Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sentence Frames for Reading Time

I used to notice that during small group instructions students would talk about their ideas, and only their ideas. The conversation would be rather one sided. While everyone in the group would participate, the students were not really interacting with each other in a meaningful way.

I've started using sentence frames, and this has made a huge difference. Reading discussion time is now one of my favorite parts of the day. The students are engaged with each other.

Here is what I do. 
  • Before we meet, the students have a choice of questions to write about. 
  • They write a paragraph or so from a group of prompts. They can choose which prompt to answer most of the time. Sometimes I choose for them. 
  • After they read their prompt, students ask them three questions or make three comments using our sentence frames.

After they write, a student shares their paragraph. Then, at least three students must ask the student questions about what they wrote about. Everyone has to participate over the course of the discussion. You will find below some of the prompts that I use and some of the sentence frames for the discussions.

Prompts for Reading Responses
Expressing feelings about the story
  1. How did the story make you feel? Tell what specific parts made you feel this way? (Mark that spot with a sticky note!).
  2. Why do you think other students might or might not enjoy this story?
  3. What was your favorite part of this story? Why is that your favorite part? (Use page numbers and at least one quote).
  4. Which character did you like best or least? Why?  (Use page numbers and at least one quote).

Noting the author’s craft

  1. If the author of this book were in our classroom right now, what would you say or ask that person and why?
  2. If you could change this book, how would you change it and why?
  3. Is anything in this book strange or weird? Why do you think the author put that in the story?

Making personal connections

  1. What did this story remind you of?
  2. Tell about at least one connection that you can make personally with the characters or story.

Identifying important elements

  1. What are one or two of the most important ideas from this story?
  2. What is the author trying to tell you about life with this story?
  3. As you get into the novel, you will get to know the main character. Describe the person physically and also give examples of his/her personality, thoughts, and feelings. (Use page numbers and at least one quote).
  4. Choose a character in the book who is important, but no the main character. Describe this person, explain his/her relationship to the main character, and tell why s/he is important in the story. (Use page numbers and at least one quote).
  5. Explain how the main character or a supporting character changed during the story. Give evidence of change. (Use page numbers and at least one quote).
 Sentence Frames for Discussion

  • I agree with _________ because ________________.
  • I disagree with ___________ because _________________.
  • I liked when you said _____________________________.
  • Could you tell me more about _______________________.
  • What would have happened if _______________________?
  • Why did you say _________________________________?
  • When you said _______________, I thought ______________________.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grants for the classroom

Have you heard of

 If not, you should check it out. I have used this website for the past year and had over 8 different projects funded for my classroom. It is very easy to use, and is a great way to get resources for your classroom. It is completely free and any public school teacher can use the site. It is a wonderful way to get more books for your classroom library!

If you want to get some ideas of grants that I've done, you can look at my completed grant pages. Here are some ideas.

Would you like to know more about how I have gotten over 8 different grants funded? Some grants are much more likely to be funded quickly. Quite a few of my grants have been fully funded in under a month. I'll be talking more about that towards the end of May.

Having filled out many different types of grants (donors choose and other grants as well), I would say that this website gives you the best result for your time.

Would you like to learn about other ways of saving time as a teacher? Take a look at my most popular online class, Saving Time: Time Management for Teaching and for your Life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

SOBA sentences video

You have students who come to you writing rambling sentences. You have students who write really choppy sentences. You have students who don't know what a sentence is!

If you had the time to sit down and tutor each student, life would be so much easier.

If you're like me, you have:
  • large classes
  • students who are not enthusiastic about editing and revising
  • less time than you need

When I started teaching writing, I knew that I needed to address grammar. Maybe it's not interesting, but it's necessary. I just didn't know how to do so without boring my students (and me) to tears. How can you help students write complex sentences with ease?

Have you tried worksheets? You have probably figured out what researchers have learned. Worksheets do almost nothing to increase writing skills. Worksheets and Daily Oral Language actually increase errors!

  • So, how do you teach writing?
  • By showing students examples of mistakes, or models of writing that works?

You should show students models of what works. You don't teach your students to read by showing them the letter A and then saying, that is not "B." Make sure you don't say "b" when you see this letter!

  • If this doesn't work, what does work? 

  • How do you really model good writing?

One of the first things I teach my students in writing is how to make SOBA sentences. Here is a video lesson that I made for my students on compound sentences that combine with the words So, Or, But or And.

Here is a link to my document that is used in the video. Feel free to modify it and use it!

HOL online classes I offer:

FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Sentence Frames from The Positive Engagement Project

Here are some wonderful sentence frames to use with reading and writing from The Positive Engagement Project. I love how the sentence frames are color coded by ELL level!

Sentence Frames for ELL students!

Would you like to learn more about sentence frames? I'll soon be writing about how to use sentences frames for classroom discussions and during reading time. You will also find specific examples of sentence frames you can use in that post.

Would you like to help your ELL students use complex sentences in their writing? Take a look at the Writing and Editing Made Easy class.

What to do with a Newcomer and The Daily 5?

I've received a non-speaker (recent refugee or immigrant)  almost every year that I've taught. Here is what I have done during D5 time. I have the student participate in listen to reading - the more they hear, the more they will learn. I sometimes have them use tumblebooks or starfall for that time. I also have them participate in partner reading. Ideally you can pair them with a student who doesn't mind reading some simple pictures books with the student.

During word work, I have the student work with a partner and make flashcards using a bilingual dictionary. They spend the time drawing the picture, making the cards etc.

One other thing I do is teach a lesson in a non-dominant language for everyone when the child is out of the room. I try to do this during ESL time.

Before teaching the lesson, I have the students answer some questions on paper - like how would you feel if you didn't understand anything that was happening at school. I ask them what thoughts they would have while they were in school? Would they want to come to school? Etc.

Then, after I teach the lesson 100% in Spanish (most of them don't speak Spanish, and the ones that do understand what it's like to have a non-dominant language), we review how they felt. This really seems to increase students' compassion for the new student! After teaching the lesson, I ask for volunteers that would like to help the new student learn English. Invariably the whole class is interested in volunteering!

I suppose if you didn't speak a second language, you could still have someone from the community come in to do a demo lesson. The lesson doesn't need to last more than 10 minutes for the students to get the concept. It is a lesson that years later students will remember.

Sticky Note Power

I learned something very interesting and simple in the book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be persuasive by Robert Cialdini. They found that if you put a sticky note on a request, the person was much more likely to say yes to what you sent them.

How can you use this idea in the classroom? If you need a parent volunteer for something, just handing out a sticky note to each student and having him or here write a quick note to place on the paper. I have found this increases my volunteers, and does not take much time at all. Even though I work in a school that is 86% free reduced lunch, I still get parent volunteers this way!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Please take 3 minutes to fill out this survey!

Thank you for taking the time every day to help your students be successful. As a fellow teacher, I know you work hard every day to help every single student.

Also, thank you in advance, for taking a quick six question survey about my classes. Most of the questions are multiple choice and it will take no more than 3 minutes from start to finish. Click here to take the short survey.

Thank you so much!
Sacha at Luria Learning

Free Website for managing Volunteers

Qlubb - I use this web page to manage all of my parent volunteers. I can even post all of my homework on student pages. When a parent signs up to volunteer, they receive automatic email reminders before the event. Every parent can see when a task is open and when it needs to be filled.

 I have found this website to be very effective. It is a great way of managing volunteers and events, and it's free.

Would you like to know of other websites that help you save time? 

I'll be featuring more time saving websites I use in May! 

If you want more information about being organized as a teacher, I am going to be offering an online class on classroom organization starting in June. Keep posted for more information. I'll let you know when the class is open for registration.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gardening in the classroom

I am so excited about these Wally pockets that I found. I was walking with my kids this last week, when I passed by a garden store. I had never seen Wally pockets before. They are so beautiful. It turns out that they sell them at a discount for schools, and so I am thinking of getting the blue one for my classroom for next year.

I currently have some terrariums in my classroom, and I think that the Wally pockets would be fabulous too! The green plants make the classroom so much nicer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Writing Class is now $30 off!

3 Quarter Credits = $285    $255

 EDITING MADE EASY: Strategies For All Writers (Course Number: ED443T)

Do students groan when you say it is time to edit and revise? Are you intimidated by grammar and writing conventions, perhaps never having been explicitly taught them in a way that made sense?  Is there never enough time for editing in your writers' workshop? 

Does it seem that your editing lessons are not really connected to what students are writing? Do some students still struggle to write complete sentences, while others have mastered that but struggle with other conventions? How do you take all students to the next level?   

This class teaches you to focus and build on what your students are doing right. Instead of targeting student errors, learn how to build on their writing strengths. Use literature and well-written sentences to show students how their sentences can be crafted. Find ways to make editing a daily part of your writing time.

It IS possible to have fun while teaching editing, grammar and conventions to all of your students! Each chapter provides you with ideas you can use immediately.

Appropriate for teachers of grades 3-12.
This class is also ideal for teachers who work with ESL students.

The text is
Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, available at for $15.  
My class has some ESL students and some English as a first language students. Will this class help the ESL students too?
Many ESL students struggle with the conventions of the English language. Even students who are nearing the advanced level still may have a difficult time with writing complex sentences. This class gives you the tools to be able to help ESL students write complex sentences with ease. While it will help you take all students to the next level, it also gives you the explicit instruction that ESL and Special Education students will benefit from!

Can I take this class if I am not currently teaching in a classroom or am subbing?
Yes! These classes are designed for teachers both in the classroom and also those that need to keep their teaching certificates current.
TO REGISTER: CALL THE HERITAGE INSTITUTE AT 1-800-445-1305 (credit card, purchase orders, or checks are accepted) or online at
THREE CREDIT CLASSES (2 semester credits):