Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exciting Flat Stanley Delivery

I will start my post today with a very exciting Flat Stanley delivery we received yesterday.  I do a Flat Stanley project every year and it is my favorite project of the year (I guess it's the travel bug in me!)  I do it a little differently.  We read Flat Stanley and then each of the students create a Flat Version of themselves that we send all over the world.  We send them to friends and family members.  Every year I have some kids who don't have someone to send it to so I hit up my friends and family to participate.  This year I had quite a few students who didn't have any one to write to so we took a shot at sending one to President Obama.  In my head I was thinking that the child would be excited about it, but we probably would never see it again.  I was so excited to find it in my mailbox yesterday!  The White House sent us a letter geared towards the Flat Stanley project and talked about how my Flat Student helped him in the Oval Office, sat in on meetings, hung out with Mrs. Obama, etc.  Also included was a "Day in the Life of Bo" pamphlet, an interview with President Obama geared towards kids and of course an autograph photo.  My kids were very excited.

The deadline for returning Flat Stanleys is the end of the month.  So far we only have the ones that my husband took with him on a trip to Hungary and one that I did on my spring break trip to New England (again, for students who didn't have a family member to send them to.)  We are anxiously awaiting more to arrive!  I'll update as they come in.  So far this is our wall of travel... it will look much better in a couple of weeks.

Anyways, moving onto another aspect in writing.... do your kids every groan and get mad when writing time is over?  My kids did today and it is like music to my ears.  We are working on a new Writer's Workshop unit.  My county follow Lucy Calkins, which is great.  Writing is so simple with this format!  I have worked hard to create unit plans for each writing unit.  Each day features a learning target, a mentor text to look at and an example of the writing trait I am looking for.  You can find the entire unit in powerpoint here or for a promethean board, here.

We are working on Non-Fiction All About books.  The kids can write about anything they want.  We have quite a range of books... from Easter to the Titanic to Softball to Spring... they have such great interests.  On the first day we made the title pages.  I like to give them a full 45 minutes to do this so they can make sure its their best work.  Check out these two:

Before they work on their title page, I make sure they know enough about their topic.  I have them make a web to write down everything that is in their brain. I tell them there is a storm in their brain (aka "brainstorm") and they need to get all of that information down on their paper.  I give them 5 minutes to write whatever they can think of.  I have to prompt some with some things they can write about, but most write as quickly as they can for 5 minutes.  Here is an example of one of their brainstorms:

Before we start writing, they need to organize this mess of words.  We color code our brainstorm and then use those categories for headers in our books.  Again, some of my friends needed help, but once they have their headers they are good to go!  Here is an example of a girl who is writing about Bolivia.  I love her use of headers (just wish she had written it a bit bigger), but look at that detail!  We are only in week one of this unit - I can't wait to see what else they develop.

I'll be sure to update as their writing progresses!  Its fun to watch it in the different stages.

Real quick, before we close... at my old school we had a poster maker where I use to print out big coloring sheets.  Each time my class got a compliment in the hall or in a special area class, we would color in a piece of our poster and eventually they would earn a prize.  I don't have a poster maker this year, but I found this behavior management technique can be as simple as drawing a seasonal picture on the board.  Once my kids have this flower filled, the earn a brain break - a dance along song on youtube... easy!

Until next time!

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