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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our VERY FIRST “Write About It Wednesday”!!!!!!

Write About It Wednesday Graphic
Graphics: Cupcake for the Teacher, KPM Doodles, Teaching in a Small Town, G&F
I am so excited for our very first “Write About It Wednesday”!

I’ve partnered up with Kate over at Second Grade Sparkle for an ongoing series about writing in our classrooms.  Kate is sort of a celebrity now and her posts are always about 3,940,938 times more witty and clever than mine, so I hope you’ll bear with me!

Here’s how it works.  Kate and I will be focusing on a shared topic, but we’ll each give our own spin or routine on that topic.  We plan on making this a regular thing, and we hope you’ll join up with us and share how you do things in your own room.  I think writing is one of the more challenging {but fun} topics we teach, and the more ideas we teachers can get, the easier it is!

Our very first topic is “Stretching Sentences”.

I really enjoy doing mini-lessons on sentence structure.  It is one those concepts I feel like my kiddos get pretty easily.  One of the ways I get my students to stretch their sentences is by teaching them how to write listing sentences.  This helps to eliminate those short, choppy paragraphs about their trip to the amusement park.

You know, this one:

This weekend I went to Six Flags.  Six Flags is in New Jersey.  Six Flags is fun.  I went on Nitro.  I went on Rolling Thunder.  I also went on Superman.  The rollercoasters were scary!  They were cool.  They were fun.  We got to eat yummy food too.  I had a corn dog for lunch.  I had fries for lunch.  They were hot and crunchy.  Then we went on Bizarro.  Then we went on Skull Mountain.   Then we had ice cream.  I had ice cream with sprinkles.  It is was in a waffle cone.  I did not finish it because I was full.  Then we went home.  Six Flags was fun.

This is not a bad paragraph.  It has details.  It has order.  But it is chop-py.  Too choppy.

The first thing I do is model.  I usually write about whatever is on my mind.  This year I wrote about a Waffle Bar at a baby shower I had been to.


I write my paragraph with short and choppy sentences first. I ask them, “Did you like my writing?”

Here’s the thing….they always do.  It’s because I’m their teacher and they fear me love me.  So I have to encourage them…”Well thank you so much!  I am so happy you love this story!  But I think I can make it better.  You always tell me I am an amazing reader.  Did I sound amazing when I read my story?”

Usually, by now, that student who loves to point out your typos on every document {or life-altering mistake of calling a student the wrong name} will tell you that, no, you didn’t sound amazing. 

 “Why yes, you are right!  I think I sounded like a robot.  I think I sounded like a robot because my sentences were short and choppy.  It was hard for me to get a rhythm while I was reading.  That’s why we combine our sentences and stretch them out.  One way we can do this is by creating a listing sentence.”

A listing sentence?  They’re enthralled.

“A listing sentence is just like what it sounds like.  It has a list within a sentence.  Just like when your mommy or daddy goes to the supermarket.  They make a list of what they need to buy.  And when they make the list, they put all the things that go together in the same spot.”

That last line is important.  If you don’t say that I cannot be held responsible for the listing sentences your kiddos end up writing.

“When we write we want to use listing sentences to make our sentences better.  When we do this we can save space for more sentences, which means more details, which means a better story!  Let’s read my writing again.  Does anyone see a place where I can create a listing sentence?”

We then go through my writing and find the one or two places where I can make a listing sentence.  It’s important not to overdue it.  I don’t want them thinking that every single paragraph they write will have a listing sentence. 


After I write my new {better} copy, we talk about what all listing sentences need.

“We know that listing sentences have to list things that are related.  There is another thing all listing sentences need.  Commas!  We use commas to separate the words and ideas we are listing.”

The next day it gets really interactive. 

 I write a few listing sentences on chart paper.  Then I pull out the garage sale price stickers.  You know, the round fluorescent ones?  Yes, those.  Prior to the day’s mini lesson I write commas on them.  We read the sentences as a group, then I have a few kiddos come up and put the commas in the correct spot.




After our review on the carpet I send them back to their seat with a practice sheet.  The practice sheet is  filled with questions that require listing sentences for answers. 

Listing Sentences practice sheet

Grab the sheet by clicking the picture.

Now my class knows that I look for listing sentences in all future writing pieces {where applicable, of course!}.  This is a pretty fun and easy skill for them once they learn it, so I don’t need to offer many “refresher courses” on the topic.

Easy Peasy!  This mini-lesson/skill has every single one of my kiddos feeling successful because it's an important writing skill they all can master.

I hope you enjoyed our first “Write About It Wednesday” post and that you learned a new tip or trick.  At the very least, I hope you picked up the freebie! 

 If you have sentence stretching tip or idea LINK UP!

You can read Kate's post here.

As a thank you for stopping by, Kate and I are hosting a giveaway.  You can enter on either blog, and we will announce a winner this weekend.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a good night!



  1. I loved teaching writing in first grade. The growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year was amazing!

    Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

  2. Thanks so much for the idea on how to use those garage sale stickers - I love it. This is a great activity. I am very excited for your Write About it Wednesdays - it may be my pin about writing day!

  3. You have second grade writing down pat! Only you left out the part about the shower hostess having a dog. And when you came home you watched tv! And then you went to bed.

  4. My firsties have to write every day. I post a question on the board for them to answer. Then they have a rubrics to grade their writing. The 3rd step is to have a partner read their writing and use the rubric to grade it. Having to share with a peer is great practice for them!

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  6. Love the idea. :) I am student teaching write now and writing is one of the areas I struggle with but, I think this mini-lesson would really help the students. Thank you for the freebie. :)

    1. Right, not write haha. I had writing on the brain. :)

  7. We are using Mo Willems series, "Don't Let the Pigeon on the Bus!" to label and identify declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, and imperative sentences! We are also finishing an opinion piece on The Lorax.
    Thanks for a great post!
    JulieMs. Marciniak's First Grade Critter Cafe

  8. I love teaching writing and am excited to try your ideas!


  9. I am sometimes anxious about teaching writing.. I feel like I have ZERO time for it! I love the idea for stretching out sentences.. I am definitely going to try that with my kiddos.. some of us have a problem with writing only simple sentences in my classroom. I know your lesson would help! Do you only do it for a short period of time.. like 4 weeks? Or do you do it all year as a weekly thing? Thanks for the great giveaway!! I could buy everything in your store!

    That's So Second Grade!

  10. I am always looking for new writing ideas. Thanks!

  11. I am linking up! What a great opportunity. And I really like your stretching sentences 3rd and 4th graders could use some help with that!

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  12. I love teaching writing.. but unfortunately, it seems to get "cut" more in the day than it should!! I love incorporating it with Daily 5 and having my kiddos do fun writing projects... I have a small class so we normally stay on the same topic (next we are writing a descriptive spring poem!) Thank you SO much for the opportunity to win for the giveaway!!! :)

    Laura Love to Teach

  13. writing is so easy for my good readers and such a struggle for my low ones. this will help

  14. I love the idea of using stickers to teach commas in a series! I'm introducing it next week and will be using this lesson and freebie, thanks!!

  15. Our 1st and 2nd grade teams use the Lucy Calkins approach to writing and we have seen great improvement in our young writers!


  16. I love this idea! We currently use John Collins writing program which is great for mechanics but not content. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  17. I love this idea! We could defiantly use this in our writing program at my school. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Writing is probably the most challenging topic to teach (for me, anyway). The curriculum we use does not address the kinds of issues you just posted about, but they are definitely issues for some writers. I love your minilesson! I am pinning it right now!

    Can't wait to see what else you share in future posts!

    Primarily Speaking

  19. Writing is one of my least favorite things to teach. It is always such a struggle for some.

  20. Thank you so much for this idea! My students will love it!

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  23. What a great idea with the dot stickers!!! I do like writing, but it does take a lot of time...and I think that's why it sometimes gets pushed to the back burner. Right now we are working on opinion writing. I have a unit for fact and opinion writing for the entire year. I love it!! I am so excited to use it from the beginning of the year this upcoming school year because I think by doing the same writing continuously will allow my kids to become great writers. I am also doing the same thing with how to writing. I love to see my kids get excited about their writing especially when you give them the extra cheering when it may not be their best. But that extra cheering is just what they need to get the ball rolling!!!


  24. I'm VERY excited about your new series! Writing is the hardest subject for me to teach!! I love your ideas for teaching students how to write in a series. Looking forward to reading more great of your great ideas for writing!

    EduKate and Inspire

  25. Oooo! This is a fantastic idea! Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to following along!

    Teaching Maths with Meaning


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