This Is Not The End….It’s Just The Beginning!!!

As I look back on the last few semesters, I can’t help but think to myself what a difference has been made…a difference with myself, my students, and many other people in my school.  We have all come out with something so rewarding that it’s hard to put it into words.  Writing….something I didn’t think I could do well, much less teach to my students.  One thing that I would say to all teachers that do not feel comfortable with teaching writing is to step back, relax, and have confidence in yourself and the students.  With a little guidance and support, the students can soar.  I learned that I needed to make my students feel their writing was worthy and was meaningful for everyone that heard their stories.  Another thing I would tell all teachers, quit teaching them what to write.  Give the students strategies to help them become better writers.  Before, I felt like my students had to write a certain way and if they didn’t do it the way I “thought” was correct then it had to be redone.  In return, the students disliked writing because what they wrote seemed to not matter.  Now, I would take anything a student is writing and I would talk to them about it.  I think talking to them about their writing is POWERFUL!  I was able to watch my students go from, “Mrs. Dalton, do we really have to write today? I don’t have anything to write about.” to “I really want to share my stories” and “when will we get to our writing time?” I learned that writing is something every single person can do and everyone that works in a school system needs to know that.  Parents need to know their child is a writer as well.  We are all ready! It’s a process that only gets better with practice.  I could write a whole book about the things I experienced and learned as a teacher of writing.

In the future, I would like to continue a writer’s notebook because that is where the students feel like they can express themselves.  It’s stories they know that belong to them and only them.  I plan to keep doing what I am doing and working more on the components of a writing workshop.  I want to make sure I reach out to every student and focus on their needs while giving them ample opportunities to become better writers.  I will continue to make sure that I incorporate a writing time EVERY DAY, even if it’s just 15 minutes when the schedule gets hectic.  My goals are to start the year off in the right direction, getting the students to enjoy writing.  It may take me a while to figure out all of my students but that is my #1 goal.  Letting them know I believe in them and that they don’t have to be afraid to write.  Hopefully, with mentor texts and a writer’s notebook and making sure we are sharing, they will want to write.  I want to commit to always letting my students write and sharing my experiences with my colleagues.  I think the only way we will see a change in writing throughout our school, is to share what we have learned and to share the experiences and the differences that have been made.  Katie Wood Ray talked about all the things her students knew to do when it came to writing time.  She had different places set up around the room for children to experience all types of writing and explore the process.  I want to make sure I have all the resources for the students to do the same.  I see myself as a teacher leader because I am already sharing with other teachers what I am doing and seeing a difference it makes is what other teachers need to see and hear.  It’s about change and how we can make the change, and I want to be a part of that change.  WE can be the change!

Link to Presentation

Link to Final Paper

 

Advertisements

They are the writers!!!!

IMG_4919Once again, this week I did a little more with stepping back and letting the students take control of writing time.

Like always, I seem to want to put my ideas in too much and the students lose interest because they don’t value their own thoughts or opinions enough and I most certainly blame myself, not them!

we had been talking about finding anything around us to write about and we shared some of those writings last week.  We also had talked about using more descriptive words in our writing!  I put up a list, on the smartboard, so the students could have a little guidance with this task.

Something else that I tried this week was instead of letting me confer with them in small groups or individually, I put them into small groups and the talked about and shared their writings among themselves. I felt this helped them get on a level they were comfortable with because when they confer with me you can tell some students won’t say much because they don’t want to do something wrong in front of me or they think I will not like their writing……FYI, they have no reason to think this but you know how small children can be.

When they met with their small group, they each shared their stories. I heard students complimenting others on their writing and giving feedback. One thing I did ask the groups to do was talk with each other and help each other add descriptive words to their writing!  I gave each student a marker and they wrote down some of the ideas, in their notebook, when things/ideas were being mentioned within their group. Most of the students were able to share a short piece with their group and got at least two ideas. Some groups needed a little more guidance and that’s when I decided to put the list of descriptive words on the board. This way they had ideas but my mouth still didn’t say much to any of the groups!!!!😜

Stepping back & letting them take control!!!

This week I learned, from class conversations, that I need to step back a little more let the students have the floor.  Recording the students and myself made me realize that my kids can do the sharing all on their own. They can take the responsibility of sharing and asking classmates to share their thoughts!

Before, I was letting the kids share and do some discussing after, but I led the students and called on them to speak. I did step back a lot more last week than I ever thought about before but this week I didn’t lead anything they did. The student sharing even called in the next student to share!

I also read two mentor texts this week!  One was Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Toni Schotter and When Lightning Comes in a Jar by Patricia Palacco. The first story was to help them realize that stories are all around them!  Some students were saying they couldn’t think of anything more to write about so I wanted to show them that stories are all around us!   The second story was to help add descriptive words in our story. We talked about all the describing words that Patricia Polacco used.

I had almost all of my students wanting to share their writings this week!  They were even arguing about who was going to go first, second, third, and so on!  Major accomplishment!!!!  Even some of my struggling writers were asking to share.  One student,  who struggles weekly with wrong was asking how to spell certain words and most of the time I just tell them to focus on their writing and not their spelling. His exact words back to me were “but, I want to make my writing really good.”  This made me so happy!!!!!

Video of sharing time!

Just write!

This week seemed to be a week to take it easy. We have been working on publishing our writing so much, this week I just asked my students to write.

Some students wrote about their lunch and some wrote a made up story. I felt the students had worked so hard the past few weeks, they needed to relax their hard-working brains.  Plus, there were a few students who didn’t get to finish their project from the previous week so I gave them time to finish it up.  The other students enjoyed just writing about whatever they wanted to write about.

I had a lot of sickness in my room as well this week. Two of the days I only had 8 or 9 students and I felt moving on with something that was important would hurt the ones that were not able to experience it!

After my students have several writing pieces, we will choose a piece to work on and they will have several to choose from. We may just spend our time on ways to expand our writing.

I still have a few students that are “not so much into writing” and we are working on trying to boost their confidence. Hopefully by the end of the year we will have that resolved. I feel just letting them write will help!

Every time I see the students stand up and share, I can’t help but think how much they have grown and how much my students, each year, would grow if I had known what I know now.  I would be able to expose them to all the possibilities of writing and then sharing with their classmates.

My advice is that even if you think you are running out of time for the writing that day, take even 5 minutes to let the students talk about their writing.  IT WILL ONLY HELP!  I haven’t done as much as I would like to with my students and they have grown so much.  I can’t imagine if I had 10 years experience with this under my belt.  I WOULD HAVE AUTHORS WRITING STORIES EVERY DAY, which is my goal with every single student now!

HOW BLOGGING HAS HELPED ME!

Every day, as teachers, we think about what steps can be taken next to ensure our students are learning everything they can and figuring out ways to teach those new things.  We are constantly evaluating our work and what we may be doing that is working and what we are doing that isn’t working as well as we thought!  As a teacher, one thing that has extremely helped me with valuing students work is the blog posts that we are contributing to each week.  As I look back over my entries that I wrote so far, comparing my first entry, Mrs. Dalton’s 3rd Grade Writers, compared to my entries throughout the postings, you can tell that my love for writing has increased.  On the first post, I just posted a few samples of their work and put it into one picture.  Even my text had a layout that was semi boring.  As I scroll through more recent posts, my blogs seem to have more life and more of the students involved.  Even adding videos to one of my blogs really helped the blog come to life.  Small Moments Make Big Ideas.  As you read my other blog posts, you can tell that my student get more involved because I am praising their work and they know their work is valued.  They are excited with each thing we are able to publish.

Personally, writing these blog posts has not only allowed me to grow as a teacher in writing but has allowed me to value the students work a lot more than I used to.  Before I would have completed an activity and valued it but for some reason, sharing your story with others seems to get you personally more involved and you can analyze your activity really think about what you were doing with your students.  I believe, as all teachers should, have faith in the students that they can create anything they put their minds to.  Writing these blog posts helped me see that and hold on to it.  If I had not written about our writing experiences, I probably wouldn’t be able to remember just how much my students did and how much they learned and we can’t forget the fun they have had.  I think another thing the blog posting has done for me is that it has helped me with sharing my writing.  It has helped me talk about what great work my students are doing and it allows others to see how proud I am of my students.
Doing these blog posts has been way more beneficial than simply writing a paper or entry to the professor and only the professor reading your words.  IT DEFINITELY DOESN’T MAKE IT AS IMPORTANT.  I don’t want that to sound mean but when writing to other teachers or other people going through the exact same thing you are, it makes a big difference.  I think sharing our stories has helped tremendously with our own writing because we can read other entries and it has helped professionally because we can use the other ideas that are being shared in our own classrooms.

Writing a blog post also allows us to reach out to our community and parents can see what wonderful things are going on in the classroom.  Parents could even contribute to the post.  I hope in the future I can use a blog in my classroom and the students can contribute to it and then parents can see what their child is doing on the blog!

Completing the posts and then having more than one person reply to your post has been very helpful, well for me it has!  I think hearing other ideas has also opened my mind and has helped me make my lessons better.  I think the blog posts are great because we are writing to become better writers, we are sharing our students work, we are thinking more deeply about our students work, we are analyzing our students work, we are thinking about future plans, we are learning from others, we are giving advice to others and we are simply becoming better teachers.  I don’t know if you could get all that when just writing to a professor and only the professor reading it!  Every day is a new day and we are learning new things from each blog post that we can take to our own classroom!

THE SWAP…

This week, I wanted to let my students begin “the swap” writing activity.  They are researching anything, and I mean anything they want to and they are going to be the teachers for a day.  I did have one rule and that was I had to approve of what they were researching after they figured it out.  I wanted to them to be able to do whatever they wanted without me telling them anything but then they had to tell me their topic.  I wanted to make sure we didn’t have something that was very inappropriate for 3rd graders to be teaching the whole class.
GOOD NEWS….I didn’t have to tell anyone they couldn’t research what they wanted!  I can’t wait to tell you guys what everyone is doing.  It’s a secret for now because I still have  few students trying to decide.  They started researching something then would find something else they wanted to do.  I didn’t stop them because it’s what they are interested in and I don’t want to stop them from doing anything they want to do.  I even suggested doing both if they wanted.

I know one subject is the effects of cigarettes on the lungs.  This is a topic coming from a student that exceptionally challenged and doesn’t like to write on her own very much.  She is excited to learn more.  This week, I have had more facts given to me than I have ever heard in my entire life.  This tells me they are enjoying what they are doing.  I have another student researching the Statue Of Liberty.  It’s very interesting to see what they choose.

The students are to find facts and present them to me.  But, they are not only writing the facts down and presenting them to me…I told them they have to make a story with their facts, written in their own words.  Yes, I had a few students become frustrated with having to write their own story but I wanted them to write about their topic and not just copy the facts down.  I wanted the students to just simply write about their topic!

After the students are finished with their facts search, they are constructing a piece to help them present their information.  They can choose to do a poster, brochure, or a mobile.  We are making the mobiles from wired hangers.  Everyone will have a story to go along with their research.  The students are also typing their paper.  I thought with the struggle we had getting started on editing and revising our last published piece, this would be a fun way for someone besides their teacher to correct their spelling.  THEY ARE EXTREMELY EXCITED ABOUT TYPING THEIR PAPER….oh and don’t worry, these pieces are going in the hallway.  I can’t wait to see their finished results.

God Doesn’t Give Us Mountains We Can’t Climb….and boy did we climb!

 

This week was a continuation from last week.. The “I DON”T THINK I CAN DO THIS” week finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Or to better fit my title, we climbed the mountain and with satisfaction and smiling faces!

animated-climbing-image-0002

Last week I was trying to figure out how to get the students to revise and edit.  They really just didn’t want to.  I tried to figure out things to motivate them.  One thing I showed them was a video from http://www.youtube.com

 MOTIVATING THE KIDS VIDEO

The students began to understand the importance of why we revise and edit.  So my thoughts were, they just see the importance in it.  They didn’t care about revising because they saw no point in it.  After watching this short clip, they began to see how making it better can make a BIG difference.  It took us all week to get everyone’s revised and just like the way they wanted it.  I had students read theirs to other students like in the video and I had some students help others.  Especially if I was having a hard time getting to everyone that day for conferencing.  My early finishers were able to go around the room and help others with their writing.  They would read their piece back to the friend and see if the actual author of the piece could catch anything he/she didn’t like.

Telling them the book would be in our classroom library excited them all.  I heard…REALLY?!?!? throughout the classroom.  Others were saying “I can’t wait to read everyone’s” writing” and “can I have one of my own?”  I told the students I would make them a stapled, black and white copy to take home but the colored book binded version would be in our classroom library.  I didn’t get to make the book at the end of this week yet because we had a few students absent and I wanted to make sure they had the same opportunities to revise and edit their piece so that it could be included in our final copy!

One of my most surprising and uplifting moments as a teaching this year is I had students that finished early say “can I go write in my notebook?”  If  that is all I accomplish with this classroom then I have to say I am very proud of myself and my students.  At the beginning of the year it was like pulling teeth to get them to write 2 sentences.  They just finished a major piece that took a lot of work and conferencing and rewriting and they still want to write in their notebook!

WE DID IT!

raemi-check-mark-300px

img_4806img_4805

img_4804

img_4799

I will upload pictures of the editing as soon as I get back to my classroom!

Editing & Proofreading……HELP

So, this week was a little, well……not what I thought it would be.  My students loved writing their small moments and sharing some of their stories and so I thought completing the piece and publishing it would be the way to celebrate.  We definitely didn’t get to the publishing part this week as intended.  Our small moments piece will hopefully be completed next week!

:/…..It was not what I wanted it to be, but I can say that I learned a lot more about my students this week.  From the moaning and groaning to looking at me with the worst look ever.  I thought to myself several times this week, “am I making this too hard”, “do they not understand what publishing consists of” or “did I not model enough.”  I was a little lost and had to come home and think how I would make the next day better.

On Tuesday, I asked them to finish their piece and follow the ARMS procedure that we had talked about the previous week.  Later I explained to them the COPS approach on editing and proofreading.

C  – Capitals

O – Order & Organization

P – Punctuation

S – Spelling

This helped them understand what to look for when they are editing their piece.  One student even asked “do real writers do this?”  I answered the question by stating

“EVERYONE IS A REAL WRITER”

Then, I said that writers who write stories to be published reread their piece several times looking for mistakes or things they need to fix.

My class sounded surprised.  They assumed once the “great writer” wrote the story that was it.  I corrected them and told them absolutely not.  It was amazing to see that famous authors are just like them.

After I explained COPS to them and began to conference with some of my students, I had students come up to me after 2 minutes and said they were finished.  I asked if they checked all their sentences to see if they are complete, capital letters for beginning of sentences and proper nouns.  One student said, “I added all the periods I needed.”  When I looked at his paper, he had written a whole page in his notebook and only had two periods.  I asked him to think about where he would have to stop and take a breath.  He began to get angry with me and didn’t want to work anymore.  I had some students say they were finished and didn’t even look at the names of people and how they were lowercase.  The students were getting frustrated because they really didn’t want to do the editing part and they wanted me to just say it looks good.  We have talked about capital letters and spelling before but this is the first time we have really published anything in the class as a whole.  I am really trying to get my students to take it seriously but it’s like once the fun writing part is over, they didn’t want to put anymore thought into it.  Even when I met with them one on one to edit, they still wanted me to do all the thinking.  I don’t want to drive their passion for writing away just because I want to publish a classroom book.

So, I guess for this post, I need advice.

 What are some ways you edit and proofread with your students??????

Again, the students loved the writing part and even the revising part.  THEY DID NOT LIKE THE EDITING AND PROOFREADING PART.  I felt that my kids were beginning to not want to write because of this.  I tried to make it less confusing as I could and I tried to help out as much as I could.  I felt that I was calm, I just need ways to help my students not get angry or frustrated when it comes to the final draft.  Some students were able to do the editing part but they still didn’t take it as seriously as I wanted them to.  My students have never had to edit a piece this long.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE

During a different time of the day, I let my students take part in another fun writing activity.  I provided my students with conversation hearts on Valentine’s Day and they made sentences or a story with their hearts.  They really enjoyed this!

convo-hearts

Beginning Writers Becoming Authors

img_47211

It was an exciting week for my classroom!  We are still working on our small moment pieces and the kids are really into the process.

img_47231

We explored the idea of what good writers do.  Kids spoke up and said:

“read a lot”

“write a lot”

“practice”

“never give up”

“find ways to improve their stories”

“share their stories”

“keep on writing, even if someone is telling you it’s not good”

“try your best”

My students are beginning to “get it!”  It puts a smile on my face to hear these thoughts spilling out of their mouths.  They are beginning to realize why we write and what makes writing so much fun.  At the beginning of the year they would have never felt this way.  I may have heard “when your hand begins to hurt because you have been writing for a long time” was their definition of a good writer! hahahaha!

We made an anchor chart to help us get through the writing process of becoming a better writer.  Our chart was about analyzing and revising.

“When You Analyze & Revise, Think ARMS”

img_47181

A stands for add details and description

R stands for remove things you don’t like

M stands for move things around if they sound better in a different place

S stands for substitute boring words for alive words

This process really helped my students revise their small moment writing!  They were marking through, erasing, and looking up at the ceiling….yes, I said looking up at the ceiling!  Were they not working?  Who is to say they were not thinking of how they could change the word shine to sparkle or twinkle!  I walked around talking to students about how they were making their stories better.  We spent about 2 days on this activity.  Erasing, replacing, moving, conferring and just brainstorming.  Soon we will be publishing our pieces.

My students were able to move things around, change boring words into excited and vibrant words.  Of course, I had a few students that didn’t want to change anything and once I told them they were going to publish their stories, they were more interested in making them sound better.  Conferring with students was the biggest goal I set for myself.  I wanted to make sure that I visited at least half of my class on one day and the other half on the next.  I was able to reach this goal with a few exceptions of some students being absent.  I was able to talk with the students about words they may want to use or not use.  With some students, I even talked about putting periods where they belong.  Overall, it was a very successful strategy!

Stay tuned………

for the following week, right before publishing!  We are working on editing and looking at spelling, punctuation, & capital letters!  The kids are going to be so excited to hear  their stories being published.

We had a few students share ways they revised their pieces…I can’t wait to hear the final product!

small moments make BIG ideas

moment-pic

This week, in my wonderful 3rd grade classroom, we embarked on the “small moment” journey again!  We have done this type of writing a few times in the classroom and the students really love sharing their stories.  As the lesson started, I reminded them of the time we had completed this activity before.  They were excited to tackle the task again.  We read together A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams.

a-chair-for-my-mother-pic

After reading the story, I asked them what they considered the “small moment” in this story.  Some students said it was the money jar.  Other students thought it was the fire and ways they tried collect money for their jar.  Some students mentioned the chair being the small moment.  I asked them why they thought the chair might be the small moment.  I definitely didn’t want to tell them they were right or wrong because in my opinion all of the ideas were correct and each student who spoke of the idea was able to explain why they thought so.  This started a great conversation among my very intelligent, outside of the box thinking 3rd graders.  We spent about 8 minutes reading the story and about 10 talking about their thoughts and ideas.  After we talked about some of the small moments in the story, I geared their thinking towards the chair.  We talked about all the things that was related to the chair and why.  We talked about how one small thing turned into a beautiful story.  My students were starting to ask when they could start writing their story.  I could tell they were anxious to tell their stories.  I asked them to think of some “small moments” that has happened in their life or something that is very special to them that has a story behind it.  On the first day, we only thought about our different small moments.  We didn’t begin writing until the next day.  I wanted to my students to only focus on what they could write about and be able to think about whatever they wanted and more than one idea.  I asked them to only brainstorm some small moment ideas so they could go home that night and really think about the one they wanted to write about.  I also told them that if they thought of something totally different, while they were thinking they could write about that if they chose.  They were able to sort of free write with a little boundary and guidance.  As the students were brainstorming, I walked around and if I saw some students struggling I would read other students examples they had written to spark an idea.  This seemed to help some of the students who couldn’t think of any small moments that have occurred in their lives.  I personally visited their seat and we talked about some things that were important to them or something they remember really well.  This began to help them and when they were able to think of one or two, they were able to get their third one without me guiding them.

One the second day, we discussed small moments and some students shared their ideas of their specific small moments.  I then asked them to simply write about their small moment.  Write what they remember about the moment, what it felt like, smelled like, looked like or tasted like.  They seemed to put pencil to paper and not stop.  Some finished early and asked if they could draw a picture to go with their story and of course I was glad to see their picture and for their story to come to life.  After spending about 15-20 minutes on their writing we had our sharing time!  Below are links to videos of two students sharing their writing in my classroom.  The password to view the video is 123!  ENJOY!

Student Sharing 1

Student Sharing 2