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.
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).
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