Love Bug Valentine Craft & FREEBIE Valentine Card


With the days in January quickly coming to a close, I started thinking about Valentine's Day! Do you celebrate it in your classroom? I do and have students make these super-cute Love Bugs to decorate their bags for exchanging Valentine cards!

Love Bug Craft and FREE Valentine Cards! Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
I ask my students to write Valentines for one another. We discuss being bucket-fillers- I strive to make that concept part of our classroom culture. Instead of Valentines being token messages, I ask my kiddos to think of meaningful compliments to write to their classmates on their Valentines. They are free to use their own handmade or purchased cards, but I also provide them with a template:
Love Bug Craft and FREE Valentine Cards! Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Some start with "You are.." (nice, funny, good at soccer, etc.) or "I like it when..." (we read together, play tag, etc.) This helps students who are having trouble thinking of something complimentary to write for a particular person. They can be printed on colored paper, or students can color them.
If you'd like them for your class, click HERE!

You can check out my LOVE BUG craft in my TpT shop!

Are you allowed to celebrate Valentine's Day? What activities do you do with your class?
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Using Learning Logs for Reflection and Formative Assessment during Units of Inquiry


Are you looking for a no-fuss way to assess students along the way during a unit of study or inquiry? Learning Logs are a fantastic way to do this!
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

What are learning logs?

Learning logs are a journal of a student's learning experiences. They give children an opportunity to stop and think about what and how they are learning and feeling during a unit. It helps students become more aware of the process of learning as well as the deepen understandings of and personal connections to the topic of study.

Learning logs can be very open [blank pages] or guided [specifically designed] pages; it's really up to you and what your goals are. For our current unit of inquiry, I made very simple learning logs (with plain construction paper ) so that they were completely open-ended. I wanted to see what thoughts my students would come up with on their own. After participating in lessons, students reflect on their experiences noting their thinking and feelings. We don't do this after every activity, but most (I think you need to be careful of over-using the learning log, just like anything else). I want student to enjoy writing their ideas in them, and not feel like it's "for the teacher".
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
The PYP theme of our unit is Where We Are in Place and Time, and our focus is on homes around the world. The central idea that I want students to understand is that "Homes are designed to fulfill many purposes." We are focusing on the PYP concepts of Form- what's it's like? (What's the shape of the home? How is it built?) and Function- how does it work? (How do parts of the home help the people that live there?)

As part of the beginning of the unit, students inquired into maps. I felt that they needed some knowledge in this area so that they could make connections between local and global places. In other words, how does my home in my neighbor compare to those around the world in different countries?

So, I invited students to collect various maps over their winter holiday. My international students travel all over the place, so we had maps from Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia, and even Colorado! Using "real" maps is powerful because 1) they are real! not a worksheet of a fictitious place and 2) students are personally connected because they have travelled to these places and can speak about them, at least a little bit, from experience.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
In order to "find out" about maps, I simply divided all the maps around places within the classroom, and then students simply rotated through the stations where they could all take a good hands-on look at all the different maps. I facilitated by casually visiting each group and asking them to think about how the maps were alike and different, but mostly I let them discuss with one another.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
We regathered to share our observations and generated a list of features for maps.
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
Students got out their learning logs and reflected on the lesson. I asked the to draw and write about what they thought was most important to know about maps. Here is a photo of one of my ELL student's log:
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
As you can see, he has arrived at an essential understanding about maps! Here is another student's entry- she shares her wonderings, "It is cool how they make it- where do they make it (maps)?"
Learning Logs for Student Reflection, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
What I really like about using learning logs is that I can assess what my students are understanding no matter what "level" they are. Students can express exactly what they are thinking making it easy for me to assess their level of comprehension, and if there are any misconceptions or burning questions. By the end of our unit, they will have a collection of their thoughts, feelings and wonderings. I can use this information as part of my assessments and reporting.

How do you encourage your students to be more thoughtful about their learning? Have you ever tried learning logs?

Thanks for stopping  by!

1

Book Recommendation Writing Activity FREEBIE!


Do you strive to create a love of reading in your students? Of course! So what can you do to foster that?

Book recommendations are a wonderful way to get your students thinking and talking about books. It allows them to reflect and think critically about what makes a book great. even better, this practice supports them as writers as well.

Shorter than a book review, a book recommendation is a lot more doable in the primary classroom. The reader simply explains why a classmate should read that particular book (no summary required!) Book recommendations are also a great way to lead into persuasive writing.

Book Recommendation Writing Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom


This week, students wrote recommendations in my class. Here are a few examples:

Book Recommendation Writing Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Book Recommendation Writing Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom


Click HERE to download this freebie from my TpT shop. I'd love it if you left some feedback :)

Do you teach your kiddos to write book reviews or recommendations?
Thanks for stoping by!

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Editing and Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade


Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a restful break! As promised, I'm finishing up my posts about our procedural writing unit on how-to books by sharing how we edit, publish and celebrate! If you'd like to read the previous posts, they are all here:





Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

At this point in the year, I have students edit for 3 things:

  • complete sentences
  • capitalization and end punctuation, 
  • basic spelling (control of basic/high frequency words)

To edit for sentence structure, I confer with each child and have them read their writing out loud to me (they hold the paper and I am just the audience); if they have an incomplete sentence, they either notice it right away, or I stop them and say, "Wait, that didn't sound right." and we correct it together.

I then have them read it a second time, but now with me, so I can point out common words that I feel they should know how to spell. Of course, the words I expect a child to be able to spell differs from one to the next, but by now, all students are responsible for many of the basic high frequency words that they often read in books.

Finally, we edit for capital and end marks. To do this, we use green and red BIC pens.
Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

This is a page that I modeled. As you can see, I teach them that green means go, or start, like the start of a sentence, so they check that they have capitalized with the green pen. If they remembered to do it, they get to draw a small happy face! Who doesn't love a smiley?? Of course, red means stop, or stop your sentence with an end mark, which for my kids, it's usually a period. Pretty simple, but they love it.  Here is one friend that's got it down!
Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Yes, they "mess it up" sometimes, but I don't worry too much about that; they are still becoming familiar with and taking more responsibility for the editing process and know that editing their writing is an expectation- I'm really satisfied with that, after all, they are first graders and this is the beginning of their journey as authors!

OK, now it's time to publish! We break out the manilla tag paper (because it's sturdy), box of Crayola 64 and bang out some beautifully illustrated covers! While they all learn to write their title at the top, draw an illustration in the middle and write their names at the bottom, that's where the similarities end. Just like for the drafting process, I don't ever really give them photocopied template pages to just fill in or color for the cover because I want them to be creative and take ownership of their books. Besides, "kid writing" is the BEST (imperfections and all!)
Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Students celebrate as a grade level by sharing their writing with one another. Later on in the year, we invite parents so it's a little more of a "big deal" and each celebration kind of builds with significance.

Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

That's followed up with a sugar cookie and some fruit punch- can't beat that!

Editing & Publishing How-to Books in 1st grade, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Thanks for stopping by and reading about writing workshop! How do you engage your students in the writing process?

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