Sunday, November 30, 2014

Alpha Box Reading Strategy

Hello out there,

I picked this idea up years ago either at a workshop or conference and it’s called the Alpha-Box.  We use the Alpha Box all the time in my class.  This organizer is a nice way to foster reading comprehension and class discussion ensues. 

Once you read a story, ask students to fill in as many letter-boxes as they can with words from the story. Words such as the, he, she, it, like, an, a, etc. are not acceptable. Students may think outside the box and add emotions that characters felt in the story.

1. Explanation: Students have read Charlotte’s Web.

2. Pass out Alpha-Boxes.

3. Students fill in as many letters as they can.

4. They may write as many terms in each box as they desire.

5. Once you have given students ample opportunity to fill in boxes, ask for student responses for each letter.

6. In order to avoid hearing the same words over and over, ask students to put thumbs up if they had that term written.

7. Teacher should fill in responses on a blank copy as a sample.

8. This activity presents opportunities to open comprehension discussion at all levels. For example, a student might respond with “spring” and you could ask, “Why did you say spring, Sally?” And the student may say, “In the beginning Wilbur was a spring pig.” Others might write “terrific” because Wilbur was terrific.

Alpha Box- Charlotte’s Web
A award   amaze
arable       appeal
Avery       angry
B   barn breakfast
C Charlotte
chores clever crumble county caring
D daughter   dejected discouraged doze death
E eggs excited
F   friends
    farm fearful food fair
G goose
H Henry hatch
I intelligent
J joy
K kind
L lonely life
Lurvy leftovers listless
M mimic morsel modest
N novel nip
O outstanding
P pry pledge pasture prize
Q quiet quiver
R radiant
rambunctious rival runt rummage rodent
S selfish spider
sheep stall sow salutations snooze scamper
T terrific
   Templeton trough
U Uncle understanding
V vain
W web
Wilbur waddle

X, Y, Z
yell Zuckerman

I received this worksheet several years ago in a training.  I have included an updated freebie for you below.  Just click on the Alpha Box Freebie link.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello out there,

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving.  We spent the day with some good friends in San Clemente, California.  The weather was in the mid 80’s.   After growing up in Boston, I never thought I would eat a Thanksgiving meal outside.  The kids ran around all day and we got to relax after an amazing meal.  Throw in some football, desserts and laughter…now that made for a nice day!

I hope you all had a super Thanksgiving.  Black Friday makes for an easy decision to stay in.  I’ll be talking to you soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Important Writing Questions For You to Consider


These are some questions you might want to consider when planning your writing lessons.  I refer to this list throughout the year when I reflect on my students’ progress.

Important Writing Questions For You to Consider

How often do I ask my students to write?
Do I model writing lessons for my students?
Do I teach students the writing process?
Do I plan out writing lessons?
What is the time frame on student feedback?
Do I have a goal for how I want my students to write by the end of the school year?

Am I familiar with the Common Core/ Writing Standards?
After lessons are taught, what is the next step I need to approach?

How is the writing scored?
Are students familiar with scoring?
Are parents aware of how their child is writing?
Do students understand the purpose of the writing assignment?