Monday, December 8, 2014

Writing Station with the Daily 5

This past October my team went to an amazing Daily 5 conference by The Sisters. It completely changed the way I ran my literacy block. I've been so excited to implement each one of the five elements, but I'm not rushing it. I'm really allowing time for my students to "get" each part. The last element I have to bring in is Read with Someone. We'll be starting that one next week. I just wanted to share some of the things I've been doing that have really worked and the kids are excited about. One of the first lessons was to teach the kids how to find a "just right" book. This took a few days and I'm still assigning a parent to go "book shopping" with the kids to make sure they now how to pick a book that fits them. 
The first element I introduced was Read to Self. I wanted to make it FUN and something they would look forward to doing. Now that I have more than 30 little ones in my class, I had to get rid of my bean bags and comfy chairs in the library. Our space is just to limited. What I did pick up were five furry saucer chairs that fold and stack, so I can easily slide them under a desk.
I've seen them at Target and on Amazon. I also picked up four giant clear tubs and oversized pillows. Big pillows can be pricey, so I went to Big Lots and found these cute, soft ones for under $5 each.
I didn't have a selection to choose from, but I like what I ended up with. The kids cuddle up in these private cubbies and READ. It's awesome! They truly don't look up for 30 minutes. I don't know what it is about these cubbies that make them tune everything out, but it works.
Word Work is another favorite of theirs. I try and offer a few options each week. Mostly we work with our spelling words or other words that match the phonics skill we're working on. They love Rainbow Writing because I let them use markers which is a rare treat.
I got this freebie from Mel D over at Seusstastic. She also has amazing posts on how she runs Daily 5 in her classroom. If you are implementing the program or thinking about it, you must check her blog out.
Work on Writing was one that I was nervous about because this was an area they have the least amount of stamina. "I don't know what to write about" is a constant. I also wanted them to write in different forms (lists, directions, etc.). This led me to creating a station that provided them with a ton of options and prompts. I wanted it clear to understand, so they could pick their type of writing and get going quickly.

On my white board I provide examples of that months writing opportunities. They look to see what they would like to do (journal in their desks is always an option I give) and then go to the file box.
I helped them the first few times, but surprisingly they got the hang of it. This quickly became a crowd favorite. The wonderful thing was they were writing the entire time. Kids were writing stories I never thought would have picked that option. Lists, cards, super sentences were also very popular.
As time goes by, they venture into other options which I am loving. We are doing a lot with Olive the Other Reindeer, so I made a separate Book Study just for that book. It's not available in my writing station unit, but you can grab it here.
I also love that any of these options can be used as a whole class directed lesson. The writing station does not take the place of direct writing instruction. I do that at a separate time, but it does set them up so they can practice their writing for a length of time, much like you would have them do Silent Reading.

The sisters also talked about the importance of making your word wall interactive. A magnetic word wall seemed perfect for my classroom.
This magnetic word wall is part of my Writing Station. Check it out.
I have words based on theme, time of year, and units of study. Some words I keep up all year and others I change out monthly. I also added adjectives in a different font that are popular with my kids and will provide them with an opportunity to use richer vocabulary. The words based on theme is available in my writing station unit, but if you just need some more adjectives, you can grab this freebie here.

You can find all the above activities in my Writing Station unit found in my store at TpT. A couple of the fun Christmas crafts that we're doing is this triangle Christmas tree. I first give the kids nine triangles. I do not provide them with an example.
I just tell them to try and make a large Christmas tree with these nine triangles. It's fun to watch them move the pieces around to try and make a large triangle. Usually a few get it, but I have to start giving them hints by giving them the base row. I sometimes put this piece on top of our calendar that goes home, but this year we decorated the trees and I put them up on display.
On our door, we have all of Santa's helpers. I love using paint chip samples in our artwork and language arts. They are so versatile. I thought these came out cute.
The only problem I ran into was that kids couldn't decide on just one.
Enjoy these last few weeks before break!

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