Heidy-ho, friends! Funny, I never say heidy-ho in real life but on this lovely Saturday I am feeling a bit feisty on the blog. How are you? How was your week? Welcome to another installment of Saturday Sprinkles! Feel free to link up today or anytime this week with your classroom sprinkles. Sprinkles can be any events that happened in your classroom. Snap a picture with your phone and leave a little blurb. The link-up is below.
Two weeks ago, when my students returned from winter break, I wanted them to write a personal narrative about a special moment from their vacation. The traditional, "Write about your break" prompt bores everyone to tears so I decided to spice up the writing assignment. My 5th graders use the following words: go, got, went, saw, it, fun, said, and awesome constantly in their writing. I could list more but these are the worst offenders. If I have to read one more paper (I say as I shake my fist in the air) with tired words throughout I may just loose my _____________.
A series of Writer's Workshop mini-lessons, our handy Writer's Workshop folder with word ideas, and a packet I created filled with tired word alternatives helped lay the foundation. Students were required to brainstorm 10 "pop-up" words relating to their vacation memory. Their pop-up words needed to include adjectives, verbs, and a few specific nouns, and engage the readers senses and emotions. Students chose words carefully to paint a picture with words. Then, each student was given a large piece of construction paper to depict their winter break memory. Their chosen pop-up words were placed throughout the picture. The final step was to write a paragraph with the words. All pop-up words were hi-lighted. The emphasis on vivid words jumped right off the page!
The pop-up word element hooked my students. All of a sudden writing came to life in a new and exciting way. Writer's Workshop time was focused and quiet. Students were interested in pulling out thesauri and sharing their creative pop-up assembly ideas.
The day the pop-up writing assignment was due, we had more fun exploring our writing. First of all, let me emphasize how much my students beg to write on their desks with dry-erase pens. I started using this technique during picture walks and based on the overwhelming enthusiasm from my students, I bring dry-erase markers out all the time. Students split desks in to three categories. The 'C' stands for comments, the 'heart' stands for favorite vivid words, and the '*' stands for word ideas. Each desk had a pop-up. Students rotated around the room looking at each pop-up. Their mission was to leave a positive comment 'C', share their favorite word the classmate incorporated in their writing 'heart', and then see if they could spot another word that could be taken up a notch '*'.
Students were eager to look at peers pop-ups and share compliments! Students couldn't wait to go back to their desk and read all the juicy notes left by peers. Any teacher can sit and grade papers with comments but NOTHING compares to peer feedback.
When our rotation was complete students headed back to their own pop-up-writing. They had time to soak in all the positive feedback written on their desks. Students shared with the class their favorite comments left by peers. They were beaming! I gave students the option of using the '*' section to improve their writing further. Most students wrote in pencil and if they wanted could erase a tired word in their writing and exchange it for a word left by a peer. This was a huge hit!
When the activity was finished, the baby wipes came out and desks went back to normal. Students proudly turned in their pop-up and I was amazed at the quality of writing. I highly recommend trying this assignment!
My last sprinkle from this past week has to be my 2014 teaching goals. I enjoyed giving time to my goals. I believe in the power of manifestation--the idea that with enough focus and time, dreams will materialize themselves into situational betterment--and hope by identifying areas of growth/goals I can help manifest many successes in 2014 and beyond!