Guest Blogger - Melinda from Tales of the Sassy Teacher

Hi everyone! I'm Melinda King, your Tales of the Sassy Teacher. I am so super excited to be guest blogging today. I kept racking my brain at what it is that I could share with you. Then, it hit me. WRITING BOOT CAMP! I know! I know! What is writing boot camp? Well, let me just say it is something that sprang into my mind back in August when Mr. Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasbord talked about have his ABC Boot camp. After you read this, then click on his website to see about that.

Before I start to explain Writing Boot camp, let me give you a little bit of background about how this all came about. About 7 years ago, my principal got this wild idea that we should be doing Project Child. If you don't know about it, just click on the link and read about it. The basic, you are in a cluster with 3 people. Your team is Math, Reading, and Writing. Each one has a K-2 homeroom.  I have had 2nd grade as my homeroom.  I taught Reading for 3 years and then my principal decided that she wanted me to teach Writing. I have been teaching Writing ever since. So this means that I see anywhere from 60-80 kids a day in any given year.  As the years have gone on, I have found a new love for writing. Now you will see where writing boot camp became important so without further a do, I introduce to you Writing Boot Camp.

Writing Boot Camp has been completed with my 2nd grade class only. This happened this way because I switched clusters and the group I have are very low. So I had to come up with something that would get the basics that all writers needed to know. What are the basics you are asking? Well, here is the list of items that I feel are super important for a 2nd grade writer.

1. Sight Words

Sight Words! Sight Words! Sight Words! This is #1 to me. I pick words that the children need to be able to use all the time. Example words: because, therefore, through out, another, etc. You get the point. I pick words that I feel the students need to be able to read and write. Transitional words as well. I know that some people use Dolch words and Fry words, I like the list that Rebecca Sitton came up with. She has a whole spelling series but you can find her list of 1200 words that work great. Click on her name and it will take you to that list.

2. Parts of Speech
My 2nd graders were very lacking in the parts of speech. Even as I write this, they still struggle with this concept. There is a lot of drill and apply in my room right now because they just didn't get it during Boot Camp. I love Whole Brain Teaching. Coach B's methods for parts of speech and The Genius Ladder (click to watch part 1 video) has been great in the last little bit to help with the applying method of the parts of speech.

3. Paragraph Writing
All children need to be able to write a paragraph. I expect my kindergarten class by the end of the school year to do this as well. Now I want to say that I am not standing on a box yelling "BUY MY PRODUCT!!!" but I created a Paragraph writing product that has been awesome with my 2nd graders last year and with this current group. I know your thinking, "Wait she just said they struggle with parts of speech. How can they be doing well with paragraphs?" Well let me say, they get the concept of a main idea, supporting details, and closing statement. In the product I made, I have a lot of practice of taking sentences and putting them together to make a paragraph. At the end of the 2nd grade they HAVE to be able to write a 2.6 paragraph. This means 2 paragraphs with 6 sentences in it. I am going to put the graphic organizers in my store for free downloads. I hope that you find these organizers helpful. I will be adding them to the paragraph unit as well!
Click to purchase

4. Quick Writes
Quick writes are a great way to practice the 3 topics above. Quick writes are simply a picture that the students are to write either 1.) What will happen next in the story? 2.) What is happening in the story? I just do this writing on a scratch piece of paper and sometimes use it as morning bell ringer work or as an exit slip out of the room. Below is a sample picture of what I created for my students. 
Clip art from Graphics from the pond, Scrappin Doodle, google & The Creative Chalkboard

Remember there is no science to how you run your boot camp but it is all about being consistent and having those high expectations. I tell the students all the standards that they will learn in a 2 week period. It is a very intense process but I find that my students will make those connections and master them. Even now with those that are still struggling, I see that they are mastering what I am teaching. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I would love to hear how Writing Boot camp works for you and  tell about things that you tried that I could use myself.


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