Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Writing Topics and Program for the Year

Reading books and writing are the backbone of what I do in my classroom. What we are reading drives what we are writing. And we use the core in science and social studies to drive what we are reading about. I teach this way,in themes. All my mini lessons are taught under the CORE umbrella. 
What did YOU do on your SUMMER VACATION?  We wrote about ours....
My Science and Social Studies and my writing in those topics, drives my art projects and music.  And occasionally I can integrate math into a topic.   So it is VERY important to me that I choose really good literature, use the basal literature book each week, have chapter and great books as read alouds and as independent reading, and have student book talks, and series book talks so kids get "hooked" on reading really early on in the year. The more they read, the better they can write about it.
Then did some watermelon tissue paper art. 
I am lucky to have a class of pretty good readers walking in the door because I teach a gifted class. But before teaching this, the 8 years previous, I taught at Title 1 Schools. This was still my program. .
My reading and writing drives everything I'm doing during the day.  So I am always looking at my CORE topics, and the Literature in our curriculum, to figure out what we are going to write about on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

 I am always looking for a writing project/prompt for those days. The kids rarely, if ever, write about anything they want to, except on Monday and Friday, weekend news and journal days.

 Although they do have choice within the theme to write the way they want to, I choose a topic and art to go with that topic, (usually linked to Science or Social Studies Core) and we go through the entire writing process from Tuesday through Thursday. Kids not  done can finish Friday while others go to L.A. centers. I usually only have 1 or 2 not finished by Thursday at lunchtime.
Our first bulletin board of the year......really cute! 
This little guy did nothing but read books all summer! Woo Hoo! 
SO HERE IS WHAT MY WEEK LOOKS LIKE IN WRITING....AND HERE IS MY YEAR TOO!! 

On Monday I have the kids write a journal called "The Weekend News".  Link HERE  for a complete explanation on that.
On Friday they write in a classroom/school journal all about what we learned and accomplished that week, and what the school events for the week were.  I keep the "Weekend News" and use it as part of their writing portfolios at the end of the year.  It ends up being about 1 1/2 inches thick because I add the weekly writing and art projects to their file each week.
Owl reports...these owls turned out so pretty using scrapbook paper in the kids' choices. 
So there are 2 products a week for their Student writing portfolio, and 1 journal entry, and some of those products are 3 page reports on a science or social studies topic. But we write every single day.

Here are a few that I have done throughout the year....both the writing and art is placed in the writing portfolio for the year.
We did a lot of reading, then listed facts about owls, then we wrote sloppy copies. 
Owl Reports in September with teacher edit, and rewrite, they were glad to get to do a cool art project after all that! 
Owl Reports in September...with a cool bulletin board....
In August/September I always do something with Summer Vacations, Owls, Johnny Appleseed, Space Travel, as Jr. Astronauts, Moon poems, Write a letter on School Safety to Officer Buckle.  We also write Fall/Autumn acrostic poetry.

Spiders and Skeletons bullletin board...


Spider Reports in October 

Spider Reports....
In October I try to use the icons of Halloween in an integrated way, doing reports on Bats and Spiders and the kids love it!  I am doing the common core, just choosing fun topics to teach the mini lessons with.
Pumpkin Word Problems in October
Fun integration of writing and math and art here....
Halloween scene from cut paper art....
I'd never tried these curled paper art or the spiderwebs (Martha Stewart's website) but they turned out super cute! 

In October we write about Chris Columbus, Our Halloween costumes or do a Halloween Mad Lib, Bat and Spider reports too.  Some years we write The ABCs of Halloween or a story about a Friendly Witch or Ghost,  or Spider and Pumpkin word problems!! As you can see above, I link art with the writing to motivate kids to finish their writing projects.
I got the cute Football subway art from Pinterest of all places!!  

Favorite Football Teams in November! Rah, Rah!! We graphed who we thought would win the Super Bowl as it got closer.....my team lost and I had to do 10 pushups! Go check it out HERE.

Favorite Football Teams, with jerseys and all the right colors too! I took their pictures for this activity. 

Here is our finished bulletin board on Veterans Day 11-11-11
In November we write about Veterans Day, What we are Thankful for, Pilgrims and Immigrants to America, and Indians and their homes, food and clothing,for social studies. And we write, also, about our Favorite Football Teams! There is a fun rivalry in Utah where the 2 main colleges play each other in "the big game" in November. So they pick their teams from college or professional leagues. It's lots of fun.

Christmas letters to parents

Karo Syrup and NEON food coloring glass window art card....

Christmas letters to parents....we do these for almost every holiday in proper friendly-letter format. 
Cereal Box Fairy Tale puppet show....how to be a dragon, a princess, a fairy, a monster... etc. 
These  Cereal Box Fairy Tales turned out to be the highlight of writing workshop for the year. They had so much fun reading their stories to each other and doing the puppeteering too. I will do this again!  Check it out HERE.
Covers for our pop up books in December.....We read lots of books on  the animals of the ocean....as part of our Core unit on animals and their adaptations. 
Ocean Animal Pop Up Books...kids choose 8 little animals to write facts about...2 on a page......super fun! 
In December we write Christmas Letters to parents, Write about What we want for Christmas, We  make a Cereal Box Puppet show on a Fairy Tale theme, and we write about Christmas Customs around the world with Oral Reports on our culture's customs.  In Science we do Ocean Animal Pop Up Books.

I've almost got January through June finished and will blog about that next. So keep checking back!

PATTIE

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