We’ve begun digging deeper into nonfiction texts this past week.  We read two articles: one fiction and the other nonfiction.  We practiced comparing and contrasting the two similar articles, and used text clues to support our answers to questions.

We also practiced reading with fluency and expression.  Many of the students in our class had the honor of demonstrating their reading and acting skills during the Vincent October Character Counts Assembly.  The skits that the students performed helped to teach the other students in our school how they can be respectful and responsible.  They did such an amazing job speaking clearly and working as a team.  Since we were the first class to present at a character assembly, the kids set the bar for what other classes will be expected to do—and they sure set it high!

On another note, most of the class has taken the Leveled Reading Assessment.  Parents can learn more about this assessment during Parent/Teacher Conferences on October 21st and 22nd, but ask your child if he/she has taken the assessment.  Everybody has been able to show growth since the end of 4th grade.  Fantastic work, readers!
We spent this past week learning how to conference effectively with peers, incorporate “show, not tell” into our own stories, and edit our work so that readers can better understand our ideas.  Most students had the opportunity to conference with an adult as well, and we began the process of revising and publishing our drafts.  Hopefully, all students will publish their first writer’s workshop story this week.

We’re starting an October-related writing project that will require the students to accomplish the following:

  • Write in 2nd person point of view
  • Work well with other authors
  • Write with varying mood and tone
  • Use show, not tell
  • Read and present with fluency and expression
In real life, we need to make inferences all the time.  For example, if we want to ask our parents if we can do something extra special, we know that we need to ask at a good time.  Our parents won’t greet us as we walk in the door by saying, “Hey, I’m in a really great mood.  Why don’t you ask me if you can something extra special?  If I was having a bad day, I might say no, but today I’m really happy.”

That would be crazy!  No, usually we need to infer how our parents, teacher, friends, and others are feeling.  We need to take the clues we see and use them to figure out what’s not being said.

We also need to use inference skills when reading.  The author won’t always tell us things; usually we need to infer.  So, in reader’s workshop we’ve been practicing our reading skills.  We take the clues from the book, add what we know about similar situations in real life, and finally make an inference.

We also practiced writing paragraphs that would force the reader to make an inference.  Can you infer what we described in these paragraphs published in our author’s corner?
Good authors carefully craft their stories so that the readers can picture the events in their heads—the author shows us, instead of telling us.  Since we know authors learn how to write by paying attention to what other authors do, we’ve been looking for great show, not tell examples in our independent reading books.  Check out this example that student TO found in his book:  “Baseballs were exploding into gloves with a wonderful popping noise, like firecrackers set off one after another.”  Can you picture that scene?

We decided to try our hand at “show, not tell.”  You can read and respond to our work in our author's corner.

We also learned to vary the beginning of our sentences.  In the beginning of 5th grade, we were started each sentence the same way (I like, I like, I like…).  Now, we know that starting sentences differently adds more spice to our pieces.  Again, you can read some of our work in the author's corner.
In writer’s workshop, we adopted Jon Scieszka as our mentor author.  This means we read his books, look closely at the skills and strategies he uses, and then try those things in our own writing.  We read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Frog Prince Continued, and The Stinky Cheese Man.  We noticed he uses humor in his stories and loves to take stories that already exist and give them a fresh twist.  These are often called Fractured Fairy Tales.  We then brainstormed stories we could twist and fracture, adding our own sense of humor into the voices of the characters.  Some students even began writing fractured tales.

We’re also reading another Fractured Fairy Tale by a different author during interactive Read Aloud.  It’s called The Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives and it’s by Michael Buckley.  As we read this story, we’re making and modifying predictions.  We’re also listing character traits to describe each character based on clues the author leaves for us in the text.  And when we independently read, we’re remembering to use post-it notes to leave tracks of our thoughts as readers.  We also began our book blogs, a safe online community for our classmates to learn about the books we are reading. 

As a class, we’ve built our independent reading stamina up to 30 minutes.  While most students read independently, some students are conferencing with Miss Mitton to create reading goals and reflect on reading strengths.  We’ll continue to conference throughout the year.

During the first month of school, we will be spending a lot of time learning how to think and act like readers and writers.  The following is a summary of our first week activities.

In Readers’ Workshop:
·      We learned how to PICK a just right book:
o  P: Purpose – Why do you want to read a book?  What’s your goal?
o  I: Interest – Is this a topic that fits your personality and interests?
o  C: Comprehension – Do you understand what is going on as you read?
o  K: Know – Do you know what most of the words mean?

·      We talked about ways readers choose books:
o  Look for authors you know
o  Look at the cover
o  Look for a favorite genre
o  Listen to the recommendations of others
o  Read the back cover
o  Read a chapter or two and see what you think

·      We practiced building our reading stamina.  Just as athletes increase their stamina by practicing more and more each day, or taking on harder and harder challenges each day, readers also need to build their independent reading stamina.  By adding a few minutes a day, our reading-to-self skills are strengthening.  All students should be practicing their stamina at home by independently reading for 15 minutes and having their reading log initialed by an adult.

In writer’s workshop:
·      We created a list of topics that we enjoy writing about or discussing with others.  We added areas of expertise to our lists, as writers tend to write about what they know.

·      We combined writing with social studies this week as we drafted and performed respect “radio ads” or public service announcements.  The goal of this project was to explore what respect really means, how we can show respect to ourselves, our neighbors, and our environment, and how we can send a clear message through our writing.  We’ll be listening to and reflecting upon our radio ads from last week as we continue throughout the month of September.

·      We also took a baseline assessment in writing.  This assessment is not for a grade, but gives the teachers an idea of what the students can do in writing, and what areas they still need to practice.  We’ll be spending the majority of the first semester writing narrative pieces (writing that tells a story).


    October 2009
    September 2009



    RSS Feed