Archive of ‘Writing’ category

From the Mouths (and Hearts) of First Graders

During the holiday season, we talk so much about what gifts WE want and we often neglect to think about others. So this year, I posted the following on the students’ class blog:

It’s the season of giving. What gift would you like to give someone? Who would receive this gift?

As the students reflected on the questions, I gave a bit more information:

  • The gift could be to anyone – parents, siblings, cousins, friends, grandparents, etc
  • It did not have to be something bought.

This was the first time the students had logged into their blog so we spent a bit of time just getting on. I explained that I had written the post and they were responding by writing a comment.

I asked if they knew how to spell every single word they might need and the response was a resounding NO! So, what would they do when they came across a word they couldn’t spell? A few said they would ask the teacher but I pointed out that there were only 2 teachers and 20 students so we might not be available when they needed a word spelled. The students concluded that the best thing to do was to sound it out.

Below are some of their responses (written in 1st grade spelling with “adult” spelling in parentheses if needed to make sense of the thought).

  • from Greyson: I am gowing to giv my mom a quite time love greyson.
  • from Riley: I Wud Like To Giv Mom a nis Worm Kise! (I would like to give Mom a nice warm kiss!)
  • from Ruthie: I would give a doll to one of my nextdoor neighbors. Her name is Charlotte.She is two years old.I would give her older sisster, Jainie a coloring book.She is four years old.
  • from Zoe: I would give to you Mrs Kee a vacation .
  • from Benton: i would give the gif of love and cinednis. (I would give the gift of love and kindness.)
  • from Mary Blair: what i wunt to give my mommy and daddy for crismas is a odamit to hang on the crismas tree and breckfist in bed. and to wish evreone to have a merry crismas. (What I want to give my mommy and daddy for Christmas is an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree and breakfast in bed. And to wish everyone a Merry  Christmas.)
  • from Toby: I wold give a present to my Granparets the present wold be a BIBLE .
  • from Ruby: I will give my mom a little puppy and I will give my dad a big kiss on the chek (cheek).

If you would like to read more responses, visit the class blogs listed below:

When Paper Blogging Trumps the Computer!

I will preface this by saying that paper blogging is not my idea! It’s one of those, “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that!” activities.

A couple of years ago, desperately wanting to take student blogging to a level past the “Hi. How are you? What are you doing?” stage, I started searching for ideas – and came across a wealth of information!

The following resources introduced me to paper blogging.

Who would have thought that students coming to a computer lab would become so engrossed in writing that they never once asked when they would get on the computers! Now, even though the students have blogged for the past few years, I always start with this unit – just to make sure students refocus on the intent of our blogs: To share their learning in a positive and meaningful way.

Taking the food idea from Leonard Low’s Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs, I asked students to raise their hand if they liked to eat. Of course, that brought an enthusiastic response! I told them that they would be writing a blog post on paper and the following day would be spent writing comments using sticky notes.

The instructions were to write about a favorite food – it could be from a restaurant or something made by parents, relatives, or anyone else. They needed to write something that would paint a picture for the reader – use details! Pictures always spruce up a post so illustrations were strongly encouraged.

The paper was distributed and we worked together to include the basics of a post:

  • First name at the top (good place to talk about keeping personal information private; no last names)
  • Tags – This was a good review for students. What is your post about? Everyone could add “food” as a tag. As you write, you’ll think of other tags to add that would help readers find all posts about specific subjects . . .
  • Title – every post needs a title!

Then the students scattered in the small room to find a space to write. At first there were murmurings about their topic and how delicious their chosen food was (and how hungry they were becoming just thinking about it . . .), but soon all you could hear were pencils and pens scratching across the paper.

 05 blog


023M blog


026M blog

The next day was commenting day. I had folders on the keyboards and 6 sticky notes on the folders ready for students when they walked in. Using information from Mrs. Yollis’ third graders on How to Write Quality Comments, we discussed what kinds of comments would encourage a conversation as opposed to those that would stop the discussion. We discussed how important it is to avoid comments such as: Cute! Wow! That’s awesome! because these didn’t further the conversation.

I am pretty sure that the idea of penny and dollar comments comes from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and we use this often. (If not, I sincerely apologize and ask that you let me know!) This is where you compare a penny to a comment – you can’t buy anything with just one penny so it’s basically worthless. On the other hand, you ARE able to buy a few things with a dollar simply because it’s worth more.

That’s the way comments are. Penny comments are pretty much worthless. They really don’t tell you anything. They are often just a word or two OR they are completely unrelated to the post. But a dollar comment offers so much more! It acknowledges the author, asks questions, gives details, relates to the writer. In this day and time, though, we don’t just talk about dollar comments. With inflation, our students decided that $20 and up comments were much better than a measly dollar!

After the discussion, instructions were given. Students were to leave their paper blog at their computer but take the sticky notes with them. I had them stand behind their chair then told them to count 4 chairs clockwise. They were to stop at that spot, read the blog and write a comment (being sure to put their first name on the sticky note).

When finished with the first comment, students were told that from now on they would need to read the post AND all comments. It’s important to do that so that they don’t repeat someone else’s responses.

013 blog

038M blog

We continued to make the rounds until there was only one sticky left. At that point, students were instructed to return to their own blog, read all comments, and then choose one to write a response.

After that we regrouped to reflect. Some things that were brought up included:

  • Legibility – Of course, handwriting can be hard to read at times but even when writing on the computer, colors and font need to be considered. Can it be easily read?
  • Anonymous comments – It’s more meaningful to know who is doing the writing. (Besides, I don’t approve anonymous comments!) Even though students were told to write their names on the sticky notes, some forgot – perfect teaching moment.
  • Penny vs more valuable comments – Without telling who wrote comments, students shared ones they thought weren’t helpful to furthering the conversation. They also shared the dollar and up comments they received.

example of penny comment

044M blog

I have to say this is my all-time favorite activity! The students really get into paper blogging and I have NEVER had anyone complain that they came to the lab but never got on the computer! This is such a worthwhile activity to do to prepare students for online blogging. I can’t wait to get them going in KidBlog!

 Just a few Resources:

What is Leadership?

Mrs. Cooper’s second grade class spent the month of February researching presidents. They talked about qualities needed to be an effective president. This led to a discussion on characteristics of leaders. Mrs. Cooper invited our headmaster, Dr. Krahn, to visit her class to share his ideas about leadership.

The students jotted ideas in their journals but decided they wanted to share what their thoughts with others. They came to the computer lab earlier this week and started blogging their thoughts.

They would love to have others looks at their writing so please visit Mrs. Cooper’s blog and feel free to leave comments!

Here are some samples:

Comments Wanted!!

image from Haiku Deck

Mrs. Weth’s third graders have been busy writing in their journals! All kinds of writing!

  • Non-fiction: What animals need to survive
  • The Most Embarrassing Moment!
  • A Bucket List: Things that want to do before reaching age 100! (What a great 100th day of school activity!)
  • and much more!

Before the students came for their regular computer lab time, Mrs. Weth and I were discussing how to share the students’ writing. They write in their journals and share with each other but that’s as far as it’s gone.

The students need a bigger audience! We brainstormed a few ideas such as using some of the storytelling apps (Book Creator, Puppet Pals, Toontastic, etc). However since the students had just written their “bucket list” for the 100th day of school, we decided to do something that would immediately put their work out for everyone to see.

We decided on blogging. The students brought their journals to the lab, logged in to their class blog, and off they went! Most chose to write about what they want to accomplish by the time they are 100 years old but a couple chose something else from their journals.

As you can see below, they are eager for responses and would love to hear from you. They are hoping that they will get questions about what they write so that they can respond.

Thanks so much for taking a look at their writing!

Mrs. Weth’s Class Blog

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