Saturday, January 21, 2017

Preposition House Project


Last week I shared my lesson idea for teaching prepositions and prepositional phrases. The follow up lesson is what I call the "Preposition House Project." 




Each child folds a piece of 8 1/2  x 11" paper to make an origami house (picture directions below). I ask them to decorate the inside as their bedroom or another favorite room of their house. Then, they write a paragraph describing where everything is in their room using prepositions and prepositional phrases. I have them underline the prepositional phrases in their final paragraph which is typed. 
Here are pictures of how to fold the paper:

We usually share the final paragraphs in small writing groups of four to five students. (It helps to make copies of their writing beforehand so each person in the group has a copy to look at the while the "author" reads it aloud.) I have made a list of sentence stems to help them with making good comments about their classmates' writing pieces. I have it as a free download in my TPT store.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Peer-Sharing-Sentence-Starters-1797145


Peer Sharing Sentence Starters

Hopefully this is a useful and successful lesson for your class too! 
  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Great Online Boutique For Teachers

I recently discovered a great online clothing site called Goodnight Macaroon. They carry a lot of cute, trendy, stylish, and unique items at reasonable prices. Perfect for the "stylish teacher." :)  I  highly recommend checking them out by following the link below. 

http://www.goodnightmacaroon.co?afmc=17b

Some of my favorites on the website right now: 

Goodnight Macaroon 'Fedora' Cross Cross Sweater'Stephanie' Eyelash Lash Mock Layer TopGoodnight Macaroon 'Courtney' Floral Midi Skirt

Almond White'Catriona' Red Gingham Scarf'Mariana' Turtleneck Heather Gray Asymmetrical Sweater'You Got This' Pineapple iPhone case

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Grammar Worksheets Don't Make Kids Better Writers


We've all done it; run off a zillion copies of those handy grammar worksheets in the hopes that our students will grasp the concept and apply it to their writing. Our students will become prolific writers with interesting ideas and no grammar or spelling errors to get in the way of their great ideas. Yeah, right. "My name is Mrs. Jacques and I admit I've been a worksheet grammar teacher," (hand raised, eyes down 😉). Even though I have known it since I began teaching, there are just those times when we need the convenience and ease of a worksheet, right?  And let's face it, there's always a few students who love those fill-in-the-blank pages! Ha! (Honestly there are some!) 
However, most research shows, as well as my own experience as a classroom teacher for 27 years, that there is very little carry-over to their actual writing. We still have to go through their papers and help them edit for grammar mistakes that we have already taught them and then we get frustrated that they aren't supposedly "learning."  In Jeff Anderson's book, Everyday Editing, he discusses this in the Introduction. He says that if the teacher is correcting every single grammar and spelling mistake it sends the message that they don't need to really concern themselves with the editing because the teacher will mark it up with his/her red pen anyway. I agree 100%. They mentally tune out the mistakes. 
When a Writing Workshop approach is used, grammar lessons become short, focused mini-lessons centered around real authors (including student authors from your own class). My students love when I post some of their own sentences on the board for us to read or analyze. And it becomes more motivating for them to apply the correct grammar rules as well as use more interesting sentence variety that is being taught because they want to impress their audience. Jeff Anderson says, "I want students to think, write, read, discuss, notice, question, and discover writing - even during editing instruction." I share that goal for my 4th graders. 

This week I'm planning to teach our 4th grade CCSS for Language
L.4.1e: "Students form and use prepositional phrases."

 I usually begin by writing a sentence or two from our latest read aloud or a current text they're familiar with which contains prepositions. I direct their attention to the sentences as I read them aloud. My next question is one I use every day in my classroom in all subject areas (and I borrowed it from Jeff Anderson): "What do you notice?" (about these sentences). 

 I accept any and all responses and record them on a chart. If not a single student has noticed that both sentences contain words that give "more information" or "some direction" then I will ask guiding questions  or give hints to help them get there. I might even post a list of prepositions without telling them what they are called and ask if they see any of these words in the sentences. 


I will then pass out a page of sentences with parts missing to small groups of 4-5 students. 

These are sentences from real authors. I also have some prepositional phrases that I've written on small index cards and put in a Ziploc which I give to each group. 

Working together, they will complete the sentences with the missing prepositional phrases so that they make sense. 

Afterwards, I will pass out a sentence strip and a marker and have each small group compose and write a sentence using a prepositional phrase and we do a share-out to the whole class and post the sentence strips in a pocket chart or on the wall. 

The next lesson is a fun one; the students will make a one-dimensional origami house out of paper and decorate the inside to look like a room in their house. They then label the room using sentences with prepositional phrases. I will post student samples of those this week. :) 

Have a blessed week! 🌟

You can download the above resources for free at my TPT store




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January: a time for new goals and renewed energy


January sunset in California

My school district is still on its holiday vacation break and we don’t return until next Monday. The time off has been great, and I have gotten much needed rest and relaxation!

I started this blog well over a year ago, but only wrote a few entries. A few life events got in the way and I never kept up with posting. My goal for 2017 is to get back to my blog and get it rolling. I want to try and reach out to other teachers and share a variety of teaching ideas and strategies that I have used over the span of 27 years as a classroom teacher and trainer. I actually keep a daily journal of personal goals and reflections so I plan to use this blog as a way to continue journaling about my teaching life and maybe engage a few others with whom to have a conversation with while I’m at it. 
So here it goes……. 

Today I actually opened up my plan book to take a look at my upcoming week and was surprised to see so many blank spaces staring back at me! Yikes! ;)  We were in school right up to the 22nd of December and boy was it a crazy-busy time! 
Normally I plan a week in advance and have everything copied on Thursdays by a very reliable parent volunteer. On Fridays I sort all the copies into my Monday thru Friday trays and put extra unit materials in cubbies (behind my sliding whiteboards) which are separated by subject. I like to have everything ready for the week ahead by the time I leave on Friday afternoon. 

I found out I'm getting a new student on Monday, so today I made a list of all the materials, folders, supplies, etc... that she would need. I even went to the local school supply store and bought new name tags as I couldn't find any extras of the ones I was currently using (hate when that happens). Well, now ALL the kiddos get a new name tag. 😉 

Since one of my passions is teaching kids to write, I plan on starting a series here related to grammar and editing in the writing process. A favorite book of mine is Jeff Anderson's Everyday Editing

I will be going through each chapter of this book on my blog during the month of January, and I will share how I've adapted his grammar lessons in my 4th grade classroom to use as mini-lessons during our writing workshop time. 
Stay tuned….. I will start this “novel study” on Monday, January 9th

 💜Heather 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Personal Narrative Writing Made Easy
I am a big fan of educator Gretchen Bernabei. I have been fortunate to attend two of her writing workshops for teachers and have walked away with gold nuggets of wisdom each time. She helped me to change the way I was teaching narrative writing for the better.  

Having students write personal narratives always seemed the easiest place to start, right? They'd pick an event or special memory from their life and after all the requisite writing "mini-lessons" on "juicy word choice" and "varied sentence length", and "beginning-middle-end" structure, you would ask them to write that story and give it all they had. Although, most of the first drafts and even the second "revised" drafts lacked something. I found that the students' stories lacked depth or reflection about why this memory was worth recognizing or writing about. 

Gretchen Bernabei offers her students a guided structure through questions that they kids answer while writing what she calls a "kernel essay." I like to start with this: 

1. What I used to think....   2. Then this happened.....    3. So now I think.....



Here is an example of one of my student's kernel essay ( I retyped her words on this image). 

Here is another student's final draft of his narrative following this kernel essay structure: 
Check out Gretchen's book ( I LOVE this book for teaching writing!) 

The Story of My Thinking: Expository Writing Activities for 13 Teaching Situations [Book]



Saturday, June 13, 2015

FIVE DAYS LEFT! 
         Well, we have just a week left of the school year and I'm filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I cannot wait to catch up on my sleep, read books for pleasure (lots and lots of books), go on a vacation with my family, and mentally unwind. On the other hand, I feel such an attachment to my group of fourth graders and will have a hard time saying goodbye. 
video
          I have been reflecting on my year as their teacher and thinking about what worked, what didn't, and how I will change or tweak certain lessons next year for more impact on student learning. Today I went through pictures and videos that I took of the students throughout the year. This video is of one of my students explaining her thinking about a math problem. It makes me smile!

The photo is of when we were doing our unit on Electricity and using balloons to learn about positive and negative charges in static electricity. :)




Friday, May 8, 2015