5/6/2012 - Video


In the first half of the year, my second grade class would do ANYTHING to avoid writing. Even my most conciencious students would stall, whine, sharpen his or her pencil for way too long…anything to avoid complete sentences and written responses. 

Last quarter, much to second grade’s dismay, I began starting each morning with a little writing prompt on the front board. “Good morning! Take out your writing journals. Sharpen your pencils!”

The prompts have been anything from “Make a list of things you like and a list of things you do not like” to “Imagine you have your own magic treehouse. In 3-4 sentences, describe what it looks like. Use at least 5 juicy adjectives.”

One student misread the prompt, and only after I noticed how furiously he was writing did I realize he thought he was supposed to write 34 sentences. Oops. 

So it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been persistent. Once I realized how much fear of misspellings and “messing up” was holding these budding writers back, my motto became, “Thoughts on paper, correct later.”

But yesterday, I let them try something different. I broke the class into 3 groups, showed the class this little series of anti-bullying videos as a prompt, gave each group a piece of chart paper, and asked them to write their own “Stop Bullying” skits. 

Some groups struggled initially to work as a team to write together, but the results were worth that team-building challenge. I’m so proud of them. Each group came up with a completely unique skit that ended in compromise. Such a good discussion starter for the class!

Lessons to reinforce character, setting, plot?


I’m needy tonight.

It may depend on the grade, but this is one of my favorite lessons to teach narrative elements, http://fairydustteaching.blogspot.com/2011/01/walking-path-of-fairy-tale.html It’s easy to adapt to teach most grades or to focus on only one of the narrative elements. Older students can complete this in small groups and label their visual clues. In addition to retelling the story, I suggest having the students write something to check for understanding. For Kindergarten I had the kids draw pictures and write sentences of something that happened in the beginning, middle, end. I also have a graphic organizer for older students that I’d be happy to send you.

2/10/2012 - Video


This year, I have been teaching both History 1 and 2, to 7th and 8th respectively. Through the year, our goal is to compile projects and artifacts to make our area of the hallway into a history museum.

Thus far, we have “The Road to the Revolution” timelines and historical newspapers on the Revolution from 7th grade and Reconstruction narrative poems and the recently submitted (not pictured yet!) research papers on Teddy Roosevelt from 8th grade. 

However, my favorite project has been the Murals of Industrialization from my 8th graders. Students, working in teams, had to design a mural, containing historical details, that reflected their area of focus on industrialization. Along with this, they prepared a short presentation and a page of notes for the remainder of the class.

Though this project took a bit of time commitment (about 3 weeks worth of classes from the start of planning, preparing information/presentation, the mural itself, and the presentations), it was well worth it. It was about the same amount of time we would have spent on a book chapter, but students had to analyze more, work cooperatively, and gain an in depth focus. Plus, they turned out pretty awesome…even if that one group had to fix the spelling “corporations” last minute! 

I think this could be adapted to many historical eras or even subjects. If anyone is in need of a rubric for something like this, let me know! I’m happy to share! 

Love the history murals!

Storytelling Pathways: Walking the Fairy Tale.



This is a great way to help children with retelling a story.  It builds comprehension, sequencing and it is fun!  It is simple - on a long piece of bulletin board paper - draw a winding path.  At the beginning of the path, draw a visual clue of the first event…After drawing the story, let the children color it in and add any missing details.  When finished, give children the opportunity to walk the Storytelling Pathway and retell the story! 

(Source: fairydustteaching.blogspot.com, via )