Archive for January, 2011

Spotlight on Descriptive Writing

This week our focus is on descriptive writing.  Mrs. Arnall’s 4th graders just completed a cooperative  project with a school in New Hampshire.  The project is called the Monster Exchange and has been around for a few years now.

What is the Monster Exchange?  The website describes it as:

Monster Exchange is designed to encourage the development of reading and writing skills while integrating Internet technology into the classroom curriculum. Classrooms from a variety of schools worldwide are paired together; the students in each classroom are split into groups, each of which designs an original picture of a monster. The students must then write a description of the monster. The partnered classes then exchange their descriptions via e-mail and the Internet. These students are then challenged to use reading comprehension skills to read the descriptions and translate them into a monster picture. The true challenge involves creating a redrawn picture as close to the original picture as possible without looking at the original and using only the written description of the monster. 

“The written descriptions, original monster pictures, and redrawn monster pictures are scanned and uploaded to the Internet using the browser-based Monster Gallery Builder. The Monster Gallery Builder is entirely form-based and does not require the teacher or student to know any HTML code.”

“The Monster Galleries are then published, and feedback is provided via e-mail.”

Take a look at what Lindsey’s 4th graders did with descriptive writing for the Monster Exhange. 

 Monster Exchange 



Technology in the Primary Grades

What happens when you add tecnology, literacy, and kindergarten-first grade students?  This week our feature classrooms are Kelly Dunn’s, Jaime Roweton’s, and Lindsay Wallace’s.  Take a look at what is happening in our primary wing.  Thanks to the wonderful teachers of those students who took the time and risk to make this happen!

Kelly’s First Grade 

Our Netbook Adventure

Jaime and Lindsay Skyping with Kindergartners

Our Skyping Adventure

Marzano and Vocabulary Instruction

Lately, the topic of vocabulary instruction keeps coming up when teachers talk about student progress.  How do we help our kids learn the vocabulary they need to understand the concepts being taught?  Our kindergarten teachers worry about students coming to kindergarten without strong language acquisition, and our fourth grade teachers struggle to help students build the vocabulary to understand grade-level reading passages.  Students who start out behind continue to be behind unless there is intervention.  So  . . . what do we know about teaching vocabulary?

As I was searching for more information on vocabulary instruction, I ran across this blog sited in one of my online journals.  I hope it helps!

Marzano’s 7 Steps to Vocabulary Instruction

Focus on Writing

How do we make sure our kids are writing as much as they need to write in order to improve their writing and still keep our heads above water when it comes to assessing all that writing?  This week, I ran across an article with some interesting points about how and what we should assess.   Enjoy!