Monday, April 30, 2012

Mrs. Wilcox Is Missing! (again!)

Do you remember last year when I posted my "My Teacher Is Missing" writing assignment to leave with your substitute?  You know . . . the one where you know you're going to be absent, but the you don't tell the kids.  Your substitute tells them they don't know why you're absent that day, but you leave the writing assignment where they make a missing poster and write what they think happened to you?  Yeah, the one you can pair up with "Miss Nelson Is Missing" by Harry Allard and James Marshall.  Well it was finally time to bring it back for my class this year! 

I was a little nervous as to what the results might be after last year's stories, but I must have made a better impression this year.  (Haha!)  Last year I had several reports of my being in jail and violent endings with wild animals.  This year, most of my students said I was probably at home with my sick baby, taking the baby to the doctor, or in a meeting (since I've had SO many this year with all my students going through RTI)!  A few said what I really wished was the reason I was absent - vacation!  I did have one student say I was arrested and in jail.  One had me kidnapped by aliens who turned me into a monkey.    Great stories and cute, cute posters (which I forgot to bring home to scan).  If you want your free copy the assignment, click the sample to get it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Good Friend Can Persuade

One of my teammates shared this really awesome graphic organizer for persuasive writing.  It came from Our Cool School.  She uses the idea and acronym of OREO to remind students how to do a persuasive writing!

                            O-Opinion (restate)
I wish I could claim this as my own, but I can't!  It's totally Tracey from Our Cool School. (Click to go to her blog and get your copy!)

How awesome is that?  I decided to use this graphic organizer to build morale with my students.  I'm really big on teaching my students more than just academic skills.  When my students leave my class, I want them to be better people - caring and with stronger character!  That's why I paired this organizer with the story Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Spoon is the cutest little story about a little spoon who gets down on himself because he doesn't think he's as cool as his friends knife, fork, or chopstick.  They seem to be able to do so many things that he can't!  By the end of the story, however, his mother is able to remind him of all the things he is able to do that make him so special.

I start this lesson by reading the story and asking the students to help me complete the graphic organizer.  (This actually takes several days, done in baby steps with my class.)  We take his mom's perspective and state her opinion that everyone is special, including Spoon! Together we complete the graphic organizer stating our reasons, correlating examples, and finally restating mother spoon's opinion in a different way.

This is when we make our text-to-self connections.  I take a survey to see if anyone in the class has ever felt down on themselves about anything.  We share a few examples and share how that makes us feel.  Then I explain that this is why for our writing assignment we are going to choose a friend to whom we are writing a persuasive letter.  We choose a positive descriptor or adjective of that friend which we turn into our opinion.  Our goal in this letter is to convince our friend that he/she is in fact cool, awesome, lucky, funny, nice, etc.  When we finally complete our project, the final product is published on cute stationary for the students to deliver to their friends.  I tell them that if one day their friends ever get down on themselves, they can read their letters and feel good about themselves again.

I walked my class through several examples, completing 3 graphic organizers in mini-lessons to better help them understand how to utilize the graphic organizer.  I also conducted a separate mini-lesson on a different day showing them how to use their graphic organizers to write a rough draft in letter format.  When students write their own, they complete the publishing process by revising, editing, and publishing on that cute stationary!

I don't have pictures of the finished products yet, but I'll post some later!  You'd be pleasantly surprised at how very sweet and heart warming these letters to friends can be.

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