Persuasive letters with rubric Freebie

In years past, to teach persuasive writing, I've had kids write letters to their parents trying to convince them to buy a pet. I'm thinking of doing this again within the next couple of weeks. I spruced up my worksheet with some frames and KPM doodles clip art. I thought I'd share it with you all.

To begin, I read this hilariously adorable book:

In this book a boy writes letters to his mom trying to convince her to get him an iguana. The mom writes back to him giving him reasons why he shouldn't. He keeps coming back with more reasons to convince her. It's perfect for introducing persuasive writing. 

I thought we'd use this to brainstorm ideas for our letter:

frames by That Girl and scrappincop

In the center, they will write the animal of their choice. Then they would answer the questions  in each box to get ideas for their letter. 

This version below is slightly different. The last box has a different question. I'm not sure which I want to use yet, so included both. 

Then, they'll write their letter: 

I made another version without the clipart for you all in case the page looked too "busy" (and there are two different choices for the title). 

I also made two writing rubrics to help with grading these persuasive letters. There are only two small differences between the two rubrics. One is traditional 6 writing traits and the other has a separate spelling section in place of word choice.  

I thought I'd share this with you all for free if you can use it! You can download this at my Teacher's Notebook Store or my TPT store. 

If you take this freebie and like it, please consider adding my shop to your favorites or being a shop following. Thanks! :)

Teaching Poetry

I finally did it. I dove head first into poetry this week. Confession time: I've always been totally intimidated by poetry. It goes way back to high school when we'd have to read a poem and discuss what it was "really about". I was so literal and had such a hard time with poetry. As a teacher, I just didn't know where to begin. But this year, I was inspired by all the fabulous bloggers out there talking about Poetry Month, and I decided I just needed to go for it. How can I teach my kids to take chances with their writing, if I'm not doing the same? After having some success with our Earth Day poems, I was feeling a little more confident. Here are a couple of things we did this week:

We made this poem as a class:

First, we brainstormed a list of spring words. 
(The butterfly was just a prop to get them excited about our class poem. It worked!)

Then, we used our colored sticky notes to think of an adjective and a verb for each of these spring words. I wrote all the ideas on the white board and then we voted for our finalists. 

Here's our final product again:
My first graders came up with all of the words so they felt ownership of this poem.  I know it's pretty basic, but it got my students feeling like they too could write poetry. They were excited about their finished product. 

Then my class really wanted to write a rhyming poem. They wanted to keep with the spring theme again. So we went for it and here's what we came up with:

Someone suggested the first line, "Spring is here." Then as a group, we brainstormed words that rhyme with here. Someone came up with cheer, so they started giving suggestions about how to use the word cheer at the end of the sentence. Then we decided to think of two nouns and add verbs with them for the next few lines, just to simplify our poem.  Plus, we thought it sounded good that way. :) We added the verbs to the nouns and tried to find rhymes to go with them. We ended up shuffling words around, based on which word was the easiest to find a rhyming pair. For example, we first had winds blow, water falls, but we had a hard time finding a rhyming word for falls that would fit into our poem. So we switched it because someone thought of winds blow for the next line. I love the last line. They worked hard to make that one work. This was such an interactive process and the kids really enjoyed it. They all felt like poets! 

So there you go! I hope this helps someone out there who was as intimidated to teach poetry as I was. It doesn't have to be perfect, just get those kids writing and playing with words. We had a great time! Even though April is over next week, I still want to try a few more poems. I'll keep you posted!

Super Sentences (with two freebies!)

I've been working on improving sentence structure and sentence fluency lately. I started by doing a bunch of mini lessons about complete vs. incomplete sentences. I'd write a sentence on the board and students would decide if it was complete. We'd look for the subject (who or what) and then see if the sentence includes a verb (what the subject did).

Here is an example of an assignment we would do to practice this skill:

frames by

UPDATE: I cleaned this page up a bit.

You can get this for free HERE.

After my students had a good understanding of complete vs. incomplete sentences, then we started talking about making sentences into super sentences. Now I'd ask, "Is it a sentence?" then add, "But is it a super sentence?"

Here's an example of an activity we did to change a sentence into a super sentences.

I wrote a very simple, but complete sentence. We found the subject (the cat), and what the cat did (jumped) to make sure it was a complete sentence. Then we worked on making it a super sentence.

I cut the sentence apart so each word was separated. Then I got out the sticky note sentence strips. As a group, we brainstormed words we could use to describe cat. Then we worked on a word that would describe how the cat jumped. (I love how a kid came up with instantly! I never would have come up with that one.) 
After we had the sentence "The fluffy cat instantly jumped." I talked about how we could stop there and we would have a good sentence. I don't want them to feel like every sentence needs to have that same structure (adding where, when, etc. to every sentence), but I do want them to get in the habit of expanding those sentences to add detail. 

In this case, they still wanted to do more though! I asked them to come up with ways to expand the sentence even more. They came up with the rest (where and why). 

The fluffy cat instantly jumped into the garbage can to chase a mouse.

My students had SO much fun with this activity. We've made several other sentences like this, and they are always excited to work together to make it super. Now they love to share with each other when they make their own sentences into super sentences. 

My students also make their own super sentences during centers. They use this sorting mat to help build their super sentence. 

Then they record it on their student sheet, like the one shown below.
clipart by scrappindoodles

I've created this forest-themed super sentence for you all. You can get this freebie HERE.
(updated 8/31/16)

I'd love to hear what you all do to improve students' sentences!


Some Exciting News and an Earth Day Freebie

I am beyond excited to be one of the new TBA authors. I've been a big fan for a while! I have to admit, I'm a little nervous. There are so many fantastic authors on TBA! It's such an honor to be a part of it.

To celebrate, I'm posting an Earth Day freebie to share with you all. I made three versions of this Read, Think, Match so hopefully one will fit the needs of your students.

This one is slightly easier:

I made this one for the kinders. It still may be a big challenging for most kinders, but maybe you could do it as a whole group activity.  

Come see some fabulous authors on TBA! 

Earth Day Poetry

Yesterday we did our first Earth Day project. We wrote poems about Earth, glued them to a paper plate, and painted the paper plate. 

Here's both sides.

First, we brainstormed words that relate to Earth. We wrote these words in a big picture of the Earth. Some words include water, land, birds, animals, plants, rain, vegetables, wind, clouds, rocks, mountains, trees, flowers, etc. 
Then we thought of adjectives and action words to go with those words (blowing wind, tall trees, flowing clear water, furry animals, growing vegetables, fluffy clouds...)

We used the lines similar to a Cinquain poem: 
1 word
2 words
3 words
4 words
1 word 
but didn't follow all the rules of a Cinquain poem. Since this was our first poem, I wanted to leave it open. So, our first and last word was Earth. Then they got to fill in the other words, using our Earth words as a guide. 
They painted one side like Earth and the other side just blue. Then they glued their poems to the blue side. 

We're a Catholic School, so we added Oh God, Thank you for our Earth at the top. Then their poems are beneath.

I love this one but poor kiddo wanted to paint a heart on it, then smeared it.  It's still a favorite!

This activity really got kids thinking about describing words. They got really into it, and then felt like such great poets! (which they are!)

I'll be hanging these which a string so they can look like spinning Earths.

Writing Rubric for the end of the year

Hi Everyone! I made a rubric for the Easter stories that we did last week, and decided to make a generic one as well so I could share it with you all.

We've been writing a lot of stories and working on including a beginning, middle and end. I have kiddos at all different stages (probably like you do). The parents at my school are so involved so I like to be very specific when I grade so I can communicate strengths and areas of growth. That's why I love rubrics! You don't have to write a ton to explain your grading.

This one has a small space for you to leave comments:
clip art by scrappin doodles and frames by That Girl

This one doesn't have a space for comments:

click on the picture to download

For me, the 2's are "just right" for first grade. The 3's are slightly above and the 4's are excelling. I generally don't have a ton of 4's but I do have students that are exceptional writing, so I have to have that category. The 1's mean that they low in that area. Our grades are N, S-, S, S+, and E. If a student gets mostly 2's then I consider that an S (average). 3's are S+, mostly 1's would be an N and a mixture of 1's with 2's would be an S-. I didn't put the grading scale on the rubrics so you could decide what's best for you. I know this rubric may seem over the top for first graders, but this is truly what I look for at this point in the year from my writers. I feel like this rubric helps me to clearly show strengths and areas of growth. It might not be for everyone, but it works well for me. :)

I'd love to hear how you all grade writing, and any tips/suggestions you have. 

May Literacy Menu posted!

I finally finished my May centers and I'm so happy with them! I added 4 extra centers (one in each column) because my kids are getting so good at centers and May is always extra long! (I know some of you get out of school in May, but I get out in June, so May is super long.) So there are 20 centers in all. 

Here is the student menu:

2 separate versions of Read, Think, Match
clipart by thistlegirldesigns

Rebuild a Poem (with an original poem): 
Students put a poem back together using sentence strips in a pocket chart. 

Fact and Opinion: 
Sorting mats, sentences for students to sort, student sheet
 frames by 3am Teacher
clipart by scrappindoodles

Read and Sequence:
2 versions to choose from

Read and Comprehend (students read the passage and answer questions)
frames by Miss Tina

Expand a Word: add prefixes and suffixes to a base word to make new words
frame by kpm doodles

How Many E's: sorting long and short e words

Sunshine Words: matching onset with word ending to make real words

Syllable Sort: (my favorite)
Students will read the word on the frog and place it on the correct pond, depending on how many syllables it has. 
clip art by kpm doodles

Sounds of C: sorting soft and hard c
frame (on left) by 3am teacherframe on right: Miss Tina

Sticker Story
Be an Author: Spring Fun (book with illustrations for students to write)
Middle frame by Miss Tina; Yellow frame by KPM doodles

Book Report and What I Know (nonfiction writing)

Sequence and Write:
2 Versions: Trip to the zoo and field trip

Sentence Fillers: adding adjectives and verbs to sentences

Sentence Scramblers: 4 included

Super Sentence: Build a super sentence (words color-coordinated with super sentence mat)

Roll A sentence: 3 dice to make a sentence

frame by scrappincop

Word Endings: add -er, -est, -ed, -ing to words to make a sentence sound right. 
frame by ginger snaps

Rubric for the end of the month

You can get this at my TPT store.

To view an older post about my literacy centers and reader's workshop, click here.

I'd love to hear from you, especially if you use these! :)