Texas Teaching Fanatic

A look inside a 4th grade classroom

Student Writing Samples & More…Coming Soon!

Just a quick post to let you all know that I am working on getting some student writing samples posted. I’m hoping to get this done over the weekend. My students have now published their first Expository writing pieces, and they had already published 2 Narratives from our first several weeks of school.

My husband and I just bought our first home and finally moved in last Wednesday, so it has been extremely hectic around here, to say the least!

I WILL get back to blogging more regularly and fulfill some promises I’ve made about posting some new anchor charts, student writing, steps we took to get to where we are now, and even some new pics of my classroom–now that my walls aren’t bare anymore!

Thanks to all of you who are followers and to those of you visiting every now and then. Come back again soon!! 😉

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Expository Writing: Gretchen Bernabei Style

My class has officially started their expository writing pieces. This is very new to them, so we are taking it slowly. Thank goodness for Gretchen Bernabei! She makes it so much more fun, interesting, and easier for these little people to understand!

We began by brainstorming people we admire. I told my students that this person could be a friend, family member, singer, entertainer, sports star, or anyone they like or look up to. They had to understand that admire doesn’t mean that you like them in a romantic way because they automatically think of a secret admirer. Haha.

Then I gave them a planning sheet from Gretchen’s resources. Hers was just drawn out on paper, but my OCD wanted needed it to be typed up, so I spent about 45 minutes perfecting it (to my standards) on the computer. I handed them out, and we filled in our topic and text structure. Before I knew about this amazing woman, my explanation if expository writing was pretty lame…and the students’ writing showed it. That’s not to say it was bad, but it definitely was NOT to the level it is now. The text structures she has developed has raised the level of their writing tremendously!

After that, we came up with our kernel essay about our peeps. When you see the text structure we used, you’ll see that it wasn’t easy, but it made them really think! And that’s what we’re going for, right? 😉

From that kernel essay, I told them to find at least three people who would listen to them read their kernel essay. The listeners were required to ask two questions about their kernel essay. They wrote the questions down in the box, and tomorrow they will use sticky notes to answer those questions. These sticky notes will go in the flip books they have created. This will help them fill out their paragraphs with valuable information that readers want to know.

When we finished the questions, we thought about where that information should appear within the writing. We put paragraph numbers beside each question to be sure the information arrives at the correct destination. Again–extending their thinking.

This is as far as we have gotten. I’m looking forward to reading what they write. I have a training tomorrow, but I know they will be in good hands with my student teacher. I can’t wait to read them on Wednesday!

Below you will find pictures of two planning pages and two kernel essays written on their flip books.

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I have uploaded the planning page to the Writer’s Workshop page here on my blog. It’s the last resource listed under Gretchen’s resources.

What do you do to help your students understand expository writing?

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Monday Made It Specials Rotation Schedule (A little late)

I’m linking up again with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It–just a day late!

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My only Made It this time around is my Specials schedule. I’ve tried numerous ways of doing this, but I decided to try something new this year…and I must say this is by far the best one yet.

Our school has A Weeks and B Weeks for Specials rotations. I get tired of students asking what week it is and watching them try to figure out where they will be spending 50 minutes of their day, so I decided to use a cookie sheet and glue pictures for both weeks in order along the edge. I drew an arrow onto a painted clothespin that can be moved each day. This takes all the guesswork out of where we will go each day. The kids love it, and so do I!

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What sort of chart or nifty idea have you come up with? I’d love to hear from you! Happy Tuesday!

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Multiplication with Manipulatives (and a life lesson)

About three weeks ago, my students began multiplication in math. I always enjoy watching as students use manipulatives to show their answers. What I love about math is that there are numerous ways to think of numbers and solve problems, but in the end we all get the same answer…most of the time, anyway! 😉

I took some pictures just to show how differently my students think. Some are very organized, while others are not. Some think in arrays, while some think in groups. I embrace that diversity!!

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I guess I like it so much because of an experience I had in college. On one of my tests, we were asked to draw a parallelogram. Well, I drew a square…and the teacher counted it wrong. As I sat and pondered my incorrect answer, I was unable to figure out why it was wrong. After class I approached my professor and asked the question. Her reply: “Because that’s not the way I taught it, and most people don’t know that a square is a parallelogram. I expected you to draw a rectangle.”

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I’m a fighter. I just couldn’t accept that answer. A few minutes later, I had to walk away with a 92. She wouldn’t budge!

Even though I could live with my 92 (because after all, an A is an A, right?), I will never forget that conversation and my teacher’s neglect to see that we are all individuals with our own unique knowledge. I was right, but because she didn’t expect that right answer, it was wrong.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would never be that way. Diversity–bring it on! 🙂

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Only 4 hours left to enter the $50 giveaway!

Good evening, friends!

I just wanted to send out a reminder about my $50 online credit giveaway to Teaching & Learning Stuff.  You have 4 hours left to enter!  Hurry!  Don’t miss out!  Anyone who is a follower can enter (WordPress or email follower).   Click the link below to enter.

Rafflecopter giveaway for $50!!!

**And thanks to all of my followers!  If it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t be possible.  Thanks for the love!**

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100 Followers! Time for a Giveaway!!

I recently reached 100 true followers on my blog!  Woo hoo!  To celebrate, I’m hosting my first giveaway with Rafflecopter.

I have teamed up with Lisa Hamilton from Teaching & Learning Stuff for a $50 credit to her educational store! You can enter the drawing by clicking the link below. The drawing will close on Saturday, October 12 at 12:00 PM. In order to win, you must be a current follower.

A Rafflecopter giveaway for $50 to Teaching & Learning Stuff

I’d also love for you to leave a comment telling me how you would use the money if you won!  🙂

Good luck, and thanks for following!

 

 

 

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