Friday, December 18, 2009

No Pulling Hair!

Last week I received this email from a teacher:

"I am really struggling with writing. I want to pull out my hair!!!! We have been practicing writing prompts and they are really needing work on word choice. Do you have any lesson suggestions? I am so burnt out trying to find ideas I could cry."

Boy, do I feel her pain. As a classroom teacher, I, too, wanted to provide meaningful and engaging activites for my students, but there never seemed to be enough time to search for them!

Now as an instructional coach, it is my job to help teachers find books, websites, and other resources that create positive learning experiences for students, and I must say, I love the challenge!

I know Halloween is long gone, but really, do kids ever get tired of monsters? The Monster Exchange Project encourages the development of reading and writing skills while integrating technology. Here's how it works: Classrooms are paired together. The students in each class draw then write a description of a monster. The students then exchange their descriptions via e-mail. Using only the written description of the monster, the students must use their comprehension skills to try to redraw it as close to the original picture as possible. Both the new and original drawings are posted online to compare.

A couple of years ago, when I was looking for a lesson for Camp Write-A-Way I discovered Writing Fix. There is a wealth of information and lesson ideas on this site. I ended up doing Sausage Sentences,

which the students loved!

Story Starters from Scholastic is another great resource. What could be more fun that using a slot machine to help create a story? It is very similar to a RAFT. A teacher's guide to this resource can be found here.

ilearntechnolgy (winner of the 2009 Best Educational Tech and Support Blog...Yay!) has many ideas for integrating technology and writing. StoryBird is a recommended site that offers "collaborative storytelling for families and friends." I also like Telescopic Text. We always say to students, "Show, don't tell." When you click on the highlighted portions and the sentence expands with descriptive words, students will finally understand what we're talking about!

I also want to mention one of my all-time favorites, ReadWriteThink. There are hundreds of lesson plans, and the online student tools are fantastic. It's impossible to leave ReadWriteThink without a great idea.

I'm still on the hunt for more great ideas, but I hope these will keep the teacher from pulling out any hair (at least for a little while.)

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