Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Class Shared Writing Blog

Blogging is such a great tool to use to encourage your writers. This year I created a 100WC Blog (see previous post if you aren't sure about 100WC) where all of my students are authors and able to add their writing. I was worried they would be able to edit each others posts but thankfully they do not have access to each others writing.

A huge benefit of having all students writing on one blog is so they have easy access to each other's writing to give feedback. Parents can also easily see their students writing and it is also all in one place for the teacher to access.

To add multiple authors in blogger:

1. Click on settings in blogger.

2. Under BASIC scroll down and you will get to PERMISSIONS. Here you will see yourself as the ADMIN and under that there is an +ADD AUTHORS button. Click on this and add your students.

3. Blogger has made it easy for you to do this and you can choose from your contacts. Once your students accept the invite they will be authors to the blog. Make sure you keep them as authors and do not make them admin. Doing this will enable them to make changes to the blog and change other students work.

The final thing you will need to do is teach the students how to add labels and ensure you enable labels on the blog. Every time students put up a piece of writing they need to put their name as a label. This makes it easy for me, other students and parents to find the piece of writing from specific students. I also get my students to give their writing a title using their name first.

This term each student will be getting a class list. They will start at their name and then work their way down making comments and ticking them off on that once they have commented for that student. They will need to do 5 comments a week - this means every student should get 5 comments a week. The following week they will do the next 5 students on their list and so on.

If you have not seen my post on how to create a comment template click here as this makes sure the students follow a structure when giving feedback. Without this my students would write comments like, cool!! nice writing!!! This has really helped with the quality of comments they give each other now.

Monday, 2 October 2017

100WC - Improve Students Writing

Finally it is holiday time and I can share some of the things that have worked well in class for me over the term.

If you have not seen the 100 Word Challenge website I suggest you check it out. This is run by the amazing Julia Skinner (@TheHeadOffice) and is a weekly writing challenge for students.

Students are given a motivation - this could be a picture, part of a sentence, or a few words - at the start of the week to help them write a 100 word piece of writing. That is it - 100 words! It is great to get my boys writing as you can do so much teaching with 100 words and it doesn't take them long. Students then upload the piece of writing to their blog - or class blog (this will be my next blog post) and then add the link to the 100WC website.

From this link other teachers and students can see it and your students will get feedback from people around the world. Each week their is a SHOWCASE and this highlights the best pieces of writing. Here is a piece of writing from a girl in my class that was 'showcased' and from that I got many tweets from educators around the world praising the student. I shared these with the student and it made her term!

There is also a twitter chat each week and you are now able to join 'Hubs', although I have not done this yet. Joining a hub puts you in contact with several other classes around the world and then you can comment on each other's writing.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Trying to Make Writing Easier

This term I am playing around with how I do writing in my class. I want to make it easier for me and for my students.

For Students

I used to share a writing motivation for the students - this could be a picture, article, video etc - and then they used to write down all their 'wonderings' in their book. Once they had written down these they had to list all the possible ways they could write from their wonderings. The problem with this was all this information stayed with that student.

What about the student that can't come up with something?
How can everyone else's wonderings and possible ways of writing help the whole class?
What if someone else's ideas motivate me more to write?

Taking these questions into considerations I decided to create a Google Form, which I have shared on my class site, that the kids can see the writing motivation on. They then complete their wonderings and possible writing - see pictures below.

On the same page of my site I have embedded the response sheet (Google Sheet) so when they complete the Form their responses are displayed straight away. Now all students can see straight away what each other has come up with for wonderings and ways to write.

For Students and Me

I have shared something along this line before but am sharing again. 

At the end of each writing session I get my students to complete a 'Teacher Help Form'. This helps me prepare for my next session. They need to tick one of the following boxes:
  • Happy with where I am at
  • Have started but have hit a speed bump - need you to swing by my table for a quick chat
  • A little bit lost - can I have a conference please?
  • Totally lost - HELP ME!!!
  • Finished draft, proof read and edited - conference please

For example, today after I have worked with one of my writing groups I know I have to swing by 6 students desks to have a quick chat. The students like this as they have asked for help without anyone seeing they are - which can be a issue for some students. Also - if I have any other time in class I can check in with the students that have asked for help.

How it looks on my site:

Click on links below to make a copy:

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Post Comment Template in Blogger

In my class we have a blog where we share writing with each other, and we are now starting to look into peer feedback (this is part of my teacher inquiry). My students were struggling with what to write or how to start their feedback so I have added a selection of sentence starters that pops up when they comment in blogger. See below:

This is pretty easy to do. Just see the image below and follow these simple instructions:

1. Go to blogger
2. Click on 'Settings'
3. Click on 'Posts, comments and sharing'
4. Add what you want to put in the .Comment Form Message'
Click 'Save'

Sentence Starters:

I really liked . . . because . . .
I really liked the way you . . .
I enjoyed reading this because . . .
It was especially good when you . . . because . . .

I think you need to . . . because . . .
Next time you write . . .
Think about adding . . .
Have you thought about . . .
To improve your . . . try . . .
Perhaps you could . . .

Friday, 28 July 2017

Homophone Worksheets made by Students

Today in class I taught my students how to make 'Self Marking Forms' after getting them to complete the one I shared earlier last week. It was pretty successful and they have done a pretty good job. These will be put on our class site where students will be able to access and complete when they have finished spelling and writing work. I plan to keep adding so there are lots of options for them. These ones are only homophone sheets but hopefully we will get creative and make a whole range over the term. Click on the links to make a copy if you want.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Teacher Help - Writing

I love teaching writing but I get frustrated when so many kids need help and there is only one of me to go round. This term I am going to trial a Teacher Help Form. At the end of writing sessions I will get the kids to complete the form - you can make a copy below. It will ask the following: 

Teacher Assistance 

I will then be able to make a plan of attack for the next day. I am thinking I will be able to catch up with kids who need help if I have any other 'free' time in class. This could be after a reading session, before school, or if I some how manage to find a few free minutes during the day.

Keeping track of this will also help me see what kids are always asking for feedback and help me keep track of who I have seen as in the Google Sheet I will be able to make notes.  Fingers crossed it will make giving feedback in writing easier.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

EasyBib Bibliography Creator

Easybib Bibliography Creator is an add on for Google Docs and Slides and is an automatic bibliography citation generator. It is easy to use and will get students into the habit of citing work correctly, something they will need to do later in life.

If I had this tool when I was at university it would have saved me hours! Type in the name of the book, article or website you have been using, click search and then add to bibliography. It really is that easy.

Watch the short video for instructions.