Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Cinquains are one of the easiest poetry forms to teach.  This project can be put in Journal/Memory Books and on your class website.    


Once you start working on poetry in your classroom, make up a license for the students to present when reading or writing poetry.  Cute idea.


This is one of my favorite poems.  I hope you enjoy it and can find some activity to use with it.

Friday, November 12, 2010


See Personal Narrative Focus:

Pages that were put in one folder for students to access while doing a writing assignment.


 Teachers are always trying to get some vocabulary work into their week, but time is so tight that trying to get an entire vocabulary program fit into the curriculum is tough. One option is to have fun with vocabulary while doing it once a week.  Print off enough copies of the worksheet to put in the student's booklet.  I copied front and back to save paper.  Make the booklet and present the concept to your students.  I had them look in the dictionary for words they didn't know.  As a class we chose one we were all interested in.  We did it together to show the class what was expected.  Now depending on the ability of your students, you could continue doing words together for awhile or assign it Monday Morning and then collect Friday Morning.  I allowed this to go home if some students seemed to have trouble during the week.  I tried to set a time frame for
the assignment to help the students: Monday- choose word and begin; Tuesday-make sure the word, part of speech, and definition was written in the booklet;  Wednesday- begin detailed drawing to show what the word means; Thursday- complete the work, ready to hand in Friday Morning.  Of course, the booklet could be handed in whenever the job was completed.  If I questioned the word spelling, part of speech, definition or wasn't able to understand the drawing, the students would have to explain it to me.  If they were correct, they received a treat, if I was correct, they had to change the work in their booklet to make it right.  To add to the fun, if a student used one of their words in their booklet, I let them choose a treat from the treasure box.  Try this - it's fun and the words chosen will surprise you...You might just learn something!


This makes a great addition to a Mother's Day Program that you have in your classroom.  Divide the poem and assign each student two lines to learn and to bring in items to show what it means.  "Wipe the nosed, wash the faces" could have kleenix and wipes.  As the students recite their lines they would who their items they brought.  Try to make it cute.  If you have more than 14 student - who doesn't - then one could state the title, one could be a program announcer, some could serve the moms your prepared treats...Be creative.

This year I decided to make a classroom cookbook for my helpful and supportive moms. I began by asking each child to tell me something their mom makes that is one of their favorites. Some kids are great observers and will give me great detail of how their mom prepares their favorite meals. But most of the time, I had to practically drag the answers out of them by asking them questions like, "Where does she get ____? What does she do first? What does she do next? Describe how it tastes?"
Some additional sites for ideas:

I AM A __________ PERSON WHO...

Great project for Catholic School's Week - January.  Students can copy off of a form or you can make the document editable on the computer (see below) and students can type their responses.  You might add some art work to go with this writing or have it framed in black construction paper.  It looks very striking in the hallway.  These can be posted on your website, made into a class book, and finally put in the Journal/Memory Books.  (Of course the title could be I am a child who or I am a student who...)

likes ___     
hates  ___    
can  ___    
cannot ___     
would never  ___    
would rather  ___    
loves to   ___   
wants to learn  ___    
used to be afraid of   ___   
would be better off if   ___   
is really good at   ___   
gets really angry when   ___   
bugs other people when   ___   
has the good habit of   ___   
has the bad habit of  ___     
wishes I could change the way I  ___    
wishes I could change the way people ___     
will someday ___     

by: ___  

Teachers often need to provide documents for students to respond to a structured set of questions.  This technology provides a way to create a document for your students where it may be important to maintain some consistent format, or where there is a need for a structured response.  In a typical assignment, an instructor may distribute in paper or electronic format, a list of required questions to answer, but when 30 students freely compose their responses, you end up with 30 different kinds of documents to read.
Some advantages of this type of technology

  • No special software beyond Word required
  • The information returned is consistently formatted
  • The amount of text returned can be limited
  • The document can have portions locked from changes by the student
  • Students can save the document to their hard drive and go back at any time to finish theirr work. (PDF forms read in Acrobat Reader do not save content)
  • Students can save a copy of their document and/or e-mail it to an instructor


  1. Create an approximate layout of the document, leaving room for the answer spaces. You can use formatting borders (Format -> Borders and Shading…) to put boxes around these areas.
  2. Display the Forms Toolbar (View -> Toolbars -> Forms)
  3. Move the mouse to the location where an answerbox should be. Click the ab| icon on the Forms Tool palette to add a text form field (a place for someone to type text).
  4. When you have added all of the desired form fields, lock the document by going to Tools -gt; Protect Document… In the dialog box, click the radio button for Forms.
    Then enter a password and click OK. You will have to re-enter the password as a confirmation:
  5. Save the document. Keep the original in a safe place (in case you need to make changes) and make a copy of the document to try as a user might see it. Students can tab from field to field, print, email, and save the modified version of the document.

Then when students are done filling in the blanks, save to their name.

Teacher can then go unprotect and print OR

Print off the student copy without saving and let them use it as a sloppy copy to write a final draft.

This is a FORMATTED EDITABLE FORM for student use.  


This is a simple way to make sure your students are exposed to poetry even though you have a full curriculum and very busy days.   Gather some poetry books and them put on a shelf or in a crate.  I actually put the books in a picnic basket and then stored them that way when we were not using them.  Make sure you have all of the Shel Silverstein books.  Children love that poet.  Copy at least a weeks worth of the worksheet and put out near the poetry books or where you put papers for your students to access. Do one with the students to show what you expect of them.  I would always demonstrate with one of my favorite childhood poems by Robert Louis Stevenson: 'The Swing'.  Below is a sample with out the student drawing.  Expectations for students:  neat handwriting, detailed drawing, and neat coloring .  This could be worked into a great center area if you wished.  I assigned one a day during the month of April - National Poetry Month.  This gave my Third Graders extra penmanship practice with cursive handwriting.  You might end up with 20 completed for each child at the end of the month.  This makes a nice booklet to send home or even a nice Mother's Day Gift.


 Often you can take a worksheet and make it specifically for your class.  See the additions to the writing paper.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teaching Parts of Speech

Show students how to improve their sentences  by adding words that answer specific questions.  Begin by showing a sentence and grading it, using the 6 Trait Scale http://educationnorthwest.org/traits/traits-rubrics.  Then have the class help you write a strong sentence, trying to answer all the questions that are listed on the paper.  After completing the new sentence, grade it  using the 6 Trait Scale again.   What scores went up and why?  See another blog that discusses Super Sentences for Halloween.


There are many ways to learn about authors - the web is full of lots of great ideas.
Here are a few of the projects I did with my students over the years:
1.  Set up AUTHOR OF THE MONTH Area in the classroom with a poster depicting the author's books, various books the author wrote, and an audio tape of the author telling about their experiences.  

2.  At the end of each month students would draw a picture showing their favorite book they read that month by the author.

Questions to guide the experience:
What type of books does this author write?
Who are the characters? Are the main characters the same or different in the books that you found/read?
Is the setting similar in all or some of the books? If so, why do you think the author chose this particular setting?
Are there particular messages that the author wants to voice?
Are the characters similar? Compare and contrast the main characters in 2 of the books (short stories).
If you put this author’s books in chronological order by copyright date, does a pattern emerge?  If so, how might you characterize this author’s writing development or sequence?
Use an encyclopedia to look up information about the author, or see if there is a biography (or auto biography) for this author. What in the author’s life might have influenced his or her writing? What was happening historically in the author’s home country at the time of his/her major works?
Did the author publish works in more than one genre?
What do the author’s books tell you about the author’s culture?


Let the class see how much energy is being used at certain times of the day and by what appliances.  Com-pile into a class book.  At the end of the year put the survey in the Journal/Memory Books.  Great activity for EARTH DAY.


 By answering a few simple questions you can decide what kind of quality outdoor resources your community has.  Great for EARTH DAY. Makes a fun Class Book to put in the Book Corner.  At the end of the year remember to put the child's test in the Journal/Memory Book.


___ Capitalize the first word in a sentence.
___ Capitalize the pronoun “I” wherever it appears.
___Capitalize a title used before a person’s name. Mr.  Dr. 
___Capitalize each important word in the title of books, movies, magazines, etc.
___Capitalize the first word in a direct quotation.  The man said, “Say your name.”
___Capitalize all proper nouns.

___Did I tie the beginning to the end?
___Did I mention the topic?
___Did I add details that bring the story to an interesting end, and not keep adding more events?
___Does my story make people smile, laugh, or cry?
___Does every sentence have a purpose?
___Are sentences longer than 4 words?

___Is the story about me?
___Did I begin with a sound, quote or simile?
___Did I write where the story is taking place?
___Did I mention the people that are in my story?
___Did I use good words to describe the setting?

___Use a period at the end of a statement or a command.
___Use a period at the end of an abbreviation.
___Use a question mark at the end of a question.
___Use an exclamation point at the end of a sentence that shows strong feeling.

___Did I write a story and not a grocery list (10 things)?
___Did I choose 3-5 main events?
___Is the climax in the middle?
___Did I use my senses and thoughts to describe those events?
___Did I add details that have to do with the topic?
___Is it in order of the way it happened, and not jumping around from thought to thought?
___Am I making the story interesting?

___Use a comma between words in a series of three or more things.
___Use a comma between the day and year in a date. 
___Use a comma between the city and state.
___Use an apostrophe in possessives.
___Use an apostrophe in contractions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This is a great formula poem for any student, but especially for students that seem to have trouble finding words when they write.  Make sure you walk students through the poem while they are filling it out.  Once the sloppy copy is checked, then encourage BEST HANDWRITING on the final copy.  These look great in the hallway outside of your classroom.  You can also post on your class website.

Word Choice:
My adjectives are excellent and thoughtful.
I use a good balance of action and linking verbs.
My nouns are precise; I don’t overuse pronouns.
It is clear that I am not afraid to take risks with new words.
I used a few color and texture words to describe.