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Community Involvement

I'm blogging over at Middle School Mob today, with some fun and easy ideas for community involvement in the classroom! Working together to help others has made my students better teammates and cooperative learners. Check it out!

Get your students started in writing (with a freebie)

I was sitting with a reluctant writer last week, conferencing with her on a personal narrative. She had only a few sentences down, even after she had been writing (or trying to) for almost 20 minutes. She was disinterested in continuing, and said to me, "I just can't get started. I know what I want my story to be about, but I don't know how to start it and make it sound good." This isn't uncommon- so many of my fifth graders struggle with the same issue! So, this week I really focused on helping those struggling students find some way to start and helping the rest of my students enhance their beginnings.

We worked together as a class to create a continuum of beginnings. We thought about all the different ways we could begin a story, and then arranged them with the more sophisticated beginnings at the top of our chart, and the more basic beginnings at the bottom of the chart. In retrospect, I would have added an arrow to the side.... but there wasn't room left when I was done, so I just added it on the whiteboard next to it.

1. Use a motion word or sound.

2. Pose a question. 

3. Use a quotation.

4. Just jump into the story and start "talking" to the reader.

5. Restate the prompt. Rearrange the words to create an opening paragraph.

My students really responded to the idea of a "continuum" of beginnings to chose from. In another conference after this lesson, one student said that he liked that the could "start with number 5" as a beginning to get over his writer's block, and then edit it later to be something more interesting. As a teacher, I loved how this lends itself to differentiation for the students!

Best of all, I made a little miniature anchor chart for my kiddos to paste in their notebooks- and thought I'd pass it along to you as a freebie! I left it at full size (8.5 x 11) and they fold it in half to paste it in. I like the words to be big enough to be easily read. If you prefer it slightly smaller, though, it shrinks well on the copy machine! I made three versions (all included)- one blank so the students can fill it in, one with just the ways to begin and a blank spot for the students to fill in their own examples, and one completely filled in.

Download the freebie here!


Thank you to everyone who entered for the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener contest! The winner is....

Gabby L

Look for an email for me soon- that pretty purple sharpener is coming your way.

Happy Wednesday!
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