Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Summer: Time To Catch Up On Hobbies

In between all the schoolwork and impromptu trips to the pool, park, or local children’s museums to provide the copious amounts of gross motor activity 3 little boys need to ever fall asleep each night, I have some hobbies.  Shocking, I know.

I’ve already read 3 books just for fun (Quiet, a random YA novel that was the third in a series I started ages ago, and The Witch’s Daughter), I’m saving The Handmaid’s Tale for when I’m dying for something new while I reread an old favorite, AND I’ve preordered the next installing in The Pink Carnation series, which is due out early in August.  My neighborhood just updated the fitness center, so I decided to take advantage of that and have started exercising.  I got several new card and board games for my birthday that I’ve been playing a lot.  It turns out cooperative games are lots of fun, without the hurt feelings at the end because your husband put a hotel on Boardwalk when he KNEW you only had $300 left. (Talk about overkill!)  I highly recommend Quirkle, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island, and Chrononauts.  The “forbidden” ones are both cooperative, Chrononauts has 2 variations on gameplay, one of which is a solitaire version, and Quirkle is easy enough that my 6-year old can play, yet it’s challenging enough to still be fun for adults.

And then there are the many sewing and knitting projects I have either in progress or on my to-do list.  It wasn’t until this morning when I actually added all my crafty projects to Wunderlist that I realized how many I have!  And, of course, I want to finish them all before school starts and I get too busy to work on them again.  I have a shawl in progress (Follow Your Arrow Shawl), and I’ve barely started the second fingerless mitt in a pair to wear on those fall days that are cold only in the morning and evening.  I need to actually sew the next size cloth diapers I cut out months ago for my youngest; he needs to move up a size any day now.  I also got a sewing pattern for Christmas (Amy Butler’s Liverpool Shirt/Dress) to do some selfish sewing that I haven’t done more to than look at it wistfully.

I really do have a deadline for the knitting projects though.  My brother is getting married next year.  It will be an outdoor wedding, in October…in New England.  Translation: even if she chooses a long-sleeved dress, the bride will be FREEZING!  So I volunteered to make a warm shawl for my sister-in-law to be, whom I adore and would rather not see her get pneumonia.  I started the Rosana shawl once already, and completely messed up.  I had to rip out everything I’d done, and was irritated about it.  So I did what anyone would do; I procrastinated by starting a different project.  I vowed to restart her shawl at least a year before the wedding though, to make sure I had plenty of time to finish it, which means all other nonessential craft projects stop in October.

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Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop + 6-Trait Writing: First Rubric Complete!

I’ve been planning to attempt to put together the Lucy Calkins units for writing workshop with 6-trait writing for quite awhile now.  I love how Lucy’s units are organized and have a focus of getting kids to write about things that are interesting and meaningful to them, but sometimes have difficulty scoring them.  Another thing I feel like they lack is definite links to grammar rules, so I need to be really careful to add in those lessons.  Since many of the workshop units have fewer minilessons than necessary to fill a month, those “extra” days are where I plan to do specific grammar lessons.

But back to the rubrics.  The versions of the writing workshop units I have do not include any rubrics at all; I don’t have copies of the book, I have essentially “cheat sheet” versions of each unit from my district that were developed from the books.  Because of that, I started with the 6-trait writing rubrics, which are available online for free at Education Northwest’s website.  There are different versions for K-2 and grades 3-12, along with different point scales.  I created an editable version of the condensed grades 3-12 rubric by copying and pasting, and added another page from the 5-point grades 3-12 rubric by copying and pasting the publishing section (not included on the condensed rubric).

From there, I made a copy of the editable version, and highlighted each letter in the 5-point section that seemed to be a goal in the Lucy Calkins unit I created a rubric for (4th grade, unit 1).  Next, I went back and deleted the letters that weren’t included in the unit.  The way the rubric is structured, each section has several items that are looked for, and they are formatted in a lettered list.  When I deleted criteria, I deleted the words, but not the letter it was beside.  I want my students to know that other criteria will be expected later, and if I put a coded note on a student’s paper to show they did something particularly well, or that they should specifically work on improving one skill (WC-B would mean Word Choice, criteria B), I want the code to mean the same thing all year long.  I’m also keeping a copy of my rubric where I did the highlighting so the next unit’s rubric already has a starting point.  If I’ve already taught a skill in the rubric, I’m going to expect students to continue to use it in the next unit.

Here are my resources so far:

To edit the resources above, click them, go to file, and make a copy in your Google Drive, or go to file, download as Microsoft Word (docx.).  To use them as-is, just click the link you want and print, or download as a pdf.  

When I create the rubrics for further units, I’ll probably put newly added skills in bold or otherwise show which skills are new to the rubric and which ones students have been working on for more than one unit.  I think that will be helpful for myself, my students, and their parents.  If a skill has been on the rubric for more than one unit and a student is earning only 1 point in that area, that’s a red flag that we need to do something differently for that child.  Maybe we need to have small group or individual instruction on that particular skill, it needs to be a conference focus, etc.  Either way, the student can’t fix it if they a) don’t know it’s a problem and b) aren’t given help to improve.

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