As part of our Writer's Workshop lesson we were looking and listening to current events, then responding to them. This was something that is used as a way to come up with other things the students can write about...you know when they say "I don't know what else to write about" or that famous "I'm finished".
So I think I am always going to have a few articles and/or current newspapers in my writing center area as well as just simple pictures, that can spark some great writing.
Not only did we use the articles for our writing lesson, but we also talking about the elements of text. I am HUGE on having the students mark up their reading passages. I feel that if they do this then they tend to pay closer attention to them.
We start by simply marking the simple things such as Title, Headers, Captions, etc. We then get into more specifics of leaving tracks when reading: highlighting definitions, underlining important information, leaving our thoughts and questions as well! I love it when my reading and writing lessons just flow together and "make sense".
So here is my example:
(my article came from timeforkids.com, the students brought their articles in from home, others didn't have newspapers or printers so they copied the articles by hand)
In the first paragraph they had to write a summary of their article, the second paragraph was their reaction, thoughts, feelings...etc.
Not too bad for our first attempt. Love the title Presidential Stuff!
Also a new thing we are having to do is each class has to make and post their class promise (mission statement, constitution, whatever you want to call it). This is what my class came up with. I like the sign I made, but it is HUGE! Way too huge!!! The ceilings in my new room are very low, I feel claustrophobic with this up. So it's about to disappear and become smaller. But the kids did a great job on coming up with their promise.
Conduct and work habits update: some had asked what my rewards and such were for excellent behavior or work habits. The school has these things called shields that each student can collect (little squares that say they have been caught being good). Any teacher can give them one. They in turn collect them and two things happen...one they can be picked and announced on our morning announcements (a little recognition) and then they can turn them in at the end of the month for a small thing given to them by the school (a little soda, or lollipop, or ice cream...something). In my room I give them the punches on their punch cards that they exchange for different things. I hope that helps some.