Monday, June 30, 2014

Working with Sentences

Last year, one of the best things happened. We got a reading specialist for the second half of the year. The position became available and one of our amazing 1st grade teachers got it. We were able to send 5 of our children to her. The students that were "bubble".... they could go either way on state testing. I knew who I wanted to send right away. I knew who would benefit from this... and I was right. Because the room was right across the hall from us, and I looked up to this teacher, I would often talk to her about things going on in our class. What worked, what we struggled with, getting advice. And after she had my students, she would tell me how they did or what they needed to work on. And every time there was something they needed to work on, I jumped at the chance to figure something out.

One thing we talked about a lot was simple work with sentences. Writing was the weakest area for my students (and always has been)... I am not sure what happens but they get to me in third grade and we are back to the basics of capitalization, punctuation, and just making a logical sentence. We spend a LONG time working on that. Then moving to paragraphs that flow and all follow ONE topic. I swear that is why I have gray hairs. So I thought and thought about what I could do. And it came to me. Work with one sentence a week. Do a couple editing things to the sentence (so students can start to see common mistakes they make, enabling them to peer edit later on), use synonyms and antonyms, expand sentences, identify parts of speech, etc.
We also noticed that students could tell us what a noun was, or what a compound word was... but give them a sentence and ask them to identify these things, and they would just make careless mistakes. I wanted some clear practice. Something that would make them apply themselves. And so we have Sentence a Week. 36 sentences to work with through your school year. This can be used so many ways... morning work, after lunch work (I try to have something for my kids to do when we come in from the cafeteria chaos... this would be perfect), jumpstart your writing time, or even a writing center. I originally was going to just have task 1, task 2, etc but I decided to keep the days of the week, because that is how we function in my class. If you decide to use it in a center or otherwise, you could always just tell students to do Monday and Tuesday activities or something. I just like things to be laid out by day so students know exactly what to do when. It could also be used as a weekly homework thing and instead of a peer editing their work they can edit with a parent.

Here is an example of week 1. It is just a screen shot, but feel free to pull it up on your smartboard to try it (or print it if it works clearly).
If this is something you think you can use, it is 50% off for the rest of today in honor of my June daily deals. You can find it here.

And if you missed out on my daily deals, make sure to "like" my facebook page for announcements of other deals and sales. I don't have as much time to blog as I would like, but it is very easy for me to throw a quick post up on fb!

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