Last year, I did a series on teaching the six syllable types. Teaching the six syllable types is a phonics-based approach to teaching decoding and encoding (reading and spelling). Research shows that a phonics-based approach is the best approach for most students, especially those with a specific learning disability in reading (aka dyslexia).
I made this sheet for easy reference. I plan to print and laminate, so my students can refer to it. I can give the cue, “It’s a closed syllable,” and students can refresh their memory. They need, of course, to be thoroughly taught first.
I’ve put together a great resource for teachers and parents. This “Words for Writers & Editor’s Checklist” is a list of the most commonly used words in English, and will help your students/child with spelling and writing. If it is a very common word, such as “who, what, when, where, and why,” then the word will be listed in this small packet.
This comes as a gift when you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter (see sidebar to right to sign up/ or click here to see homepage/sidebar). My quarterly newsletter, which is a one page e-mail, offers tips, stories, and information that will be especially helpful in working with your students and/or child.”Words for Writers” will be included as a PDF.
This freebie will help you give some ownership back into your students’ hands. If you know it is a basic, common word, you can direct them to look it up.
We have a book binder at our school, so I bound mine, but a heavy duty stapler works as well.
I promise to never, ever spam you or share your email!
You will need zip lock baggies, wet paper towels, and pumpkin seeds (or some sort of squash variety). Saturate the paper towel with water and add a couple seeds on top; don’t seal the bag to allow airflow. In about a week, the seeds will start to sprout and grow. I staple the pumpkins up on a bulletin board. Each day, your students will love to enter class and see how their seeds are growing. (In case you have a few seeds that don’t sprout, grow some extras on the side and trade out the seeds.) I hope you try this, and combine it with a fun lesson on plants! You can see one of my seeds is starting to sprout!
I work a lot on writing with my students. There are many great graphic organizers and writing programs out there, but here is a planning page that I have found really works. I call it the “Stars and Bars Planning Page.” They are actually more like bullets or dashes, but “stars” rhymes with “bars,” and rhyming is a memory aid. (Thanks to my boss for sharing this idea!)
The reason I like this planning page is because it can be used on any piece of paper. Once the students know the format, they can make their own stars and bars, and fill in the planner. Here are a few important rules:
The planning page is for ideas, not sentences.
Limit ideas to five words or less.
Students start with the topic sentence and work their way down.
Students put a check mark on the planning page after they use an idea and have written the sentence.
The sample below is from the writing prompt: We just had our winter break. Write a paragraph in which you describe your break. Be sure to include a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion.
Below is a sample planning page and then first draft paragraph.
Here are some common mistakes I see students make as I work with them:
Students try to write out sentences on their planning page; that is why I limit the ideas to five words or less. This is where they plan!
Students omit the topic sentence and go straight for the big ideas. I frequently emphasize the importance of introducing the topic–this is also the reason I make students start at the top of the planning page.
Students write all their big ideas into one long sentence. This is why we work through each sentence one at a time, and check off each idea on our planning page after we use it.
Students write about something totally different then what is on their planning page. Again, making the students put a check by each part of the planning page helps.
Students need a lot of guidance, and for the teacher/parent to work through the process with them. The more they practice, the better they get!
Finally, once students are familiar with the planning page, they can just draw the stars and bars on any sheet of paper, and plan for writing.
Simplified planning page:
I hope this helps! I will discuss editing and revising in a separate post.