Monday, December 21, 2015

Writers Notebook: Paragraph Structure

Want a yummy way to teach your students the proper structure for a paragraph? I brought in a pack of Oreos to accompany this lesson.

After we went over the parts of the Oreo paragraph, we read the paragraph and used our highlighters to identify the parts of the paragraph. 

I LOVED doing this because all year we just had to say "Oreo" and they knew exactly what they needed to do to fix their writing! 

Apparently I have a thing for using food to teach... hey it's effective! Click HERE for a free powerpoint lesson on paragraph structure using a hamburger! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Writers Notebook: Evidence From the Text Using Direct Quotes

Evidence From the Text:

Using the author's words to support a students words requires some skill at first but ultimately it makes for a very strong writer. It is also a common core standard so that makes it kind of important too ha!

The point I like to drive home it that what you have to say is really good. BUT when what you say is supported by what the author says (a credible source) it makes your writing/argument/topic much stronger!

Here are the two biggest problems I noticed when introducing using evidence from the text with direct quotes & how I fixed them. 

1. The quotes made no sense 
I think some students get a little overwhelmed with having to not only write an essay but also pick out and cite quotes.

Evidence from the text has to make sense to the students writing so picking quality quotes is more important to me than the quantity of quotes. 

How I fixed it- During the brainstorming process students are required to pick out the quotes they would like to use in their essay. I usually had them make a web surrounding the quote with their explanation. If their explanation and quote didn't belong in the web together, then it wasn't the right piece of evidence for their essay. The web made it very apparent to them.

2. They didn't cite correctly 
This is a big one because if they don't cite correctly, they are just stealing the author's words.

How I fixed it- I created a detailed lesson showing them how to use a quote in their essay and then we practiced over and over and over again on white boards (white boards are magic aren't they?!?). Each morning when they came in the room, I had a question ready for them to answer based on the novel they were reading. They provided an answer to the question using a direct quote. We  did it together at first, then as individuals where we shared good and poor answers as a class, and then we moved to checking them with partners. Finally I had a few "expert" quote masters who walked around the room helping the rest of the students.

We spent TWO WEEKS on this. Yes, that is a lot of time. But they sure were masters after that. When it came to end of the year testing/assessments, they were pros! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Writers Notebook: The Introduction

The introduction to an essay is without a doubt important for any students essay. Introductions set the entire tone of an essay. I always tell my students think about the books you read. If it has a boring beginning, are you likely to continue reading it? NO! The same goes for your essays...

Here are some notes from our writers notebooks about what an introduction is.

The Introduction-

  • The very first part of your essay
  • Introduces the main idea/ topic of your essay
  • Grabs the readers attention 
  • Sets the tone of the essay 
  • Provides necessary background information 
  • Maps out your essay 
  • ***Contains the thesis statement*** 
  • I say it could be 3-5 sentences but let's be honest, I expect 5 good ones. 
  • A sentence or two of fact, piece of information, story, anecdote, or whatever to grab the readers attention. 
    • I  am not a fan of when my students just start their essays with a question so I don't even teach them that anymore. It seems to be their "go to" once they get the ok from me to do it so i try and teach other techniques.


Winter Writing

Happy Holidays! Need a little something to keep your sanity...errrrr.... students engaged in their work just before winter break?

Haha yea, me too. I found that a lot of resources for the holidays out there are aimed towards the primary grades but are kids really ever "too old" for holiday themed stuff? NAH! So I created this lovely little packet with lots of winter themed writing activities.

A personal favorite of all the kids is this Facebook page for Rudolph. You won't believe what they come up with!

Check out his FREE sample of winter writing :) Print & enjoy using it this week!