Tag Archives: writing prompts

Elf on the Shelf: Everybody’s Using It

Instead of Black Friday shopping, I’m sitting at home all cozy on the couch with the dog and a cup of coffee.  As usual, I’m being my typical nerd self and having a good time creating materials for class next week.

Last year, my co-teacher was very clever with the Elf of the Shelf idea and hid our class elf, “Schnoodlemint Fairypie III,” around the room every night for the last few weeks before Christmas. The students enjoyed seeing and writing about the trouble he’d gotten into each night.

This year, I decided to do something similar in my resource room, but instead of actually buying an elf and doing all the work, I just created this Padlet, which will hold all the adventures of the elf, in one easy-to-access place.

Jolly padlet

As you can see, my 8th graders are learning about participles and also desperately need practice with transitional words and phrases.

I took all the images off of Google images and made up each prompt from a list of transition words and phrases.  I may have to supply some participles in the beginning.

My plan will be for this to be the opening activity when they arrive. We will transition into grammar, and then I’ll give them a few minutes to wrap up their writing for the day, or have them complete it for homework, before we move on to our main lesson.

Near the end of the month, I plan to give them an argumentative writing assignment: “Should parents use the Elf on the Shelf with their children?”

If you would like to use this Padlet with your class (if you are specifically teaching participles), you make access it by going to this link: December Padlet  The password is “jolly.”  You will not have writing privileges, but you could check it out for more ideas.

Stay tuned for more December ideas! I know it’s a rough, but fun, month!

 

Christmas Countdown 2014 Version

Tomorrow is December 1st!?!?!

Back to school for 15 days and the last day of school is my birthday!

I realized my 7th graders weren’t around two years ago when I did my “Christmas Countdown 14 Days of Writing,” so I decided that would be our journal writing for the next three weeks.   Here is the PDF version for you to download and use in class:  Christmas Countdown 2014

Good luck to the teachers of the very young and of the teenagers as well! Our winter started early and December is bound to be rough.

My Pinterest: Writing 101

Starting out Big ~ World Record Unit

You know how you get coupons online or via text and they burn a hole in your pocket?  A few weeks ago I had a 50% off for Joann‘s.  Our local Joann’s is small and lacking in everything. However, there is a larger store up north and my friend and I often make a stop there when we get together.

How excited I was to find this bulletin board display in the teacher aisle! Cool motivational posters based on Guinness World Records. Each poster has a brief blurb at the bottom about the record.  Having just finished up my iPad training, it all hit me super fast!

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I wish I could show you these actually hanging up in my room, but we don’t get our keys for a few more weeks.

This will be a great kick-off to the year.  I have a huge bulletin board in the back of the room and these posters are definitely conversation starters.  I can introduce the iPads with some QR codes and simple writing prompts with Show Me or Explain Everything.

And….the best part?  It naturally leads right into our first novel, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. The whole story revolves around the “fattest boy in the world”, Zachary Beaver, and the effect he has on two young boys one summer.

While I am just starting to put a plan in place, I thought I would share some of the ideas I have come across.  As we know all too well, the first few weeks of school never go exactly like you think they will.

Writing and Language

  • Use these images for great journal prompts or story starters.
  • Adapt these lesson ideas created for ESL learners to meet the needs of your students. (Reading, grammar, speaking, and writing activities – I plan to use them all!)

Reading

For use with the iPads

  • Check out the Augmented Reality feature in the 2013 edition (I know my students will love this.)
  • This web quest isn’t quite updated to the current Guinness site but the activities are still good.

Teamwork and Cooperative Learning

  • This Goal-Makers, Record-Breakers lesson plan has students plan for their own sports related record-breaking ideas.  (I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer like “Don’t try this at home!”)
  • Maybe geared a little more towards STEM courses, this Strong Structures lesson plan would be another good cooperative activity.

Lastly, a short promo for the book:

Christmas Countdown!!

The official countdown has begun!!

Tomorrow we will only have 13 days of school left before our Christmas Vacation begins on the 21st!

So today, I decided to do a countdown in my Resource Room that would require them to write a little about the holiday season every day until break. I am most looking forward to their responses on Day 9!!

14 Days of Writing

Novel Playlists

A recent post I read, entitled Remember When, got me thinking about mix tapes and and listening to the radio as a kid. My sister and I used to write down the lyrics to songs – rewinding again and again and again until we figured them out (and we still probably didn’t have them right.) I remember making mix tapes for my best friends, my family, and to play by the pool. Little has changed…I am still making mixes for my kids, my boyfriend (I know, sappy), and to play in the kitchen while I’m making dinner. Same idea, but now we call them playlists. And it’s easier than ever; hit a few buttons on iTunes or YouTube (and then  Zamzar it) and you’ve got the ultimate playlist. I just finished a “Carnival 2012” playlist for my boyfriend’s middle school carnival. This playlist is a hit with my two kids at home and will definitely be part of our 11 hour ride to Myrtle Beach.

A great way to connect with kids (especially teenagers) is to incorporate current music into your teaching. Some teachers play music as students enter the classroom or as they do seat work. At our school this spring, we were all set to “Rock the OAAs” and played great 80’s music every Friday a.m. over the P.A. system.

One way that I incorporated music into my classroom was by making a novel playlist for our 2nd novel of the year, Stargirl. The idea came to me the first year I did this book with my Resource Room. A very popular song at the time was “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again” by Usher and it fit perfectly with Chapter 31. So perfectly, that I downloaded it and played it for my class. I asked them why it was a good song choice. Seeing their reaction (one quiet, backward boy actually got up and started dancing), I knew I was onto something. I quickly worked on a playlist that weekend and burned 11 CDs.

On the day before Christmas Break, I reenacted a scene in the novel where Stargirl leaves loose change around town for children to find; I left 11 pennies in random places around my room. I “charged” everyone one penny for their Christmas “gift.” And we spent the rest of that period listening to the playlist and discussing how each song fit in the novel. It was a hit.

The second year I taught the novel, I decided to take the playlist to a new level. First, I updated it to make it “current” and I set up my lesson plans to include the playing of tracks after the appropriate chapters. I created extended response prompts that required the students to reflect on the song, explain how it related to events of the chapter, and evaluate if the song was a good choice.

Below is my Stargirl playlist, which I still listen to regularly. It still brings back some great memories of some great moments in class.

“Stargirl” Playlist

Do you have a summer playlist? Are you taking a long road trip this summer (with 4 kids)?
Here is the “Carnival 2012” playlist, which I am now renaming “Myrtle Beach or Bust 2012”, if you need some inspiration.

“Myrtle Beach or Bust 2012” Playlist (1 hour and 30 minute playing time x 7 = approximately 11 hours in the car)

A Picture Is Worth…2 or 4 Points

Do you spend a lot of time teaching your students how to answer short answer and extended response questions for state tests?

Do you do daily journal writing (or do you wish you had enough time to do journal writing?)

Do your students hate it?

I have a fun way to tackle it all.

Using pictures, images, and photos gathered from various places, I create writing prompts that model the wording of constructed response questions.

To get started, you are going to need to gather a lot of pictures.

  • You can use your own if you are an aspiring photographer and have the time. It might be fun to include images from your own town.
  • Look for creative writing websites that provide a daily photo prompt. One of my favorites: 365 Picture Prompts to Inspire Your Creativity.  Go to this website every day this summer and you’ll have almost 90 random pictures to get the year started. Another good site that also offers tips and a starter set of photo prompts is Picture Prompt-In-A-Box
  • Find images online. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes I search for pictures related to what we are studying. Sometimes I just use random pictures I find while browsing.

To organize your prompts, find a system that works for you. Some suggestions:

  • Post your photo prompt online if your school uses Edmodo or another social learning network.
  • Create folders or photo albums on your computer.
  • I use a single SMART Notebook file and simply add a new page each day. I am able to type the prompt below the picture (and then clone the page if I need to modify it for another class).

I start each day with a photo prompt on the SMART Board. At the start of the year, we spend a lot of time discussing the parts of the question, what makes it a 2-point or 4-point question, and how to mark their answers with numbers to show that they have answered it completely.

To mix things up, allow students to respond in different ways throughout the week. Again, find what works for you and your students. You could use spiral notebooks, composition books, dry erase boards, computers, or personal electronic devices. Our school is piloting Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) next year, so I hope to have my students use an app (like Pages or Notes) or Edmodo from time to time.

While students are writing, circulate around the room and help individuals with weak skills. This is a good opportunity for one-on-one intervention. If you are working on a particular skill in grammar, you could reinforce it as well.

Encourage a few students to share their writing each day. Because this method leaves some room for creativity, you may find you have some budding authors. Each week, take a grade on one of the prompts. Sometimes I grade for content. Sometimes I grade grammar and mechanics.

Below are some examples I’ve used in my 8th grade Resource Room.

(The last two show some of the markings we use for Extended Response.)

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Do your students write every day?

Where do you get your topics?

How do you practice short answer and extended response?

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