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My humorous thoughts about life.

"My Humorous Thoughts About Life & Teaching"

Monday, October 7, 2019

October Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week is here and definitely a good thing to teach in the classroom. I'll never forget when my son came home from a fire assembly worried about being on the second floor of our house. We bought him a flexible ladder to keep by his window, and that helped him to sleep well. That ladder has never been used in over twenty years, but it still sits below his upstairs window. I'm just thankful he never used it to escape out of the house during his teenage years. At least we think he didn't . . .

My best year in teaching fire prevention was when we entered our city's video contest. My kids had a blast making a movie about fire prevention. It won a prize and was shown to the school, so it may be worthwhile for you to search the local fire department to see if any contests are in place. If they aren't, there is nothing wrong with putting on a skit for another class. The kids will love it and learn about staying safe, too.

Chicago Fire historical fiction story & questions



Also, find enough Fall Activities to keep your kids engaged and challenged throughout the month of October.



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Now, for a song!






Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Varying Sentence Structure

We've all seen our students write stories that begin with the same subject in each sentence.

chocolate bar #writing #teaching
                               


                               He went to the store.
                               He bought a candy bar.
                               He ate it on the way home.

         BORING.

Today's focus is varying sentence structure in writing, which can also be called using syntactic variety.

First off, if the subject is the same, students can combine the sentence into one sentence with series commas.

He went to the store, bought a candy bar, and ate it on the way home.

That fixes the feel of being in a car where the driver constantly slams on the breaks. Of course, this sentence has other problems, but if you've been following my writing articles, you know what to do!

Syntactic variety not only means joining sentences for smoother prose but also sprinkling short sentences along with the long ones to make for a better sounding passage.
writing about a kid in love with chocolate
In Love with Chocolate!

When Malcolm entered the Sweetie Pie candy shop, he spotted his favorite chocolate bar. The dark chocolate Millie bar, complete with marshmallows, almonds, and honey waited for the taking. Yum! Unfortunately, the Millie is the most expensive candy bar in the shop. $3.45 for one delightful taste. It was worth it! He carefully dug a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the waiting clerk. Before he could step out of the store, Malcolm had already ripped the wrapper. The sweet chocolate sloshed around in his mouth providing ecstasy!

Notice the shorter sentences sandwiched between the longer ones. Also, the sentences do not all start with "he" or use the same structure. That is syntactic variety. To teach this skill, have your students play with simple sentences or ideas. Tell them to include an interjection (Wow! Yay! Yikes!) somewhere between their long sentences. This technique will make their passages shine.

If you are interested in teaching students to vary their sentence structure, below is a link to a PowerPoint lesson that does just that.

lesson on teaching kids to vary sentence structure









I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!


You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

I hope you've enjoyed my series on writing skills. Tune in next month where I will provide guidance on things to do in October.

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 



Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Show Don't Tell

#TpT Article to teach show don't tell

I was upset when the car hit my dog.

Those of us who own dogs certainly understand how someone would feel if they lost their pet. After all, my dogs are my children. But as a reader, simply telling someone that you are upset does not invite them into the story. In order to truly build an understanding, the writer must show the scene as it happens.

First off, I think of what I would do if a car hit my fur baby.
  • cry
  • scream
  • stomp my feet
  • bury my face in his fur, the grass, etc.
Sometimes when I am writing, I feel like an actress as I physically go through the motions of what I would do before writing it all down. After living the emotions in my mind, it's time to write a scene as if I were a part of it.

The red Camaro whipped around the curve striking my dog, Zep, and continuing on its murderous path. Darting to the road, I sank to my knees and buried my tear filled eyes in his cold lifeless body. "No. Oh, no," I cried. Next, a blood curdling scream escaped from my throat as I moved his remains to a patch of grass. Fisting the trunk of a tree, I knew things would not be the same.

When writing with description of what happened, the reader becomes more invested in the scene. To teach this skill, I give each kids a note card with a different emotion written on it. They must write out a scene to show this emotion but are not allowed to mention the given word in their writing. Students read writing aloud as classmates have fun trying to guess which emotion the student has written about.
  • happy
  • sad
  • angry
  • proud
  • mean
  • afraid
  • confused
  • embarrassed
  • worried
  • surprised
After students practice this skill, you could give them a simple scene and have each child practice writing what you describe. For example, the teacher could say:  "After we hit the nurse with snowballs, she was angry." Instruct the students to describe the scene and show the anger. What did the nurse do?

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get a free resource along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!


You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Listed are PowerPoints to help teach this concept.


I hope you've enjoyed my series on writing skills. Tune in next week, where I will provide one final writing tip along with a prompt involving an October scene.

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart.