And after Aaaallll…it’s my Wonder Waaaaaal!


So if you haven’t read Wonder by R.J. Palacio yet, you need to get up on it! Appropriate for grades 4 and up, this touching story is about a boy with a facial deformity who struggles at his new school, after being home schooled for most of his life. It deals with themes such as friendship, loyalty, bullying, and kindness. I got this idea for my bulletin board from a blog called “Teaching in Room 6” Instead of a postcard to the teacher, I had the kids write a letter to the author. Click here to download my instructions:  Wonder – Letter to the Author. Here’s a rubric:  Wonder – Letter to the Author Assessment.

First, I had the kids pick a precept (rules to live by) that really spoke to them. I had them interview 3 adults and ask them what they thought the precept meant. Then they drew a self-portrait in the style of the cover art, along with their precept below it.

After that, they wrote a 5-paragraph letter to the author, where they shared their precept and what it meant. In addition, they told the author what they thought the theme of the book was and justified it with examples from the book.

wonder board

I kept the kids’ rough drafts on a whim, and I’m glad I did! I knew the kids needed some practice on the computer, so I had them type up the letter, insert a picture of themselves, and print it out. In the new era of computerized testing, these skills are absolutely essential! I plan on sending the typed letters to the author later this month.

The kids absolutely loved this book and they enjoyed the project, too!

Here’s one of my favorites! We’d been working on idioms, and I think this young lady got “blow my top” and “knock my socks off” mixed up!  🙂

wonder board example


Mentor Text – The Day the Crayons Quit

crayons quit

Ever wondered what would happen if items we used everyday suddenly quit on us?  Drew Daywalt envisions such an affair, with his imaginative children’s book called The Day the Crayons Quit.  Humorously illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, this book is appropriate for any early elementary grade level.  I used it this year for the first time in my 4th grade class as a mentor text for writing, and I could see it being used in such a way on up through jr. high.

I asked the children to imagine an item they used on a regular basis, and what it would say to them if it could talk?  We first brainstormed some ideas on the overhead, then began writing.  After writing, they were to draw a picture to go along with the writing.  Click here: The Day the Crayons Quit for the instructions for this activity.  Kids are given practice in the art of a personal letter, as well as perspective.  Below are three of the more creative responses I got.  Really cute and fun!  Kids were totally into it!





My first blog entry!! After weeks and weeks of considering what my first post would be, poring over books about writing and blogging, and trying to figure out the in’s and outs of WordPress, I came to the realization that I just need to stop procrastinating, take the plunge, and WRITE. So here goes…

For the past several years, I’ve had an itch to write. It all started about 6 years ago with a weeklong training I took called The Area 3 Writing Project. The A3WP is a professional development network for California teachers and administrators. They use the “teachers teach teachers” model to share the successes of those educators who effectively teach writing at all grade levels. My goal was to become a better writing teacher, but an unforeseen side effect was a desire to write for myself! That week changed my life as a teacher and a lit a fire inside me.

I hope to share my past and present experiences in elementary teaching with a splash of wit and the occasional dose of humor! I plan on writing book reviews, sharing lessons, daily happenings in the classroom and teacher lounge, and, of course, the occasional rant. I want to share my ideas and my opinions, my successes and my failures. Hopefully, I’ll make some connections in the teaching community and get some great ideas to try in the classroom. At the very least, this will satisfy my urge to write. So, in the words of the immortal rhyme poet KRS-One, “Let us begin…”