Monday, October 13, 2014

Easy and Engaging Writing Ideas

I use a Writing Workshop model in my classroom that involves a lot of sharing, talking, and writing! Since my writing block is at the very end of the day, I often have to use some strategic writing ideas that get the kids up and moving, and excited about their writing. I wanted to share with you two of those strategies that are a favorite of mine- and so ridiculously easy!! In fact, these are so awesome and easy that I am sure they have been around for forever.

The first one is Gallery Walk. Here are the directions for this fun writing activity that allows the students to share their writing with others and get feedback.

Here are some shots of this in my classroom. The kids loved this activity so much. They loved reading each others' stories and leaving feedback. Needless to say, the kids also LOVED reading what the other students had written about theirs story.


Now this next one, I definitely remember doing when I was in school. This one was so fun for the kids. They were literally laughing out loud as they read the stories and made plot twists to their friends' stories. 

Here are some shots of this activity. Not only is this super engaging, but it perfect for a lesson on staying on topic.

Do you do any of these writing activities in your classroom? If not, are you planning on trying any of these?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Transition Words {Interactive Notebook} Freebie!

Last week, I did a quick mini lesson on using transition words in writing. We talked about how transition words make stories sound better and help the reader move through the story. We made this anchor chart as a class of some common transition words we have used.

Then the students cut and glued this simple foldable in their notebook.

Underneath the flap, we recorded the transition words from the chart. This will be an ongoing foldable that the students will add to as they discover new transition words that they want to use in their writing.

I love quick and easy writing lessons that give the students an "anchor to make their writing better in the future! Click here to grab the free template from Google Docs. Let me know if you plan to use this foldable!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Measurement in Real Life {Math is Real Life} Linky and Freebie

It's the first Wednesday of October which means it's time for our monthly linky - Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


This week we started Measurement Conversions. Measurement is one of my favorite skills to teach, and it is super easy to make that real life connection. Take a look to see what we did to make a real life connection.

I gathered several different circulars and weekly ads with measurements in the ads.

The students chose the items they wanted to use to make measurement conversions. They glued the image on to the below printable. Then, they recorded the current measurement, according to the ad. Finally, they converted the given measurement into another unit.

Here are some examples of the students and their work:

 {I definitely misspelled "convert" on the original printable...evidence that I should NOT be working at 5 am!}

The students seemed to really enjoy this activity! This will make it a breeze to make those real life connections as  we continue learning about measurement this week.

Click on the image of the printable to download the file from Google Docs.

Don't forget to check out the other MIRL posts below!  Check back over the next few days - more will be added!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teaching Persuasive Writing with a Mentor Text

I absolutely love teaching persuasive writing, and I love using mentor texts even more. This year, I used the picture book, I Wanna New Room. This read aloud follows the same format of I Wanna Iguana with letters back and forth from the child to the parents.

My main focus for this lesson was on choosing a main point and providing valid resources to support that point. I also wanted to focus on how details are needed to support each reason given. After the read and enjoyed the book once, we created this anchor chart, using the examples from the text.

After discussing the book, we were able to come up with three reasons with each reason having two details to support it. This was a great starting point for the students to come up with 3 reasons with supporting details for their own persuasive texts. I refer to this anchor chart often to remind the students that a good persuasive text has a clear main point, three reasons, and supporting details to support the reasons.

What are your favorite mentor texts to teach persuasive writing?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Common Core Gradebook {Free!}

Grading, grading, and more grading! Honestly, that may be the thing I like the least about teaching. Which is odd because that is what I did the most when I played school as a child. I am not missing the irony there! 

Last year, I created a CCSS aligned grade book in an attempt to simplify the process of recording and accessing grades. After using it all year, I decided to offer it as a free download for anyone else who wants to try it.

Basically each section is the same. The names run vertical and the standards across the top. I would jot down a quick note under the standard of the assignment, and record the date. Then I would record the score. Here is an example using a 1-4 scale.

And here is an example from my grade book last year. We use a 1-3 scale at my school. The R was for a gifted student who received Math instruction from another teacher whose last name started with an R. :D

As you can see on this full page image, it is perfect for an at a glance look at a standard or even how a student is doing across a few related standards.

This grade book includes all subjects (Math, Reading, Language, and Writing). Each section is separated by a title page that indicates the domain or subject area.

Grab your free copy of this grade book by clicking here or the image below!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Organizing Papers to Grade

This year, I picked up the most useful organizational folder from Amazon. com. I really needed a better way to keep the papers organized that I was bringing home to grade. I had used an accordion folder before, but I really wanted something less bulky. So I bought this Oxford Poly 8-Pocket Folder for $7.65 from Amazon.

I paperclip the the papers together and place them in the folders. Sometimes I place one class set of assignments in one pocket. I also place multiple assignments in there, and it holds them just as easily. Take a look!


I am a month into school and still loving using this folder. I would love to hear how you organize papers that need to be graded. Let's hear your ideas in the comments!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Show the LOVE {Help Your Students Soar with Word Problems}

Word problems were always a struggle for my students. It was like pulling teeth to get them to write more than just the answer. Almost three years ago, I created this acronym to help my students show all of the work on their word problems. The students love it, and I never have any problems getting the students to show their work and their thinking. And if I do have any problems, I just say "Show the Love!" or "Where is the Love?"

I always begin teaching this strategy by creating a class anchor chart with a word problem. Here is the anchor chart I used last year.

Then I give the students a smaller poster that details out the strategy for their interactive notebooks. The students glue the problem and then record the example problem in their notebooks, with all the LOVE shown. Here are some pictures from this year's lesson.

From this lesson on, the students are required to Show the Love on every word problem they complete, from homework to classwork to assessments. We use my Interactive Math Notebooks: Word Problems Resource weekly and this gives the students much needed practice with showing the love. Here are some images from this year:

Click here to see my Interactive Math Notebook: Word Problems for 4th Grade and 5th Grade!
Click here or on the image above to try out some Interactive Math Notebook: Word Problems for free!

Click the image above or click here to download your copy of the poster.

How do you get your students to show all of their work on their Math Word Problems?

To Teach is to Inspire...