Primary Chalkboard

Interactive Edits: Tips for Teaching Grammar and Mechanics

Hello again friends!

This is Jen from Out of This World Literacy.  I am excited to share my latest thinking about interactive edits.  In the past, I have used D.O.L. (Daily Oral Language) worksheets in my classroom in the hopes that my students would correct all the mistakes in poorly written sentences.  I hoped, that by knowing how to correct numerous errors in poorly written sentences, they would be able to write correctly themselves.

My thinking completely shifted when I learned about Jeff Anderson and his idea of showing students well written sentences, rather than putting poorly written sentences in front of them.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear Mr. Anderson speak, TAKE IT!  He is phenomenal...and highly entertaining I might add.

Here he is explaining his thinking about inviting students to notice well written sentences:

     Asking students to notice what works well in a sentence, rather than to identify errors, helps students learn good grammar and mechanics.  When we practice finding mistakes, we only focus on mistakes.  When we practice finding what is good, we are focusing on what works well in sentences.  Since we want our students to write sentences full of strong grammar, mechanics, word choice, figurative language, etc., we will look at good quality sentences that model these traits.   

     After all, we don’t teach math by showing students how to find the wrong answers, or all the ways they could solve problems incorrectly.  We teach math by showing students many different ways to find the right answer.  Likewise, we rarely chose a poorly written book as a read-aloud.  And we certainly would not pick a lousy piece of work and use it for mentor text in writing.  We choose well-written work that models good writing.  Let’s do the same through interactive edit by choosing well-written sentences that give students the opportunity to notice what makes a great sentence!
    Here is a short video of our home school classroom, where my daughter Sophie helps us notice what works in a great sentence! 

    Thank you all so much for reading!  I hope you are able to learn as much from Mr. Anderson as I have!!
Best Wishes!

Keeping In Touch With Parents - 2 Easy Ways!

Hi everyone,

This is Valerie from All Students Can Shine.
I'm here to show you 2 amazing online resources that I use to communicate with parents during the year. When it comes to our students' parents, communication is key! The more you stay in contact with them, the better your relationship will be. That being said, I make sure to stay on contact with my parents regularly by sending them pictures (what parent doesn't like seeing pictures of their kids!) and sending them text messages on a regular basis. 

Let's take a look at the pictures first. 

I use a share site called Shutterfly. This website is completely FREE and EASY to use. You can create your own classroom share site in a matter of minutes!

Once your share site it up and running, you can start inviting parents to join the group. Your share site is password protected, which means that only those who are added by you can access it and view the pictures. 
My students' parents really appreciate this feature, for obvious reasons!

There are many different options on the share site. You can add your class list, schedule, your volunteer list, field trip information, etc. The best part is the pictures and videos section! You can easily upload pictures and videos in a matter of seconds. My students' parents really seemed to enjoy it last year. They left comments on their kids' pictures, just like they would on Facebook. It was lots of fun!

This is what the page looks like, before you add any information to it. Parents will only see the items that you add, just like a regular blog. 

Another AWESOME feature is the printing! Parents can view their child's pictures and order prints. How amazing is that?

You can sign up for Shutterfly HERE.

The other way that I stay in touch with parents is by text messaging. No, I do not share my personal phone number with everyone. Instead, I use REMIND. It is a fabulous way to send quick messages to everyone all at once! 
The best part? It is EASY and FREE!

Remind doesn't only work on your phone. They have a great app for phones, but you can also use it on the computer and send your messages from the website. 

There are SO many different ways to use Remind. I use it mostly to remind parents of upcoming events, such as picture day or field trips. I also like to let them know when we do something special in class. This way, they can ask their kids about it at dinner time. They like to get a heads up so they can have a conversation about it that night. For example, in a few weeks I will be sending a message like this one: "Hello parents! Want to know if a pumpkin sinks or floats? Ask your child tonight and you will find out!"
It's just a quick and fun way to get parents involved in their child's school life :)

Here is a list of 25 ways you can use Remind with your class:

Remind has just launched their new stamps feature. you can read all about HERE
You can also get ideas for using this tool effectively on their blog
They post regularly and give really great tips!

How do you stay in touch with your students' parents?
We'd love to hear your ideas so please leave us a comment below!

Later gators,

Parent Conference Tips

Hi y'all! This is Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac
Most of us became teachers so that we could work with children. We perform in front of large groups daily, but get sweaty palms when we have to speak in front of people over the age of 12.  

Parent conference time can be really stressful as we attempt to communicate with other adults and not look like idiots. This is particularily true for beginning teachers. Now in year 5, I am still barely comfortable in conferences. However, I've learned a few tricks along the way to help things go more smoothly. 

 Sign Up Genius is a totally free site that I use to organize parent conferences, as well as volunteers and sometimes school meetings. 

I have learned that it is important to make notes ahead of time for every single student. I use the plus/delta system, nothing fancy. This helps me maintain control of the direction of the conversation for those tricky conferences. It also helps to honor to the time of everyone attending, no random tangents for this girl.

One of the most difficult parts of conferences is having parents say things you don't want to hear. As teachers we are constantly reflecting and beating ourselves up about how we can make things better for our students. We spend hours working on engaging lessons and the last thing we want to hear is how we can do more. In my case, my parents are being informed about my teaching methods by 7-8 year olds. This can be frustrating. In all tricky conversations with parents it is important to take a problem solving stance and at all cost avoid becoming defensive. Many times there is a root of truth to whatever the parent is sharing with you. Even if the problem is that the parent is overreacting, it is your job to diffuse the situation as much as you can rather than making it worse with defensive statements. 

You can download some helpful Parent Conference Printables here.

Teacher Free For All

Here at the Primary Chalkboard we want to be helpful. That’s just who we are. In the midst of creating for our students and selling on TpT, we often offer up amazing freebies.  Just in case you missed some of our freebies for September we are bringing them together here!
September   Below are linked freebies. Some are downloads on Google Docs that can be found on our blogs and some are downloadable from TpT.  
Simply click the pictures below.
aa bb cc dd ee ff gg  hh ii jj kk
Enjoy and be sure to leave love through comments, feedback, and/or  follows if you download.
If you want a
30 more freebies
click my button below and go to the September Free For All post.

Fall into Reading!!

Head on over to my blog to check out my favorite fall books, and read about the activities that I do with my class, Also check out my fall themed reading comprehension packet. Your class will love it! They are great for close reading!

The Steps in a Guided Reading Lesson

Hello Chalkie Friends!!

My name is Jen Bengel from Out of This World Literacy. 

I am so stinking excited for my first official post as a blogging member of The Primary Chalkboard!!

Just a little about me:    

1. I have taught for 10 years: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, literacy coach, and now a full-time home school mama!

2. I am currently in Uganda with my entire family preparing to adopt our 4th child!

3. I LOVE the beach, running, reading, and being silly :)

I look forward to sharing lots of teaching ideas with y'all!

So, let's get started!!

It is getting to be that time in the school year again where many of us are finishing assessing students and are ready to pull small groups for guided reading instruction. 

If you are like me, you may struggle with exactly what is the best way to use this important time with students.  Over the years, I have tried so many different approaches, using a variety of note taking forms and lesson plan formats. 

I have found that there are 6 steps that have worked best for me to follow a successful guided reading instruction, regardless of the students’ instructional levels.

Step 1: Introduction (2-3 minutes)

Step 2: Reading the Text (10 minutes)

Step 3: Talking About the Text (5 minutes)

Step 4; Teaching Objective (5 minutes)

Step 5: Word Work (3-4 minutes)

Step 6: Assessment Assignment (Optional and completed independently)

To read more details about the 6 steps in a guided reading lesson that I follow, simply click here to read them on my teaching blog.

Best of luck to you all who are just getting your guided reading groups going.  They are such a great way to differentiate instruction and reach students where they are so that we can move them forward in their learning!!

Jen Bengel

Donors Choose... Choose YES

Hola, peeps!  Stacy here visiting from over at Funky Fresh Firsties with a quick post about Donors Choose.  Please tell me that you do Donors Choose projects in your classroom!  {pretty please}  If you said yes, congrats and you probably already know what great things can happen in your classroom b/c of the generosity of complete strangers!  If you haven't started yet...  out of fear of not knowing what to do, or what to ask for... or fear of how much time it will take...  well, have NO fear!  One of the first things I put in my store when I started this journey 2 years ago was a quick start guide to Donors Choose.  You can find it by clicking the picture below.
I hope that it will answer any questions you have, give you some pointers on getting funded quickly, and qualm any fears you might have.  Please feel free to stop by my Facebook page for more freebies, teacher humor, and ideas for primary teachers!  Hope y'all will have a great LONG holiday weekend!