Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Water" You Writing? And a Year of First Grade Word Work

Hello Everyone!
I truly can't even believe that it has been so long since my last post!  I am sooooo sorry! It just seems as if I have been barely staying afloat this year.  We have had some huge events going on, both at school and on the home/personal front.  
My goal for today is to fill you in on what we've been doing in writing and in word work. I writing we are working hard on expressing ourselves in small moments.  This year I wanted to use the well documented "Watermelon vs Seed" analogy for focusing on small moments.  In the past I've used "Catch a Small Moment" and a "Pea" idea.  But I know that the upper grades use the watermelon idea, so, alas!  Here I go as well!  
I started off reading Watermelon Party which is a fun little example of small moments, and of course, it's about a watermelon!

 Then we talked about the difference between a watermelon story and a seed story. We sorted some cards on an anchor chart.

I showed the kids how I would make the difference in my writing by finding the seed stories in my watermelon story.

 And they got busy with theirs!

We put the seed ideas up to help remind ourselves of the seeds!!!

Here are a few pics of what is included in my "Water" You Writing?" ultra mini unit.

I have already seen a difference in my kids' writing!!  Our small moments are growing into amazing stories!!

Next up?  Word Work! I get a ton of e-mail asking what I do for Word Work/ Spelling with my first graders.
Here you go!
The unit I'm sharing includes the reasoning behind our word work or spelling practice. We tend to use a Scientific Spelling type influence to our spelling practice. It is a curricular idea that teaches students to spell words they do not know by using reliable patterns and rules of the English language.
We believe spelling instruction should be ongoing, daily, and purposeful.  Instruction should be interrelated and interconnected with all strands of language.  The primary focus of instruction should be on teaching a variety of effective spelling strategies, rather than on just memorizing lists of words.  Students must be given opportunities to work with words, to proofread their own writing, and to study spelling patterns.  The key to spelling development is the understanding and application of spelling strategies that enable students to become independent and competent spellers.
In first grade we focus on one scientific rule at a time along with some high frequency words. This unit give some ideas for sequencing, brainstorming, activities, and ways to check student mastery throughout the first grade year.

A Sample of our Brainstorming sheet

This 190+ page unit could keep you on track for the entire first grade year. We start during the 4th week of school after reviewing letters and sounds, vowels and consonants, abc order, word wall, high frequency words from kinder, etc.
Kids take home their brainstorming sheet, generate more words for "homework" with parents. We take a "spell check" on Fridays, and allow kids to write words from the list we generated or words they came up with!  They love our Spell Check time!  All spell Check sheets are kept in a folder so we can watch growth and progress. I love how we allow differentiation, and self selected words.  We of course, also watch for use of the spelling rules to show up in their written expression. That's when we really smile!!
If you are at all interested in trying what we have developed for word work/spelling...good news! I have the link below! I am happy to share my recipe for success in spelling.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask away! Email or comment.

Well, thanks for hanging in there through all of this and for being patient with me! You all are the best!  I hope you are off to a great start this year.  If I can help with anything, please let me know!! I love hearing
 from you!
Nancy VandenBerge


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