A Book to Spark Personal Narrative Pre-writing

Last week I wrote about Reading Workshop; this week I'm focusing on Writing Workshop. I'm linking up with Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday.

I love teaching writing. That hasn't always been the case, even though I've always been a writer myself. About 20 years ago, I attended a writing institute that change me completely as a teacher. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend that you devote the 3 weeks and participate in an Abydos Learning International (formerly known as The New Jersey Writing Project in Texas) institute.

One of the things I learned about during my writing institute is the importance of pre-writing. Give a kid a pencil and a piece of paper and tell him to write, and most likely he will complain that he doesn't have anything to write about. It is so worth it to spend some time up front to gather ideas. I love using trade books for this purpose.

I personally like to start the year off with a personal narrative. Most of my students come to me without much writing experience. Research teaches us that students are more likely to work hard on something that has personal meaning to them. So I use this book to help gather seed ideas students can use for that first piece of writing and for the rest of the year in writing workshop.

Click on the picture to read about the book at Amazon.

First I read students the book. Then we use listing to generate a lot of memories. Students make a list of people who are important to them. Then next to each person's name, they write a memory associated with that person. For example, I would list my Dad and then write "singing while Dad played the guitar" as my memory. It is incredibly important for you as the teacher to model this for the students. Next each idea (not developed at all - simply the idea) is written on a strip of paper. Finally, we use card stock or construction paper to fold a memory box to hold the ideas. If you Google origami box, you will find many sites with instructions.

To read more ideas for establishing writing workshop, click on graphic at the top of the page to go visit Ideas by Jivey's linky!


Reader's Workshop - the Mini-Lesson

Learn how to plan all the steps in a mini-lesson for reader's workshop.

I absolutely love reader's workshop. I started using it somewhere around 19 years ago when I was searching for a way to reach all the varied levels of readers in my third grade class. I continued to refine my understanding of it during the following years. 

Monday Made It

I got sidetracked last week, so I didn't get around to making my project for Monday Made It. But today, I got busy.

I'm not going back to school this year because I retired in June. So this Made It is for my house.

My living room is decorated with all sorts of interesting stars. However, I had this one little space that needed something.

My mom died four years ago and while cleaning out her house, I put this picture aside, thinking I would do something with it one day.

First I removed the angel picture, and then I took the hardware off and spray painted the frame blue.

Then I spray painted the hardware oil rubbed bronze. (I tried removing the pink paint, but the finish underneath was a bright brass - not my style at all.)

Next I traced a star on some linen fabric . . . 

. . .filled in the star with red craft paint (forgot to take a picture of this part) and grabbed all the reddish colored buttons I could find. I used them to fill in the star.

While the glue dried, I reattached the hardware.

 And here is the finished project! I love it.

Now go see all the other great Monday Made Its at 


Must Read Mentor Text

Today I am linking up with Collaboration Cuties for this:

I love teaching writing and getting kids to love writing themselves. But many times, I hear kids say, "I don't have anything to write about!" It is incredibly important for us to spend time at the beginning of the year helping students gather possible topics for writing.

One of my favorite ways to gather ideas is by sharing a mentor text. I love to use this one, because every student can relate and have a story to tell.

After we read, we brainstorm a list in our writer's notebooks of times we got in trouble.

I model with my writer's notebook, then give kids time to make their own lists. After that, each kid shares an idea they wrote. I make sure to model adding to my list after being inspired by a student's sharing. Then we take time to do a quick-write about just one of the ideas. Then students gather in groups of 2-3 and share their writing.

This isn't the only time we work on gathering ideas for our writer's notebooks, but it is one of the kids' favorites. This entry is often the one they select for their first full process writing piece.

It is so incredibly important to write and share along with your students. It helps create a community of writers in your classroom. You won't believe the risks your kids will take if you are ready to take the same risks alongside them.

Now, go check out all the other great ideas in the Collaboration Cuties linky!


August Currently

I can't believe it is already August and time to link up again with Farley for her monthly Currently!

  • I love being able to be home to watch morning TV.
  • Now that it is summer, I am back on my night owl schedule. I love to stay up until midnight and then sleep until 8 or 9.
  • I have started a new healthy eating plan. I need to drop some weight and work on all those other numbers!
  • My life is good right now. There is nothing I am really wanting. Although I wouldn't turn down a golden retriever puppy. The house is a little quiet since we lost Desi.
  • I need to get busy and get blogging! It is so easy to sit back and waste time doing other things. I have made a list of topics I want to blog about. Now I have to get busy and do it! First up - a Monday Made It!
  • My back to school must haves
    • A great coffee thermos to keep that cup hot all morning. This one is amazing! It keeps my coffee hot for several hours and warm until noon!
    • I need new pens every year. These have had some great reviews!
    • I loved using my Thirty One organizing utility tote and thermal lunch bag. Stylish and so well made!
Now get over to Farley's place and join in the fun. Don't forget the rule of 3!

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