Sharing my LOVE of Literacy!

If you can read this, thank a teacher !!

August 30, 2009

Poetry Fun !

Teaching poetic devices to students can be a challenge, but I try to make it as fun as possible. There are a lot of different ways to enhance poetry lessons!

Three I love to teach are:

alliteration: same repeating consonant sound at the beginning of a group of word (for example

onomatopoeia: a word that imitates the sound it represents (for example: kerplunk)

simile: a figure of speech using 'like' or 'as' in a sentence to compare to unlike things

Poetry Lesson:
Choose one or all of the poetic devices describe above to teach.

Watch this video below a few times.

Have the students listen for and write down the examples of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and/or simile. Share and discuss.

Now have students practice making their own examples.

Next, have them write them on colorful paper for a bulletin board about poetic devices or have your students use their example to write a poem.

One fun idea is to return to the video. Have kidos choose their favorite color from the video and write their own color poem.

Do not forget to have a whole group share!

Happy Poetry Writing!

August 29, 2009

Back to School Read Alouds

Here are my three favorite books I have read aloud on the first day of school. I also included the writing activity I have use with each story. All these books can be used in Grades 3 - 5!

A Fine Fine School by Sharon Creech is a humorous story about a girl who loves school, but then the principal wants the students to come to school more and more. They have to go on the weekends, holidays, and during the summer. Someone has to tell the principal this is just too much school!

After this read aloud, on chart paper, we make a list of reasons why our school is a fine, fine school. Then students write a poem or short paragraph about why they think their school is a "fine, fine school." They publish their writing on paper of a school house I have reproduced. I then hang them outside the classroom for open house.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is the story about a name.
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is perfect until the first day of kindergarten when her classmates laugh at her name. I read this book aloud to talk about feelings and self esteem. As a class we make a T-chart and list how the characters try to make Chrysantemum feel better about her name and how they hurt her feelings. After a class discussion about how we should treat our classmates, I have the class write an acrostic poem using their name. I post them in a bulletin board that I keep up the whole year called, " What's In A Name?"

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a book about how the main character, Sarah, does not want to go to school. It tells the story how her first day jitters as she imagines how the day may go wrong. A cute story with a surprise ending. (This is my personal favorite!)

I read this book usually first thing in the morning. We talk about the surprise ending and share how each one of us felt last night and this morning before we arrived at school. I then have my students write a paragraph about their "first day jitters."

Happy First Day of School!

August 26, 2009

Can Writing be Fun ???

When it is time to write in school or at home, a lot of kids bring out their avoidance behaviors.

I know that with all those state writing tests, teachers feel the have to teach to the writing test, but when writing is presented in a fun and personal way, students will learn those tricks they need when that BIG SCARY STATE TEST arrives!

One of the best authentic writing pieces I ever had my students produce was when we returned from a field trip or a school event (i.e. concert, presentation, play). This is where you tap into their writing. Kids love to share what they like and dislike!


1. As soon as you return, begin a writing session.
2. Give them a few quick directions for their writing.
3. Then let them "quick write."
4. End this writing session with a whole group sharing! Tell the kidos they will return to this writing tomorrow.

Day Two

1. Give students specific directions. (Maybe those things you"need" to cover for that state test).
*** Sometimes I use my own quick write here and model my expectations for their edits.
2. Have students elaborate on their quick write. Add more details, make the writing flow in a logical manner, add a closing thought.
3. Have another sharing session. This can be done with a partner, small group or whole group!

See how their passion for something improves their writing skills!

Happy writing!

August 18, 2009

Today's Tutoring Tip !

Here is my latest tutoring tip: Reading Games Rock!

Yes, I have said this once before, but it really motivates a struggling reader and gives them confidence.

The Game: Making Words

Materials: "word mats" (I used blue paper, decorated them and laminated them) di Scrabble letters in a bucket paper or a white board & dry erase marker to keep score


1. Roll the di ( If you have older kids with a high reading level, you can use two dice).

2. If the player rolls a 1 the player loses a turn.

3. For a roll of 2 to 6, you will take that number of scrabble letters from the bucket without looking!

4. On the word mat, the player will try to make a word with the letters pulled from the bucket. For ex: Roll a 5 and choose the letters: k e y c a You can spell cake

5. Use the points on the scrabble letters to get your score.

6. Place the letters back into the bucket.

7. The next player begins. 8. Take turns until a player reaches 30 points and wins. (This point value can be higher for older readers).

Have fun! Happy word making!

August 13, 2009

Reading Incentive!

Here is one way to encourage your students (and kids at home) to read more.

First, I believe that reading is reading, so this can be adapted to those kids who love comic books, graphic novels, or children's magazines!

I am starting a new reading incentive with the child I tutor! Here is how it will work:

1. Have the child choose a book she wants to read!

2. We will read this book together. (I tutor in reading, so I want to make sure the comprehension is there when we read).

3. Once the book is finished, I will ask comprehension questions as well as if the book was enjoyable. Sample questions will be:

1. Tell me about the main character.
2. What happens in the story? (or chapter)
3. How did you feel about the ending?
4. What would you have done if you were in the character's shoes?
5. What was your favorite part? Why?
6. Did you have any connections while reading the story?

4. For every book we read, I am going to give out a "BOOK BUCK"

5. Once the predetermined amount is earned, she can use her book bucks to buy a prize.

FYI: In the classroom, this could come from a prize box or a free book from Scholastic book clubs. Because I am going to do this with the child I tutor, I am going to have her earning a specific prize. (For example, I know she wants glitter pens, so that will be her first prize.)

Happy Reading Everyone!