Three easy suggestions that will keep your students reading and writing

 November.  The point where kids know routines.  For the most part.  And the thrill of being in school has worn off.  For the most part.  Some of your kids love coming to school.  Others push back because they have to work hard.  Teachers are such pluggers - trying to meet all of these kids where they are!

Keep students reading and writing

Getting kids to write was something I usually enjoyed.  It does require sensing what students can handle and when they need you to mix it up a bit.

Mentor Sentences
One of the most successful writing tools I used was mentor sentences, sentences from books my students frequently read. 

Pick any good sentence from a book and have your students explore it.  What makes it so meaningful?  Why does it grab them?  What kinds of language did the author use?

Now, pull some of the words out.  Nouns need to be removed, maybe a verb and/or adjective or two.  Let students fill in their own words and watch some magic happen when they share with their classmates!  Lots of good and helpful feedback that gets kids excited.

I wrote an earlier blog post about mentor sentences and their value to writing instruction.  You can read about that here.
Thanksgiving reading challenge
Reading Challenges
My students always enjoyed doing these.  We usually did one in the Fall and one over Winter break.  Each time, we celebrated our reading with a snack on a "Curl Up With a Good Book and Read Day."  
Fruits and vegetables for cornucopia for Thanksgiving reading challenges
What to do:
If you don't have a daily reading expectation for your students, set a reasonable goal with them.  For my students, it was 30 minutes.

Of course, they had questions about what that looked like.  
  • Yes, 30 minutes could be broken up by interruptions.  10+10+10 minutes still equals 30 minutes.
  • Yes, if they loved reading in their favorite chair, they could do that the whole time.  They simply needed to mark it on their fruit or vegetable
  • Did they have to cut out the ones they did?  Yes, and put them into the cornucopia with glue or tape.  No glue, tape, or scissors at home?  Bring it to school and put it together here.
Give them some time to read in class once you start the challenge.  That way, kids who aren't in love with a book can switch, and ones who take a while to get going have some time to get into a book.

Grab this from my TpT store in time for your Thanksgiving break!
Thanksgiving writing challenge
Don't Stuff the Turkey
Working on strengthening writing skills is hard!  Authors often talk about how they write and rewrite and throw away and start writing again.  And kids DO NOT LIKE to part with words they put down!

Sometimes, it's fun to break hard work up with fun assignments that continue to reinforce writing skills, but don't feel like it.

This writing piece was timely.  We had just learned about how to write persuasively and I wanted to give students a fun way to practice it.  Should your turkey get stuffed?  Why or why not?  We had a lot of fun describing creative reasons for our points of view.

That's what this one is all about.  Let the kids have fun (you decide if you want to grade it or not) and reinforce learning without them even realizing it.  You can get this one here.

If you're interested in keeping students reading and writing in Science, you should read this blog post by ProtonPriest about the ways she engages kids!

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