5 Ways to Make the Most of Writer's Workshop

I am so thrilled to have my good friend, Theresa, from True Life I'm A Teacher guest post on my blog today!  She is sharing some FABULOUS ideas to help with writing!!

If you are looking for a new teacher to follow, make sure to check her out!  Her ideas are amazing and I just LOVE her style! Yay!


Hey Friends! I'm so excited to be sharing today on Mandy's blog! She is the best, and has some AMAZING advice, and ah-hem...tips!!!

I have a love-hate relationship with teaching writing. It's one of my favorite, and most dreaded things to teach all at the same time. It's a hard concept for kids...there's not a right or wrong answer (not that that should be the point of anything), which complicates things for kids (and maybe teachers too!)

Over the last few years, I've really worked on my writer's workshop skills, so when Mandy asked me to share about writing, I knew EXACTLY what tips I wanted to share...5 to be exact!

When planning mini-lessons, less is definitely more when it comes to writing. It's impossible to take a piece of writing through the entire writing process in just one lesson...there's so many components to writing, that it's best to think of small ideas: procedural (think launching writer's workshop lessons), specific strategies, skills, or writerly craft elements you want to teach. Examples of mini-lessons (this list could go on forever {cue, "foreva, eva, eva?...foreva, eva, eva"}, but here's a few ideas:
  • Choosing a small moment
  • Fact-finding
  • Fact-sorting
  • What is narrative/informational/opinion writing?
  • How do writers get ideas?
  • How do writers use their best handwriting?
  • What do writer's do?
  • How to writer's write from the heart?
  • Vivid Verbs/Strong Verbs
  • Describing the Action
  • Revising
  • Editing
  • How to come to the whole-group meeting area
  • How to use a writer's notebook/writer's folder
  • Writing a strong beginning

Not only do I model each mini-lesson with my own writing, I share student examples. Shockingly, the student examples elicit FAR better responses and results than my own writing. Students are always impressed at what their own friends have written. This is a POWERFUL motivator for reluctant writers, and especially for your capable, but underachieving writers.

Whenever I model writing, I ask my students for help. Usually, I don't even have to ask...just by thinking aloud, students start chiming in with their own ideas about what would make the writing better!

Using mentor texts is perhaps one of my favorite aspects of writer's workshop! By looking at what expert writers have done, students can see very specific, concrete examples. Students can then put into practice in their own writing what the expert writer has done in the mentor text.
Below are my FAVORITE personal narrative mentor texts.

Having writing supplies easily accessible (and available at times other than just writing) is important! Plus, having special paper, pens, and pencils will help reluctant writers get excited about writing.

For even more ideas and resources, be sure to follow True Life I'm a Teacher on InstagramFacebookTeachers Pay Teachers, and Pinterest!



Sharing Sunday: November Goodies {and FREEBIES}!

Yahoo!  It is that time again!

It is SO hard to believe it is almost November.  Where has the time gone?  I feel like this WHOLE year is flying by.

I LOVE November.  First, the food is yummy and I am all about the food.

Secondly, that means Christmas is almost here.  I love Christmas so much.  It is probably pretty obnoxious.

Only 61 more days!!  Yahoo!

How about a few early gifts...life some FREEBIES!!! Click on the image below to pull up  the linked pdf file.  Enjoy!

Happy Fall ya'll!

Want more goodies and freebie? Make sure to visit The Primary Peach to see other posts sharing 

amazing resources!



Monsters, Monsters Everywhere {Freebie}!

Today I am over at the Primary Peach sharing some of my Fall Favorites!

I had such a hard time picking one or two, so I shared several! LOL!

I ALSO shared a new, exclusive, never-been-seen (and how many other descriptors can I use?) freebie.  It is a 2-3 day ELA LESSON PLAN!  Yahoo! Let me do the work for you! LOL!

Click on the picture below to check it out!



Tasty Tuesday:Comfort Food Edition

Today I am starting a brand new series: Tasty Tuesday: Easy Meals for the Busy Teacher! I am not sure I will do it EVERY Tuesday, but I will try to share as many recipes as I can!

My first recipe is one of my favorites to throw together when I want some good old comfort food without the work: meatloaf! Mmmmm!  And my husband said it is his favorite version of meatloaf, so double win!

I am so not a food photographer, so um, sorry about that.  You are going to see the "real deal!"

I got this recipe from Jill at Meet the Dubiens.  I can't take any credit for the actual recipe.  Fun side note: I am pretty sure that Jill is Jennifer Runde's sister from Runde's Room!  Small world, right?

So let's get to the nitty gritty. Let's talk about the upside and downside of this recipe.

Upside: It is a fix it and leave it meal.  As in, prepare it, put it in the oven, and then go and do your thing while it cooks.  You don't have to babysit it.  
Downside: Cooking time is an hour.  Boo.

Let's Get Started:

The Meatloaf
The ingredients are ridiculously easy.

•2 lb. (900 g) lean ground beef
•1 pkg. (120 g) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
•1 cup water
•2 eggs, beaten
•1/2 cup Kraft Original BBQ Sauce, divided

1.) Basically, dump it all in a bowl and  mix it together.  I just use my hands. I took a picture, but raw meat is kinda yucky looking so I decided to save everybody the yuckiness. :D
2.) Press it into a dish- I use a loaf pan. And, well that is it.

Easy Sides:

Jill also suggested baking new potatoes and it is brilliantly easy.

•1 bag of baby potatoes
•olive oil
•salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice

1.) Cover a baking pan with tin foil and spray with Pam.
2.) Wash the new potatoes and slice in half.  
3.) Then, put all the potatoes in a gallon size bag.  Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning.  I used salt and the garlic spread in the picture.  I got it at Costco! Shake the potatoes in the bag.
4.) Pour the potatoes onto the baking pan.

Put both the meatloaf and the potatoes in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour. 

I usually put a can of peas or green beans in a saucepan on the top of the stove.  That way I can do the dishes and pick up the house while it all cooks at the SAME time.  

SO easy!  And yummy! Want a printable copy of this recipe?  Click below!

I hope this post gave you an easy recipe for your weeknight crazies!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!



5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Read Aloud

I love, love, love reading aloud to kids. I miss it more than I would have imagined.  Now, I do get to pop into my preschooler’s classroom and be the mystery reader every so often.  That is pretty wonderful!

Schedules are so tight nowadays, and more and more is being crammed onto your plate.  How can you get the most out of this precious time?

1.)    Choose your book carefully.
I always tried to choose books that I could pull into another content area.  It was nice to tie in a bit of science or social studies.  For example, Flat Stanley is a great read aloud during your map unit.  Looking to expand kid’s vocabulary?  Check out My Father’s Dragon.  So fun and lots of words for kids to learn!

2.)    Choose your time carefully.
We all know that certain times of the day are like wasted, black holes.  Settling in from recess? Stinky, sweaty time suck.  Coming in from lunch? Noisy, loud and often drama filled in the upper grades. Packing up at the end of the day?  Book bag and paper chaos! Schedule your read aloud during these times to force students to settle down and listen carefully. This is a great “transition” activity for students.  It is also a motivator- most kids LOVE being read to will hurry to get to the next chapter. 

3.)    Model, model, model.
Reading aloud is the perfect time for modeling fluency and sneaking in a think aloud. Change your voice to match the characters, lower your voice during serious moments, and watch your kids get sucked in.

This is a perfect opportunity for students to discuss and debate with higher level text.  Many student’s listen comprehension is WELL above their own reading comprehension.  Capitalize on this! Have students explain their thinking and predict what they think will happen next.  I don’t know about you, but I love to talk about a good book with my girlfriends! Encourage your kids to do so, too!

4.)    Let it be the "gateway drug."
You know, a happy, not-illegal, gateway to fun times and learning. Find a fantastic series you know your kids would love?  Read the first one, and watch your kids get hooked! This is especially a great practice at the beginning of the year.  First of all, most students don’t have a long attention span. You will want to choose shorter books – and many of these they can read on their own. Secondly, it gives kids a “bank” of desirable books for their book boxes.

5.)    Use it to maximize your reading mini lesson.
Consider using your reading aloud time to read aloud the mentor text for your reading mini lesson.  This can keep your mini lessons, well, mini while still using authentic text. This can be especially effective strategy if you are “between” chapter book for your read aloud, and aren’t ready to start a new one.

Looking for some suggestions for read alouds?  Check these out!

Does that sound about right?  How do you get the most out of your read aloud?

I hope this post gave you some awesome new pages to follow!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!


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