Friday, January 20, 2017

Opinion Writing and More!

Opinion writing is, hands down, my favorite type of writing to teach. It's always amusing to see what the children think about topics that are near and dear to them. And, children are always excited to voice their opinion and give reasons why they think the way they do about various topics.

I'm the kind of teacher who likes to teach a certain skill and then have plenty of ways my students can keep practicing that skill for the rest of the school year. I do this with all subjects that I teach. Teaching something a few times and then moving on to the next skill, is a big pet peeve of mine.

When it comes to opinion writing, I teach the basics and then give my students all year long to grow and develop as writers.

Using graphic organizers helps my students plan their writing.
This opinion writing graphic organizer has space for them to list two different topics and choose their favorite. Then, they give three reasons why it is their favorite. Finally, they write a conclusion sentence.

In the beginning of the year, the children basically copy the information from their graphic organizer onto their final piece.
Once they begin to develop as writers, they are able to take it to the next level and add details to support their reasons, like in the example below.

My opinion writing packs are differentiated, to accommodate all learners. At first, most aren't ready for the graphic organizer, and can only choose their favorite of the two choices and write a simple reason why it's their favorite. This is the template for them...

Once they master this template, they move on to the one shown at the beginning of this post, and use the graphic organizer. 

I like to meet with each writer after they fill out their graphic organizer and help them edit their piece. Then, they copy it onto their final writing template, adding details, if they are ready to do so.

I have so many of these opinion writing templates and leave one or two at my writing station every week, along with a supply of graphic organizers. Most of the topics are seasonal or thematic, so they go along with the time of year or theme we are concentrating on. 

If you would like to purchase these opinion writing templates for your students, you can either purchase them in monthly packs or in a bundle with tons of other writing templates. These packs definitely take the work and worry out of planning for writing each week!

Click on each image below to see my monthly writing bundles, which contain writing templates for all genres. Just print, keep a supply of them in your writing center, and you are all planned for the entire year! Make sure to check out this blog post for more information on this writing series.

If you would prefer to purchase just the opinion writing templates, click on each image below to see them in my store!

These writing templates make planning for writing instruction a breeze!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fun Parts of Speech Practice!

My students LOVE to play games and one of their favorite games is I Have...Who Has...? It's a whole group game and they literally cheer when I say we're going to play!

Through the years, I've created many different versions of this fun game and even I never get tired of playing it. The children are always captivated because if you tune out for even a second, you run the risk of missing your turn.

This new parts of speech edition is extra challenging, because the children need to read sentences and identify the different parts of speech.

I made 8 different games, so they can be played all year long.

As you can see, I color coded the games to make them easier to store. I store mine in Ziploc baggies, labeled with each game. (The labels are included!)

So, how do you play I Have...Who Has...?

The student with the first card reads his card. If you were playing Game 1, he would read...

The child who has the common noun boy, would then read his card.

And the game goes on until the last card is read.

To make the game more challenging, I repeated some words in the same game. For example...

When the student with the first card shown above reads his card, the student with the second card shown above may think he has the next card in the progression because his card says, "I have candy." However, candy is not an adjective. 
See what I did there? Tricky, tricky!

I Have...Who Has...? Parts of Speech Edition is the perfect game to help reinforce the different parts of speech in an exciting, challenging, and engaging way!

Click here to see it in my store!  

Recently, I updated a few of my other I Have...Who Has...? games.

I also made some sight word editions:

I also have a CVC Word Edition:

And two math editions:

As you can see, I wasn't joking around when I said I LOVE the game!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Character Traits Posters

 I firmly believe that teaching character education is as important as teaching reading, writing, and math. Character education should be a daily part of everyone's classroom. Learning how to be a good citizen, and to be responsible, and trustworthy, is just as important as learning how to read and write.

In my classroom, we honor one student a month in a school assembly. First, I introduce each monthly trait, we read books about it, discuss it, and write about it. My students write about what each trait means to them and how they feel they best demonstrate the trait. This is an image of the writing template.

Then, the voting begins!

My students privately fill out the ballot and put them in our classroom mailbox for me to tally. The student who gets the most votes, is the one honored at the school assembly. Then, we have runner ups. Could be one, two, or three runner ups, depending on the number of votes. We honor these students in our classroom.

I have these cute character trait posters hanging in  my classroom. 

They make a beautiful display and the children refer to them often. They really come in handy when we are talking about character traits in the characters we read about. They like to compare themselves to the characters in our stories.

Along with the posters hanging in my classroom, I have a bulletin board display in the hallway to honor the winners each month. The winners fill out this writing template...

I hang their finished writing activity and a sign that says the name of the trait and their name. For example, if I won for caring, the sign would look like this...

These signs are editable so you can easily type in the names of the winner(s) each month.

I always discuss with my students that not everyone is going to win a character award, and that does not mean that they don't exude good character. I don't want anyone to feel sad or excluded if they don't win. 

If you would like to hang these posters in your classroom, you can find them here or click on the image below.

I hope you and your students enjoy them as much as we do!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Early Literacy Practice Pages

Do you have students who need help with some early literacy skills? Or students who have mastered most of the skills, but have some difficulty following directions, so they often answer questions wrong, even though they understand the concept?

I do! I do!

I needed a way for them to practice general readiness, phonemic awareness, phonics, and structural analysis skills, so they would feel more confident when taking tests and learn to analyze directions so they didn't get questions wrong because they weren't paying attention to the key words in the questions.

So, I came up with these early literacy practice pages.

I've been using them in small groups and they are really helping students to think about what the questions are asking and to look at each answer choice carefully. Many of them contain answer choices that are similar and look correct.

Here are all the skills included...

Most of the skills contain 2 different activity sheets, and there are some that contain more. Blends has 3 different sheets, mixed review has 4, and word families has 5 different sheets.

Here is an example of one of the sheets. See how some of the wrong answers look like they could be right, if you don't pay close attention to the question?
This one is all about rhyming. I came up with quite a few different ways to test the children's understanding of rhyming.

When I complete a sheet with an individual or small group, we go very slowly. I help the children read the questions and identify the pictures with them. These sheets were not created for children to complete independently. So many teachable moments would be missed!

Once an answer has been chosen, we discuss why it is the right (or wrong) answer. It is very interesting, and very telling, to hear the children explain why they chose an answer. It is during this conversation that children usually figure out if they chose the wrong answer. I tell them that they fell for my trickery and to be super careful not to let that happen. They love the challenge!

Answer keys are included for teachers to refer to. I highly suggest using it because it will tell you what each picture depicts, just in case you can't figure it out on your own.

If you are looking for a great way to help students who have difficulty with a few or many early literacy skills, or students who don't read or listen to directions very well, then you may want to check these out. You can find them by clicking here or on the image below.

You can grab them on sale now through January 1, along with the rest of my store. Everything is on sale to celebrate the New Year! Now is a great time to grab some new activities to get you through the next few months. Just click on each image to see the item in my store!

In addition to the sale, as a thank you for putting your trust in me and my teaching products (and for reading through this incredibly long post!) I am giving away TWO $25 gift certificates to Teachers Pay Teachers. You can use them to purchase anything you want from anyone you want. There will be 2 winners chosen. 
The winner will be notified early in the morning on January 1, 2017.

Enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter below. There are lots of ways to enter. The more you chose, the greater your chances of winning. Please enter with integrity. All entries will be verified.

Good luck to everyone and 
Happy New Year to you and your family!
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