Beginning of the Year Tips

Sunday, August 31, 2014

This year has started off smoothly and I thought I would share a few "new" things that I have tried this year.  First, I started the year off by hanging a "Ready to Learn" banner in my room.  It is bright and cheery so it gave the room a little sparkle!  Download a copy of the banner by clicking on the pic. 
        Next, I started morning writing journals this year.  I was thinking that when I taught the lower grades, this was always a staple in my day.  But, when I started teaching the upper grades I just never made time for journal writing.  Who says the bigger kids can't keep a journal?? :) So, I decided to start journal writing in my fifth grade classroom.  As the kids come in the room in the morning I hand them their writing prompt.  The kids head to their desks and start taking out their homework.  As they wait for me to come around to check their homework, they start writing in their journals for about 20 minutes.  The kids are loving this.  It is really kickstarting their writing fluency and they even look at it as a sort of "diary"!  The prompts mostly have been personal narrative type questions, but I am thinking of expanding later in the year to other genres.  This does not serve as our writing block, but it is a great way to calmly start the day and squeeze a little writing in.  It is sort of like the writing version of SSR.  I don't necessarily call it SSW (Sustained Silent Writing) because 5th grade diaries or journals seems much more exciting to them!  Here are a few samples: 

 One of my girls was noticeably upset one morning before we went to recess last week.  When I asked her what was wrong, she just didn't want to talk about it BUT she did say, "I don't know, but I DID write about it in my journal and that made me feel much better." SUCCESS!!!!!! Click on the link below to get the first 11 days of my writing prompts...(That is all I have completed so far)

Finally, I wanted to share something that has been a LIFESAVER for homework.  I am using a homework data chart that the students pull out every morning as I am checking homework in.  First the students lay out their homework so I can see every sheet on their desk.  I can just eyeball to see if they have done their homework and if so I give them a stamp for the day.  If the student's have "perfect homework" for the month, they get a no homework pass for the following month.  This is the ONLY time I give out no homework passes SO they REALLY want it!!!! I had about 85% of my students have perfect homework for August so I would say that was a success.  Click on the image below to grab it!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the journal samples. I think this is a great strategy to get the students writing. :) Thanks!


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