It's fun to find other writing resources that will help other teachers.
Check out this free writing download from Amy Lemons. She is one of the top sellers on TPT and has been in the biz for a long time.
Well, it's time to take apart my best selling product and share parts with the world for free. Expository writing is essential for working in a digital economy.
Today, I'm also happy to announce I'm taking my little WWW to the next level. Now, teachers around the world can enjoy some free downloads without having to scour through TeachersPayTeachers.com! That's because I updated to a paid site through Weebly.com.
MyCommon Core ELA "Polar Bears" Expository Writing Unit was fully tested in my classroom last fall. The kids were able to fully access all materials to their best ability, and the only materials that were too hard for them were the Polar Bear fact sheets and sorts, principally because the science terms exceeded their reading levels. Here are some free previews and downloads of my materials from this unit!
How to Build a Simple Expository Writing
1. Pick your theme: Example "Polar Bears"
2. Build the lesson plan to fit the scope and sequence of your state or school district, also called your academic plan. What Common Core standards will your unit address? How will you focus instruction on specific grade-level content through targeted activities?
<--Here is mine from this Expository unit!
3. Decide how you will motivate students and give them an objective and simple explanation of the concept. One way is through a motivational poster. I also created Woodchuck Writing Workshop dollars and mini-posters for a different writing unit.
My K-2 darlings would have a hard time understanding how writing can help you share a part of your soul with the world. Writing is a powerful form of communication, even in this era of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Ultimately, isn't this what we want our students to be able to do -- to use writing for whatever purpose makes them happy or helps them accomplish their goals?
Today was one of the best days hands down I have ever had as a teacher. It was Valentine's Day, granted, and my students were brimming with feelings of unabashed joy and love for their teachers. These are the moments we teachers live for, and they get us through the more difficult days.
If I would write anything, I would share with the world how each day can be unexpected. I would say I was touched by so many smiles today everywhere I went, not just school. Smiles that reassure you can be found at the doctor's office, at the gas station, at the gym, at Starbucks, and everywhere in between. These people were a huge part of my day, and I was sure to smile back and wish them Happy Valentine's Day. Thanks, perfect strangers and friends!
I read somewhere that your mind directs how you think and greatly influences how your day will go. I used that advice today, and it was terrific!
Mindfulness is a great tool for writers. I was reading a post on another teacher's website, and that got me interested in meditation for mindfulness. If you can help your kids use writing to relax, they can really use writing as a powerful vehicle for introspection. Maybe they aren't at the point where they want to blog about it, but they can record happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, regrets, and all other emotions that make us human. The more I read what other people are writing, the more I feel like we have the power to really change our reality and unlock the parts of ourselves we have been holding back because we were limiting ourselves with weakness, lack of self-esteem, doubt, and even fear.
Life is too short to let fear prevent you from becoming the fullest version of yourself! Here's to writing and working out who the real you is that is begging to be released!
We have been hitting expository writing hard in my class for the past few months. Sometimes, I have to stop and force myself to take a step back. You have to remind yourself that your students can practice this skill on their level, even when writing only a few words. The fact that the students have been excited about all the expository subjects I have chosen, including polar bears, ants, and woodchucks, is great. Now, we are just trying not to run out of gas as summer approaches. This is when it becomes crucial to change things up and dig deep. Don't let the kids lose that intensity. Don't wear yourself out!
We are seeing lots of gains this year but still that hesitation to write. I am looking for new ideas and going back to word cards and brilliant pictures as ways to encourage the kiddos to write. I am renewing the focus on oral language.
A recent sentence center that I made was beyond the reach of some because they could not read the sentences before attempting to write their own.
Do you like sentence frames? How do you make relevant sentence frames that early readers can read if they don't yet read the words that are the subject of your writing prompt of the week?
This is a question that ESE teachers and others with struggling students can wrestle with until the cows come home. We always err on the side of repetition, repetition, and repetition. But we also have to find new ways to get kids excited!
If you wrote 250 words a day on your blog, do you think it would build traffic to your teacher educational products website like TeachersPayTeachers? I have been writing content online for years. As far back as 8 years ago, I remember the advice -- and it's pretty common advice -- you must update your blog almost daily to keep traffic inbound. Ideally, you also want people to comment on your blog.
The bigger question is how do you get the traffic coming to your blog first. There is that dying breed called content marketing, and then there are the various forms of paid advertising. As a teacher, I am not much for advertising. I am looking for different ways to turn this writing blog into a go-to resource for teachers. If you have a blog that you would like me to comment on, please feel free. I would love to share information with you and learn what you have to offer.
Although my niche is currently expository writing, this teacher's writing blog will expand into other types of writing. This area of writing was a natural choice for me because I have worked for years as a freelance writer. Expository writing -- I mean when you work online -- involves how to tell the information in the most concise way without allowing people to click away from your page. Fortunately, we don't have to put that kind of pressure on our elementary students in the early grades.
Although I am used to writing 300 to 500 words, I am enjoying the challenge of blogging again, much more focused on improving the profession. If I sell a few more lesson plans on TPT, that's awesome too! :)
Today, I was looking for other blogs and websites to visit and recommend as a resource and I came across Writingfix.com. I am starting here. http://writingfix.com/traits_primary.htm
Here is where you can read about a 13-year-old writing project from Nevada that doubles as a website where you can find writing information on many subjects. Since it is teacher-friendly, you absolutely must go back more than once. Most definitely, my starting point will be reading and reviewing books other teachers are talking about. While Nevada seems so very far away from Florida, it is also part of the USA, and so there's bound to be some great advice.
TeachersPayTeachers is a good starting point, but reading teacher blogs and other sites has really expanded my horizons about what's really out there. Teacher-to-teacher education is fun. I also celebrated a comment today. I was glad to read that one of my early customers had kids who loved my unit! Thanks to that fellow teacher!
If you are going to write sentences you want your students to be able to choral read and understand throughout the week, why not use some sight words and vocabulary words? Of course, the students like to help you write them. You can also plan your own, and alternate between expository, fact-based sentences and sentences would fit in a story or dialogue.
A longer, well-written sentence on the topic or theme of the week is a good model for how students should aspire to write in the future. With three grade levels, I chose a couple words from each class's words of the week. The students have to read it and write it throughout the week, and it enhances their content knowledge too! We used sentence strips.
This week, some of my students are reading "Frog and Toad Together." I just published a new Sentence Builder Literacy Center to help them practice their new spring vocabulary.
It's important to give students models of different kinds of sentences. Illustrations help them make meaning from unfamiliar words. These are black and white and easy to print. Let your students use these sentences to build stories or expository paragraphs.
It's fun to read about what other teachers are doing to teach expository writing. Through Google, I stumbled upon this interesting blog post from another teacher: http://4thgraderacers.blogspot.com/2013/01/expository-writing.html This teacher talks about using circle maps and thinking maps in teaching fourth-grade expository writing.
I used to spend a lot of time drawing an organizer on the board or on charts that I would then display on the SmartBoard or document camera. It turns out that my students were more likely to look at one piece of chart paper that stays up all week. It is basically the science topic or other expository topic with key vocabulary words and drawings. We use these to generate our expository sentences every day. We refer back to illustrations, textbooks, websites, and other videos on the topic as needed. I keep all the materials close by the SmartBoard cart so we can reach for them as needed.
I have a different challenge of teaching students in a multi-age classroom. Students range from kindergarten to second grade and are at very different stages in the writing process. What has been inspiring is how the younger students are able to make meaning from the different charts and writing frames we use even if they are not yet at the point where they can write their own sentences. They are memorizing and recalling facts and contributing to discussions. They are excited every time I introduce a new writing unit. They are my inspiration to keep writing and delving into expository writing. If students are going to be knowledge workers in our digital, globalized economy, they must be able to digest a range of facts quickly, decide which ones are most important, and then spit them out in the desired format for their employer or other audience.
I want to find more resources out there that discuss maps and organizers that work best. We have so many choices for mapping our writing plans and brainstorming how to organize facts for expository text. Do you find paragraph models more helpful than T-charts, Venn diagrams, circle maps, or other choices?