Friday, February 15, 2013

A Fabulous Five for Friday and How-to Writing Freebies

A Friday off from school.  How nice.  As I write this, I am in Pennsylvania sitting in Josh's living room, while he cooks me a super, secret one day late Valentines Day dinner.

Despite my many offers of help, he has insisted that I stay put and blog get some schoolwork done.

So, with his permission, I will offer you my Five for Friday.  Since, I did not have school today, it will be a look at my whole week, rather than just Friday.

1. Magic e- During Fundations we began learning about magic e in CVCe words.  Now, if you look at the official curriculum book, magic e is taught in unit 14 at the very end of the year.  However, our ridiculous district assessments include long vowel CVCe words for the March report card.  That means, we have to rearrange the order of Fundations and teach it early.  The upside to this is that decoding and spelling CVCe words unlocks a lot of doors for kids in reading and writing.  Plus, magic e is just fun to teach and there are tons of great resources and games out there for it.

This week I had the kids play this game from Make, Take, Teach.

2. DRA Assessments- All week, I have been pulling kids aside to read with me one-on-one for DRAs.  Actually, I started the assessments last week and will have to finish up next week.  I have a love/hate relationship with the DRAs.  I love seeing the kids' progress and pinpointing their strengths and weaknesses.  However, it's hard to manage the rest of the class while I am assessing. One other selfish thing I love about the DRA is that we get to do it on our iPads!  Our district uses the Tango App, which allows you to record the students' readings, mark miscues with specific colors, type in question responses, and more!  All of the information gets synced into the computer, so you can print off reports for cumulative folders, conferences, etc.  If I ever move to a district that still uses paper and pencil for running records, I am going to have a hard time!

3. Daily 5- The Daily 5 went awesome this week!  I know I am a broken record, since I already posted about it for Show and Tell Tuesday; however, I can't stop singing it's praises.  You can read more about how I manage my centers and get some freebies here.

4. Valentine's Day- Thursday, we had our fun Valentines Day celebration.  Again, I am a broken record.  You can read more about our fun here.

 5. How-to Writing- All week, the students were working to revise/edit their how-to writing pieces, so we can start All About Books next week.  On Monday, I tried and failed, started to teach the kids how to use commas in a series/list, e.g. Get out the peanut butter, bread, and jelly.  I remembered that this was a challenge for my class last year, so I created a cute practice page and went into the lesson optimistic.  4 hours later, sitting at home with the pile of worksheets on my lap, I realized that I had missed the mark and as a result, so had my kids.  I saw commas every place, but where they should be with only a few exceptions.  

Time to give up right?  Wrong.  

Time to re-teach!

I ended up re-teaching the concept more explicitly that commas "Go after every item in a list, but NOT after AND!!!"  Then, I had everyone correct their worksheets with my guidance before doing a new practice page and working on their actual writing pieces.  The results were that the kids got it!  Almost everyone put the commas in the correct places.  I was very pleased.

Once the kids got the commas down, they spent several days revising and editing with partners.  I gave everyone a How-to Writer's Eyes checklist and then modeled how to go through a writing piece word by word checking for each item on the list.  I also reiterated over and over again to the kids that if they didn't see something they needed in their stories, e.g. capital letters at the beginning of sentences, it was okay to mark "No, but I will fix it!"  Good writers have to go back and fix things.  They don't get everything right the first time or even the last time.  

I then released everyone to work with their writing partners to revise and edit.  The checklist included boxes for the writer and the partner to check off, so that both of them had to check each how-to carefully.  It worked out very well.  The students really worked hard to help each other improve their writing!

As a reward for you still being with me...if you are...I have two freebies!  They are my Comma Chaos practice pages and my How-To Writer's Eyes Checklist.  Click the pictures to download them.

Comma Chaos!!

I'd love for you to comment if you download the freebies.  Feedback is Fabulous, just like Fridays!!

Now, it's time for me to go enjoy whatever amazing smelling deliciousness that Josh has whipped up!


  1. Wow! Sounds like you had a busy week. I wish I had today off, I needed it after a crazy yesterday! I love Daily 5 and have been using it in some form or another for almost 7 years now! I LOVE IT!
    I found your blog through the Five For Friday, and I am a new follower!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

    1. That's awesome that the Daily 5 has been working so well for you! I can't wait to make it better and better each year.

      Thanks for commenting and following!

  2. I'm still marking running records for DRA's the old fashioned way...paper and pencil. I've never used the Tango app, but I'm a techie sort of gal and I'm wishing we had it after reading this post.

    1. Yeah, it is AMAZING!!! I love it. Some of the veteran teachers in our school are having a hard time transitioning into using it, but I jumped right in and it's great.

  3. Great looking freebie - thanks for sharing, Becky!

    Have a wonderful time in PA! Enjoy your relaxing Monday :)

    Joy in the Journey

  4. Thanks for the comma freebie! That will be a great mini lesson during writing this week. :)
    Diving Into 2nd Grade

    1. Great! I am so glad you can use it! I hope it works out well.

  5. Thanks Becky for sharing it..great ..It will join with you if someday i'll get chance..
    Would you like to try this Magic Game: