Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

High Five For Friday! 2-28-14

Welcome to the end of February and the end of week 25. Boy, I can’t for the temperatures to catch up with the week number! Here are the highlights from the past 7 days:

Feedback Oreo (c) Kristen Dembroski

1. The Feedback Oreo – We recently began the Show Me Creative Writing Unit in Language Arts class. Students learn to write short, detailed, language-rich descriptions with specific word choice, sensory details, and metaphor. An integral component of this unit is the feedback or critique process. We begin by doing this as a class to model appropriate language and feedback. My students were doing a phenomenal job with this, so I brought in real Oreos as a treat. The Feedback Oreo = detailed compliment, detailed critique, detailed compliment. Each student walks away with specific ideas of how to improve their piece as well as a confidence boost.

Weekly Cooking (c) Kristen Dembroski

2. Weekly Cooking – The best decision I ever made was to do all of my cooking for the week on Sundays. I make a couple of entrees for me and my husband – we split these up into individual portions for lunch and dinners. I often double the recipes and freeze half. Above, you will see a Vegetable Stir Fry, Egg Muffins, Thai Pad See Ew, Korean Beef Noodle Bowls, and a Chocolate Pie! Not having to worry about meals during the hectic week is a major stress reliever for me and helps me to continue eating healthfully.

PBIS Pizza Party (c) Kristen Dembroski

3. Pizza Party – To celebrate the winners of the PBIS Video contest, we threw a pizza party last Friday. All of the 8th grade staff helped chip in with desserts, soda, and other treats. It’s great to stop and celebrate with the students – it’s a great time to build relationships and reinforce positive behaviors.

Sushi (c) Kristen Dembroski Cupcakes (c) Kristen Dembroski

4. Celebrating – On Saturday night, my husband took me out to celebrate turning in Chapter 4 of my dissertation. We went to my favorite sushi restaurant, then to Gigi’s Cupcakes for dessert. I love spending time with my husband – yay date night! – and I have no idea what is better than sushi and cupcakes!

Money Challenge (c) Kristen Dembroski

5. Money Challenge – Have you seen this on Pinterest? It’s a weekly plan to put away money with the goal of saving up $1,378 by the end of the year. Since I’d like to buy a nice DSLR camera, I thought this would be a great idea. I’ve been putting away the suggested weekly deposit, but I’ve also been putting away some of the larger deposits for the end of the year. I guess I figured it would be easier to make these more difficult deposits when I have the extra cash. Have you ever done a money challenge? I’m wondering how well people stick with it. Seems like a great idea!

Ruffy & Rocket (c) Kristen Dembroski

BONUS 6. Cuteness – The boys got their hairs cut. LOVE them!

I hope you had a fabulous week! I’d love you to send me a link or tell me about it below!

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Warm-ups / Journal Entries

Warmup Journal  (c) Kristen Dembroski

Do you do warm-ups or journal entries in your classroom? This is SUCH a good idea for so many amazing reasons:

1. Your students need time to center themselves and transition their thinking between subjects.
2. It insures that you will do some writing every day.
3. Routine, routine, routine!
4. Students enjoy them. They can be creative, personal, inspiring, etc.
5. It’s a great way for students to track their own progress throughout the year.
6. It’s a great place to start generating ideas for longer writing pieces.
7. You can use it to introduce the big idea or topic of the day. Students can active their prior knowledge.
8. It can be used as an opportunity to review concepts from the previous day.
9. It provides immediate feedback (informal assessment) on your students’ state of mind. You can see who’s on task, who’s having a rough day, who needs a writing utensil, and how students are progressing toward your various learning targets, etc.
10. It gives you some time to do attendance and circulate your classroom to observe students.

I aim to do a warm-up or journal entry every single day. The type of warm-up / journal changes throughout the year, of course. But I always begin the year with ideas from my favorite teacher author, Kelly Gallagher. Though I am pretty sure I own all of his books, this one is his most recent, and my current favorite 🙂

Write Like This - Kelly GallagherNot to brag or anything, but I did get to meet him in person. He hugged me. And he signed my book.

Kelly Gallagher Signature (c) Kristen Dembroski

But I digress…

Anyway, this book is filled with some phenomenal warm-up or journal ideas. The reason I love to start the year with these is because I also want a chance to get to know my students personally. Here is a list of my favorite warm-ups from “Write Like This”:

* Six-Word Memoir
* Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
* Favorite Mistakes
* The Bucket List
* Childhood Games
* A Watermark Event
* A Treasured Object
* Top 10 Lists
* Unwritten Rules
* How Does ___ Work

His book is designed around different purposes for writing, including Express and Reflect, Inform and Explain, Evaluate and Judge, Inquire and Explore, Analyze and Interpret, Take a Stand/Propose a Solution. It’s a great reminder to us as Language Arts teachers that we must make sure to tap into each of these kinds of writing equally (I’m sure we all have our favorite, but… ). And I like to remember that each of my students (and myself, too!) have different strengths and weaknesses with each kind of writing. It’s important to explore and develop our writing skills in multiple ways.

Some other great sources for warm-up or journaling ideas are:

* Visit the “Writing Prompts” website. There are some very thought-provoking questions.
* Check out the “National Geographic Photo of the Day“. Have students write what they think is happening, a story based on the photograph, etc.
* Purchase “Descriptive Creative Writing: Show Me!” This is a complete writing workshop unit CCSS, lesson plans, discussion / activities, handouts, and rubric.

Descriptive Writing (c) Kristen Dembroski



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Zoo Animals

Do you ever get the urge to be creative? I know some people are just creative all the time, but I like to think that I’m a healthy mix of practical and creative. Unfortunately, the creative side doesn’t get as much face time as I would like. The result is that every once in a while, I get the ‘creativity bug’ and I go on a major binge. I’ll stay up late painting a mural, spend all afternoon knitting a hat, or find a new Pinterest project to occupy my weekend. A lot of these projects sit unfinished (shhh… let’s not talk about that…)

Well this weekend, I just felt like drawing. I love to draw. So I sat down and started drawing zoo animals. (I really desperately can’t wait to have my own kids so I can decorate their nursery!) Well after a while, I had a pretty great collection going! I made 25 total. Here are some samples, and some ideas of how I would use this in an elementary classroom, if I had one. These would be some really fun activities to do before a field trip to the zoo!

Zoo Animals

Zoo Animals (c) Kristen Dembroski


Camel - Zoo Animals (c) Kristen DembroskiIn Art, explore different art materials to create texture and shading.
Or, create a cool graphic design!

Lion - Zoo Animals (c) Kristen Dembroski

In Science, label the parts of the animal. Draw the animals habitat.
Write details in or around the animal about the lifestyle and eating habits. Hippo - Zoo Animals (c) Kristen Dembroski

In Language Arts, write a story or poem inside or around the animal.
Use the animal as an illustration in your own book.
Do a research project on the animal and use the printable as a note-taking sheet.

For Math, take a poll to see which animal is the class favorite. Use the animal printouts to make a giant bar graph. Use multiple printouts to represent proportions and ratios (ex. 1 lion to ever 5 elephants).

For Social Studies, research the current topics around an animal. Is it frequently in the news? Being used to help society in some way? Endangered? Create a large mural with several habitats, and allow students to place each animal correctly.

In Foreign Language, use the printables as posters with the target words (ex: name of animal).

For your classroom, determine each student’s favorite animal, write his/her name on the animal, and place it on the desk as a name plate.

There are TONS of ideas! I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section. If you’d like to download the Zoo Animals printable templates, click here! Thanks, and Happy Teaching!

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