So this year I was on maternity leave and missed 3 months of school from January until April. When I came back from leave, I had about 3 weeks of instructional time until we starting doing Spring assessments. If you are a control freak in the classroom like I am, you can imagine how frustrating this was!
However, I did not want my maternity leave to affect the expectations for my students so I put my adult pants on and said, "We CAN do this!".
I came back to work on April 4th... it is now April 27th and my FIRST GRADERS can write a 5 sentence paragraph (we wrote them 2 weeks ago) with a topic sentence and a conclusion! They are also starting multiplication (which I will be writing another blog about very soon)!
So, if I can do it, so can you! And I want to add that this particular group of students does not have many strong writers & my long term sub did NOT do Whole Brain Teaching. As a matter of fact, she is more of an old school teacher (she is retired) and did a lot of sentence frames and helping students spell words. I give my students resources and strategies to find and spell words and then it is on them to do their best ... and I am not a stickler for spelling... grammar, yes but spelling I want them to try their best & use the strategies I taught them.
So with that said... how did I teach them in 2 weeks? Whole Brain Teaching of course!
This is the key to writing paragraphs.... ready for it?
Yup this is it! It is the TRIPLE WHAMMY!
Another genius idea from Coach B himself!
Here is a graphic with some information about the Triple Whammy...
You can get this (and all the other Brainys) on the Whole Brain Teaching website under the Brainy Game!
Here is how I teach this in a nutshell to save you time...
FIRST: I teach that a triple whammy is a 3 part sentence and we practice the gesture.
THEN: We practice triple whammys by talking to our neighbors about our 3 favorite colors, games, shows, movies, pets, books, etc!
NEXT: We share out our triple whammys (using oral writing with punctuation!). Once students are familiar with orally writing a triple whammy, we try actually writing it in our writing notebooks. They write as many as they can in a given time frame.
AFTER THAT: I will have a student share out their triple whammy and then I will ask for details. It looks like this...
S (Student): I like pizza, jelly beans, and apples!
Me: Why do you like pizza?
S: (Using complete sentences) I like pizza because (clapper) it is hot and cheesy!
Me: Why do you like jelly beans?
S: I like jelly beans because there are different flavors and they are sweet!
Me: Why do you like apples?
S: I like apples because they are juicy and healthy!
Me: Tell me your triple whammy again.
S: I like pizza, jelly beans, and apples!
Me: You just wrote a paragraph!
S: (SUPER EXCITED!)
When you are having your students write orally, make sure they are saying things exactly how they should write them...which means you always want them to answer your questions with a complete sentence! And if you are Whole Brain Teacher, you will also want the gestures for capital letters and punctuation.
THEN: After one student has orally written a paragraph with my help, other students always want to try it! We will do this (with me helping) for a day or so. Then I will ask if anyone is ready to try it on their own without my help! It can get tricky so we practice this for a few days.
NEXT: I teach the students about Topic Sentences & Conclusions!
FINALLY: Student are ready to physically write their paragraphs! Here are some of the paragraphs my students wrote just 2 weeks after I returned from maternity leave!
These are the 1st paragraphs my students wrote (final drafts). Once students have this basic understanding, we work on developing our reasoning, using transitional words, writing spicy sentences, and improving in specific writing skills.
I also have a Kid Blog account that I use as an incentive and to meet Common Core Standards. After my students write an acceptable paragraph, they are able to blog it! You can read more about how I use Kid Blog here!
I will come back to this post and add videos of the steps & oral writing!