Sunday, April 9, 2017

Did I Answer YOUR Question?

Wow, so many teachers watched & asked questions. Have I answered yours yet?

Here are a few more:

Denise, from Tucson, AZ asked -where did you get that awesome mailbox? 

It's made by Melissa & Doug, but I found it at a garage sale. Before finding it, the students just clipped the mail they wanted to send to the center sign and the "Special Person of the Day" got to deliver the mail to the cubbies at the end of the day. 

Click on the mailbox.

Shanda, from Owasso, Oklahoma asked -I am loving all the templates. Is there a package that includes all of them instead of purchasing each?

Yes! I have bundled all 7 sets and I'm offering them on a flash drive along with FREE SHIPPING for $25. That's a huge savings! Just email me: and let me know if you want one and I'll ship it out right away! 
The bundle includes 71 templates: 

Karyn, from Portsmouth, NH asked -Can we share this webinar with others after the broadcast?

Yes, you should have gotten a link to the recorded webinar. I am also available to come to your school or school district to present a workshop for your teachers. For more information, just email me at:

Danielle, from Sacramento, CA asked -How do you cut the pencils?

I take them home and use a hacksaw. It looks like this:
Heather, from Clarkson, Kentucky asked ...such great ideas! Love to see how to extend this to my higher level first graders!

You can extend by having them add adjectives and by adding more detail to each sentence. You can also have them add additional detail sentences below their topic sentence to support their topic. They will need more room to write. 

Caitlin, from Sacramento, CA asked -At what point in the year do you let them sound out words on their own?

That depends on each individual child. If a child is capable of sound/blending at the beginning of the year, that's great! I would make sure that they can compose a complete simple sentence and then I would build on that and have them compose a compound sentence. After that, I would begin working on composing a topic sentence and then we would slowly add detail sentences to support the topic. I would do this over several days so they are writing one sentence per day. 
If a child enters K without any letter/sound recognitions, my hope would be that by this time of the year (April) they could write one simple sentence using inventive spelling. If you build a strong foundation with activities such as the one used in my Instant Writing or Month-to-Month Writing, they should be well on their way by this time of year. 

Rosalind, from Williamsburg, Virginia asked -What are the other children doing when you are working with a small group of writers?

This is the locket.They glue the letters of the sight word inside the locket.
That's a GREAT question! While I'm working with one small group, the other students are at their tables working on an independent activity like creating a sight word pocket watch or locket (from my Pocket Locket set). 

This is the pocket watch.The clock face is inside.

CLICK HERE to grab a set of 
Pocket Lockets. 

Or they are drawing and labeling 3 things that begin with a letter we are working on (from my Alphabet Dictionary Page set).
Students draw and label by using the cards below.

Students use these cards to draw and label the template above this one.

You can grab a set of Alphabet Dictionary Pages and cards for each letter by CLICKING HERE.

Or they are tracing, with a marking pen, the uppercase and lowercase focus letters of the day on my Alphabet Chants. 
You get 2 on a page so they are easy to copy and cut.
You can grab a set of Alphabet Chants by CLICKING HERE.

Or they can be creating an Onset Rime Wheel (not rhyme):
Click the flower.

Or you can have your students working at the tables on math:  

You can grab the entire set of number activities for the numbers 1-10 by CLICKING HERE

As students finish their independent work, they move to a center of their choice. When I'm ready to meet with their homogeneous group, I pull them away from either their independent work or their center to meet with me. 

Erica, from Joplin, MO asked -I would like to know how you move your K's from copying/finishing sentence stems to doing their own authentic writing.

I do move students from copying/finishing sentence stems to creating their own authentic writing in small homogeneous groups. At the first sitting, we illustrate the parts of a story we wish to re-tell. I use a red circle for the characters, a green triangle for the setting, and a blue rectangle divided into 
4 parts for the sequence of events from the story. I also have them attempt to label their illustrations. All of these shapes are made from sheets of 9"X12" construction paper. 

At the 2nd sitting, I have them briefly re-tell their story using their illustrations as prompting and support. . We start by establishing the characters and setting. Each child tells me a sentence that includes the main character(s) and the setting like, "Once there was a farmer's wife who made a gingerbread man cookie. (They don't need to name all of the characters.)  They use their circle and triangle graphic organizers for this sentence. 
On the next day, they create a sentence about the beginning of the story. Next, they compose sentences for two more events in sequence and one more sentence from the end of the story. You can do these 4 sentences over two days. 

Students may use a familiar story to re-tell, an actual story about something they experienced, or a fictional story. And since I'm working with only five students at a time, I can help them with sound/blending as well as any other skills I want to reinforce. 

Rebecca, from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania asked -Do you recommend kid writing or give them correct spelling?

It depends on the lesson. During daily journal time, I just want them to get their thoughts down on paper. They may draw, label, and attempt to write using their "kid writing" or inventive spelling. I use any teachable moment I can while I'm quickly going over their work with the built-in simple rubric to reinforce skills and talk a bit about spelling. I want to encourage risk taking and having them stretch to learn new words rather than encourage ultra simple writing like, "I like my mom." So I encourage, and I correct privately.

Theresa, from Pleasant Pride, WI asked -So you would introduce writing by having them copy versus having them sound out words independently first?

Yes, but at the very beginning, I would have my students "drite" (which is drawing and writing) on unlined paper. I would then have them tell me what they were trying to write.  
Then, after I modeled writing a simple sentence, I would give them a template where they can trace most of the words and then copy only one word (usually the last word). The FREEBIE set of 20 writing templates you got from the webinar has lots of opportunities to practice this. 
Later, they would copy a short sentence from a chart, the SMART board, or even from a sentence strip.
After that, they would trace or copy the beginning of a sentence and attempt to sound/blend and write the missing word (usually the last word) before attempting to correctly write a sentence on their own. The 20 FREEBIE templates are great for tracing and filling in the blanks by sound/blending too. 
If you missed the webinar and want the set of 20 writing templates, CLICK HERE

Lynn from Moline, Illinois asked -What is developmentally appropriate for K students to be writing at the end of the year?  A few words, a few sentences . . ?

By the end of the year, most K students should be able to write a complete sentence. Some districts require that they also be able to write a 3-4 sentence paragraph. In that case, I would split it up over a 3-4 day period where they write one great sentence each day. They are only five years old and the challenge of writing their letters correctly, spelling words, leaving spaces between the words, including punctuation, and gathering their thoughts and getting them on paper can be just too overwhelming for a child who has only been on this planet for five years. I think if they are able to compose one complete sentence correctly, we have given them a wonderful foundation for entering first grade. 

Julie, from Lynchburg, Virginia asked -Do you write what the kid said they wrote under their writing?

I do write what the child said under their writing on a writing assessment and on their daily journals so that when I show the parents, we all understand what the child was thinking and attempting to write. I also send their journals home, so their parents will be able to read their journals if I wrote the real words below their writing. It also gives the child a model of the correct spelling. Of course, this is done in a friendly, non-intimidating way. I might say, “Let me show you how to spell this funny word. It has letters in in that don’t even make any sounds.”

Laura, from Huston, Texas asked -We are writing persuasive papers/letters now, what would be a good way to explain the process to kinder?

Persuasive writing can be approached by teaching children how to write a topic sentence and then adding three detail sentences to support the topic. If the topic contains the persuasive idea, the supporting sentences should give the reasons to support that idea.
You can create all kinds of introductions such as:
~What would you like to get for your birthday? Give me 3 reasons why you want a ___________ for your birthday.
~Where would you like to go on vacation? Tell me 3 reasons why your family should take your there. 
~Which is your favorite game to play? Tell me 3 reasons why I would like that game too. 
~Would you like to change a school rule? Tell me three reasons why we should change that rule.

They can write a persuasive letter to Santa, The Easter Bunny, their parents, the school principal, etc. 

Becky, from Lowville, NY asked -Great ideas!! Would love to know how to start jumping in with this now. ??

Jump in with writing by using my Instant Writing. Students will  learn how to compose a complete sentence without having to be able to sound/blend and encode. You can find that set by CLICKING HERE

Jump in with ESGI this Spring by assessing your students on your Power Standards (the most important skills needed to move on to the next grade such as letter names, letter sounds, sight words, and writing a complete simple sentence). You can use the built-in tests or create your own with ESGI's test builder. Or... play around with your FREE TRIAL through Aug. 31 and customize your test dock with all of your school's specific tests so you are ready to begin the new school year with the BEST assessment tool you will EVER use! Trust me, you will LoVe it! Remember, to have your 60 day free trial upgraded to run through Aug. 31, and get the $40 off plus an entry in the ESGI Pot of Gold drawing, you must sign up by April 10.  So, CLICK HERE to get started. 

I'll post more answers in a few days. 


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