Friday, February 9, 2018

Sentence Fluency Plus Mini Poster FREEBIE!



Ahoy mateys! Generally speaking, pirates spin great yarns. They know how to hold their audience's attention with details that are organized to enable the readers or listeners to follow along. They use language that is rich and paints pictures in the minds of the audience. Also the yarn spinners' sentences have a natural flow making the story easy to follow and enjoyable to hear.

What I am describing may remind you of the Six Traits of Writing which resulted in the research of Ruth Culham and Education Northwest.
The traits are Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions. For me teaching writing became a pleasure when using the Six Traits model. In this post, I will share instructional ideas on one component of the Sentence Fluency trait.

Sentence Fluency is described as "smooth, rhythmic, easy to read" (Creating & Recognizing Quality Rubrics CD Copyright © 2006 Educational Testing Service). Think about a flowing river or stream. It is constantly moving. However, in some locations, the water moves slowly and quietly. While in other spots, the water rushes and cheers loudly. Sentences within a story have a similar movement. Some are short and sweet. Some are long holding you in suspense. Put them together and you have a flowing narrative.

If you take a closer look at sentences that are "smooth, rhythmic, and easy to read", you will see that they begin in a variety of ways. One reason for varying the start of sentences is to connect an idea from the previous sentence to an idea in the sentence that follows. In addition, starting sentences differently prevents choppy sentences and sentences that repeatedly begin with a simple subject which becomes boring after a bit. Take a look at the "Broccoli" paragraph.


All of the sentences begin with a simple subject, and most are short and choppy.
Now, let's read the revision.



Did you find the sentences more interesting and detailed? Did the sentences seem to flow more naturally? Did you notice that the sentences vary in how they start? Some begin with prepositional phrases. A couple are introduced with adverbs and one with adjectives. Two sentences remain the same and begin with the simple subject.

When teaching students how to vary sentence beginnings, I introduced one variation a week to give them time and opportunity to use the technique in their own writing and to find examples in our textbooks and in their independent reading. There were four starting varieties that I introduced early in the year:
  • Begin with one or two adjectives describing the subject.
  • Begin with a "how" adverb such as "slowly".
  • Begin with a "where" adverbial phrase such as "in the closet".
  • Begin with a "when" adverbial phrase such as "last night". 
This mini poster is available as a FREEBIE!

In addition I created a PowerPoint with engaging and interactive slides to teach these four beginnings.

Sentence Fluency: How to Begin Sentences/CCSS Aligned 3-6


Sail to my store to preview the PPT and mini poster by clicking on the product covers below.



                               










If your students need practice with Fragments and Run-on Sentences, you may be interested in this treasure!


One more gem before you sail away! You will find on the side bar a link to a Pinterest board I have created for mentor picture books to help you teach sentence fluency.

Thanks for visiting! Please come again when you are looking for more teaching treasures!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Figurative Language and a FREEBIE!


During Writer's Workshop, I emphasize to my students that writers have a toolbox filled with tools and devices to revise and edit their writing. One of those tools is figurative language to be used by the writer to help the reader see, hear, taste, smell, touch, or feel what s/he is describing.

I often introduce a concept with a slideshow in which definitions and examples are provided, examined, and discussed. Students are then given the opportunity to work in pairs to identify, explain, and create. In the case of figurative language, I created a PowerPoint to teach six literary devices for writers: simile, metaphor, personification, idiom, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. The slides are often animated and interactive. Below is a snapshot of some of the slides for "Simile" instruction.


Providing additional practice identifying these figurative devices is key to helping students create examples of their own. When reading to students during Hear Me Read, I tell them to listen for the type of figurative language we are currently learning. When someone points out the device, we talk about how it helps us understand what the writer is saying. I also encourage them to be on the lookout for examples in books they are reading and to keep their ears open as they watch TV or talk with their parents and friends. Students write down their discoveries and share them with the class during the next Writer's Workshop. 





In addition I provide practice with activities such as this Simile/Metaphor Sort.





In this Figurative Language Adventure Game students compete to be the first to reach the Writer's Toolbox by reading Figurative Language cards and identifying the type of literary device as they move along the game board.  













Following instruction and practice identifying the literary device, students write and illustrate an example of their own. This can be done by hand or on the computer as seen below in the idiom example. 




Often we take a Museum Walk in the classroom to share our work. Students clear their desks except for the illustrated literary device. We walk slowly and quietly about the room to view the illustration and read the author's work. This gives students a chance to see what their classmates have created. I often hang the examples in the hallway for parents, teachers, and other students to view as they travel about the school. Another option is to make a class book of the students' examples.


The Figurative Language PowerPoint, the FL Adventure Game, and the FREE Simile/Metaphor Sort are available at my TpT store.


          



Thanks for visiting. Here's luck and a fair wind to you!



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans




Ahoy Mateys! Veterans Day is around the corner, and I want to share with you an activity I did with my little scallywags to honor our friends and family members who have served or currently serve in our country's armed forces.

First thing on my list was to gather children's books about Veterans Day. These were displayed on the rain gutter tray mounted below the whiteboard. (The rain gutter idea came from Jim Trelease, the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook! When perched on the rain gutter, the books' covers are easy to view.) In addition, I searched for student-friendly websites for background information on Veterans Day.


I introduced the topic of Veterans Day by asking my students what does "veteran" mean. Once we arrived at the definition related to the holiday, I distributed KWL charts and asked students to list in the "K" column what they knew about Veterans Day. I had also made a poster size KWL chart. After the kiddos had made their list, I had them share their knowledge with each other and called on volunteers to write on the class chart. We then brainstormed questions we had about the holiday and wrote these in the "W" column.



Next the kiddos gathered on the carpet in the Reading Corner for a read-aloud of Veterans Day by Rebecca Rissman. This book provides information on the history of the holiday and how it is celebrated. After the reading, we returned to our KWL charts to write in the "L" column the facts we learned from the book.

The following day I talked with the students about an idea I had to honor the veterans we personally know. I showed under the doc camera a copy of the Veterans Information Form I had created. For each veteran in their family they would complete the form with a family member's help. If there were no veterans in their family, they could fill out the form for any family friends who were vets. (A letter explaining our project would be sent home along with the Veteran Information Forms.)


I explained that we would create a Veterans Wall of Honor on the wall outside our class door by displaying the information forms. In addition, I encouraged them to bring photos their families or friends might have of their veterans to place on the wall as well. For students who did not personally know a veteran, they were assigned to write a paragraph about the "Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Veterans Day". These would also be displayed on the Wall of Honor. 

Throughout the rest of the week, we continued to read more Veterans Day books and view the various VD websites.

On the day that the assignments were due, I provided students with red construction paper on which to glue each cut-out form and photo. Students who wrote paragraphs also glued their writing to the construction paper. Once that was completed, I distributed blue and gold stars. I explained to students that during World War I a family tradition began of placing in the home window a white banner with a blue star to honor a family member actively serving in the armed forces. Later another tradition was started. Gold stars were sewn onto the banner to honor family members who died while serving their country. Students then glued the appropriate star above the Veteran Information Form to the red construction paper. 


After school that day I hung the red construction papers on the hallway wall outside our door. The students were very excited to see the Veterans Wall of Honor when they came to school the next morning! 



If you want to create a Veterans Wall of Honor with your students, click on the picture below. This FREEBIE contains the resources and directions for completing this project to honor and remember our veterans.





Thanks for docking your ship here for a while, me hearty. 
As you sail on to a new adventure, I wish you well!






Friday, September 22, 2017

Back To School with Free Practice Activities





Ahoy, teaching pirates! 
By now ye and your little scallywags are settled on board for another year of sailing in the Sea of Learning! And the Pirate Queen has some teaching treasures to help keep the wind at your back.

                   Kinds of Sentences

The four categories of sentences are usually taught early in the school year. In 2nd and 3rd grades the category names are in simpler terms: Statement, Question, Command, Exclamation or Feeling. While in the upper grades, the names become more sophisticated: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, Exclamatory

One of the best ways to practice categories is a sorting activity. The free product below provides a set of ten sentences minus the ending punctuation. Students must read each sentence and use their knowledge of the definition for each type of sentence to decide which category each individual sentence belongs.


Click on the picture to preview this product.


With baseball playoffs scheduled in the fall, I chose to write sentences related to one of America's favorite pastimes. This particular set of sentences honors legend, Lou Gehrig.

Once the sentence strips are cut out, students read each sentence to determine the category and place the sentence below the category label. A recording sheet and answer key are also provided.

Story Elements

A second ELA area that is often reviewed or introduced early in the school year is story elements: Characters, Setting, Plot. This Freebie assists your instruction and provides students practice in identifying and explaining the setting of a narrative.
Click the picture to preview the Free product.
                                                  




A graphic organizer setting map and sample are included in the Freebie. Also provided are questions that can be used for class or group discussion as well as for written response. These resources can be applied to any narrative form.

                               Place Value Freebie

Many district math curriculum maps begin the year with Place Value. In keeping with the seasonal time of year, these task cards ask questions about the number of pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. Understanding that ten ones is the same one ten and that ten tens is the same as one hundred is the key to place value. Solving the riddles help students to grasp that concept.

Click on the picture to preview the product. 


Each of these Practice Freebies is part of a larger product that provides additional resources and more practice. If you like any of the above treasures, check out the ones below. "They be worth their weight in gold, me hearties!"

Kinds of Sentences Sort will provide 30 more sentences to sort.   

Novel Study Resources includes graphic organizers for all story elements, theme, vocabulary, and summaries and can be used with all narratives,     picture book stories, and chapter books.




Pumpkin Patch Place Value Riddles has 32 additional task cards giving your students the opportunity to build their understanding of multi-digit numbers.

Happy Sailing, Buckos!  See you next month!


                                                                       





Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Free Labor Day Activity

                  
         




Labor Day is approaching, and the Pirate Queen has a fun activity for your students and their parents. 

If you ask children what kind of work their parents do, they are probably able to name the job or profession of their parents. However, how much do they really know about the details of the work that their mother and father do most every day of the week? 

To teach students about the history of Labor Day, I have created a FREE product that provides background as to how and why a holiday was created to honor American workers. In the process, students also learn about the type of work their parents do by interviewing their mom or dad about her/his job.



GETTING STARTED

Before introducing Labor Day to your students, gather books from your school or local library about the history of this holiday. (A list is included in the product, Labor Day: Worker Interview Activity.) Display the books to encourage students to review, and select a few to read to the class for background. In addition, I recently added to this Labor Day resource an up-to-date list of websites dedicated to the holiday, including a few that are designed for children.


When you are ready to begin this mini unit, ask students general questions such as: What are jobs? Why are there jobs? Ask students if they have thought about what they want to do when they grow up. Discuss various careers and make a chart listing different professions and their purposes. Introduce the word, labor. Ask students if they know what it means. Then remind them that Labor Day is approaching. Ask what they and their families will do to celebrate. Be sure to ask why do we have a day for celebrating labor. At this point, show one of the websites or read one of the books to help students understand the reason for Labor Day.

PARENT INTERVIEW

After a day or so on the history of Labor Day, talk with students about their parents' jobs. Ask if any of them have been to their parents' work place. Ask students what their parents' work day is like. Some students may know quite a bit about the work their mothers and fathers do. Others will know very little. 

Page 1 of Interview Sheet
Distribute the Parent Letter/Interview Questions and go over the questions with students. Remind students that they are to choose one of their parents to interview. Make sure they understand that "Stay-at-home Moms and Dads" can be interviewed. After interviewing their parents, students will present to their classmates information regarding the type of work their parents do. Also, if possible, students will bring a "Tool of the Trade", something their parents use to do their work. For example, if a parent is a nurse or doctor, the student might be able to bring a stethoscope, a "Tool of the Trade" in the health profession. 


PRESENTATION

To help students prepare for their presentations, distribute the Oral
Presentation Scoring Checklist and go over the characteristics of a well done speaking presentation. Model for them how a speaker should stand, how to make eye contact, how to hold and present an item for viewing.  Suggest that when they practice their presentation at home, their parents can use the score sheet to evaluate the student's presentation and help the student to make improvements. Set aside three or four days for students to share what they have learned about their parents' jobs.

I recommend taking photos of students holding the "Tool of the Trade" their parents use. These photos along with pictures that students draw of their parents at work can be displayed on a wall in your classroom or in the hall outside your classroom for others to see.


If you would like to download Labor Day: Worker Interview Activity, click on the product cover which will take you to my TpT store. 


Happy Labor Day, Matey! 



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Novel Study Resources and a FREEBIE





Ahoy, Bucaroos! I have been on a rather long shore leave which is why
I've been out of touch. But now I'm ready to sail again into the vast Sea of Learning!
                                                                       
While on leave, I created a gem of a teaching product, Novel Study Resources for Grades 3-5.  Knowing how time consuming creating resources and printables for each chapter book read during a typical school year is, I collected various graphic organizers I had designed for specific books and edited them to work for any fictional narrative. This TIME-SAVING treasure can be used with any novel or  chapter book for Intermediate    grades.




Nine graphic organizers, which I like to think of as treasure maps, help students organize their ideas and thoughts as they read and analyze the narrative. These printable organizers for characters, setting, plot, theme, and vocabulary can be cut out and glued into reading journals. There are also organization maps to assist with writing summaries. Working samples of summaries and graphic organizers are included so teachers can show students how a finished product might look. 

 

Examples of Graphic Organizers

Story Plot Organizer
One of three Summary Flow Maps
       


In addition 40 discussion and/or written response questions are provided. Some cover story elements. Others explore various fiction genre: realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, and science fiction. As a bonus, I created a mini anchor chart identifying these genres and listing their characteristics.  You may want to choose some of the questions as an assessment.

Finally, Common Core ELA Standards to which this product aligns  are listed for you, and teaching tips explain how to utilize each of the resources with your students. Click on the Novel Study Resources cover above to preview the product.


If you want to try out a small piece of this product, then click on the Setting Teaching Resources FREEBIE below.




I hope you find these treasures helpful, Mateys! If you do and if you have suggestions for other teaching products, please leave a comment below.

Happy Sailing!