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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Planning a Giveaway...and STEP-UP to WRITING!!

It just creeped up on me...Wow!  I can't believe I have over 200 followers:)  Thank you to everyone that follows my little ol' blog.  Since I began this journey in July, the blogging world has really revolutionized my teaching and I can't thank you all enough!  So, I am planning a 200 follower give away with a great prize ($30 gift card) and would like to see if there is anyone interested in donating a teacher's product from their store for my giveaway.  My sweet friend Kelly from Teaching Fourth has already volunteered.  So, please leave a comment if you could help me out.  I would be so grateful!!  I would like to start the giveaway Saturday, October 6th.

UPDATE:  I have several blogging friends that have so generously agreed to donate a product for my giveaway!  See the awesome list of bloggers in the comments.  Thank you!!  I can always use more volunteers too:)  I have created this button in anticipation of this giveaway!

We just finished our third full week of school and have gone full swing into implementing three components of Daily 5 (Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Work on Writing).  I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness and her Friday Flashback Linky.

My 4th grade students have really had a tough time with writing stamina and we have only been working on "easy" writing topics.  I started strategies from Step-Up to Writing this week.  I love this resource that our district has implemented for about 10 years now!  Does anyone else out there use it?

I also made up this writing notebook rubric based on Aimee Buckner's rubric in the Notebook-Know How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook.  Students glued it to the inside cover of their journals to refer to throughout the year.  You can see it here at my TPT store.

I plan to use this rubric to grade their journals every 5 weeks.  How do you assess your writing journals?  I think it will help making students accountable for finishing their entries and taking their CUPS (capitalization, usage, punctuation, and spelling) more serious.  They are so relaxed with grammar at this time of year!  

So backing up three weeks....this is how our "Work on Writing" has taken shape so far....

We decorated writing journals and they are a big hit.  Students really seem to love their journals.  You can read about them here.  After starting the training for work on writing (expectations, anchor chart, correct/incorrect modeling), we worked on our stamina writing about our names (see post here).  I used this book with the lesson:

The most difficult part for me has been to just let them write without butting in over their shoulder.  I really want them to get comfortable writing without worrying that they are doing it "wrong".

Next, students wrote about three items from their decorated journal covers and why they are important to them.  We also did an entry using this prompt:  One time I was in trouble and I really should not have been was...  This was based on reading Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing and the part when Peter gets in trouble when Fudge falls off the jungle gym and knocks out his teeth.

So, I just let the students write all three of those times and really work on their stamina.  They did improve each time.  Then, this past Thursday, we did our first lesson on writing a paragraph using a Step-Up strategy.  Students write a topic sentence, reason/facts/details, explain reason/facts/details, and conclusion and highlight each part.  The topic sentence and conclusion are green, the reasons are yellow, and when they explain a reason it is highlighted pink.

My 4th graders always struggle the most with their topic sentence (they want to answer the questions and give a lot of details in the first sentence) and the "explains" (pink) are very difficult as well.  I posted these notes on the SMART board and I wrote the sample paragraph together with them.  I always model coming up with a paragraph "on the spot" and how I erase and change things around that they don't like.  We discuss how good writers do that and I also model rereading what I write throughout the process.

The students took notes and copied the "sample" paragraph starting in the back of their journals.  I am trying something new this year as suggested in the Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner.  Students are recording free write journal entries starting in the front of their journals and working their way to the back and they are recording class notes starting in the back of the journal and working their way to the front.  

My students were required to write a topic sentence for a paragraph about a hobby of their choice for a ticket out the door.  This took more than five minutes for 24 students since many had sentence fragments, run-ons, and were trying to write most of the paragraph in one sentence.  We will keep working on it!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend:)  Remember to check back next Saturday for my giveaway!


  1. I'd love to help in your giveaway. My stuff is geared towards pk-1 though. Is that ok?

    A BLT adventure

  2. Sure, I would love to donate a product!! Congrats on 200 followers!! :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. I'd love to donate a product too! Congrats on 200 followers :)



  4. I'd love to help out with your giveaway!! Congrats on 200 followers!!

    The Busy Busy Hive

  5. I'd love to donate a product too! Congrats on 200 followers!

    Success in Second Grade

  6. Hey! I'd love to help by donating a product, anything from my store. I don't have much, but I'd love to help!

    Miss V's Busy Bees

  7. I would be willing to as well. My stuff is more geared towards the younger grades and I don't know if you want younger grade stuff.
    The Hive

  8. Thanks for linking up to the Friday Flashback Linky! I love teaching writing and reading about how others teach it! :) I'm glad to hear that it's not only my kiddos that have trouble with topic sentences, though!

    I'd be happy to donate to your giveaway...sending an email now!
    Teaching Maddeness

  9. I LOVE Step Up To Writing! I have been using this strategy for about 7 years and am blown away on how well my students write.

  10. Hello! I am new to the blogging world and stumbled across yours. Its so nice to see 4th grade teachers blogging. I am a 4th grade teacher and just found my style of teaching and loving it. I loved your idea of having the students highlight the topic sentence, main idea and reasons. Such a great tool for assessing. Thanks!!!

  11. Can't wait to be a part of your giveaway!! :) Congrats again on 200 followers, friend!!