Monday, March 19, 2012

Persuasive Writing

Happy St. Patrick's Day (late)! I hope you all had a great weekend! The weather in Chicago was/is absolutely amazing - 80 and sunny - which is soooooo unseasonable. Usually I am bundled up on St. Patrick's Day because it's 30s and windy. 

Yesterday was a first for me - I ran my first 5k! It's not as monumental as it may sound, as running is not new to me (I played lacrosse in college), but it was my first experience with a race. It was fun to be a part of something with so many people....and with such great weather! I think I'll do it again. Does anyone else run races? I was pretty proud of myself because I ran faster than I had at the gym on the treadmill, which I was not expecting...25:42. My sister, who ran it with me, was amazing and ran it in 25:02! 

We've been working on some pretty fun things - Backpacking through genres, descriptive writing, and our weather unit. Everything has been going well thanks to Hope and Abby! I will post pics soon! We also just began our persuasive writing unit. How do you all teach persuasive writing? I use this handy dandy little book by Lucy Calkins to guide me:

I always start the unit with Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type because it allows me to introduce the idea of persuasion with a story the kids are usually already familiar with. We talk all about how the cows used going on strike an ultimatum to persuade Farmer Brown to give them electric blankets. Then we talk about the ending of the book and how we think Duck must have persuaded Farmer Brown to give them a diving board. This is where I tell them they get to pretend to be Duck and write a letter to Farmer Brown persuading him to give them a diving board. Everyone gets so excited and can't wait to get going! There are so many mini-lessons you can do even with just that one topic (voice: what does Duck sound like?; perspective: what might Duck do to try to convince Farmer Brown; using mentor texts: what did Doreen Cronin do that we can try?)

Then I move on to reading I Wanna Iguana. LOVE this book! It is fantastic for getting kids to think about what they might actually persuade their parents to do. I also reread parts for mini-lessons on for word choice, voice, and letter-writing conventions.

The other books I really love to use to teach persuasive writing are:

I love this book because the voice is so funny - I try to get kids to think outside the box and be creative! Then, I get a bit more serious on them and read:

This book allows me to help them see how they can make a difference within our school or even at home. I've had kids write letters to our custodians asking them to not dump our recycling into the garbage at the end of the day (sad, but true), to our principal asking him to put a stop to bullying (again - sad, but true), and one sweetheart asked his mom, "please don't say no when I ask you to help me with my homework." (wow). I don't know how all of those ended up a bit depressing, but it's fun to see them believe they can do something about the things that go on around them.

Ok - that's all for now! Are there any other great books for teaching persuasive writing? I'd love to know!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

K-2 Linky!

Hi Everyone! Kindergarten Lifestyle is hosting a great linky party - for any K-2 bloggers. Be sure to stop by and link up if you're K-2, or just looking for more great blogs to follow :)

Sorry for the short post today - today was a long day! I'm trying out this new format for math workshop (T-Shirt Factory - has anyone done it??? - would love tips!) and it's not going as swimmingly as I'd hoped...hope tomorrow is better! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thank You!

I honestly couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that Chrissy from First Grade Found me awarded me a top 10 blog! I am sooooo touched. There are so many incredible teacher-bloggers out there that sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much I feel I need to improve and fit into my day/year. It was so encouraging to know that someone likes reading what I have to say :) Thanks Chrissy!!!

Top 10 TBA

I'd love to give everyone I follow this award because I really am inspired in so many ways by all of you, but knowing how special I felt getting the award, I'd love to return the favor! So here are some great blogs that you should really check out (if you haven't already):

First Grade Blue Skies

Stories From Second

Little Priorities

Lory’s Page

Tales of Frogs & Cupcakes

Soaring Through Second 



Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today we are starting our weather unit, and thanks to Hope King, it's going to be so much more fun! If you haven't checked out her blog/ store - you should! To go along with the weather unit, I created a couple of extras for math and writing integration. It includes a weather journal - calendar, weekly log (probability, adjectives, and data analysis connections), and line plot templates. I also made a couple writing prompts to go with the unit. You can get it at my store for only $2. Let me know what you think! Hope you're having a great week!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm a little late...

I just can't seem to keep up with posting on a regular basis! I used to be so good, I don't know what's happened to me! I will be finished with graduate school in two weeks, so maybe things will get a little more manageable after that! Anyway, I just wanted to share a few things we did last week...We celebrated the 100th day of school (sadly I completely forgot to take pics - but we loved learning about a googol thanks to Ms. McCumbee's great idea), continued our learning about making inferences, wrapped up our African American history unit, and celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday on Friday. I'm not a huge Seuss fan (I know...pause for reaction), but with the Lorax movie coming out last Friday, I thought I should do something :)

For making inferences, I love this activity! I used to do it in first grade too, but with much more scaffolding. I re-typed some poems about animals from a few poetry books I have in my room (or just photocopied them out of the book), covered up the animal names with white out, and then put my students in groups to use text clues to infer what animal the poem was about. My students couldn't wait to hear if they had gotten their animal right - it was definitely a success!

Making this quilt was one of our culminating activities with African American History. We read a book about freedom quilts (I am drawing a blank on the title) and then chose one of the symbols to make. This one was called "Shoo Fly" because it told them to scatter like flies if danger was nearby. It was more challenging for some student than others even though they used pattern blocks to trace the shapes (as you can see in the bottom row)!

For Seuss Day we made Oobleck - so much fun! Our fingers were all green!

We also read The Lorax and made this bulletin board. This idea was inspired by Monica Schroeder's bulletin board. After reading the book, my students split up into groups to compare The Lorax and the Once-ler, find the effects of making the Thneads, completing a story map, making a list of the ways we use trees, and a list of how we can help our environment (the last two are hard to see in the picture - they are on green paper below the board). Finding the author's purpose was the most difficult - I definitely need to spend more time on that!

This is a close-up of the writing activity my students did immediately after reading the book.

On another note, I am taking a class on teaching vocabulary right now, and it is amazing! It is changing my life haha. I am working on some lesson plans for myself as we speak, but hopefully will have some resources for all of you asap. I don't know about you, but I feel like I never have enough time for vocabulary - and the reading program my school has (Storytown) chooses the most random words for students to learn...and then they don't remember them 2 weeks later! This year I have been using Fancy Nancy as my vocabulary "program," which has been going better than just following the book, but I still think I can do better. I am excited about trying out these lesson plans this week - I will be back soon with more info!