Storyjumper is an online tool that makes creative writing fun for kids!! The site has an interactive workbook and lesson plans to spark students’ interest in developing and writing complete stories. You can then share these stories online with parents or even have their story professionally published into a hard cover book! (This costs extra, but everything else is free!) Check it out!!!
Storybird gives you the images and lets YOU tell the story!! It reverses the process of visual storytelling by starting with the image and “unlocking” the story inside. Choose an artist or a theme, get inspired by the pictures, and start writing!!! Very engaging for reluctant writers!! You can explore Storybirds that have already been created or start your own. It’s FREE to setup a class account…. and the students can comment on each others’ Storybirds! (Moderated by you, of course!)
Using Anchor Charts/Success Criteria and the Learning Continuum
As a class, we used a baseline journal entry to identify the success criteria (what makes a “good” entry). The students use this when conferencing with each other. They give descriptive feedback on these criteria on a small printed version of this anchor chart.
The criteria could also be simplified by sorting it into categories with bullets underneath.
We photocopy student work (from other classes) to identify which criteria was met and what was “not yet met” to create a continuum. We post this in the classroom so that students can identify where their work fits in on the continuum and where they need to go. (Check out the Anne Davies book: “Assessment for Learning: Making Classroom Assessment Work” for more detail!!)
Underneath each sample, the students identified which criteria was met. The continuum should also indicate the “NEXT STEPS” for each piece of writing.
One of the most treasured times of the day is Independent Reading time! The students know that once they return from second E-break, they should check the board to see who is conferring with the teacher or whether they have been chosen to go read at the school library. Each day of the week, we meet with one of the groups to discuss the book as a group and for the teacher to conference with as many students as they’d like.
We have the students generate “beefy” (or “thick”, “deep”) questions using the Q-chart as they read. They keep sticky notes to remind them for the literature circle meeting.
We keep their literature circle book, and any other chapter book that they are borrowing from our classroom library in this handy nylon zipper bag! They are $1.25 at Dollarama!!
Here is a rundown of how I’ve run centres in my French Immersion classroom.
Guided Reading/Lecture Guidee
This is the bin that I keep at my Guided Reading centre. We were lucky to have a kidney shaped table at the back of the room, but in our double classroom pod, one of us has to do Guided Reading by sitting in a circle on the floor!
In the bin, I keep markers, sticky notes, pencils, erasers, mini whiteboards, index cards, activity cards, bookmarks, etc
Sometimes… a digital camera, the flipcam, etc!
Other tricks for inside my toolbox:
These little cards have activities on them that the students can do once they’ve finished reading the text but I’m still busy listening to the other students in the group read or conferring. Examples:
-Look at one of the character’s faces. Infer his/her feelings. Why do you think he/she feels this way? What’s your clue?
-What’s the main idea of the text?
-What’s the author’s message?
-Find verbs/action words.
-Find dialogue and practise reading it with great expression.
-Find plural words (and their possessive pronouns… very tricky in French!)
-Go on a hunt for “Mots Magiques”! How many can you find?
-How many Non-Fiction text features did you find?
-Pick a Non-Fiction text feature. How does it help you?
-Is there a Non-Fiction text feature that is missing that you think would be helpful?
I always have students share what they did with a partner or the whole group before we begin our planned “after reading” discussion.
Non-Fiction Text Features Bookmark:
Very handy tool to have the students use as they read Non-Fiction.
Reading Response Journal/Reader’s Notebook/Journal de Lecture
This is where the students complete a follow-up activity related to the book they read in Guided Reading with the teacher.
We keep them organized by simply using the book bags from the Guided Reading set as they are packaged in our book room/school library. For example, the front bag contains the “H” level set of books. In the bag, we place the reading group’s name on a laminated piece of cardstock at the front, and their Reader’s Notebooks in there too. This allows both the teacher and the students to find their books easily and quickly. (Because sometimes, due to time constraints, the students read the book one day, but then have to complete their response the next day. Or, some students need more time to finish but we don’t really want them to keep the Guided Reading book in their desk or unfinished work folder!!)
TIP! We glue this sample response and some sentence starters to the inside BACK cover of the notebook. This is especially helpful because the sentence starters fold outwards so that the students can refer to it as they write.
This is another cool site which allows teachers, students and parents to write little “post-it” notes. Not to worry, you can enable it so that YOU have to APPROVE each message before it is made public.
These words are introduced each week, one letter/sound at a time. We review them frequently during centres activities throughout the week and the whole year long. I photocopy the cards on overhead so that the students can review them at an overhead centre. I make black and white copies on cardstock of the word cards so that students can make silly sentences at the pocket chart centre…. or to sort them at the Venn diagram sound sort centre…. or to spell at the magnet or stamp centre! I use magnets so that the students can pull the word off the wall if need be! (Most of these are in 100 point font, just FYI!)
Grade 2 Word Wall: (Behind the students…nothing too fancy unfortunately!!)
Grade 3 Word Wall:
"Les Mots Magiques"
These are the focus words of the week. In both Grades 2 and 3, we begin with frequently-used words that the students need to be able to read and (hopefully!) spell. Throughout the year, these words also include theme words from Social Studies and Science. After they are studied for a week, the words move to the class word wall.