Entries from March 2008 ↓
March 17th, 2008 — Teaching Writing, Writing Games & Activities
Want to add a little fun to your younger students’ school day? Give your daughter a princess wand and your son a wooden sword. What? You’re not studying medieval history? That’s OK, because I’m talking about using these, and other amusing objects, for teaching reading and writing!
Pointers are fun and educational. They help children track words better, strengthening reading and writing skills. Gather or make a collection of pointers and keep them in a jar or can in your school area.
Just about any long, thin implement makes a fabulous pointer that you can use to enhance your teaching time. Practical pointers include a ruler, or other object readily available around the house. For more whimsical pointers, consider the wand or sword as well as funky knitting needles, fancy chopsticks, wooden spoons painted with faces, or dowels with unusual pencil-toppers glued to one end. And check out your local dollar store to see what you can find. After all, you’re bound only by your imagination! Have another idea for a fun pointer? Feel free to comment.
Let your kindergartner, first, or second grader choose a pointer from the jar. With her pointer, she can “read the room” by pointing to print that is familiar to her:
- Alphabet chart
- Calendar (month, days of the week, numbers)
- Familiar words on posters, wall charts, book covers, and boxes
More Ways to Use Pointers
- Letter Hunt. Ask your child to search out and point to all the Aa’s or Mm’s or Rr’s he can find around the room.
- I Spy. Go to a room where words are visibly displayed on books, magazines, games, cans, boxes, or wall art. Say, “I spy five vowels,” “I spy an upper-case D,” or “I spy three nouns,” and let your child search and point.
- Tracking. When working on writing with your young student, write on a white board or large sheet of chart paper. Help your child use a pointer to track words in a sentence as you read them aloud together.
- Elements of a sentence or paragraph. According to her skill level, ask your child to use her pointer to identify ending punctuation, capital letters at the beginning of a sentence, or paragraph indentation. Again, writing on the white board or large sheet of paper makes it easier for the child to track writing and use the pointer.
If pointers and other engaging, hands-on activities appeal to you, you’ll find these and many more practical ideas within the lessons of WriteShop Primary.
March 13th, 2008 — Uncategorized
In my blog on Monday, I noted that occasionally we read about WriteShop users who skip the paired adjective instruction, complaining that it teaches stilted and unnatural writing. I find it rather amusing, because once you start looking for them, you discover paired adjective sentence starters popping up everywhere, from cookbooks and novels to signs and newspaper articles.
When they’re used in moderation, I love paired adjectives! They’re just one way a student can infuse some life into a piece of writing by mixing up and varying sentence structure.
Paired Adjectives in the Real World
Anyway, as I promised on Monday, I thought it might be fun to start posting some of my paired adjective sightings now and then, starting with an exhibit plaque I photographed a couple of years ago at the San Diego Museum of Natural History. Continue reading →
March 12th, 2008 — High school, Resources & Links, Reviews, Teaching Writing
Did you know historical fiction is growing on your family tree?
Every young writer of historical fiction has plenty of inspiration just waiting to be plucked from his or her family tree. Family Tree enables students to harvest this vast crop by producing short (or long!) stories that are not only thoroughly researched and well-written, but heirlooms to be treasured by your family for generations to come. Continue reading →
March 11th, 2008 — Editing & Revising, Resources & Links
WriteShop I and II include lesson-specific checklists for both student and parent/teacher. But even the most ideal checklist or rubric can become a mindless exercise in marking off boxes and saying, “Done!” with very little thought invested.
I came across a small but mighty web page at Literacy Education Online (LEO). It offers simple strategies for editing and proofreading a paper, and will make your composition checklists all the more effective. Give it a try!
LEO Strategies for Editing and Proofreading
March 10th, 2008 — Teaching Writing
Eye-catching and effective, paired adjectives make a colorful splash in the sea of prose. From turn-of-the-century literature to modern Bible translations, and from New York Times bestsellers to Newsweek magazine, they have proven themselves a valuable addition to the category of sentence variations. Paired adjectives have even found their way into such unlikely settings as marketing displays and museum plaques. Why? Because this dynamic sentence opener is both unusual and catchy, grabbing the reader’s attention. Continue reading →
March 8th, 2008 — Teaching Writing
A WRITER’S ALPHABET
Accept feedback and suggestions
Brainstorm to get my ideas on paper
Create word pictures
Develop my narrative voices
Edit my writing
Give my writing the time it deserves
Hone in on details
Imagine the possibilities
Jot down ideas and keep a journal
Keep my writing concise and concrete
Learn from the examples of professional authors
Master new writing skills
Narrow my topic
Outline and organize my thoughts and ideas
Publish some of my favorite pieces
Revise and rewrite my rough drafts
Stretch my imagination
Take pride in my work
Use a thesaurus, dictionary, and grammar book
Value the opinion of others
Write from personal experience and observation
Yearn to improve
Zero in on each step of the writing process.
Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
March 7th, 2008 — Encouragement, Teaching Writing
I’m sorry. I’ve been procrastinating. I have put off telling you that March 3-9 marks National Procrastination Week 2008, and with only two days left, you almost missed it. I thought about waiting till next week to tell you about it, but…
[Wait, you say. Isn't this blog devoted to writing? Please bear with me. Today's post really does pertain to teaching writing, and it will address the procrastinators masquerading about as your children!]
National Procrastination Week. I’m sure this is the procrastinator’s equivalent to New Year’s Day. You didn’t get around to making resolutions on January 1, so now, before the year runs away with all your good intentions, you have a whole WEEK to resolve: I WILL knock the cobwebs off the ceiling. I WILL vacuum under the beds. I WILL do some lesson planning. Continue reading →
March 5th, 2008 — Uncategorized
It’s rather exciting around here as WriteShop Primary Book A comes into the final stretch! Sallie, our editor, has put her stamp of approval on our last few lessons. Meanwhile, our graphic designer, David, continues adding finishing touches to the cover and page layouts. Soon you’ll get a chance to see some of the cover designs and vote for your favorite! Continue reading →
March 4th, 2008 — Editing & Revising, High school, Teaching Writing
I’m sure it’s no secret that your kids don’t like to edit their compositions. Unfortunately, by not editing their own papers thoroughly, they place themselves in a “Catch-22″ position; that is, though too lazy to edit their own work carefully, they fall apart when they see all the changes you suggest! Sound familiar?
This is how they think:
I don’t like editing. It takes too much time. Besides, I like my paper just the way it is. It sounds good to me. Anyway, if I don’t proofread, Mom will find my mistakes. Why go to all that time and trouble to find mistakes and (perish the thought!) correct them when someone else will do it for me?
However, when their parent-edited composition comes back, they sing a different tune! Continue reading →
March 3rd, 2008 — High school, Writing Games & Activities
Last week I taught you to play Boardless Scrabble as a way to build spelling and vocabulary skills while having a blast with your family. Here’s another great pre-writing activity that uses a thesaurus to help strengthen vocabulary choices. Continue reading →