What We Remember About Narrative Writing

September 15, 2014

It has …

Characters…people or aliens or animals
Setting…which is where it is and the time
“Once upon a time”
Main characters
Plot…what’s in the story that happens…a problem and solution (conflict and resolution)
Drama, emotions
A mean person…villain
A nice person…hero, smarty pants
Romance or action or comedy




Post to Twitter

Global Read Aloud, Round 2

June 23, 2014

I’m getting a lot of text notifications from Edmodo these days regarding this year’s Global Read Aloud.  I’m so excited and it isn’t even until October!  I am going to read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with my elementary group and hope to read The Fourteenth Goldfish with my middle school reading class.  Right now, we are working at making connections with other classrooms to share the book.  Interested?  Intrigued?  I’d love to help you get involved with this project!


Post to Twitter


April 3, 2014

Even with standardized testing LOOMING…or maybe because of it…we took some time for Genius Hour last week. My students work so hard on their projects; let me share some with you.

When a student moved, this student took over his volcano project:


Next, another boy is writing his own guide to surviving Minecraft.  We hope to get it published online somewhere.



This student is half a partnership that is planning a school-wide paper airplane contest:



Another girl wanted to learn more about traditional Native Alaskan housing and is finishing up the interior of a sod dwelling:



This project has been the most difficult to keep moving, my rose gardener.  She’s working on her final poster now:



These are her roses:


 (I trust you see her frustration.)


After studying salmon, this fourth grader made a life-sized three-dimensional model.  He used finger paint and said it had been a while since a teacher let him do that.



He’s created a collage to mail to his favorite ball player, in hopes of an autograph:



She’ll have a Barbie dollhouse when she’s finished:



And soon, this will be a model of Jupiter:



I love Genius Hour because I see my students as creators.  We get that sometimes in our other Language Arts work each day, but this hour is when they shine.

Want to learn more about Genius Hour? (The only real answer to that is “Yes!”)  Check out the Genius Hour Live Binder or follow #geniushour on Twitter.

Post to Twitter

Challenger Learning Center

May 1, 2013

We are in the middle of a comet rendezvous simulation mission. This is the kind of thing I would have loved loved loved as a student. I was on a (albeit short) path to astrophysics at one point. This all reminds me that I need to keep STEM in my brain as I plan for reading and writing lessons. These skills can be taught with any content, you know. And it is their future, even here in remote Alaska.


One of the best reasons to do these things? My instructional decisions directly impact by own daughter. Lucky girl, right?


I also think a few video clips from the “Apollo 13” mission control room might be in store tomorrow.


Post to Twitter

Tell Me, Tempted Tiger

November 18, 2012

The school year moves quickly like a snake slithering through slime or a tiger tempted by the toes of tourists.  What have we been doing?  Each of the following deserved its own blog post but time doesn’t wait for the blogger and quickly these things are old news online.

  • Skype:  My elementary group has so far skyped with two classrooms so far this year, one in British Columbia and the other in Alabama.  Feedback from the kids was that it was FUN.  We will work at doing it again.
  • Penpals:  In looking for Skype classrooms, we found a classroom of pen pals in Spain.  We will be working together on a blog.  We’re a little disappointed that we can’t Skype with them, pesky time zones!
  • Reading Scores:  Allow me a shameless brag that my elementary students did well on their quarterly comprehension test.  It is an anecdotal confirmation that the Daily 5 structure is working for the students in class.
  • Write Tools:  Write Tools is mostly organizational strategies for expository writing.  While it seems a bit overdone to say it is magic, nevertheless, the tools have a great impact on all the writers I work with.  I attended an ‘advanced’ training last week and have more tools in my box and can’t wait to pull them out for multi-paragraph writing aka “The Essay.”
  • Goals:  While no longer 100%, I’m still running at a ‘proficient’ level for both my paperwork goal and my Book Club goal.  My read-to-my-kids goal…well, that isn’t going as well.  My little kids at home are so busy!  They don’t stop long enough to read a book with Mom!
  • Writing Contest:  Many writers in our school will enter a local writing contest, myself included.  Check back to see how we do!

Post to Twitter

100 Word Challenge is so much fun!

October 3, 2012

We have our second 100 Word Challenge prompt posted over at Warrior Writers.  My students are very excited to see posts from their friends, other teachers and people from around the world.

We really like the 100 Word Challenge at http://100wc.net ... writing for a real audience is a great way to learn our craft!

Post to Twitter

My “Daily 5” Baseline

August 17, 2012

One thing I want to explore this year is The Daily 5.  My baseline of understanding of it was that a lot of teachers on Twitter and Pinterest do something called The Daily 5, and there was something to do with a cafe and of course it has a hashtag #d5chat.

That was last semester.  I’m a little further along in my understanding, though not by much.  I bought the book but haven’t looked at it yet.  I know there are five components (ok, that is a ‘duh’ observation) and it supports literacy instruction.    But I’m intrigued and in an instructional place where I can incorporate the ideas into the elementary reading/language group I will work with this year.  I am looking forward to learning more about The Daily 5 through social media and classroom implementation.

The Daily 5

  • Read to self
  • Work on writing
  • Word Work
  • Listen to reading
  • Read to Someone


Post to Twitter


March 31, 2012

Student walked into class this past Friday and asked, “It is Friday.  Who are we Skyping with today?”

#FarAwayFriday is the brain-child of @TechAng, a teacher in Eastern Canada.  Her class Skypes with a different person each Friday who reads to the class.  We had the priveledge of being that class on March 23rd.  Our students read their own works to the class, and then answered questions about life in Alaska.  @TechAng reported back that the concept of living in a ‘village’ was an eye-opener for her urban students.  That, and our proxiemity to volcanoes.  Plus the many feet of snow out the window…in March.

Our ‘aha’ was that we can communicate beyond our school’s walls in an immediate and engaging manner.  One of the skills for 21st Century Learning is Global Awareness.  #FarAwayFridays is one way to get there.  We’ve only done one, but we are certainly interested in doing more.

Post to Twitter

Starting Place

December 15, 2011

I promised the 3rd and 4th graders an online video to display recent work regarding spelling rules.  What I would love is for them to tell me, “Mrs, Stading!  We want to do an online video for _____________!” but I know they aren’t there yet. However, if you are ever going to move forward, you have to start somewhere.

Animoto might be that place for them.  I know it is my starting place.

What I like about Animoto is that it does all the fancy stuff for you…you just add words, photos and videos.  It is also super easy to revise.  For example, the first version of the video doesn’t showcase the student work very well…but the animation is lovely.   So I tried a different version and now it is about the students, and not about Animoto.

Post to Twitter