Classroom Tested/Teacher & Student Approved Episode 15 {GIVEAWAY!}

Teaching Genre: one of my favorite topics to teach each year!   

It's also the topic of this episode of my Classroom Tested - Teacher & Student Approved series!

The Teacher's Desk 6For Episode 15 today, I am linking up with the ZAPtastic Angela at The Teacher's Desk 6!
(Zaptastic, you ask?  Check out Angela's TpT store and this will make sense!)  :)

Click HERE to check out her post describing her experience using my Genre craftivity in her class

I can't believe that Angela made a video of her class working on this craftivity!!  I LOVE IT!  Thanks again, Angela, for "classroom-testing" this Genre craftivity resource!
In keeping with the format of my previous episodes of Classroom Tested - Teacher & Student Approved, I'll share some of the feedback that has been left at my TpT store of this resource:

Anne K commented:  "Great activity for learning about genres. I loved the activity sorting of the passages into genres. It made the kids think."

SZag17 left this feedback: "Great activity to start off our genre discussion! Looked adorable in the hall too!"

I think I like teaching genre so much because I love to read myself!  I love introducing students to the various genres of literature.  I find that students sometimes have preconceived notions that they won't like a certain genre, but when they are "forced" to do some actual reading of it, they are pleasantly surprised to find they enjoy it.  (We're all guilty of making assumptions, aren't we?)  :)  Anyway, I love seeing students opening themselves up to a new genre!

I have done this craftivity with fifth graders two years in a row now, and both years I have noticed how this activity really serves as a formative assessment, as well.  It's very helpful to realize which genres are difficult for students to identify, and which genres are easily recognizable.  Then, I can use this information as I plan future lessons.

Would you like to use this Genre craftivity in YOUR classroom?  Enter the giveaway!  One winner will receive it...and to "sweeten the pot", Angela is offering a winner's choice of ANY ZAP resource from her TpT store to the winner as well!
a Rafflecopter giveaway Finally, if you missed previous episodes of this "series", I have links to them in the Classroom Tested-Teacher & Student Approved tab above.

Thanks so much for stopping by today,

A Friday Freebie: Summarizing

Happy Friday!

I'm stopping in for just a quick post today - to direct you over to my post today at All Things Upper Elementary!  I'm blogging there today about the important -and often challenging- skill of Summarizing Fiction.

You'll see that I end my post with this freebie - perfect for your students' interactive notebooks!

Ice cream sundae graphics by Aim Less Daze!

I just might be at your school... {FREEBIE!}

Do you get Scholastic's Instructor magazine at your school?  If so, you'll have to check out the latest Winter issue!  (I'm told it's being delivered to schools this week.)

I am one of several teachers featured in an article about craftivities!  Yes, MEYours truly!  :)

If you don't typically get your hands on a printed copy of this magazine, here's a link to the article posted online at Scholastic's website:
Screenshot of my craftivity featured in the article!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be featured in a magazine article that gets distributed to schools throughout the United States!

To "celebrate" this event, I am turning my Antonyms craftivity into a FLASH FREEBIE!  It will be free to download at TpT through midnight on Friday, February 14!
If you snatch it while it's free, I kindly ask you to "deposit" some positive feedback while you're there!  :)

That's it for now,

A New Writing Unit.... Personal Narratives

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you probably recall that I am an ESL teacher.  My entire morning is spent traveling from room to room to co-teach writing.  I visit three third grade classrooms and one fourth grade classroom each morning.

I teach in Nebraska, and our fourth graders "get" to take the NeSA-W (Nebraska State Assessment- Writing) at the end of January.  In this state assessment, the student is given a prompt, and then tasked with writing a personal narrative.  The fourth graders at my school took the NeSA-W about a week and a half ago...and then happily cleaned out their writing folders this week.  They are more than ready to embark upon a different genre of writing!  As you might imagine, the fourth grade teachers are ready to move on, too. :)

Everyone gets to move on...except ME.  While our fourth graders are done with personal narratives for the year, our third graders are just beginning their study of this genre of writing.  {deep sigh!} Here we go again!

That said...the third grade teachers and I spent no small amount of time deciding how to begin our unit on personal narratives this year.  We ultimately determined that we wanted to begin by exposing the students to several strong personal narratives.  Therefore, the teachers have been reading many wonderful published personal narratives to students, like When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.

We also read aloud strong personal narratives written by some of our fourth graders, so students could hear some narratives from kids just a little older than themselves.  (Our hope here, of course, is that they will also recognize their own potential!)  Throughout these read alouds, we "drilled home" two basic ideas:
1.  A personal narrative is organized and follows a sequence of events.  (We model how we can tell our stories across our fingers.)
2.  A personal narrative includes plenty of feelings and emotions.

I read aloud a strong personal narrative that a fourth grader had written, and then we found examples in the text showing how the author wrote the story in sequence, and evidence of feelings and emotions that were included.
The next day, we introduced to our third graders the concept of watermelon ideas and seed ideas...and how to distinguish between the two.  We explained that watermelon ideas are BIG ideas (too big for personal narratives!) that include many events.  Seed ideas, on the other hand, are perfect for personal narratives, as they focus on ONE "zoomed-in" event.

As an example, we talked about how the topic of "3rd Grade" is a watermelon idea.  However, it is full of great little seed moments that would result in powerful personal narratives!  I showed them the chart below where I drew a watermelon to represent my third grade year (about 30 years ago!).  Then I did a think aloud, recalling three events that would be good "seed ideas" that I could turn in to personal narratives.

1.  I met Mindy, who became my best friend for the next 5 years!
2.  I was elected to be the mayor of my class!
3.  We had handstand contests at recess, and one time my teacher, Mr. Lane, did it with us!
After this, students thought of their own "seed idea" from third grade to add to the class chart.
After doing several group activities, students were partnered up and tasked with distinguishing between watermelon and seed stories together.
This worksheet is available in a Watermelon vs. Seed Stories packet at my TPT store.
Now that students understand what makes for a good personal narrative idea, we are ready to have students begin their "Seed Ideas" list next week!

More on this to come!