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.