June 29, 2015

Writing Snappy Reports

I am on my third week of summer and already doing a back to school countdown. As I reflect on last school year, I couldn't stop thinking about my student's writing. Before the school year ended, we briefly cover a unit on ecosystem and habitat while focusing on sea life. I must say I was amazed at my student's progress in writing.We went from writing one sentence to a couple of sentences and sometimes paragraphs! So, today I wanted to share one of those mini units were their writing just soared!

I like to start these unit as whole group and gradually release the responsibility to the student. I began by making a circle map and checking for prior knowledge. A picture of a real crab was shown and passed around for them to see.You will be surprised at the amount of children that have never seen a real crab!  This easily lead to a conversation about crabs. As the children shared, I will called them to the easel to jot down their schema. The other children are either jotting down their ideas in their own circle map or copying from the one we are doing together.  Every time we write on the circle map, one type of color is used to represent our schema at the beginning of the unit. As we learn more about crabs, we add to the circle map with a different color of marker. The color of markers changes to reflect our new schema. Its a quick way to assess the class. 

We continued our research by reading multiple books about crabs. I read books that are both fiction and non-fiction. This easily allows me to integrate reading and writing skills into the unit. Before, we begin reading I passed out one of the recording sheet for the kids to jot down their ideas while we are discussing or reading the books. Depending on the reading skill we are focusing on, I will pick one of the recording sheet to do first. 

The recording sheets I provided can be done in any order. There are years, where the first two recording sheets will be completed in a span of two or three days. This all depends on the students ability, time and learning objective. When the recording sheets are introduced, the children are either doing what I’m modeling in the easel or they are filling the recording sheet on their own. All the children have clipboards, so recording their work while I read makes it easier and time efficient. If you don’t have clipboards, I suggest giving them a textbook instead. Also, do not skip reading aloud to your students. It is such a vital component even if they know how to read. 

After the kids have completed their recording sheets. The last recording sheet, we do is Did You Know Crabs…?. This recording sheet is used as an outline or a guide for their report. We usually completed it after all the books have been read, circle map and recording sheets have been completed. The kids are now ready to complete their research booklet by writing what they have learned about crabs. So, all of those recording sheets come in handy!

There are two templates for the research booklets. I don't do both! I really take into consideration the  time and supplies I have available at that time. There are years where I can make the copies of  the first template but I’m also short on time. The first template saves me time and the booklet can be completed within a two day span. The second template, requires the kids to draw their own version of a crab. Every year I’m amazed at the quality of art and creativity these children have! 

As a follow up activity, I place the recording sheets in a bin with the books we have read and others I have found at my local library. As part of their center work, the kids continue to further their knowledge of marine life by completing the handout of their choice as independent work. It's great to see how they keep coming back for more. This is a topic that always gets them excited and I love it! 

I would love to hear what are some topics that gets your kids excited to write?  Click on the picture below to get it ! 

Link up to the #tptsellerchallenge! It is week 3 of this challenge and showcase your masterpiece! 

Sparkling in SecondPeppy Zesty Teacherista


Amanda Bryant said...

WOW!!! You work fast!!!! I haven't started my product yet and I have packers and movers coming this week! Yikes! Glad we get a week and a half. Your writing activity looks so good!!! Job well done!

Amanda Bryant
A Traveled Teacher

Kayla Root said...

Wow! This looks really amazing! I love that you included some book titles you recommend too, very helpful! My students loved writing about penguins and sharks this year. Great job!

The Chalkboard Garden

Kelly McFarland said...

What a great product! Thanks for sharing what you do with your class and how it all works. This looks really good!

Lattes and Lunchrooms

MyDayinK said...

Wow, this looks like a great pack! I love the book titles you posted. Great product!

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