Mentor Texts & Opinion Writing & Topic Sentences, OH MY!

My favorite writing time has come! Opinion writing has started and it's my all time favorite! I truly had to breathe it all in this week because next week, my student teacher takes over writing. This is probably the hardest subject for me to let go of to her so it's a good thing we did it as one of the firsts for her to take over. I'm glad I got to enjoy a week's worth of opinion writing though!

So, what's your opinion? Do you enjoy opinion writing? Or do you loathe it? Or could you care less about your opinion about opinion writing? :)

Anyway, let's talk about it!

Before discussing opinion writing, I wanted my students to be pretty concrete in their understanding of topic and topic sentences. We practice the whole week before we began our opinion writing unit. I noticed that this helped a TON in their writing. We used activities from my newest pack, Tackling Topic Sentences.
You guys, before this... My kids struggled with topic sentences. We were always coming up with them together... Basically me saying what the topic sentence should be, but now... Now, they get it. One activity that they really enjoyed was with the scrambled sentences.

After scrambling the sentences, they colored the topic sentence yellow. 

This pack comes with other things to help you tackle teaching topic sentence in your classroom as well.

In this pack, you can find anchor charts, a fun construction hat, and many, many printables and activities for you and your students to practice discovering the topic, topic sentence, and creating topic sentences.

Now, on to opinion writing...

On Monday, we read Groundhog Gets A Say.

Groundhog Gets A Say is pretty amazing for a variety of reasons. 1. You learn a lot about groundhogs from this story, probably more than you would ever want to! It would be perfect for Groundhog's Day or even when teaching your students about informational stories. But, I read it to introduce opinion writing because the groundhog is telling his opinion of how awesome he is and why. The kids got a kick out of it! After reading it, my students went back to their seats and wrote a quick write of who they thought the best person in the world is. They were adorbs.

The important part of that quick write though was that I wanted them to be able to form an opinion and write about it. No structure to it, but since we had just learned about topic sentences, that was the main focus of what I was looking for. Kind of a checkpoint for myself to see what they retained from our lessons the previous week.

The next day, we did a shared writing opinion story about why our principal is the best principal. They're the sweetest.

The next book we read was A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea. Holy moly, I love this book.

I could honestly barely get through each page without the kids busting up in laughter, sometimes tears of laughter. In this book, the author is giving his opinion with reasons why a pig parade is a terrible idea.

While reading, we wrote the reasons down on anchor paper.

Nothing fancy, I know. Don't be impressed with my lack of creativity on this anchor chart. 

Anyway, the book ends with the author saying that on the other hand, a panda parade might be a good idea. This made my kids go crazy! So, our first structured opinion story began. My kids gathered on the carpet with their journals and we wrote our opinion stories step-by-step. 

My class nailed the topic sentence. I wasn't sure if they would be able to state a good way to start our reasons, but a few students remembered from our examples the previous week from my topic sentence lessons. One little firstie blew me away when he could state this concluding sentence. Seriously, my firsties are awesome. I made the sentences in different colors so that they could differentiate the different sentences. Some of my students obviously work slower than the others so the color helped. The lines are there so they know to add their own words. And  yes, I had a couple that literally wrote the lines. Sigh. 

The next day, we read A Fine, Fine School. Another book my kids went absolutely crazy over. They definitely shared their strong opinions over this one. You see, this book is about a principal who is so in love with his school. Every day, he states what a fine, fine school it is. So, he keeps wanting to add more days for learning. First, he adds Saturday. Then, Sunday. Then, holidays and summer. 

After reading, we wrote another story. This time, about whether or not having school everyday is a good idea or a bad idea. Obviously my kids had strong opinions on why this is a bad idea. Goodness, I have a strong opinion on that too! Their stories were so fun and cute to read.

My kids were completely in love with the texts I chose and the activities/writing that they did. The more the students enjoy the book, the more they are going to enjoy their writing piece. The panda parade was more silly, but they could really connect to the school one because they all had such strong opinions as to why we should not have school every day.

So, yep! Teacher approved. Student approved. 

How do you teach opinion writing?

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Monthly Math Journals- How We Use Them And Why We Love Them! AND A GIVEAWAY!

Hi there :)

I want to talk to you all about a part of my math block today. My math time is pretty scrunched up. We have math review every day (required by our district), instructional time, independent work time and journaling, and math stations. 

I'm going to be extremely honest and transparent. Not everything gets completed every single day. I always make sure that the math review, the lesson, and some independent time happen, but goodness sometimes it's difficult getting independent time in too depending on the lesson. 

Anyway, I feel that math journals are an important part of our math time.

Some of the math pages have prompts in which the students have to write and explain their thinking. By doing so, I will be able to read their answers to see their understanding.  This also gives them the chance to reflect on their thinking. For me, it's not as important that they get the right answer as it is for them to explore different ways to solve problems. And, I want them to be able to explain in words orally, and as best as they can in writing (they're first graders, so I don't expect a paragraph) their thinking and their process and most importantly, why. I feel like a two year old sometimes during lessons when I'm constantly asking them why things happen or why they did things that way, but that's a whole different post!

At the bottom of many of the pages is a "Let's Remember" section. This section has a question or two of something they learned earlier in the year. I know that with the constant teaching of new material, I need to constantly review with them things they have already learned so that they don't forget valuable knowledge! These journals serve as a great spiral review for my firsties.

Obviously, there's problem solving in the journals! What kind of math journal would it be without problems solving. As you can see above, there are word problems in every booklet. I think it's important to revisit word problems often! I often have my kids teach one another, especially with the word problems. They love to teach one another and explain their thinking to each other!

Here's some photos of the journal inside the classroom...

I am lucky to be in a district with a print shop. So, every month I send these bad boys to print shop and they print and staple them and boom, my job is done! It's seriously awesome!
 Here's an example of the inside of the journals. I was kind of gah gah over these couple pages because hello, look at that adorable Santa holding the greater than and less than signs! Love.
 And, a little more.
 Here's one of my babies completing one the first page of the November journal.
 Here's a few Instagram pictures from some teacher friends that use these journals every month! Love when other teachers post my stuff! Makes my TPT heart happy.

And, some feedback love. I can't even put into words how much this feedback means to me. 

My kiddies seriously cannot get enough of these math journals! They look forward to them every month. It might be because they know they get to color the cover before we actually start the journal, but hey if that's what gets them excited about learning, I'll take it. One of my little girls saw the December journals in November (I was super prepared that month... It'll never happen again! Ha!) and asked, "When are we getting our December journals? Can we have them now?" Little girl after my own heart, I tell ya! But, one of the reasons I love making them so much is that I love making them tailored to the month. I'm a sucker for themes. I also love them because I know my kids are getting something out of them and love them as much as I do, if not more! 

If you're interested in these journals, you can click the pictures below to take you to the bundles. Each description of the bundles have the individual journals listed separately! However, if you know you're committed to these journals, the bundles give you more bang for your buck!

Here's the first grade bundle:

Here's the second grade bundle:

Want to win a bundle? Here's how! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below! If you win, you can win either a bundle OR $20 credit to my TPT store! It's your choice! If you win the bundle though, you'll receive all the past math journals! Then, each time I finish a journal for the next month, I will email it to you! Math journals at your fingertips!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!! 

Happy New Year! Blog Hop :)

Hi everyone! Happy New Year to you!! I hope that you had a wonderful NYE and got to celebrate in your style, whether that be at a swanky party with your loved one, curled up on the couch with Netflix, playing board games, or whatever! 

I'm happy to link up with some fabulous bloggers for a fun little blog hop filled with winter goodies! 

Are you scrounging around for something to fulfill your first few days back with your kiddos? I remember last year at this time, I just kept thinking of how much I knew my kiddies would want to tell me about their winter break and no matter how much I want to hear about it, I don't have time to hear literally all about it. I mean, yes, we talk about our favorite things, etc. but those little firsties... They love to talk, ya know. 

So, I created this simple, to the point pack so they could write about their break to me instead. And illustrate too. It also includes a Find A Friend activity so they can get up and moving.

You can check it out by clicking on either picture above!

I also want to let you know about a FOREVER FREEBIE that is in my store! Right before winter break, we are always working on how to stories. So, when we get back from winter break, I like for my kiddies to work on how to stories in their work on writing area during Daily 5. In Missouri, we typically get lots of snow in January and you know what kids like to do in snow?

Have snow fights, of course!

So, here's a forever freebie in which they have to write how to have a SAFE snowball fight. I mean, no one wants to get hurt. That's why it has to be safe.
Just click the picture to grab this baby for free!

Hop on over to the next blog to find out some more winter fun!

An Adventure in Literacy

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