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Journal Writing 2: Group Journals

Today I'm talking about journals with a twist - group journals.  Lots of people also refer to them as shared journals or whole class journals.  I've used them in my class once before and they worked great!  I don't mark these journals at all, they are just for the love of writing and sharing that with others in the class.  

I find that group journals are an excellent way for students to be inspired by classmates.  The entire journal is filled with others stories about the same topic, so the ideas are endless.  It's great because they have a built in word bank in others' stories.

 Before you can introduce group journals to your class, you need to create some. These are the journal covers I will be using next year.  I like these, because they are cute (which, clearly is a priority!) and the file is editable.

There are 10 themes in this package, so you would have enough for 10 students to be writing at once with no duplicates.  I use group journals during my stations time.  I try to not have more than 6 kids per group in my stations.  This means I have enough for everyone, and some choice.  They can also do group journals 10 times without any repeated topics.

Introducing the journals is next.  Like I said above, I used group journals during my stations time.  If you do Daily 5, use them during "Work on Writing".  If you don't do small groups, well, make enough for everyone to have one and do them whole class.  They are really adaptable.

I set some limitations on reading time.  The focus is writing, after all.  I do let the students read one or two previous entries before they write, but they need to be writing after the first five minutes or so.  To remedy this, I allow students to read group journals during quiet reading time.  That way, they have plenty of time to read the work of others!

As for specific criteria, it is similar to my independent journals, and I'll be writing about that in my next (and last) journal post.  You can read about that there, or use what you're already comfortable with.

Step three is writing!   Enjoy the detailed and descriptive stories your children will share!

As always, if you have questions - let me know in the comments! 

Be sure to read these posts as well!

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Journal Writing 1: Prompts

Do your students have a journal?  Mine do!  It's such a great tool and can be used in so many ways.  We might be journaling about a specific topic (a prompt, which I'm focusing this post on, or an integration with Science or Social Studies) or a free write (which are always so fun to read).  Sometimes we correct the work, sometimes we don't. Students are building both their focus and skill when writing in journals.   We don't write in them every day, but at least weekly.

This is the first of three blog posts about journals and it's all about writing prompts.  Check the bottom of this post for links to the other two.

Step 1: Connecting to Prior Knowledge

When I give my class a writing prompt, there is a structure typical of the lesson.  First, I have them do some sort of connecting to what they already know.  This could be asking a question, reading a picture book, "think of a time" activity.... there are so many options.  The point is a quick (5ish minutes) activity that gets their minds going in the right direction.

Step 2: Reveal the Prompt

Next, I will reveal the writing prompt.  If it's a picture, like I'm talking about today, I'll project it nice and large under the document camera.  I give my students some talking time with a partner or in small groups.  This is the time where anything goes and I want a free share of ideas.  There are so many possibilities for each picture prompt!

 Step 3: Draw and Talk Time

If my prompt is a word, or a question, I'll write it on the board and do the same thing.  However, I'll try to add in a bit more time so students have an opportunity to draw (quick sketch) out their visualizations.  Giving talking and drawing time helps students process their thoughts before they write, which tends to lead to more organized writing.

Before we write, I ask the class to brainstorm any words they think they might use.  I ask students to give the words to me "Popcorn Style", which is where they can shout out, but need to still be respectful of others talking.  So, I don't call on raised hands, but it's not a chaos of voices either.  I add them to the whiteboard as quickly as they can throw them out.  We now have a personalized word wall for the topic.

Step 4: Brain Break!

We do a quick brain break to get the jitters out.  You want those kids focused on their writing, not the fact that their bum is falling asleep in those terrible school chairs!

Step 5: Independent Writing

Writing time is silent in my room.  We have done our sharing and talking, now I'm interested in just their thoughts, on their page.  Just like building reading stamina, you need to build writing stamina.  At the beginning of the year, a journal write may be 10 or 15 minutes.  By the end of the year, it could be nearly 45 minutes before someone says anything.  Also, you can always tell how interesting the topic is by how long they stay silent!

Here are a few writing prompt pictures I've used in the past. 

Okay, so you are now ready to give your students a journal writing task!  Questions?  Feel free to ask in the comments. 

Be sure to read these posts as well!
Journal Writing: Group Journals
Journal Writing: Editing and Criteria

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Schedule Cards

I've blogged about my chalkboard themed products several times before.  You can see all those posts here.  Today, I'm focusing on my Schedule Cards.  These have recently gone through a huge overhaul and there are now 141 cards in the file!!!  Wow, that's a lot of events to happen in your classroom!

I'll be honest, several of them are variations of the same thing to fit the way you like to talk about it (word work vs. spelling, for example).  But, if you purchase this file and something is missing, I will add it in for you!  You just need to ask.


These products are used in my friend Crystal's classroom.  This photo is of the schedule cards set up for the first day of school, which is really just an hour and a half long for us.  If you look in the image at the top of this blog post, these cards can be easily jazzed up to match your theme by matting in brightly coloured paper. If you want, you can print out the clock pieces, laminate, and use a whiteboard pen to customize your schedule even more. This makes a great visual for the kiddos.

So, what's included in this 141 card package?  I've tried to group the items by subject/activity for easier printing, though there are a few out of order.  Here you go:

- Attendance
- Assembly
- Circle Talk
- Greeting
- Class Meeting
- P.M. Pow Wow
- Morning Meeting
- First Thing
- Bell Work
- Circle Time
- Calendar
- Story Time
- Language Arts
- Independent Reading
- Daily 5
- Cursive
- Accelerated Reading
- Guided Spelling
- Spelling City
- Junior Achievement
- Guided Reading
- Silent Reading
- Making Meaning
- Success Maker
- Vocabulary
- Back & Forth
- Planner
- Quiet Reading
- D.E.A.R
- Reading
- Stations
- Centers
- Centres
- Read Aloud
- Big Books
- Read to Self
- Read to Someone
- Listen to Reading
- Work on Writing
- Write the Room
- Word Search
- Writing
- Writers Workshop
- Spelling
- Spelling Test
- Words Their Way
- Word Work
- Making Words
- Work Job
- Literature Circles
- Readers Workshop
- Spanish
- French
- Math
- Daily Math
- Math Facts
- IXL Math
- Mad Minute
- Interactive Notebooks
- Math Stations
- Guided Math
- Math Toolkits
- Math Meeting
- Test
- Science
- Science Fair
- Science Lab
- Chemistry
- Biology
- Geology
- Social Studies
- History
- U.S. History
- Health & Career
- Health
- C.A.P.P.
- Personal Planning
- Social Skills
- F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
- Journal
- Quiet Time
- Bathroom
- Table Toys
- Cooking
- Foods
- Computers
- IPads
- Fine Arts
- Music
- Drama
- Visual Art
- Art
- Painting
- Free Time
- Counsellor
- Counselor
- Second Step
- Soccer
- Baseball
- P.E.
- Gym
- Lunch
- Library
- Reward
- Brownie Points
- Town Library
- Field Trip
- Recess
- Buddies
- Snack
- Snack Group 1
- Snack Group 2
- Study Hall
- Special Event
- Agenda
- Noisy Reading
- Speech
- Bus
- Clean Up
- Pack & Stack
- Home
- Reading Groups
- Math Groups
- Break
- Pack & Stay
- Jog-a-thon
- Party
- Walkthrough
- Mini Lesson
- Mini-Lesson
- Small Group
- Large Group
- Revise/Edit
- Project
- Project Work
- Research
- S.T.E.M.
- S.T.E.A.M.
- The Pledge

Whew!  What a long list! Told you there was something for everyone.  And, if there isn't what you need - these schedule cards are fully editable too! If you're interested, click on any of the pictures or right here.


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The Golden Rules of the Scientific Method

If you read my blog frequently, you know I love science.  So, when this item was requested, I couldn't resist.  What a fun, unique way to teach the scientific method!


Essentially, there are 10 Golden Rules of the Scientific Method.  I've added each of these to it's own page.  The plan is to print them, cut them out and put on a bulletin board.  They are smaller than an 8x11 page.... probably more like 6x9.  These would be perfect for a class anywhere from grade 6-12 doing a science fair project or independent science research of any kind.
Click to go to TpT.

Looking to build your Science resources? Need a low-prep blackline for lab reports? Want a thorough way to assess student knowledge and skills? Get your copy of my two-page lab report and assessment rubric today. These resources will help to make your Science lessons a breeze from start to finish!


I'm Allergic!

No, not me.  I'm not allergic.  But some students in your class/school surely have allergies!  These two files were started when I was thinking about my new school one day.  There is a teacher in our school who has a severe scent allergy.  That got me thinking about students who have had allergies in my class in the past.  I've been lucky, and haven't had anyone who required an EpiPen or something similar.  I know there are a lot of kids out there though!

Like I said, this inspired me to create my "I'm Allergic" posters.  There are 6 different allergies featured: 
- Nuts
- Eggs
- Dairy
- Gluten
- Scent
- Latex


I decided to stick with my popular chalkboard theme, and the bright theme, which I use in my room.
The files come with 18 pages though, because there are different image and text choices.  Your text choices say:
- STOP! There are one or more children in this classroom with a *** allergy.
- STOP! This is a *** free classroom. 


Don't forget - everything in my TpT store is on sale for 20% off today for the Back to School Sale!

Stains Tell the Story


I love this lesson!  I've used it in my class a few times, and I'm so happy I finally got my act together to put it in a presentable format.  Seriously!  Look at how I've used it for the last two years:

That's right, I used this random scrap of paper and a few pictures saved on my computer for two whole years.

Now, that might work for me, but I couldn't pass it on that way!  It's been put into a pdf file complete with detailed lesson plan (no scribbles for you!) and pictures with titles and attractive borders.  

This package includes:
- the lesson plan
- character examples (from movies and books students know)
- a group activity
- individual task with student planning sheet

Click to go to TpT.

With this lesson, you'll guide your students through the process of planning a character BEFORE they write.  They will think critically about the details of their main character's outfit: what are they wearing, why are they wearing it and what does it look like.  The primary focus is on the character's t-shirt.

Kids love to invent reasons for stains, rips and tears.  They are so creative and the results are always great.

Helping to inspire,

Chalkboard Themed Products

I mentioned a while back that I was updating some files on TpT. I focused primarily on some typos and adding a copyright page to my chalkboard mega bundle.  My chalkboard files seem to be my most popular files on Pinterest, with lots of purchases weekly.  As we get closer to school starting up, (fairly soon for you American teachers) I thought I would share this once again. 
I originally created these files for my friend Crystal's classroom.  Her room is entirely chalkboard themed.  It all started with her getting a new room that had chalkboards instead of whiteboards.  Work with what you've got, right?  I've blogged about her classroom reveal last year, which you can find here.  Today, I'm sharing 3 photos from that same reveal that didn't make it in that post.  These 3 photos focus specifically on items I've made for her room.
 These are some items from my Schedule Cards file.  I've recently added A LOT more cards to this file.  Here it was all set up for the first day of school, which is really just an hour and a half long in our district.
 These two posters go hand in hand with our beginning of the year lessons about what it looks like to be a speaker and listener in our classrooms.  I've the same posters edited to fit my theme.  They stay up all year to serve as a reminder as we speak and listen all day, every day!
Literacy and Math Centre headings are up and ready for introduction lessons in this picture.  You can get my Literacy Centres here and the Math ones here.

Of course, you could always grab the entire bundle if you prefer.  These files would cost over $30 if purchased individually. But, you can buy them bundled for $22! More than 100 pages of chalkboard themed items to print and use! *Please note, these pdf files are downloaded in one zip file.

It contains the following files:
Reading Strategies Board (CAFE inspired)
Classroom Schedule Cards
Good Writing Poster (6 Traits inspired)
Literacy Centre Cards (Daily 5 inspired)
Literature Circle Resources
Math Centre Cards
Math Numbers to 20 Tens Frames
Reward Coupons
Speaking and Listening Posters
I'm Allergic Posters