A few weeks ago, I shared some writing strategies. Here is one of them in action. We used post-it notes to help construct and learn about letter writing. What you need to know: This is a First Grade classroom. You can adapt this strategy to really any grade level and for any struggling writer.
Click on the link for the video, scroll below for the lesson plan.
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Large Post-It notes
A teacher model represntation of using post-it's
We read aloud the funny and rythmic book by Doreen Cronin, Click, Clack, Moo. The story is about cows who write letters to Farmer Brown. They are complaining of the conditions at the farm. The chickens and the duck become involved in the negotiations between Farmer Brown and the cows.
After reading the story, we look back at the letters. We take notes of how a letter is written:
salutation, body, closing.
The teacher then explains how we will be pretending to be a farm animal and we are going to ask Farmer Brown for something. The children were instructed to think of a farm animal, what that animal might need or want, why they need or want that item, and what would the animal do if Farmer Brown doesn't provide the item. In the story, the cows threaten to not produce milk, and the hens threaten to not produce eggs.
Next, the teacher models for the students. First, the teacher writes, the salutation on one post it. Then, the teacher takes a second Post-it and writes the introduction and so forth with the help of the students. Next, the children discussed their farm animal and their plea in the group. Then, the student's were released back to their desks with 6 Post-it notes to begin writing. The teacher and the assistant moved around the room guiding the students. Finally, when the notes were in order, and had been edited for COPS (Capitlization, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling) then the students were free to write their finaly copy.
Do you have an idea for using Post-it's in your classroom? Share below.
WRITING: Top 5 Tips For Any Grade
Welcome to a new series on the blog about everyday strategies you can do at home to help your own child or your students to succeed in specific academic areas. This week's plug is for WRITING.
I often get asked by parents if I could tutor their child in the writing process. More often than not, the student's needs are organizing their thoughts. Hopefully, your child is familiar with the writing process from school. If they are very young, then chances are they may know just a little bit about it.
Children usually think the writing process is a punishment. Teaching first grade I often get asked by the students...Do I have to do a sloppy copy if I do it just perfect the first time? Yes, darling, I am trying to teach you the writing process.
Here are a few ways to avoid the tears and frustration with the writing process. You may want to implement all of these techniques or you may just pick and choose what you need for your child depending on what is expected for their writing assignment.
I hope you are able to glean some good ideas here the next time your child has a writing assignment or perhaps you're a classroom teacher who may see something here as a good strategy to help one of your littles. Leave me a comment if you do try one of these out or if you have any questions.
I have an extensive background and education working with students who have disabilities. And although I have been out of the "Special Education" classroom I have continued to work and identify students who have special needs. I also continue to read. I am what some might call a Teacher Nerd.
I have been fascinated with how the brain works and learns since I could remember. I read articles, short ones, on anything having to do with reading, learning, special needs, brain development, etc…
Last week a colleague of mine asked if I wanted to jump in on the ESE workshop offered by the county. Teacher's need to re-certify every 5 years and this year I need to include 20 ESE hours. I won't go off on the conversation of what I think about this but you may get where I stand by the time you read this blog.
So, off I went to this ESE workshop to apply for 6 out of the 20 hours needed. I had no idea what to expect. However, I was not surprised to learn I was in a basic 101 course on working with the different disabilities that float in and out of our classrooms every year. One would think I would have been bored. After all, what could I learn in a basic 101 class that I didn't get from my Bachelors or Masters in Special Education. Even the presenters I think were wary that they could keep my attention.
Well, I really enjoyed it. Politics change education constantly for funding purposes. And disability labels have been updated and become more socially correct. For example, when I graduated from college my specialization was Mental Retardation.
Okay, pick your jaw up off the ground. We would never accept that label today.
By the end of my first year teaching, it had switched to Mentally Handicapped. By the 3rd year, it was changed to Cognitive Delayed. Today it's called Intellectually Disabled (InD), Do you see the change over a period of 26 years?
This background brings me to a question we were asked to answer at this workshop. Why do we feel that there are more children diagnosed today? Is there an increase in disabilities?
I know I hear parents and teachers always saying they didn't hear about a lot of these disabilities like we do now. I know I have sometimes pondered it myself. Is there an answer?
We were given a bar graph showing the disabilities and their "numbers" by decades. And all of a sudden it jumped out at me. All this time it had been so obvious.
See, the jump in diagnosis is not because we have more children being "born" this way. We actually see jumps in the diagnosis when policy changes. For example, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was first signed into law in 1975 as Public Law 94-142. This is when we first see the increase in children diagnosed with disabilities because for the first time they are guaranteed a free and public education. In 1990, IDEA replaces PL 94-142and PL 99-457. In 1997, there are amendments made to include financial assistance for the support of the needs of toddlers and infants. We see another increase when IDEA is reauthorized in 2004 and 2015. Slowly certain disabilities lose numbers and others increase. This is attributed to the reclassification of disabilities and what quantifies eligibility. Now children who may have been classified as InD are now likely being reclassified to other disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some children who were thought to be Emotionally Behavior Disordered may now be serviced through a 504 as an ADHD student. Throw in the No Child Left Behind Act and Free VPK and we also have added more early intervention programs that are able to identify children with special needs.
So yes, we have seen an increase of children with disabilities in the mainstream classroom because we are better able to identify more clearly and earlier. And after all, all children with disabilities have the right to a free and public education in their least restrictive environment, which for most is a regular classroom setting.
This is why ESE hours are being asked of every teacher renewing their certificate. Including us veterans of ESE who can still have an AHA moment in a 101 class.
Today was the official first day of school!
It is always a joyous day filled with excitment and jitters.
Here is a peek at my classroom that greeted 18 new First Grade students today. I created a slide show with tags on where you can purchase some items. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
I have been cruising a nautical theme now for years. I like to stick with nautical in general and just add some pizzaz to it. Last year I added the flamingos. They bring a nice pink brightness to the room. This year I had to add some beach shack vibe with my "shiplap" fadeless paper. Yes, I may have watched a little too much of Chip and JoAnna Gaines this summer.
New this year is the decor on the front of my classroom door. I had seen a picture on Facebook and asked my local monogram store, Leisa Lovely, to make a vinyl sticker quote for my door. Last year I had ticky tacked all the individual letters and over the year the kids moved them or wrinkled them. Now, I don't have to worry about it. It looks great and I don't have to worry about it being ruined. A big kudos and thanks to Leisa for letting me be her guinnea pig for this idea. It's been a hit with just 24 hours.
Another new item is the idea to upcycle the pages from my Lilly Pulitzer agenda. I knew I wanted to save some of the pages to create a fun bulletin board, when at the last minute I decided to make the letters and laminate them. I also used a few pages for background accent.
I hope you enjoy the tour of my new room.
The end of a school year is bitter sweet. As a teacher I am more than ready for a few months off of lesson planning, grading and behavior managing. However, I have vested so much into the 22 students in my class that it really makes me sad to have to part ways on the first of June. For some children it is also tough to say goodbye to their teacher.
This school year started off rocky. I won't lie. It was a tough dynamic of children. My assistant and I looked at each other those first few weeks wondering how in the world we would bring this group together. I prayed every night for God to help me be the best teacher I could for these children. I prayed He would light my path and open my heart and mind to this challenge.
I equate this class to a book you pick up with no knowledge of what it will be about. The first few chapters I wasn't sure where this was going. I knew I would have to push myself to keep delving into the characters. By mid-year I was hooked. And now, like any good book, I don't want it to end.
These students has become a close knit group. They know each others nuances and know how to help a friend when they need it. They have become a family. My family. Our family.
One of our end of year projects is to write a letter to our Kindergarten friends telling them about the adventures of being in First. One friend today was struggling with his writing. I called him over, when he bows his head down and says...."Mrs. M. I can't write. I have water coming out of my eyes." I knew this specific student has been struggling with the end nearing as well. I hugged him tight and told him not to worry, "You are forever a part of my family. You can visit my classroom anytime." He looked up with his big brown eyes and said "I can never forget my 1st grade teacher."
And this my friend is one of the reasons I do what I do. I love my job. I love my classroom family. I think there maybe water coming out of my eyes in 10 days too.
12 days and counting...till the natives break free. I am talking about the teachers of course not the students. The end of the school year is like running a marathon when you hit that wall and you know you're not far but it seems like 10 miles before you see the next mile marker.
Today our team planned the last the 2 weeks of school. It's pretty crazy when you lay it all out. Lot's of celebrating. All that celebrating is because these firsties have worked so hard to get to where they are but the other part is just letting out the built up excitement for summer.
One of our celebrations is our final Book Buddy meeting. Our firsties and their 5th grade buddies have been getting together since the beginning of the year to share in the joy of reading. Over the past school year the 1st graders have built up their reading skills and abilities while the 5th graders have brushed up on their comprehension skills. At the beginning of the year many firsties can't read a picture book at all so the buddies help them decode, and read to them as well. As the year progresses the buddies begin to let the firsties take off with their reading and start coming up with comprehension questions for their story. They might ask them about the character or setting. The buddies have also been taught to make a text connection and relate the story to their firstie.
This has been a long tradition at our school and I am glad that it continues to evolve. Do you have any book buddies or similar programs at your school?
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner