and behavior. Not only is it more efficient, but Google Forms is free! This is about to make your life SO. MUCH. EASIER. (at least it did for me :-) )


Monday, August 21, 2017

TPT 1 DAY BONUS SALE!


It's here!!!!!! 

THIS Tuesday (August 21st), you can save up to 25% off ALL of Glitter in Third and TPT using the code BTSBONUS at checkout. 

This is perfect if you missed the earlier August sale, or if there are other items that you suddenly wished you had picked up!

This 25% off includes all bundles in my store as well, which are already heavily discounted! This includes the interactive notebook bundles, Google Drive & Google Classroom bundles, math games/centers, and worksheet/printable bundles. Not only are these an even lower price than usual, but they contain curriculum that will last the whole year and save you time and energy!

This is the perfect time to stock up for the school year, or to try out some new products that you've been eyeing. I have a ton on my wishlist from different sellers that I want to try out!


Some of my favorite items that I love for back-to-school in September include:

Interactive Notebooks: 


Google Drive & Google Classroom:

Friday, August 11, 2017

How to make your Open House paperless!





Open House: the time where parents walk away with mounds of school paperwork that they aren't quite sure what to do with. At my school, the front office gives SO. MANY. PAPERS. The paperwork is repetitive, but parents have to fill it out for each child. This, clearly, is out of my control. However, I choose to fix what I am able to fix. Instead of giving additional paperwork in my own classroom, I have turned my Open House into a Paperless Open House!

Here are two EASY ways to make your Open House easy and (almost!) paperless!


1. Set up a sign-in laptop with emails
This part has made my life so much happier and easier. If there's something that drives me completely bonkers, it is trying to decipher handwritten parent email addresses. Instead, I drag a desk outside my classroom and plop my computer onto it with a spreadsheet. Parents write directly onto the spreadsheet, and they never forget to do this since it's located right outside the classroom (plus it's the number one question I inquire about.... "did you remember to write your email down?" "The computer is free if you want to put your email in now!" "Do you like being informed? Make sure to write your email down!"


This is what parents see Below are the questions that I include on the initial Open House Sign-In:

After this, all I do is directly copy and paste the emails into my Distribution List on my laptop. And BOOM, I have parent emails for the list! I never send home any sort of paper newsletter (except for kids without Internet access at home), so this is a fabulous way to make sure that all parents are informed all year.


2. QR code with Google Form on PowerPoint or SmartBoard
I used to print out a handout for each famiy to give me more information on their child. However, in the stack of paperwork from the front office, many families either sped through this or forgot to do it entirely. I switched to using a Google Form a few years ago for this task, and I have not looked back!

Of course, you need to make sure that each parent gets the link to the Google Form. I like giving parents a QR code to quickly find the Google Form. Instead of using paper and giving each parent a QR code on their child's desk, I put a QR code up onto the projector. Parents can scan the QR code to get the link to the second Google Form that I send out regarding their home phone number/child's interests/academic strengths & weaknesses/etc. The parents LOVE the QR code, as do the kids! Usually the kids are the first to grab their parents phones and snap the code.

Then, parents can fill out the Google Form link in their own free time! This allow the teacher to learn more


When is your Open House?

Monday, July 31, 2017

It's that time again.... Back to School SALE!


It's here!!!!!! 

THIS Tuesday and Wednesday (August 1st & 2nd), you can save up to 25% off ALL of Glitter in Third and TPT using the code BTS2017 at checkout. 

This 25% off includes all bundles in my store as well, which are already heavily discounted! This includes the interactive notebook bundles, Google Drive & Google Classroom bundles, math games/centers, and worksheet/printable bundles. Not only are these an even lower price than usual, but they contain curriculum that will last the whole year and save you time and energy!

This is the perfect time to stock up for the school year, or to try out some new products that you've been eyeing. I have a ton on my wishlist from different sellers that I want to try out!


Some of my favorite items that I love for back-to-school in September include:

Interactive Notebooks: 


Google Drive & Google Classroom: