Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beginning, Middle & End

In my district we teach writing with the 6 traits. My kinder kids just got done with Organization. I know I have previously mentioned that we use the "O Train" to help us teach this skill. 
The O Train really helps my, very visual, ELL students. They can easily see that the train has 3 parts, just like their stories. This is how I introduce it to my student...
The first, or beginning, train is the engine, and it is green, for go! That is the start of our stories and helps to lead, like a line leader. The second car is the middle, the most interesting and exciting part. This cart is yellow, and helps us to slow down. The last car is the end and is red. This means stop and the end of our stories.
For my ELL kids I also transferred these images to their writing paper, without the color of course. Here is a freebie for you. Again, this is what my Kinder Kids use, not my 1st graders.3 pg bk 3 lines a
As you can see, I have added the train parts to each page to help my students remember what part they are working on. This also helps them to not start a new stories on each page. They are to stretch their stories out to have a beginning, middle and end. I also added 1st, 2nd and 3rd to the trains.

Before my students begin to write they have to plan their stories. I have a couple planning pages that go with the writing paper but I find that if you have enough time for them to complete a story it is best to have the students touch each page and say what they will draw and write on the lines. However, because I don't have a lot of writing time with my ELL students I do use the planning pages. Just click on the image below.
The students are only supposed to sketch their story in 3 parts quickly. The reason for this sheet is for students to remember what is supposed to come next and last.  When completed my students staple this page to their book and can transfer their illustrations and story.

Once all that is taught and becomes routine I teach leads and transition words. Sounds like a lot for a Kindergartner? It may be but some kids get it, and others will at least have been exposed to it and will have some sort of foundation when they get older. 

I teach leads as "Story Starters". They "lead" the story, like our engine and line leader. We talk about good ways to start a story and how it is pretty boring to always start with "I". "We", I, brainstorm possible ways to start our stories, out loud and create a list. I type the leads on my laptop and have my kids watch. This way I have a clean poster that the students recognize. The story starters are mounted on green construction paper to match the train's engine.
In a few days time I introduce transition words. No surprise they are also color coordinated to match their cars.
I realized once I had them up I should have added the trains to them too. Oh well, they color will have to be enough.
Finally, (like my transition word?) I also print these on colored paper and place on the board for easy referencing.
Most kids won't use transition words. Only the really quick kids will pick up on it. However, I find that having them up and referencing them when I model writing really helps my students understand what I am talking about. They start to use them when they are talking, which is a fantastic side effect for me as an ELL teacher.

Another way we practice telling our stories in 3 parts is with 3 hula hoops or 3 squares (made with masking tape) on the floor. The kids step in a hula hoop or square and tell the beginning, middle and then the end. The hula hoops are nice because they can be removed and put away. However, the squares are nice too because they can be used for other activities like retelling stories, blending and segmenting, sorting items or even math equations.

So one more freebie for you... the transition posters. Just click on the links below to get a copy for your room.

All this takes a couple months to get through and I probably spend a whole quarter on it. I also use the beg, mid and end strategies to help us retell the stories we have read. I love it when my students start to recognize and pick out the leads and transition words in the reading text. They get so excited. It is a great way to help them understand this is not just a writing skill but a life skill.

One last thing. In School B they created a different planning page and 3 page book, with transition words already on the page. This all comes stapled together already and is less work for the students. Of course I added some trains. If you are interested you can click on the image below to get your own copy.

Wow, lots of freebies! I hope you find some of them helpful. If you download and use these, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you think, how you use them or if you do something differently. 

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting all of this! I feel like writing is definitely the hardest for me to teach to my 1st graders, so this is very helpful!! :)

    Lisa
    fsuteach81@yahoo.com

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    1. I like our writing program but it is hard for me to teach sometimes too. Glad it was helpful.

      Ms. M

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  2. We're working on this right now---we just started it today. These ideas are going to be so helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. This is amazing! Thank you for such great tips and resources. I plan on using these for some of my kinders who are ready to write more. The way it is laid out makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Your welcome, and I am glad it makes sense. It took me an hour to get it all out and readable. Ha!

      Ms. M

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  4. What wonderful ideas! My kiddos are all ELL students too, and this will help them tremendously. THANK YOU!

    Melanie
    First Grade Brain Sprinkles

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    1. I feel you, visuals is all my kids respond to.

      Ms. M

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  5. What great resources! We teach 6 traits as well, this month we are focusing on Sentence Fluency (I'm still a little stumped on how to teach this to my Kinders).

    ✪ Miss W

    Miss W Teaches

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    1. Oh we just did Sentence Fluency, or I should say we are in it now. Maybe when I am done with it I could write about it, but your right it is a though one for my Kinder students.

      Ms. M

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  6. These are amazing! Our school adopted the Empowering Writers program and always review BME. I can't wait to introduce the color trains and transition words for my visual first graders. Thanks!

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    1. Glad it was helpful. It is amazing what some color coding can do.

      Ms. M

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  7. Great post and some great resources and ideas for teachers. Thanks for sharing. P.S. I also love the pet hamster! (This is how I get on vacation - amused so easily!)

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    1. Thanks. BTW, I love that darn hamster. I get a kick out of him every time I am on here.

      You have the week off. How stinking lucky. I didn't even get Monday off. The kids did but it was a Plan day for me. :/

      Ms. M

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  8. I will use this with my first grade ELLs. I think this will be helpful. I've also started to use the 'Hamburger' writing chart to help them.

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  9. This is AWESOME! I can't wait to do this with my kindergarteners. Thank you soooooo much for sharing.

    http://modernkindergarten.blogspot.com

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  10. I love the planning pages...and I'm a color-coding freak, so this is perfect! I plan to use this next year with my 1st graders. Question...the train poster, is that available to download or purchase? I teach special education, and the visuals are so helpful...plus, I love it! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, I am a color-coding freak too. The train poster... unfortunately it is something the district created so it is not something you can buy or download. However, you could print up the train planning sheet and print the train on colored paper. Then cut them out. :/ If all else fails email me at msk1ell(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll see what I can do.

      Ms. M

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  11. Awesome way of teaching writing for beginning writers.

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  12. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! I was unable to download your freebies because Scribd said they were only available to premium subscribers. :(

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    1. I think you have to have a free Scribed account.

      M

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  13. Excellent resource! Perfect way to teach ESL students BML sequences in a story. I will let you know my experiences after I finished this unit.
    Regards from Puerto Rico, the enchanted island
    Mrs. Jiménez

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  14. can you tell me exactly in a couple of more details what you do to teach your first graders how to write? Thank you soo much this is great!!!

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  15. Great idea but couldn't get a copy as I have to pay to sign up to scribe :(

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