Thursday, June 16, 2016

Paragraph Writing in 8 Simple Steps

Paragraph writing guides/resources are flourishing on Pinterest.   One of my favorites is from Teaching in Room 6 called Paragraph of the Week.  Towards the middle of the year, I use this resource as weekly homework to keep my students' paragraph writing skills fresh.  So why did I compile another resource on paragraph writing when there are several fabulous resources out there?  Hint...something to do with being a control freak?  No, never. Teachers aren't control freaks.  The MAIN reason I created this resource was out of trial and error regarding what has worked for me the past 13 years as an educator.

Shocker alert.  My students have not always arrived into fourth grade being able to write a solid paragraph.    Some years are better than others, but typically I have to teach the process from beginning to end.  The steps are as follows: 1) Brainstorm; 2) Pre-write; 3) Plan it Out; 4) Sloppy Copy; 5) Edit (individually or peer); 6) Revise; 7) Rewrite; 8) Publish and Reflect.  You can see a sample of these steps below.


1) The steps can be easily differentiated to meet the needs of all learners.  More advanced students can skip certain steps or add more explanation/evidence.  

2) The students are asked to REFLECT numerous times throughout the process.  This is an excellent way to integrate the GROWTH MINDSET into your writing curriculum.

3) Technology and this resource go hand in hand.  I use Google Classroom and absolutely love it!  Once my students get comfortable with this resource, I have them type their rewrite and final draft into Google Classroom and I grade it there.  

4) There are a few different options for rubrics, with a few editable options.  

5)  The peer edit sheet is a nice resource for older students who are familiar the editing process.  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Novel Study for Book Clubs

This year in the fourth grade we read the following novels:

  • Frindle
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Hatchet
  • By the Great Horn Spoon
In previous years we also have read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Each time the students read a novel I have to make sure to vary my teaching materials/assessment to avoid redundancy and boredom.  I decided to create this novel study for use with ANY NOVEL to keep students focused on the text.  This was especially important towards the end of the year when I let students work collaboratively in book clubs.  I divided the novels we were reading into sections, and had them complete a booklet per section.  

My students seem to enjoy booklets/trifolds/foldables more than just regular worksheets or even worse, lined paper.  The booklet is based on the 4th grade CCSS, but would easily work for 3-6.  In addition to focusing on the CCSS, I ask a lot of higher order thinking questions perfect for differentiating the instruction to meet the needs of all learners.  

There are different versions included, with some editable text options.  I added an editable page where you can write in your text specific questions.  Also, even better, I included a RUBRIC.  


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Native Americans of California Flipbook

I searched and searched on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for resources pertaining to CALIFORNIA Native Americans, but sadly came up with very few that would work in my fourth grade classroom.  Because I spend the bulk of my time on California missions and the Gold Rush, I needed something short and sweet for Native Americans.

My students really love flipbooks/foldables and anything that gets them working with scissors and colored pencils.  Therefore, I decided to create a flip book for the six Native American culture areas of California.


- Map of the culture areas that students color 
- Note-taking template for each of the six culture areas
- Extension writing activity where students pick an area and write a day in the life journal entry
- Rubric


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tackling Non-Fiction with a Close Reading Choice Board

Happy mid-July everyone!  My summer is flying by this year since I decided to teach summer school during the month of June.  Yikes!  Teaching summer school to me can be similar (although not near as painful) to the childbirth experience...difficult while you're going through it but not so bad once it is over.  HA!  At any rate, my three sons went with me, and it kept the structure and routine going for us, which was a plus.

I love choice boards.  My students love choice boards.  We also love interactive notebooks in my classroom, so I decided to go out on a limb and create a close reading choice board to be used either in small groups, centers, during whole class instruction or for weekly reading homework.  

How does it work?  All students must pass through the center and complete case #3.  However, they have a choice as to which route they take as long as they make a tic-tac-toe.  Their final mission is to summarize the text using a paragraph frame that I provided. 

What is included:
  • Close Reading Annotations Chart that can be glued into an interactive notebook for future reference.
  • Notebook templates to write their case file responses that can be glued into interactive notebooks.
  • A bookmark with Close Reading Annotations.
  • The actual Close Reading Choice Board.
  • A summary case file with a paragraph frame to summarize the text.
If you are a choice board fanatic like myself, head on over to my TPT store and pick one up for next year.  

Enjoy the rest of your July!  

Monday, September 1, 2014


One of my favorite boards this year I discovered in the land of Pinterest.  I wanted an exit slip parking lot for formative assessment, and loved the Twitter version I found on Pinterest here: Twitter Board.  Here is my version:  

At the end of a lesson, I will ask students a question to show what they learned (or didn't learn) during the lesson.  Great formative assessment tool.  This becomes their ticket out the door, and I can quickly see who needs help and who is on the right trail.  :)  Useful and a huge time saver!