The Big 3: Primary Writing Can Be Independent & Successful

Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.
I have debated and drafted and debated and drafted and tried to determine the best way to teach our earliest learners about writing "must-haves."  I landed on my BIG 3.  Students are asked to look at their writing critically and make sure they have all the necessary mechanics of good writing. But, when you introduce and practice the BIG 3 in  a a whole group, before you expect it in their individual writing, you can guarantee good results.

Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.

Anchor Charts

I have definite thoughts about anchor charts and I am more than clear about the explicit nature of anchor charts.  They must be created WITH, BY, and FOR the students.  Then, the students must practice using the anchor charts. After these steps, the anchor charts have meaning and depth and students use them easily.  The BIG 3 anchor chart can be constructed in one of two ways.  The teacher and the student can interactively create the chart over a few days (as pictured on the cover image) or the class can construct the chart with pretyped words and interactive writing combined.  Students should also be given a writing folder sized anchor chart for personal reference, as they are writing. When anchor charts are used consistently and taught HOW to use the charts, students own the chart and the task at hand.

Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.

Sing it!

Anyone who has spent time in a classroom knows that if early learners can sign about it, they can learn it.  As a matter of fact, they can sing it before they understand it.  It is incredibly important to make sure they have connected the meaning of the song with the action.  There are hand motions to the song:

Writing a sentence is as easy as can be (One hand "holds a pencil," while the other is opened flat to mimic the paper.  As the student sings the song, the pencil writes on the paper.)
All you need is the BIG 3 (student holds up 3 fingers)
Capitals to start (both hands stretch up as high as they can, bouncing as the student sings)
Spaces in between (two hand come to shoulder height and push out from the sides, making spaces)
A period to stop, if you know what I mean. (Bring 1 fist across the body and stop it on the other open hand.)
Writing a sentence is easy as can be (repeat earlier motion)
All you need is the BIG 3! (repeat earlier motion)

Step-byStep Instruction

Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.Students will practice the Big 3 independently with predictable sentences.  As they practice the sight word sentences, students can check each sentence for capitals, spaces, and end marks. This is a wonderful guided writing practice because it's controlled.  As the students are successful, they are directed to use the Big 3 during all their writing. Putting a 3 at the top of their writing, they can quickly check the top of the 3 for the capitals, the middle of the 3 for the spaces, and the bottom of the 3 for the end mark. This is a simple rubric, easily replicated by the students.

Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.

Journal Writing

I've used these rubric writing journal covers with students for both journal writing and/or morning work. Students writing each morning will look at the rubric from the day before and remind themselves of the Big 3.  Having the daily rubric on the cover, lets students know where they can make sure their attention is going when they write that day.  On Friday, I would send this weekly writing booklet home to be celebrated with their families.

Using the BIG 3 with early writers is a great way to get students involved in their own writing.

CLICK HERE for a free sample of the BIG 3 Journal Template.

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Students who are taught from the beginning to self-check, will be able to easily analyze their own writing quickly. Using the BIG 3 is an easy way to hold them accountable for capitals, spaces, and end marks.

5 Books Worth a Pot of Gold

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!
Happy St. Patrick's Day Week!

I have to admit, there are things about St. Patrick's Day I like and there are things I don't. Encouraging everyone to wear green is fun.  But when you teach kindergarten, the last think you need is a reason for kids to pinch each other.   I am also not a fan of green pee in the toilet in our classroom.  It just grosses me out.  AND I don't want anything about the bathroom to be a game.  I do like the thought of rainbows and pots of gold.  I don't like the idea of a leprechaun making a mess in the classroom, but I do like talking about vocabulary words like "sly" and "sneaky."

Regardless, enjoy 5 St. Patrick's Day books with a little FREEBIE for each!

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Parade

I think this is a funny book.  I feel sorry for Jamie O'Rourke's wife. As the book says, Jamie is the laziest man in all of Ireland.  From the beginning, you aren't sure if Jamie is going to always be lazy or if Jamie will have a change of heart and behavior.  The FREEBIE contains a character analysis using potatoes, of course, for your students to write about Jamie at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  Another great activity is using Mr. Potato Head to disguise the potato as it was stuck in the wall.  Similar to Disguise a Turkey, these potatoes can be a great start to creative writing.

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!

St. Patrick's Day in the Morning

There is something so sweet about this book.  The focus of the book is on another Jamie.  This Jamie is the youngest in his family, but he is definitely enthusiastic about the St Patrick's Day parade even though his family thinks he's too small to walk to the top of the hill.  This book follows Jamie's journey to the parade  Jan Brett's illustrations are beautiful, but I love that the color palette is sparse.  The FREEBIE activity in this pack is all about creating shamrocks with rhyming words.  Another writing lesson would be asking students to write about something everyone else thinks they are too little to do.

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!

The Night Before St. Patrick's Day

This book has the same fun as The Night Before Christmas and the Night Before Thanksgiving.  In this book, we find Tim and Maureen learning about the traditions of St. Patrick's Day and devising a plan to catch the leprechaun in hopes of getting his pot of gold.  The rhythm of the story is delightful and recognizable.  The FREEBIE is related to catching a leprechaun.  The students are provided a paper with a leprechaun and they must devise a plan.  One year I had a student say, "You just need a box of Girl Scout cookies.  No one can so no to those."  Could be the best plan I've heard.

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!
There Was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover

This is another book in the series from Lucille Calendro.  Students love the growing pattern of the story and the surprise at the end of the story.  This story has the same charm.  The FREEBIE is a story card with all the different items the old lady ate.  Students can use the cards to retell the story to their friends or to rewrite the story in their own words.

St. Patrick's Day Read Aloud are like a pot of gold!

Leprechaun in Late Winter

Finally, this isn't a book you can read in one day.  I have written about the Magic Tree House series before.  Sharing 1 chapter a day with students can create excitement and stamina.  Students will need to review the previously read chapters, predict what will happen next, and summarize the chapter of the day.  They get to know Jack and Annie and enjoy all their adventures.  The FREEBIE in this set is a vocabulary card for this installment of the Magic Tree House.  HOWEVER, the entire set is also a FREEBIE at my TPT store (it's the hidden treasure in this post.)

If you'd like the FREEBIE, click the St. Patrick's Day Activity Set.

If you'd like the Magic Tree House FREEBIE, click the cover below.

Enjoy St. Patrick's Day.

Cause and Effect for Early Readers

I actually had someone tell me early readers didn't need to know about cause and effect because "it was too hard to bring it to their level." I, respectfully, disagree.  It's not necessarily about the skill, it's about the approach.

Rain and Umbrellas...the easiest example

Kids know why they use umbrellas...it's either used in rain or in the bright sun. Provide students with picture cards and ask them to tell the relationship between the pictures. Lead them to use signal words "because" and "so." Let them discover the cause and effect BEFORE you call it such. Using a pocket chart or a document camera, continue to show students sets of 2 pictures and ask the students to tell you the relationship between the two. Once you establish the relationship between pictures THEN name the relationship.

Make an Anchor Chart

Once they understand the relationship between the pictures, ask them to help you make an anchor chart. (You know I believe in Anchor Charts for everything!) They should help you create the poster and decide what the chart should include (with your guidance). The anchor chart can be recreated for a reading interactive notebook or an independent center. Using velcro(R) dots on the pictures can help make the anchor chart interactive.

Let them do it!

Let them do it OVER and OVER and OVER. I try to explain to teachers doing an introduction lesson and making an anchor chart is not all the explicit instruction students need. They need to do it over and over in a controlled setting BEFORE they can do it independently. Most teachers in our area are held to the "I do. We do. You do." cycle of instruction. BUT the "We do." can't be about the anchor chart. Students must interact with a lesson or strategy or skill many, many times before they are expected to perform that skill. They need to find partners in the room with pictures that can create a cause and effect relationship. They need to practice explaining the relationship orally BEFORE they can
explain it writing. They need to practice explaining it in writing BEFORE it's expected to be graded. We tend to be in such a rush to move from skill to skill or lesson to lesson, we aren't giving our students, especially our earliest learners a chance at success.
However, after lots of practice with direct instruction and support, students can use what they know about the relationships to create independent sentences. They can choose the pictures for cause and effect, then choose one pair to write a complete sentence with a signal word.

See, it's not hard, it's just strategic!

For a Sample Cause and Effect set, click the link or the picture below. You will be directed to my email sign up. Your subscription is your entry in my giveaway. I will use random name picker to select my winner and announce the winner on February 27th! Good luck and thanks for dropping by!
https://page.co/ejdyZ

If you'd like the Full Cause and Effect set, click the link to my TPT store.


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3 Ideas Inspired by "New Old Shoes"

If you want a book perfect for sharing the idea of reusing items, this is the book for you.  This mentor text can help readers of all ages understand why reusing items is important and exciting.
I found this INCREDIBLE book at a thrift store for 99¢.

You know from previous posts I love teaching writing to emergent learners, cvc words, and mentor texts.  What you may not know is I also love thrift stores.  I'm a cheapie at heart.  I'm always checking out the local thrift stores for 3 things:  binders (they are so much cheaper), word cards (aka topic cards) and books.  Last week I found the book "New Old Shoes" by Charlotte Blessing.  I had never heard this story, but trust me it's amazing. I'm sure you can understand how the red sneakers caught me eye.  The book was a discard from the public library, I don't understand why.  It's in great shape...no tears, no markings, and it's hardback.  It was just 99¢!

What's so great about this book?

An Intervention for Struggling Writers: Stoplight Writing

Even struggling students can become independent writers the an easy routine of Stoplight Writing.
Teaching emergent readers to write can be far more complicated than you think. Writing words involves, at a minimum, knowing letter names, knowing letter sounds, understanding letter/sound associations, knowing letter formations AND being able to hold the pencil and make the letters. WOW. That being said, practice makes permanent. Practice with letter identification. Practice with letter sounds. Practice with letter/sound associations. Practice with letter formations AND practice writing.  Even with all that practice, there are students who need more.  Don’t be afraid:  it’s all about routine…and practice.  Obviously some students need more help than others and this would be small group or Tier 2 intervention for struggling writers.  This intervention is called "Stoplight Writing."

What do you need:

1.  Letter/Sound Chart.
Even struggling students can become independent writers the an easy routine of Stoplight Writing.

Using a great letter/sound chart and using it often can help students jump over the first three hurdles.  I use the Fountas and Pinnell Sound Chart – for everything!  We start our day with the sound chart and a letter sound chant.  My students always say, ”A /a/ apple.  B /b/ bear.”  My friend’s class says, “A is for apple, /a/ /a/ /a/.  B is for bear, /b/ /b/ /b/.”  Regardless of the process…the routine is crucial.  At the beginning of the year, the students echo my chant…one letter at a time.  By November, the students and I chorally chant the sound chart.  Friday can be backwards day.  We chant the sound chart starting at Z and ending at A.  By December, we pick a column on the sound chart and chant the sound chart down one column.  We refer to the sound chart when we write EVERYTHING as a class with modeled, shared, and interactive writing.
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