Writing Workshop & 300 Follower Giveaway!

This month, in Jivey's Workshop Wednesday, it's all about how to set up the various workshops for the year. This year will be my first year teaching reading/communications for 4th grade. I'm not sure that everything in my departmentalized classes will follow the workshops completely due to time constraints, but I will be implementing various workshop techniques as I can.  Today, I am focusing on writing workshop.

I've blogged about it several times, but I intend on utilizing mentor sentences next year, (thank you to Jivey & the Collaboration Cuties!). The concept makes complete sense. As a special education teacher, I quickly realized how visual many of my students were. I also learned that my students followed models very well. However, finding mistakes and knowing why they were mistakes was very hard for my students. By having good models to emulate, hopefully, all of my students will be able to understand the concepts better as well as become better writers.

When I jump into something, I really like to dive in. I want to know the ends and outs. What to expect. Why programs are the way they are. As such, I bought three really great books from Jeff Anderson the mastermind behind the mentor sentence method. Mechanically Inclined was the first book I read. I started it around 9 or so at night when my husband went to bed. I then stayed up till midnight to finish it. Shortly there after, I thought to myself, who am I? I've never stayed up to read about grammar and enjoy it. The book was so crazy good and inspiring I just couldn't keep my mind from spinning all sorts of ideas for this coming year!

Some of my suggestions would be to read Mechanically Inclined, Everyday Editing, or 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know all are by Jeff Anderson.

For a couple of other ideas I plan to implement that aren't so "behind the scenes":
  • Writing notebooks, composition books as suggested in the books above
  • Various colored pens. Last year students would go crazy to use one of my colored pens. I plan on letting students use these from time to time to help motivate them.
I'm sure there are other ideas I'll add to the mix along the way.

Be sure to share your workshop ideas every Wednesday this month!

Now for something else... With the BIG shuffle over to Bloglovin' my little blog met another milestone! 300 Followers on Bloglovin'!! I figure, that with this switch, even though followers via Google Friend Connect aren't quite to 300 yet, it's still a milestone worth celebrating. So I'm celebrating! {You have a week to enter!}

There are 2 Ways to Win!

  1.  Fill out the raffle copter and try to win a $25 TPT gift certificate (great for all of that back to school shopping!)
  2. Leave a blog post comment with your best back to school ideas: setup, read aloud, ice breaker; any idea will work. I will randomly pick 2 comments to win an item from my TPT store!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So incredibly thankful for you all! What a wonderful network of people and friends to learn from and with! :)


  1. Yay for 300!!! Another one of my favorite beginning of the year books that I didn't mention Sunday is The Golden Rule. Great book about treating others the way you want to be treated- good to set up expectations. :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  2. Oh yeah and thanks for linking up! :) I love those Jeff Anderson books!! :)

  3. Since we start on a Thursday I spend the 1st couple of days doing a lot of "Getting to Know You" activities. The kids love them and so do I and it eases us into the school routine. I am also going to try starting to use the "Bucket Filler" system in my room. I have bought several of the books, just hoping I can get it going the right way and stick with it (I have a bad habit of starting off well on things then letting them die off when I get swamped :( ). Just a side note, I am OBSESSED with the Wizard of Oz (It's all over my room...may have to send you pics sometime)so I love your blog title :)!

  4. My favorite beginning of the year books to read are probably a little different than what you'd use for 4th grade (haha), but The Kissing Hand is always a good one for incoming kinders! :)

    Congrats on 300!!

    ✿ Regina
    Keepin It Krazy

  5. I love First Day Jitters, I will be looking for some new ones to add to our first day.

  6. This is my first year in my own classroom, so I look forward to reading everyone's Back to School ideas-especially for 4th grade. I do like First Day Jitters though.

  7. Gotta love Jeff Anderson! ;O)

    There are so many great books to read aloud at the beginning of the year! How to pick just one...We talked about a bunch on Sunday...hmmmmmm...I really love Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge...

    Congrats sweet friend!!
    Collaboration Cuties

  8. I take pictures of my second graders in a cap and gown to create a "future college grads" bulletin board.

  9. Congrats on the giveaway! My favorite back to school activity is to read "First Day Jitters" and then to make "Jitter Juice" with the students (From Babbling Abby's unit). The students LOVE it and it's just such a fun way to end the first day back! jkroske@gmail.com

  10. Congrats on 300! I'll be a first year teacher this upcoming year, but a book I plan to use (like many others) is "First Day Jitters". One of my professors read it to us on the first day of class and I just loved it. I also want the students to come up with a goal they want to try to accomplish that year. Lots of other ideas floating around in my head, but those are two that I definitely want to implement.

  11. In kinder we must read Miss Bindergarten and The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters... and we don't do much else :)

  12. Congratulations on 300! Jeff Anderson is one of my favorite writing authors. :-) I love mentor sentences as well!

    I think one of my favorite back to school books is "This Is The Teacher..." I read it at the end of the week because the last page is all about how the teacher is EXHAUSTED!

    Craft of Teaching

  13. Congratulations! 300 is awesome! One of my favorite things to do the first couple days is to take them outside and do some trust activities. One I love is to have them join hands in a circle and number off. The evens lean in, and the odds lean out. They are amazed that they can do it, and it emphasizes that if a good year takes everyone working together. They realize that they work together and be strong, or they all fall.

  14. Congratulations! I just realized that if I add up all my follower buttons...I have over 500! I held a giveaway at 100...that seems like only a few months ago...wait! It was! Anyhow, way to go. I wrote a post about my favourite back to school activity on my blog at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca/2013/06/back-to-school-mentor-texts.html. It was part of our buddy bloggers Collaboration Cuties Mentor text linky. Check it out if you get a chance, there is a great freebie attached.

  15. One thing that I have done for Back-to-School, that I feel, has worked really well is to give each of my students an index card. They are to write down 5 questions they have about 5th grade. I collect the cards, shuffle them, and then start going through the questions. It is a great way to get a little insight into my new students...what they are nervous about, what they have heard about 5th grade (and me!), what things in the room have drawn their interest, etc. :) Many of the questions are things that I plan to cover in going over areas of the room and procedures that I want them to follow. I think it gives them a sense of ownership in the process and they pay attention a bit more. Throughout that first week, I pull out a few cards at a time and answer their questions. One of my favorite question card memories is from the year one boy for whom being cooped up in school was torture asked for his number one question...When does school get out? I could only laugh and tell him that that was probabaly NOT the way to best impress his new teacher on the very first day. :)We all shared a good laugh, and I really think it set a positive tone for our relationship for the whole year. :)

  16. On the first day of school, I place a half sheet of paper with the first letter of there name written, largely, in black sharpie. There job is to turn it into a picture! These are so neat!

    Congrats on 300!

  17. I start every year with a stack of books about friendship, respecting our names, how we dress, etc. it sets the expected tone for respect and friendship in our classroom.

  18. My favorite back to school activity is one I first tried last year. We had a getting to know you snowball fight (I found this on Pinterest.). The kids loved it so much that they wanted to have one each time we got a new student.

  19. I love to send home a bag with directions at Meet the Teacher night. It is an All About Me bag and the kids put things inside to share about themselves on the first day of school.


  20. Spork is a great read aloud book to promote inclusion!

  21. Congratulations!! I love to read First Day Jitters.

  22. Wahhooooo! Congratulations on 300 followers :)

    My favorite back to school activity is: POP QUIZ!
    I pass our paper and pencils to my students and tell them it's time to get back into the "school mode" with a pop quiz! They all groan and look a little sick :) I show them how to set up their paper and have them number 1-10. Then I ask them ridiculously hard questions about myself. There is almost no way they could know these answers - they just have to guess. It's a really fun activity that lets them get to know random things about me, models for them how I want them to set-up their papers, and the student who gets the most correct wins a prize! I also tell them that this is the hardest quiz they'll take all year because there was no way for them to prepare for it. Then I promise to be their partners for the year and that if they put in the work, I will make sure that they are prepped and ready for each quiz and test they take. The kids LOVE it!

    Joy in the Journey

  23. I love the book 'We Share Everything" It is entertaining but has a great message to go with it.


  24. Congratulations on 300 followers! Thanks for the great giveaway! :o)

    My favorite back to school read aloud is "First Day Jitters." Such a cute story!


  25. My favorite read aloud the first week of kindergarten is A Place Called Kindergarten. It is such a cute book about school not being a scary place but a fun place :)

  26. I LOVE to read "Ramona Quimby, Age 8" to my 3rd graders the first few weeks of school. It is the book where Ramona enter 3rd grade and has all sorts of issues at school. The kids always enjoy it. :c)

  27. Congrats on 300 followers! One of my favorite read alouds for back to school is First Day Jitters. I usually only have a kid or two who has ever read the book, so it is fun to see the look of surprise on their face when we get to the end!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  28. Congratulations on 300 followers! I love Jeff Anderson's work. I use a bunch of his lessons in my classroom throughout the year.

    One of my favorite books to share with my kiddos is The Hundred Penny Box. My students use that book to create a penny book-one penny for every year of their life. It's a great way for me to get to know my kiddos at the start of the year.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  29. Congratulations on 300! Here is to 300 more!

    My favorite read aloud in 4th grade is The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, aka Mary Poppins. It has great description and a lot of teachable moments.


  30. I am a special education teacher, working in a full inclusion program with 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. My first few days of school are spent in the students' homeroom classes listening in on what is going on, learning names/faces, and sharing tidbits about myself. I always try to be in each classroom when the teacher is doing their back-to-school activities, so I can participate, too!
    Beth Snively

  31. Congratulations on 300!!
    I don't generally do getting to know you activities, I will be teaching 10 of the same kiddos from last year and getting 10 more, but we are a very small school and we all know each other pretty well, plus we do color houses for spirit days.
    This year I am using the book You're Finally Here by Melanie Watt on the first day!

  32. Congrats on 300 followers! My favorite book to read in the beginning of the year is Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna. It's a great book to teach kids that things aren't always the way they seem and not to judge a book by it's cover. The kids love the story and enjoy the discussion.

  33. Congrats on 300! For the beginning of the year, creating classroom rules together is a must! I feel that it makes the students more responsible and accountable for their actions. I also do a lot of Kagan team building and class building.

  34. I always start the year with the Kissing Hand. This seems to be a book that everyone can relate to. Congrats on 300 followers!

  35. Congratulations!!! I love to read First Day Jitters.

  36. Congratulations! I also like to read First Day Jitters. dbednarsk@yahoo.com

  37. Yay!! Congratulations Christy!! I like to show a powerpoint with information about me and personal photos of my family and pets. I think it really helps to start building a relationship with them when they know I am a "real" person! Then, I do a writing activity and they can tell me a little about themselves (they all have SO much to share after seeing pictures from my life!). It helps build that connection early and when there is a connection, students will want to work for you even more:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

    1. If you had to recommend just one of those three books for me to start with, which one would it be?

  38. Congrats on your 300 followers! I have a lot of favorite back to school activities and books that I do. I love Leo the Late Bloomer and they cut out flowers and write on each petal something they want to learn this year.

  39. I would have to say that my favorite back to school read aloud would have to be First Day Jitters!

  40. Congratulations on your milestone! I have lots of back to school ideas. I think the best is teaching the students sign language from the first day on. I teach them the alphabet, and certain words, and then we get started on the learning the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language. It is highly engaging and I use the sign language a lot for classroom management.


  41. Congratulations! My favorite back to school book to read is First Day Jitters. We also make jitter juice...the kids love it.

  42. My favorite book to read is First Day Jitters. I also send home a "Getting to Know You" bag as homework on the first day of school. I model my own bag and that usually gets the kids excited to go home and create their own bag.

    Even though I live & teach in Tennessee Kansas has a special place in my heart! I was born in Topeka, KS, but spent most of my life in Dodge CIty, KS. My parents still live in Dodge CIty I graduated from FHSU and my husband graduated from K-State. I love the Sunflower State. :)


  43. Rock on Christy! 300 is so awesome! I had been waiting too, so I know exactly how you feel!
    One back to school thing that I am going to do this year is read Wonder. What a fabulous book and it fits in great with our character ed. program.


    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  44. I tried something I found in someone's blog...'saving' a gummy worm by getting it into a gummy ring. Great teamwork activity & lets you see who likes to take charge!

  45. Way to go Christy! I love getting knew ideas from everyone especially on Writing Workshop. Although I've been teaching for over 20 years, I never stop learning and implementing new ideas! After I read everyone's posts on how they do workshops, I will share mine so I don't repeat. If there is anything left! All the ideas are amazing! I am your newest follower and teach 4th grade too!
    Rockin Resources

  46. Congrats on 300 followers! I love to read "A Bad Case of Stripes" near the beginning of each year to remind kids it's important to be yourself.

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  47. Hi! Congrats on 300 followers! I always just like to sit in a circle and listen to all sorts of things about my new students. It makes them excited to learn about me and their peers but also keeps them interested because they can share about themselves.


  48. Congrats on the 300 followers. I love doing activities related to literature on the first few days of school. Some of my favorites are "The Kissing Hand", "CHRYSANTHEMUM", and "A My Name is Alice".


  49. There are so many great back to school books!!! Some of my favorites are The Kissing Hand, First Day Jitters, Officer Buckle and Gloria, Chrysanthemum, The Recess Queen, A Bad Case of Stripes, Enemy Pie, and Scaredy Squirrel. I also love to do get-to-know-you activities like Find Someone Who and Kagan's Swap Talk.

  50. My favorite back to school read aloud is "A Fine, Fine School" by Sharon Creech. I also read "Amelia Bedelia Goes to School".
    Toni Nicholson

  51. Congratulations! My favorite read is "The Best School Year Ever". The students really get a good laugh with what goes on with the Herdman kids. We are also going to create a "Facebook" lapbook which the students will then share with their table group and eventually with the class.
    Sue Mescall

  52. Go Christy! Go Christy! Congratulations my friend! Great giveaway! I didn't realize I wasn't following you on FB! Thanks for sharing some great books!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  53. At the beginning of the year I read Dear Mr. Henshaw, great book that leads to character discussions and helps you get to know the kids really quickly, especially empathetic kids and those who have been through divorce or had to move to a new school. While completing 1:1 BOY reading assessments the kids answer the 10 Questions that Mr. Henshaw sends to Leigh Botts. We turn the questions in to an about me booklet that their parents can peruse at open house. The booklets also give you a neat glimpse in to the kids' lives.

  54. I think establishing positive relationships with parents is one of the most important things to do at back to school time. I try to send home a positive note or write a positive email or even pick up the phone and call home for each student with something positive to share in the first three weeks of school. It goes a long way toward having successful parent relationships when your first experience with them is a positive one.

    The Math Maniac

  55. Ms. Nelson is Missing is one of my favorite back to school books. Congrats on the 300 followers!!!

  56. Congrats on your followers! That's amazing! :)

    I always read Have You Filled a Bucket Today on the first day. We talk about filling and dipping into each other's buckets and how important it is to be a filler instead of a dipper. It is something we that keeps going throughout the year!

    Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers


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