September Favorites

September is almost over!  I thought I’d share some of my personal (read: nonteaching) favorites from this month.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know this month I got my first pair of Tieks.
I’m not going to lie.  These things are crazy expensive.  BUT, if you have foot issues and you’re on your feet all day and you don’t want to wear grandma shoes, Tieks are your friend.  And seriously.  That packaging?  Cutest ever.

My first Stitch Fix arrived!  I loved getting a fun box of goodies.
I resisted the pumpkin everything trend until last year when I gave in and tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  And now I love it very, very much.
However, they are insanely expensive (says the girl who just shared her ridiculously priced shoes) and not diet friendly.  So, I save them for a weekend splurge.  During the week, I add in Torani’s Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice syrup, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and skim milk to my coffee.  Is it as good as Starbuck’s? No.  But it’s pretty darn good and a heck of a lot easier on my wallet and waistline.

A new favorite that is good for the waistline is this spinach and kale dip from Trader Joe's.  It's only 30 calories for 2 tablespoons.  Yum.

I'm a bit of a worry wart.  That's why I love this message I found on Pinterest.  Right message at the right time.
Type A, control freak type girls need to be reminded of this every once and awhile.  Or everyday.  Whatever.

So, I’m planning on doing this again next month and maybe thinking of making it a linky because I’d like to see what you’re loving.  But is there linky overload?  What do you think?

But I Don’t Have Anything to Write About . . . .

The favorite phrase of every reluctant writer.  Before you go all in with your writing lessons, it’s a good idea to firmly convince everyone that they do have something to write about.  Because otherwise, you’re kiddos that are uncomfortable with writing will cling to this phrase like a life raft in a storm.
But I don’t have anything to write about-helping your writers who struggle with the personal part of personal narratives.

First things first, I promised this little group of third graders that we would not be writing a story today. We talked about how hard it can be to come up with a story idea because you don’t go to the beach or Disney World every day.  But, it’s okay because that’s not where good stories come from.

I then told them two very boring stories-one from a trip to the beach and one from a trip to Disney World.  We talked about what was wrong with these stories: boring, just a list of what you did, nothing happened, etc.

I then retold a story from Disney World.  This time I chose a memory I had strong feelings about-the time we got soaked on Splash Mountain.  In February.

I told them if they’re stuck for a story idea, stop trying to think of ideas and think about feelings instead.  We all have feelings, and that’s where good stories come from anyway.

First, I made a chart with four emotions.  I brainstormed a memory for each feeling.

Before I sent them off to do this in their journals, we created a list of emotions.
And guess what’s waiting for them the next time they can’t think of anything to write?

I did this same lesson with another class a few days later,  and a student insisted that he had never had any feelings.  Hmmm.  I told him to pretend.  Okay-maybe he was lazy.  Maybe he didn’t feel like doing the work.  Maybe he was trying to test the waters.  But maybe there is a little bit of truth there.

Many of our reluctant writers are not experienced with being reflective.  So telling these kiddos to do something they’re uncomfortable with (writing) about something there not comfortable with (internal reflection) is not going to get your very far.  Telling them to pretend may seem a little off track when writing personal narratives.  I get it.  However, just the act of writing about someone experiencing an emotion will help them become more self aware and give them practice writing.  It may not be where you want them to be right now, but the only way to get there is to start writing.

Here’s a little poster to keep your kids thinking about their writers’ lives in a different light.  I can’t for the life of me remember where this quote came from, but I love it:

You can use my $1.50 poster trick on this one.  Download it, stick it on a flash drive, take it to Office Max, ask them to print it on 11x17 glossy card stock.  Boom.  For $1.50, you’ve got a poster.  The watermark is not on the download.  But apparently people like to steal pictures off Pinterest and redirect them to their hairstyle blogs.  And no matter how many times you report this to Pinterest, they don’t care.

Do you have any tips for getting started with reluctant writers?

Writing the Substitute Won't Hate

I had a blast this week working in a second grade classroom.  I taught second grade for eight years before moving to third and fourth.  It was my first love.  One of the fun things we did was this awesome writing activity from Lauren and Jeanine's Creative Corner.

On Tuesday, I read Miss Nelson is Missing to the class.  We discussed beginning, middle, and end.  I also told them we were going to write a story, but not to worry because we wouldn't be writing it today.    Big signs of relief.  Each student made a bubble map of ideas to plan their story.  Here's mine:

After they finished their plans, I called the kids back together on the carpet with their plans, and I told them that I had tricked them all.  They had actually done all the hard work of writing.  The hardest part of writing was coming up with ideas to write about, and they had come up with plenty of ideas.  Tomorrow, they would write their stories and all the ideas were there waiting for them.  Insert happy faces.

On Wednesday, the class wrote their stories.  No tears, just writing.  It was a beautiful thing!

5 on the Fifth

It's the fifth, which can only mean one thing on this blog.  It's time for . . .

If you're new around here, these posts show off the heart of teaching blogs-the sharing of really great ideas.  Five on the Fifth even has its very own Pinterest board.  You can follow it here.

Time to hop over to Ginger Snaps for this cutie pie camera All About Me board idea.  Love it!

Love that these littles are writing from another perspective.  Higher level thinking from the beginning! Check out this awesome writing activity using The Day the Crayons Quit from Not Just Child's Play.

Magic Mistakes and Mayhem gathered up some nerve and did something I think rocks.  She gave her kids 20 minutes of freedom, 3 times a week TO LEARN WHATEVER THEY WANT TO LEARN.  There's no fooling around here.  You better be learning (said in my sternest Southern mama voice).  But it's whatever you.  How awesome is that.  She kicked the status quo's butt.

My techie nerd heart started beating faster when I saw this on What the Teacher Wants.  You should tour her lab and buy this tech themed alphabet from Elementary Techie Teacher on TPT.  Even better? Elementary Techie Teacher is from Baton Rouge.  Just like me.  I feel like we may be soul sisters.

Trying to move your kiddos past "nice" and "cool" with character traits?  Read this post from Head Over Heels for Teaching.  She has a whole fantabulous set for her class to interact with as they read.  I can think of so many great ways to use this!