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Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Flashback Linky (writing journals and Daily 5!)

I survived my first full week back to school!!  In ELA, I started implementing so many new strategies that I found this summer in bloggy world.  Today, I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness for her Friday Flashback to share a couple of the new ideas I tried:

I read about decorating writing journals at the Love 4th Grade blog.  In August, I blogged about my plans for having students decorate my journals and made my own sample.  You can read more about this idea and get my decorating journals FREEBIE HANDOUT here.  This is a snapshot of the handout I used.

So, the students absolutely LOVED this idea and I really do think that it creates more pride and ownership for their writing space.  Here is a picture of some of the journals just before I mod podged them:

I was amazed at how difficult it was for students to work on writing for even five minutes.  I read about the name activity in the Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner.  

I downloaded these handouts to use with the writing about your name strategy from Super Pig and Tyrant King.  Click here to get her handouts.

First, I had students complete the first worksheet in class.  Then, I assigned the "Investigating My Name Interview" for homework to interview a parent/guardian.  The next day, without discussing the "Work on Writing" rules, I had students free write for a few minutes about their name in their first journal entry.  I told them that they could write anything.  Ready, set, go!  I was curious how the students would handle work on writing.  I have the top third of the 4th graders in my class.  So, the first student raised their hand immediately.  I walked over to this bright student and he asked me, "What am I supposed to write about my name?".  I replied, "Anything you want.  You have a lot of information."
Next, a student raised his hand and said, "I'm done."  This was after writing two sentences.  

This was a great learning experience for me to see where the students are in their writing stamina.  We have already began Read to Self and made an anchor chart, modeled the correct/incorrect behaviors and have been working on stamina (they only lasted 2 min. 30 sec. the first time we tried it...and these are the top readers in the grade!).  

We discussed the percentage of time spent working on reading vs. working on writing since they were young.  Most students agreed that it was about 80% reading and 20% writing.  They really have had very little practice writing about a topic freely.  Their name (how they got it, how they feel about it, etc.) is something they should be able to write about for 5 minutes, especially after interviewing their parents the night before!  I mean, they had the worksheets right on their desk and students were "done" without including any of the information they learned about their name!

After discussing the Work on Writing expectations and why we need to practice writing freely, the students did a much better job the next time with their stamina and there were no more hands in the air.  They wrote for an additional 10 minutes about their name.  The next day I had them write about three items they chose to include on their writing journal cover decoration.  

I feel like everything is taking so long to introduce and train for Daily 5 (or my modified version of it) but I know that it will be worth it soon.   We have only had 8 days of school and I can't quit thinking about how much the students still need to learn!  It will come (I hope!).  

Finally, be sure to check out the wonderful Laura's 200 follower giveaway at Love To Teach that will start on September 22nd!!  I will be giving away my morning math meeting for the SMART board (190 files) from my TPT store and she has the BEST of the BEST contributing to her giveaway!

The amazing Kelly at Teaching Fourth is having a 100 follower giveaway with lots of products from fellow bloggers!


  1. Congrats on finishing your first week! Wow you got a lot done, that is great. I am so happy I read your post, I am on my fourth week of school since we got back and oh boy! Just like you, I have a top class and their writing consists of tops two sentences. What are some of your plans to build their stamina as writer's? Im going crazy over here.

  2. Holly thanks for the response. I completely agree with you its hard not to look over their paper and let them just write.I feel like I need to rescue them,lol !
    I am new to the D5 and am not sure if I'm going to be doing the D4 or D3 version. Well, for the past few weeks teacher modeling and practicing within our groups is pretty much what we have done. I decided to give them this great resource I found when I attended a Melissa Forney workshop back in 2010. Its title the Young Writer's Survival Kit and it can be found under Conference Materials from IRA 2009. Here is the link http://www.melissaforney.com/free_handouts. My goal is to go over the packet briefly and let them use this as reference when they are working indepedently. Again I have never taught writing giving them so much freedom right from the start. I hope it doesnt backfire on me either! Well here is to a great year :)


  3. Thank you for blogging about my giveaway! I love your handout for decorating writing journals. I have had my students to decorate their journals for the past several years, but I have not used a handout. I think that's a great idea! I'd love for you to visit me again next week and link up for my Fun Friday linky! It is all about the fun things we do in our classrooms throughout the week.

    Teaching Fourth

  4. Thanks so much for linking up to the party! I love your writing journals...I'm sure the kids loved decorating them! I so agree with you about building stamina in writing! They have such a hard time coming up with ideas or getting started with an idea at this age. It sounds like you have them well on their way, though!

    Teaching Maddeness

  5. You're the best, thank you for the shout-out!! I am so happy I reached 200 followers AND will be doing a 3 day giveaway starting off the first day of fall!! Because of your kindness, I will make sure you are my FIRST day giveaway ;) Thanks again!