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Archive for April, 2015

postheadericon Writing in Independent Centers: Writing with “Written Expression”


It's important to give students the opportunity to write and practice what they have learned over the course of the year. For me, it was trying to figure out HOW my students could write independently.  I wanted to implement an independent center where they could write independently, be successful, and be proud of what they wrote. 

Over the course of the year, we have been working on writing "Super Sentences." It was time for my students to write more than one sentence on a given topic. 

I have worked specifically with students who are in my intensive intervention group, as well as students in the strategic intervention group. I work with these students in small groups each day for 45 minutes. However, due to having to teach phonics skills, fluency skills, guided reading, spelling skills, etc, there really wasn't enough time for writing. So, I NEEDED a block of time dedicated to writing. We run on a 6 day cycle, so Day 6 became my dedicated writing time. During this time, I have modeled, modeled, modeled what a good sentence looks like, the elements of a good sentence, and how to write a good sentence. This may have taken several months, but after that chunk of time, my students can now write independently! 




I have 6 students in this group. These students struggle with language, speech, attention, and word retrieval. However, these students can write! They need their graphic organizer to be filled in before writing. Most often, I have my students brainstorm their graphic organizer as a group. I type their graphic organizer and use it in their independent center the next day. 

This is how I did it:

Below, you will see a graphic organizer that has been filled in for them. 

bunny written ex gr org-4 column

The subject we are writing about is "The Bunny." I also have a pronoun "He" in the bank to encourage my students to use different subject words, rather than beginning their sentence with the same words over and over again. 

In the column with the four triangles, I provided verbs for them to use. Students know when they see the 4 mountains, to use an action word. 

In the third column, I provided them with "Where?" expanders. Such as, in the garden, on the grass, near the house, and in the woods. 

In the last column, I provided "When?" expanders. I used at noon, during the day, in the morning, and all day long.  As you can see, the graphic organizer is filled in for my students and ready for them to use. This enables my students to create sentences without struggling for words and the spelling of the words. 

This student, used the graphic organizer and gently crossed out the words once they were used. 


Before, I put the graphic organizer in a center, the students and I read over each of the colums to make sure they can read them easily. 

During their independent center time, each student wrote their sentences. Once they came to the teacher table, I spent some time editing with the children. 


Here is a student sample with some editing:




Once the editing was done, the students wrote their sentences again on a clean sheet of paper. 


Here are their final drafts: 



"The bunny sits in the garden all day long. The bunny hops on the grass during the day. The bunny plays near the house at noon. The bunny sits in the woods."



"He eats on the grass all day long. The bunny hops in the woods at noon. He sits in the garden at night. He plays near the house during the day."



"The bunny eats on the grass at noon in the snow. The bunny sits near the house during the day. He plays in the garden all day long in the morning."





In this group, I have six students who need small group direct instruction. 

This group, can write independently with a blank graphic organizer. They were given a graphic organizer and were asked to respond to a prompt. Their prompt asked "What do you like to do on a rainy day?" 

At their independent center, I asked the students to fill in their graphic organizer. I wanted them to build two sentences using the symbols they have learned throughout the year in our Written Expression Curriculum. 


Here is an example of a completed graphic organizer: 



During teacher table time, I spent a few minutes with each child to edit their sentences. 

The next day,at their independent center, they wrote their edited sentences using their work from their graphic organizer. 


Here are some examples of a final draft:


"I play in the house on my ipad. Then, I drink water in the kitchen because I was thirsty." 



"I jump outside in the puddles because I like to play outside. Then, I go inside to have hot coco."





At the end of the week, each student has completed one writing sample.


They have used their skills to write a sentence with:

-A subject

-a verb

-a where expander 

-a when expander


Their sentence structure includes:

-A sentence that begins with a capital letter

-Spaces between words


-makes sense


AND… we have experienced the writing process:

-We have chosen a topic 

-We have brainstormed using our graphic organizer

-We wrote a sloppy copy

-We experienced how to edit our writing

-We wrote a final copy 



To learn more about Written Expression

click on the image below:



postheadericon Using “Written Expression” to Write First Grade SUPER Sentences


We have been using our "Written Expression" curriculum throughout the year. This curriculum uses symbols to teach sentence structure and sentence writing. This year, we dove into the "Framing Your Thoughts" book to teach our students, in first grade, how to write great first grade sentences. 

To read more and learn more about this curriculum, click on the image below to be directed to the site. 



We began the year, by teaching students about bare bone sentences. These sentences had a subject and a verb. For example, "cats jump." We worked on bare bone sentences until the students could write them well and identify the (subject) noun and verb. 

When they were "experts" at bare bone sentences, we added on an expander. The first expander was "Where?" The students then wrote "Cats lay on the floor." We practiced and practiced writing using that one expander until the students were able to write great sentences comfortably and independantly.

Here is an example of a lesson I did with "Animal Park" using the "Where" expander. 

(To see a post using this expander click on the image below)



Now, it was winter time, and it was time to add on yet another expander. Now, we used the "Where" and "When" expander to write sentences. For example, "The cat lays on the floor all day." The students now have a subject, a verb, a "Where" expander, and a "When" expander. 


(To see a lesson I did using the two expanders, click on the image below.)




As the students became more comfortable writing sentences with two expanders, I thought it was time to put some writing activities out into independent centers. I wanted my students to be able to be successful at writing SUPER sentences, so I created a graphic organizer that would help them write sentences on their own. 

Using the graphic organizer empowered my students to be able to create a sentence, write it, and be able to read what they wrote on their paper. 

Here is an example of a student graphic organizer. By providing the words, the kids were able to pick and choose what they wanted their sentence to be about. For expample, a sentence could be "The girls play on the grass at noon." The sentence has a subject, a verb, a "Where" expander and a "When" expander. 


Some students chose to circle they words as they created their sentence. 

Once they were done, I gave them "Super Sentence" paper to write their sentence on. Once it was written, they could draw and color a picture of their sentence. 

This student wrote:

Kids play on the slide all day. 


This student wrote:

The girls play at the school all day long. 


Using this graphic organizer, my students can create four different sentences independantly. When I checked their sentences, I was looking for:

1. A Capital Letter to start their sentence

2. Spaces between the words

3. A subject

4. A verb

5. A "Where" expander

6. A "When" expander

7. Punctuation at the end of the sentence. 





postheadericon Unit 3.6 Where Are My Animal Friends: Activities and Resources




Here are some resources for this story. 


Spelling Cards:

I use these cards in a pocket chart throughout the week. 

3.6 spelling words

High Frequency Cards:

I also have these in a pocket chart. We use them to read and to put into ABC order.

3.6 high frequency cards


Words that end in -dge:

I created these cards to help the children build words with the ending -dge. As you can see from the picture below, I laminated the cards and cut them out. Then, I had my students put them on cookie sheets to practice building their words. I modeled how to build words, then had the students practice at my teacher table. Once they were building words easily, I put this out into an independant center for them to do independantly. 

(You can download the documents by clicking on the image)

3.6 word building with -dge




They used this sheet to build on and wrote the words on the bottom part of the sheet.

-dge write the words


After we were done with word building, I used this sheet to practice reading words with -dge. had my students highlight the -dge in each word, so they would remember to use the /j/ sound. I read the words to the students, then we read them as a group, then the kids each had a turn reading the words. 

You can download this word list at Teachers Pay Teachers



Comparing using -er and -est

I used picture cards to teach this skill this week. I printed the sheets, laminated them, and then cut them out. I used my large pocket chart on my teacher easel to model comparing two things and then three or more things. 



(You can download this by clicking on the image below)

pictures to compare er and est



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