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




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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.

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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.

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Young Poets

December 8, 2011

The poems were posted, all hung with care
In hopes that the viewers would see learning in there

Most students chose to have their work displayed on the board.  The rest were okay with display in the classroom.  When I asked one student why he didn’t want it on the board, he replied, “Well, I got a little crazy with it.”

Technically these are first drafts.  I usually have them ‘rough draft’ these sorts of things, but we missed that step this time.

With no formal art instruction, the kids appreciate the opportunity to illustrate.

This poem is clever in its simplicity:  “Santa’s now out:  Wow!”

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‘Tis the Season

December 6, 2011

I pull out poetry for the holidays;  it is an engaging activity with a lot of seasonal flexibility.  My 3rd/4th graders are on the second day of Christmas acrostic poems, with some great products.  I’ll take some pictures and post them.  Best line so far?

Moms work hard!

Interestingly, I told the students that I’d be posting these on the bulletin board outside of the office.  Most students were like, okay.  Some students, however, said, “Mine’s not good enough for the board.”

I like that they know quality work and I want them to always have work that’s “good enough for the board.”  We’ll get there.

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Kentucky Blues

October 25, 2011

We are getting ready to learn more about Kentucky than any Alaskan students ever expected to learn!

My 3rd/4th Grade Language Arts group has penpals in Kentucky.  How did that happen?  Check out ePals.  It is a site connecting students and classrooms globally.  We just happened to connect up with Kentucky.

We will write letters (so old school!  But, I think the best of Old School.)  We will research the questions they have for us.  We will find a way to post our information online.  (Wiki?  Blog?  Webquests?)  We will find a way to video-conference with the other classroom.

This really is driving the LA curriculum with the group.  Well, no, the Standards are driving the curriculum, but this is going to be the vehicle to travel through this part of  Learning-ville.  I am SO excited.

Here are a few Youtube videos that I’m showing the kids as advanced organizers:

Kentucky Adventure

Eastern Kentucky

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