Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Scoop (5.17.15)

Have To:
No big surprises here except maybe the cleaning :)

Hope To:
My hubby went through the deep freezer for me to see what kind of meat we have hiding in there.  We have a lot of steaks, but our grill hasn't been working.  I've been looking for new recipes to try that don't involve the grill.  I tried broiling steaks and they tasted good.  Now I've found two more to try: one in the oven and one in the crockpot.  I'm kind of excited to see how they turn out.

On another note, we get a little break before the next round of swim lessons starts.  I'm hoping the spring weather shows up so we can hit the pavement with the stroller!

Happy To:
I'm one of those people that gets great satisfaction in crossing things off my list.  Well, thanks to some super productive evenings, I have managed to complete four new book packs and a makeover to a really old book pack.  Here's what I've been busy working on:


What are you up to this week?  Head over to the Teaching Trio to learn more!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Opinion Writing for 2nd Graders

Back when the Common Core was first being implemented in our state, I was diving into opinion writing without a road map telling me where to go.  I turned to Pinterest and found this anchor chart.  The original source was Live, Love, Laugh, Learn First Grade, which no longer seems to be an active blog:

I also went to TpT to see what was out there.  Most of these were created for first grade, but I needed to start somewhere.  
#1   #2   #3   #4

Like all of my other writing units, I begin with picture books that model the text features I want my students to include in their own writing.  Here are several great choices:

After reading some books, I talk about what second graders are expected to do according to Common Core.  This is when I introduce our anchor chart.  When first introduced, all that is showing is the title and the CCSS, not the example paragraph.

After talking about what the standards mean, we begin stating our opinions using sentence frames that include the word 'because'.  In order to do this, I also introduce sentence starters (inspired by the original pin above):

I like ____ because ____.
I prefer ___ to ___ because ____.
I believe _____ because ____.

In case you're wondering, they are not allowed to say "because it's cool", "because it's the best", "because they're great" or anything along those lines.  It must be a specific reason!  To really drive this point home, we use thumbs up or thumbs down in the whole group.  A student will state an opinion using a sentence frame.  Students will give a thumbs up or thumbs down letting their peers know if the reasons are specific or not.

Once my students have the frames down, it's time to start building on it. At this point of the year, my students already know and understand topic and conclusion sentences.  This is when I go back and write a sample paragraph (the bottom half of the standards poster).  Since they are used to 5 sentence paragraphs, this doesn't really shock them.

Then I introduce a prewrite.  I'm sure many of you have seen the OREO idea.  It really is catchy!  The plan you see on the right is what we use when first starting out (once my kids catch on, they don't need a formal plan sheet, but can create their own in their writing notebooks).  The topic is written on the top line.  The first rectangle is for the topic sentence.  The three rectangles with cloud bubbles are for the reasons/examples.  The bubbles are there to remind students to choose sentence starters.  The bottom rectangle is for the conclusion sentence.  

When we start writing, I choose the topics and prompts for my students.  However, later on they can choose their own topics.  Here is what my anchor chart tends to look like.  FYI - I tend to stick more to the top two tiers, but some second graders can really be motivated by the real-world category! 

Since we tend to do this unit in the spring, you can incorporate your writing into Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts!

Thanks for sticking with me.  Here are your freebies:

I hope this has given you a new idea or two for opinion writing.  If you're interested in reading more about writing in my classroom, you can check out the following posts:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Currently, May

HGTV and I are becoming besties.  I'm not sure I could ever get into being a house flipper, but my husband could!  I just love watching the transformations.

Mondays?  Who loves Mondays?  This girl!  It's the one time each week that I get some time for me.  That means I go play soccer for an hour AND spend time catching up with friends!

I have a 4-year old and 10-month old - enough said!

Our grill is on the fritz and we have a ton of steaks in the freezer.  I'm trying to find some recipes for them that do not involve the grill.  Ugh!

The cold bug hit our house.  My daughter had it on Tuesday.  By Wednesday I got it.  By Friday my son started showing the signs.  The hubs will probably escape it, as usual!

Yes, I will get to visit my family this summer.

I hope we'll be able to move into our new home by the end of summer.  It's looking more like fall, but a girl can dream!

I wish I was able to make it to Vegas for the TpT conference.  I missed it last year because I had a newborn.  This year my hubby is working on our new home, so finding time to escape without the kids is just not in the cards.  Maybe next year!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How-To Writing for 2nd Graders

It's Wednesday, so I'm back with another writing post.  Today's focus is on How-To Writing (some of you might call it Procedural Writing).  Because each class of students is different, the length of time I spend on this writing unit varies greatly from year to year.  About two years ago, I was able to spend 8 weeks on this unit.  Last year, we only spent 3 weeks on it.

For this unit, I start by reading aloud books that model different characteristics of how-to writing.  I do not read every single book below, but these are all great choices:

If you don't have any money left in your teaching budget, look into what is already included in your curriculum.  Our school is fortunate to have a Reading A-Z subscription and there are several choices at different levels.  Our curriculum also has a few choices that aren't my favorites, but they will do in a pinch (or to leave for a guest teacher).  In either case, the following titles are leveled texts available to me which makes them ideal for small groups: 

As I'm reading, I start pointing out and introducing the different text featuresI want my students to use in their own writing.  We begin to create an anchor chart as a class.  This turns into a writing checklist of things I want my students to include in their writing.  Here's one that we developed two years ago (that I have since cleaned up just for you).  My students put these in their writing folders:

Now that we have all of the pieces, we're ready to jump in and begin writing.  When we started it was winter, so I picked a high interest topic for modeling purposes (How to Build a Snowman).  There are so many options for prewrites.  For this prompt I created a bubble map for the materials we would need.  Then I made a 4-box plan with the most basic transition words.  I drew pictures and added key words and details to write about later.

We always use a bubble map for the materials or ingredients we need.  Then when it's time to do a prewrite, they often choose one of the following to draw and write out the steps: 

One of my favorite resources for How-To is made by the talented Tangled Up in Teaching.  It is filled with graphic organizers, writing papers, and THE BEST craftivities.  Obviously we don't use every single one.  In fact, we only use a few and only at the beginning when we are doing shared how-to writing.  However, it remains one of my favorite TpT purchases of all time!

Seriously, you cannot even begin to imagine how excited students get when they have a fun project at the end.  Here are two of the craftivities we have used in the past: 

Since I do a lot of modeling during writing instruction, students can easily fall into patterns and more formulaic writing.  I use writing minilessons along the way to help them improve their word choice.  Two places to do this are with transitions and action words.  These become anchor charts on the walls and then I make printable resources for their writing folders.  This is what we came up with last year: 

In order to increase their independence, we brainstorm a list of topics that my students are "experts" in.  I use the term "experts" very loosely!  After all, these kiddos are second graders, but the word "expert" empowers them!  Here is a list of topics my class came up with a few years ago (typed up just for you):

I hope you were able to gather some new ideas to jump into how-to writing. Are you ready for some freebies?
If you missed out on the other writing posts, no worries.  Click on either of the images to check them out!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Henry & Mudge and the Funny Lunch (Stop, Swap, & Roll Linky)

When I first heard about this product swap, I couldn't wait to join in the fun.  I was even more excited to be paired up with Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars.  We've actually been paired up before, so it was great to get the chance to collaborate again!  If you haven't stopped by her blog, you need to check it out.  One of the highlights is her weekly Book Talk Thursday.  
Reading Toward the Stars

After browsing her store, I had a hard time choosing, but finally chose Henry & Mudge and the Funny Lunch.  Second graders just adore these characters!  After receiving the product, I was thrilled to see I only needed a few minutes of prep work for printing the pages and cutting out the game pieces.  Just look at all of these goodies! 
(note - the book does not come with the pack)

Second graders love to feel like the big kids when they read no matter their reading level.  This book has 3 chapters, but it is a quick read, too!  Scholastic lists it as Level I (DRA 16).  When students first transition from picture book to chapter book, I monitor comprehension closely.  Andrea has taken the guesswork out of that for me!  

First, there are comprehension pages with fill-in-the-blank responses and two options have been included.  Even though the students are reading the same text, you can differentiate for students based on their comprehension or writing level.

After reading a chapter with a group, we often work on a retell of that chapter.  I love that Andrea has taken this one step further.  For each chapter she has provided a short list of words.  Students must include these words in their retell:

There is also a set of 9 reading response cards in this pack.  Andrea suggests that these could be used during small group time or while visiting a literacy center.  I love that there is a good balance of questions.  Some are directly related to the text and others require students to think beyond the text.

In addition to comprehension, students also focus on compound words.  To go with the theme of the book, you will find a bright and colorful board game with 45 bones.  Students draw a card and determine whether it is a compound word or not.  On the directions page (not shown) there is a spinner and some paw print game pieces that can be used.

In addition to the game there is a practice page for compound words.  After identifying compound words in the text, students practice creating compound words and using them in a sentence.

Some of the other goodies you'll find in this pack include making predictions, vocabulary, a writing extension, and a comprehension check.

Isn't this pack great?  It gets even better - Andrea has been generous enough to let me give away this pack to one of my readers.  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter:

Click on the button below to go to the linky.  Not only will you see products in action, but I hear there are even more products you can enter to win.

Good Luck!