Wednesday, February 24

Increasing Student Writing Skills with 4th Grade Writing Prompts

 

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Let’s chat about writing skills. Increasing and maintaining your students' writing skills can be tricky. There is so much to teach and reach mastery on. Then, how do you maintain those precious writing skills? Maintaining writing skill mastery is all about practice. I had a dance instructor who would always tell us, “practice makes permanent.” This quote has stuck with me as a person and a teacher. I know what you’re thinking, daily practice sounds great, but that’s more resources to hunt for and more to prep, and when do I find the time! I’m here to tell you not to fret! Seriously, take a deep breath teacher friend, because I’ve got your back and I can’t wait to share all the easy ways that you can increase your student's writing skills through the use of 4th grade writing prompts.

 

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Using 4th Grade Writing Prompts for Warm Up Activities:

 

Warm up activities are a fabulous way to use 4th grade writing prompts to help your kiddos grow. I set a timer at the beginning of each writing class and I pass out my 4th grade writing prompts face down. I allow my students to free draw on the back of their paper until the timer begins. Once the timer begins, my kiddos flip over their 4th grade writing prompt paper of the day and begin writing. I call this time “lightning write time”. My kiddos know that their pencil must be moving this entire time. During this time, students are working to increase their writing stamina and get their brains fired up for class. As a teacher, I love using 4th grade writing prompts for warm up activities to help my students grow.

 

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Using 4th Grade Writing Prompts for Targeted Skills Practice:

 

The next way I use 4th grade writing prompts in my classroom is to do targeted skills practice. This work can be done both in class or as homework. I do this by instructing my students on a target specific writing skill (for example, using dialogue). Then, I will give them a 4th grade writing prompt (either printed or digitally) and have them display the skill they were instructed on. For example, there is a 4th grade writing prompt called, “Critter Conversation”. This prompt is all about two animals chatting with each other and what they might say if they could speak. I love using this 4th grade writing prompt for my kiddos to demonstrate their understanding of dialogue writing!

 

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Using 4th Grade Writing Prompts for Exit Tickets:

 

What teacher doesn’t love another data point? Teachers are famous for our amazing data tracking skills! One easy way I like to gather additional writing data points is through the use of exit tickets. I will ask my students to complete a 4th grade writing prompt and demonstrate their understanding of the skill taught that day. They will complete their writing prompt at the end of class and drop it in my turn-in bin. A bonus is that my kiddos really enjoy the writing prompt topics, so it ends up being a fun way to end class. Using 4th grade writing prompts as an exit ticket allows me to quickly do a formative assessment on my student's understanding each day.

 
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Using 4th Grade Writing Prompts for Morning Meeting


Why not start each day by increasing your student's writing skills? Another way you can easily use 4th grade writing prompts to improve your student's writing abilities, is to use these in your morning meetings. Before students come in, quickly print and place a 4th grade writing prompt paper on their desk (or assign a digital one in Google Classroom). Build a routine that each morning, students will take a few minutes before the day begins to answer the 4th grade writing prompt on their desk. Once the day begins, you can incorporate this writing practice into your Morning Meeting through the “share” component. Many “would you rather,” 4th grade writing prompts make fantastic shares/ discussions and creates easy planning for you too. Talk about a win-win!

 
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Using 4th Grade Writing Prompts for Small Group Instruction

 

Did you know you can also incorporate 4th grade writing prompts into your small group instruction? Because you absolutely can! Personally, I use 4th grade writing prompts in my writing small group instruction to help aid my instruction. For example, if I am teaching opinion or argumentative essays, I will pull a “would you rather,” 4th grade writing prompt, something my kiddos will have to take a stance on and use that pre-made prompt to teach and practice a specific skill we are working on for our essay writing (example, writing hooks or body paragraphs).

 
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4th grade writing prompts can easily be incorporated into your classroom routine. Remember, “practice makes permanent”. I want my kiddos to maintain their writing skills that they have learned, so we practice constantly. We practice for our morning meeting share, as writing warm-ups, and so much more! If you want to explore an entire year worth of 4the grade writing prompts (digital and print) that I use with my own students, you can click right HERE.

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Saturday, January 30

Valentine's Day Activities for Elementary Students

 

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Are you ready for the next holiday? I love Valentine’s Day and doing Valentine’s Day activities with my elementary students! From the hearts and sweets to the themed activities, there is so much fun to be had in the classroom. Read more to learn about my absolute favorite Valentine’s Day activities to do with my elementary students.

 

Valentine’s Day Spelling Activities

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The first set of Valentine’s Day activities that I love to do with my elementary students, are Valentine’s Day themed spelling activities!  I teach my kiddos a new spelling pattern each week. These patterns are wicked fun to practice through the use of my themed monthly spelling activities. This month is all about hearts, Cupid, sweets, and valentines. My kiddos love the spin and write activities the most. I love these Valentine’s Day activities for elementary students because my kiddos get good spelling practice and they are basically no prep for me as a teacher. Talk about a win-win! If you want to explore the Valentine's Day spelling activities that I do with my students, click THIS LINK now.

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Valentine’s Day Read Alouds

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If you have been around here a hot minute, you know I’m a sucker for all the read alouds. I love any reason to gather my students on the carpet and share the joy of reading, and a deep story discussion with them. Check out the list below of my favorite Valentine’s Day read aloud books for elementary students.

 

 

Digital Writing Prompts

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Digital writing prompts are my jam! Ever since distance learning took place last March, digital writing prompts have become a favorite of mine. I love the bright colors and engaging prompts for my kiddos, and I love the no prep for me! My favorite way to use digital writing prompts is to assign a prompt to my students and ask them to demonstrate their knowledge of a new skill I have taught them within the prompt (ex. similes, personification, etc.…). These cute and no prep themed prompts are definitely on my list for top Valentine’s Day activities for elementary students. If you want to check out the digital Valentine's Day writing prompts that I use with my students, click THIS LINK now.


Valentine’s Day Math Freebie

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Did someone say Valentine’s Day FREEBIE? Guys, my list of Valentine’s Day activities for elementary students just wouldn’t be complete with an epic freebie. I created this Valentine’s Day math freebie to help my students practice their measurement conversion skills while still having fun. If you have been inside my classroom before, then you know that fun is a key factor in room 204. In this Common Core aligned freebie, your students can match and practice with eleven pages of math fun. I’ve also included a list of my favorite measurement read aloud mentor texts because I can’t help myself when it comes to read alouds. This FREEBIE is ideal for students in grades 3-4. If you think your kiddos would love this Valentine’s Day math activity, then what are you waiting for? Click the button below to download it now!   

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Saturday, December 26

3 Things Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Say Yes to in the New Year

 

I think we can all agree that this year has been rough. Actually, this year has been an insane roller coaster ride of emotions and increased workloads. However, the year is finally almost over, hallelujah, and a new year is on the horizon. How can we make sure that next year is better than this one was? No, how can we make sure it is our best year yet? Well teacher friends the answer is simple, we need to start saying yes. Yes? Yes! Let’s say yes to self-care and boundaries. Let’s say yes to taking care of ourselves. Read more below about my top three things that teachers need to say yes to in the New Year.

Say Yes to Self-Care

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is so important! You can’t help anyone else if you cannot first help yourself. We all know that, why else do they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first on airplanes? So, my question is, if we know self-care is so critical, why do we push it off? I don’t have time. I don’t need to. The excuses go on and on. Stop powering through, stop putting so much extra pressure on yourself. We have a million and one things we are required to do as teachers. Why add extra stress of getting papers graded like lightning, or having lessons planned a month in advance? Start removing unnecessary stress and allow yourself time to breathe, rest, and recover.  Make this year  the first year you truly adopt a self-care is alright mindset.

 

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Say Yes to Boundaries

Did you know that is ok to say no? Honestly, it is not only ok but it is necessary. You are not a bad teacher if you do not take school work home each night. You are not a bad teacher if you do not work weekends. You are not a bad teacher if you stop answering parent emails at 6:00 PM every night. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALL, ALL OF THE TIME. In most other occupations, when you leave work for the day, you leave your work behind with you. Teachers everywhere put in an overwhelming about of unpaid after work hours just to try and stay afloat and feel like we are doing the best we can. Please listen to me; you are doing an amazing job. You don’t need to make your work all that you ever do. Set boundaries for yourself so that you can have a work home life balance. You need designated time to close your plan book, turn off your computer, and live your life.

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Say Yes to a Work/ Home-life Balance

I love memes. There is one meme that always hits me a little too close to home. It is a picture of a teacher with countless hats on her head, each one labeled with a different responsibility she bares. From parent communication expert to epic lesson creator, we teachers juggle it all. It’s no wonder most teachers have a horrible work/ home life balance. Well, it’s time we start taking back our weekends friends. Take a few of those hats, those extra responsibilities, off of your plate. Ask for help. Don’t spend countless hours at night scrolling Pinterest for the perfect lesson. Stop researching classroom management techniques on your weekends so you can survive your workweek. Ask for help. Find engaging supplemental resources, lesson plans, and more, and put it in your budget for next year. Request a professional development course for techniques and strategies you want to be more knowledgeable in.

So friends, let’s make this year the year of yes. We can and we will make the New Year a stellar one!


Looking for more tips to make the New Year YOUR best year EVER? Click the DOWNLOAD button below to download my Elementary Teacher’s Guide to Your Best Year Ever Workbook now!








 

Thursday, December 17

December Activities for the Elementary Classroom

 

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Gingerbread Project Based Learning

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I love project based learning! It is such a fun way to do interdisciplinary teaching and engage my students in deep thinking. Two years ago I started doing a gingerbread house project based learning unit and it has been a keeper ever since! My students love designing, budgeting, and building their own gingerbread homes. I like to add in a bonus at the end and let my students build and eat gingerbread houses (made out of graham crackers). Oh, what fun! Click HERE to explore this resource.

 


Roll & Write Winter Multiplication Game

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No matter what time of year it is, math fact practice is crucial. My students loved practicing their fact fluency with my fall themed roll & write math game, so I made a winter themed game. It is so easy to differentiate for my students and their math fact mastery. Just print the desired game board (times tables 1-12) and you’re ready to play! No prep equals a happy teacher. Click HERE to explore this resource.

 

Digital December Writing Prompts

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Easy, breezy, done! This time of year is always hectic. I love having resources that are easy, engaging, and no prep! My kiddos enjoy these fun December themed writing prompts and I love how easy they to assign in Google Classroom. I can also print these writing responses to quickly pair with a winter craftivity. Click HERE to explore this resource.

 

December Spelling Activities 

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I am all about festive classroom fun and spelling practice is no exception. I created these December spelling activities to help bring some extra holiday cheer and word work practice. My kiddos love the Christmas themed activities and I love that they are editable for any spelling list. Easy differentiation and holiday fun, what could be better? Click HERE to explore this resource.

FREE Holiday “All About Me” Graphic Organizer

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Need a last minute holiday activity? I’ve got you covered! This FREE resource is a no prep way for students to share their holiday favorites. Click HERE to get this resource now.


Sunday, November 8

4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

 

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Fall is in full swing and Thanksgiving is on its way. I love this time of year and all the fun fall-themed activities I can do with my students. Hybrid and distance learning has made it difficult to do my favorite Thanksgiving activities, so I’ve made some adjustments. Read more to check out the four no-prep Thanksgiving activities I will be doing with my students this year.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The first no prep Thanksgiving activity I will be doing with my students this year is daily digital writing prompts. There are so many of my favorites included in this Google Slides writing prompt pack. Every year in November, I love to do certain writing prompts. For example, the turkey in disguise, and what am I thankful for writing prompts are some of my favorites. Now, even though I am teaching in a hybrid setting, I can still do these writing prompts with my kiddos. Click HERE to explore the Google Slides writing prompts I will be using.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The next no prep Thanksgiving activity on my list is editable! I love editable resources; they make my teacher heart happy. This year my kiddos will be practicing their spelling skills with the help of fully editable Thanksgiving spelling activities. My students love the fun fall graphics and I love how easy they are to use. Click HERE to check out the Editable Thanksgiving spelling activities I will be using in my classroom this year.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

Right now my students are in the middle of a writing boot camp. This is where we hone down and really practice our writing skills. In order to continue breaking down each skill in our fictional writing process and have some holiday fun, I created a digital Thanksgiving writer’s notebook. My students can continue to work through the writing process with digital graphic organizers to aid them. Click HERE to check this digital writer’s notebook out.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The final no prep Thanksgiving activity I will be going with my students this year are Thanksgiving themed digital task cards. These task cards will allow my kiddos learning from home or school the option to practice their addition with regrouping skills. Want to snag these addition with regrouping digital Thanksgiving task cards for FREE? Click HERE to get them now!



 

Sunday, October 25

6 No Prep Halloween Activities

 

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There’s a chill in the air, leaves are falling, and students are buzzing about costumes. Yes, teachers, it’s almost Halloween! I always love this time of year and the fun activities I get to do with my students. We know this year is going to be different. With social distancing and distance learning being thrown into the mix, how are we supposed to Halloween activities with our kiddos? Read more and I will share with you the six NO PREP Halloween Activities I plan to do with my students this year.

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

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Have you ever heard of Art Hub? This is an amazing art channel on YouTube.com that teaches children how to do different directed drawings. I love doing these with my class! Before we begin, I tell my students that all their artwork will look different and that’s the beauty of it. I also tell them to simply raise their hand if needed and that will be the cue for me to pause the video and give them some extra time. Last week we did the haunted house directed drawing and I tied it into our adjectives lesson. They had so much fun with this easy no prep Halloween Activity! I love that I can also share this activity with my students at home as well as at school (I’m currently Hybrid teaching). Click THIS LINK to check out some of their amazing Halloween themed directed drawing lessons now.

 



No Prep Halloween Activities

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I think writing prompts are fa-BOO-lous.  Typically, I use writing prompts as a warm-up activity before writing class or as an informal formative check-in on a specific skill I taught (ex. dialogue). In years past I have loved using these writing prompts as quick no prep Halloween activities. This year I needed to adapt. So I have transformed all of my favorite October writing prompts into digital prompts for Google Classroom. Now my at-home learners and in-class learners can do a Halloween writing activity too! Click HERE to check out the Digital Halloween Writing Prompts I will be using. Click HERE to check out the paper copy Halloween writing prompts.


No Prep Halloween Activities

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Looking for more no prep Halloween activities? Well, my friend, check out this awesome FREE one! My students love worksheets like this. It allows them to write about their interests, as well as do a little coloring. If you are looking for a fun time filler or quick Halloween activity to do with you class, then click THIS LINK and grab it now!

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

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I love helping my students grow in their craft as writers. So, any chance I get to engage them (like with Halloween spooky stories) and take them through the writing process, I am all about. This year I have created a Halloween digital notebook to do just that! My students will be using this no prep resource all week leading up to Halloween. From digital writing prompts, to word lists, this Digital notebook will take them through all the skills needed to write some SPOOK-tacular stories! I can’t wait to use this digital writer’s notebook with my students this week and read the BOO-tiful stories they write! To check out the Halloween digital writer’s notebook we will be using in room 204, CLICKHERE.

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

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I love math games, but how am I supposed to play math games when my kiddos can’t touch the same game board or get too close? I think I’ve finally come up with a solution to my math game problem, roll and write games! I’ve created bright and colorful math games that my students can play while maintaining their required distance. Happy dance time!

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This week, my plan is to give each partner identical game pumpkin multiplication boards, a dice, and game play pieces (I use pompoms). This way they can mirror each other game boards as they play! Interested in checking out my Roll and Write Math Games? CLICK HERE!

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

 

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Alright, it’s all treats and no tricks time. Are you ready for a FREE no prep Halloween activity? We just finished a place value math unit in my classroom. So, I thought it would be fun to practice place value with an interactive pumpkin review! Click HERE so you can grab this Google Classroom ready, no prep Halloween activity for your kiddos now!

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Saturday, September 12

Why I Love Digital Writer’s Notebooks

 

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Teaching writers workshop digitally equals one word, yikes! I love teaching a writing class in person. Working side by side with students to help them grow in their craft as writers is simply the best. How can I possibly continue my writer's workshop style of instruction if we have to go digital this year? Let me share that these were only a few of my worries as I planned my writing instruction for the 2020 school year. I like to believe that wherever there is a big problem, there is a solution somewhere just waiting to be found. After much stress eating and brainstorming, I finally found a way to continue teaching writing the way I love no matter what the school year throws at me. Take that 2020! Read more as I share my solution to my writing instruction dilemma. 

 

digital-writers-notebook

Right now, I am teaching in a hybrid model. This means that I see one group of students on Monday and Tuesday. Then I see my second group of students on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday everyone including teachers is at home doing distance learning. When my kiddos are with me, I am free to teach my workshop writing instruction as I always have. However, I still want my students to be able to continue their writing pieces during “at home learning” days. So, this year my kiddos are using a new writer’s notebook, a digital one! 

 

Here’s Why I Am Loving Digital Writer’s Notebooks So Far:

 

1.) There is no concern about forgetting a hard copy notebook at home or school as my kiddos travel between, “at home” or, “in-person” learning days.

2.) I can still use the same graphic organizers that I use every year (because they are digital now).

3.) I can keep the same workshop model even when my students are at home.

4.) Everything is easily organized in Google Classroom for my kiddos and me hallelujah!

 

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How Digital Writer’s Notebooks Work:

 

A digital writer’s notebook is just like the notebooks I set up with my students in person each year, except instead of using a binder we’re using computers and Google Classroom. Once I made a copy of the Google Slides presentation (the notebook), I assigned the whole notebook to my students in Google Classroom (with no due date). HEADS UP! Be sure to click, “make each student a copy” when you assign the presentation, trust me sister you don’t want to forget that! Once assigned, I can work with my students both in class and digitally throughout the entire writing process using the premade slides. It has been so much easier to keep track of my student's work than having them submit countless Google Docs.

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Why My Students Love Digital Writer’s Notebooks:

1.) Easy for them to use

2.) Bright, colorful, and fun pictures

3.) They don’t have a physical notebook that they have to keep track of

 

Right now we are in our Personal Narrative writing unit and have just started using digital writer’s notebooks. Instead of overwhelming stress, I am now feeling prepared (I know shocker considering it’s 2020 and we can’t seem to prepare for anything these days). I feel prepared because now I know that no matter what the school year brings, hybrid, in person, or distance learning, I have a tool that will help me continue to teach writing the way I love. If you want to check out some of the digital write’s notebooks I will be using with my students this year, click HERE.