Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study–Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of the Daily 5 Book Study is hosted by:

    Fabulously First

Work on Writing and Work on Words are so challenging for me! 

In first grade, I had the kids either work on writing workshop or in their journals for writing.  I know that some feel D5 should not be a time for writing workshop, but I found that the kids loved using this time for WW and it saved me time in the schedule.  I really felt that, between journals, D5, extension activities, WW, and our Collins Writing expectations, the kids were on writing overload.  Yes, it is important to write and write a lot, but when there is SO much writing, I think it loses some of its specialness and the kids lose motivation.  At any rate, I’m not sure if I will continue journals this year.  I might have reader response journals instead.  I’ll just have to play with the ideas as the come. 

Here are some other ideas that I used later in the year to prompt student writing without providing specific prompts:

1. Drawing Books - During our animal unit I put out some of those step-by-step animal drawing books. The kids LOVED them! They even drew pictures during recess. The rule was that they had to produce a fiction or non-fiction piece of writing  by the end of the week. I can see third graders loving this!

2. Research - My first graders ate up research. I think I could forge some strong ties between third grade content and research centers. We have subscriptions to BookFlix and PebbleGo. The kids love to look up facts and I provided them with graphic organizers. Again, the rule is that they must produce a piece by the end of the week.

3. Story Sticks - My kids love journal sticks. I have a huge box of these sticks and write several prompts for the month on them or print prompts on labels.  I added little green smiles to these.  The kids choose them during journal time to give them a jump start.  I store all of my journal stuff manila envelopes and keep them, along with all my other journal writing prompts in a tote box.  I just pull out what I need.


4. Squiggle Stories - My colleague, who is not a blogger, has been doing this for a few years. You copy paper with a random squiggle on it. The students turn it into a picture and write about it. I made the squiggles on Microsoft Publisher and printed them 4 to a page. Then I just cut them apart. After making 10 or so squiggles, I put all the sheets in a basket. The kids could pick one, draw the picture and glue them into their journals. I didn't have to make copies or redo them each week.

5. Observations! - We had critters visit our room and the students wrote about them. I had a snail, ants, and crickets. We have also had turtles, birds, and even squirrels (yes, pet squirrels). One of my close colleagues brought in a collection of house plants for the kids to observe and write about. I grew a wonder egg plant, too. This year I bought seeds for a Tickle Me Plant and a Venus Fly Trap. They should inspire some interesting writing! In third grade, we teach cultures of the world and I can see bringing in objects to represent the area we are studying for observation.

6. Poetry Journals

I abandoned poetry journals last year. I just did not have time and they were something that I could put aside. However, our new state standards have a partial focus on poetry. To simplify life, I think I might combine poetry and journal writing and have students glue a weekly poem into their journals to respond to.

7. Sticker Stories

I picked up a few packs of stickers in the stationary and craft sections at the Dollar Tree. Students were allowed to choose 3-5 stickers to build a scene in their journals. They then illustrated their scenes and wrote 3-4 sentences. They LOVED this! I have also used the foam stickers. I do give them two days - one to illustrate and one to write, before I expect their work to be complete.

8. Stamp Stories

I have bought a few stamp sets over the years that correlate with our units. The kids stamp a scene in their journals, color, and then write.

9. Stencils Stories

Same as the stamp and sticker stories. I keep a look out for stencils at yard sales.


I always struggle with storing writing.  I had the kids keep their journals in red work folders that contained any works in progress and unfinished work that were kept in tubs at their tables.  The kids had blue folders stored in tubs in the writing area for writing workshop. Then we had Collins Binders that I used more as portfolios for specific writing pieces.  I think I am going to stick with the binders, but we will have desks for reading and writing folders.  It's a work in progress!

Word on Words is also really tough!  In first grade we focused on spelling, sight words, vocabulary, and phonics (our spelling list was the dolch sight word list, but not necessarily the words they were learning to read and the phonics was not necessarily connected to the spelling – I had lots of issues about this…) So, trying to give everything an adequate amount of time was almost impossible.  This will be a bit different in third grade.  I understand we are still using Words Their Way, but it is not as big of a focus.  There is a specific sight word list that we focus on, but there is also a spelling program.  Some how, they all are integrate (???) and then there will be content vocabulary.  I can see this time being much more focused on spelling and phonics patterns, though.

I think a lot of the materials I used to practice Work on Words will still be helpful for third grade. I start introducing materials to the students by teaching the kids how to use each material and how to take care of it. We practice by using class names and my rule is that each word must be practiced 3 times. They say the word, spell it, and say it again each time they practice. Here are the materials:

  • Letter beads to string on a pipe cleaner.
  • Wikki Sticks/Bend-a-Roos
  • Magnetic Letters
  • Magnet Boards
  • Letter stencils
  • Mini-white boards
  • Marble/Rainbow Pencils
  • Sign Language
  • Color change markers by Crayola
  • I also have printed computer keyboards that I have laminated so the kids can practice “typing” their words.


I stored two items for practice in each of the blue buckets on the bottom shelf. When students have word work time, they grab a bucket and go practice their words – either from their sight word list, their spelling notebook, or Words Their Way sort words. I changed what I assigned the kids to work on. I tried to pair up one building activity and one writing activity, and I changed them out every other week or so to keep the novelty fresh.


The upper shelf holds our Dolch Sight Word Games. I color-coded the drawers and materials to match the list label on the outside. Some of the games are Battleship, Go Fish, Connect Four, Pig and Stop, Bang (or some variation of it), Roll, Say, Keep, bingo, and probably a few others. Other games have been modified from games I have found. I have a few games from blogs that I need to get printed and laminated to add.

When I work on words during guided reading, I have a few tricks. First, I found a Plexiglas sign holder at Staples for about 6 bucks. I had wanted a whiteboard to use during guided reading to break down words and teach strategies, but was having trouble finding one. I wanted something that stood up, but was small enough to not be in the way. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how well this works!!! It is the perfect size!



I also use letter tiles for making words activities. I covered 4x6 pieces of recycled cardboard with the grippy shelf liner and put the letters we will use on them. The letters do not slip around and I can stack the boards in a basket for the group lesson. No pictures right now.


Sometimes I use word strategies that apply to a given book and sometimes I use a book that has a sequence of building words that gets the kids to think about how changing letters changes the sounds in the word. I will have to find the book at school to add the title.

I hope there are some useful ideas here!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Being a newbie at the D5, they are so valuable. I really like the idea of making prompts available for those who need them. Cute ideas.