Fiction, Opinion, Adjectives, OH MY!

Phew, my world has been CRAAAAAZY busy over the last few weeks.  Conferences, paperwork, birthday party, paperwork....it just never ends!

But with conferences and parties behind me, I thought I blog about the goings on in the world of first grade.  So get ready for some random thoughts for your Tuesday afternoon!

Several weeks ago now, we started talking about fiction stories and their elements.  We had already discussed and charted {sorry, no picture, but grab the anchor chart masters HERE} the difference between fiction and non-fiction stories.  So, our kids were ready to focus on fiction and retelling stories.

We started reading various versions of Cinderella stories.  Yes, you heard right.  If you are following the Common Core Unit suggestions, then you know the Cinderella unit is last.  That's how I also have in it my TPT store.  But, at the end of last year, our district decided to change up the Common Core units.  So, this year, instead of doing 6 units, we are doing 4.  And they are in a new order.  The bottom line is...yes, I taught comparing versions of Cinderella in May last year.  And, yes, I'm teaching it in September this year because we are following what our district has asked us to do.  However, it has been messy for us because we still have two units that were left out in this new set up and those 2 units have some of Arkansas Science and Social Studies state standards.  So, we are having to do a lot of combining and are learning as we go!  This first quarter's unit has basically been rights and responsibilities {from our state standards} and Cinderella {from our district's Common Core Unit}.  Two things that don't really go together, but we are doing the best we can!  Every year is a new adventure, right?!?!?

Okay...back on track...

We charted each of the 4 elements of fiction.  I added a new element each day and we focused on that element with our read aloud.  So, the first day, we really talked about the characters.  The second day we reviewed characters, but focused on setting.  The third day, we listed the characters and setting in the book we read, but focused on the problem.  Day 4, we reviewed the first three elements in the book we read and focused on the solution.  Day 5, we reviewed all of them, and really looked at the idea that the solution needs to match the problem.  This was especially important because most read aloud level books have multiple problems and solutions and when we retell, that can get confusing.  Making that connection really helped the kids!

They loved brainstorming other ideas for each of these elements...and putting it in the context of a movie really helped get lots of ideas going!

I have several graphic organizers that I use during whole group and during guided reading groups {get them HERE} to reinforce fiction elements and retelling.  Since we had just started guided reading during this time, we used some organizers whole group.

Moving around our Common Core Units, also means that we are teaching opinion writing at the beginning of the year instead of the end.  So, here is what opinion writing looks like at the beginning of first grade!  We first discussed the difference between fact and opinion.  We charted the differences.
 Our first "real" experience with writing opinion paragraphs was last week.  Before last week, we had been working on writing a complete opinion sentence with a supporting detail.  We did this as we were wrapping up responsibilities in our School, School, What Do You See? booklets.  The wrote, "I like ______.  She _______."



Then, last week we "beefed up" our opinion writing and turned it into a paragraph.  We also changed the opinion sentence to a more first grade sentence instead of those silly kindergarten "I like..." sentences. :)  You can read more about the OREO organizer HERE, but I love this graphic organizer.  And the kids love that I buy Oreos as rewards for writing complete paragraphs! {Those who have only half of the paragraph only get half of the Oreo. :)
It's hard to see, but I write the sentence frames on the black part of the oreo.  And, yes, I forgot the "s" on "That's," but I've fixed it now.  My white chalk marker was not being very nice to me during the lesson.  But once I laminated the chart, I was able to go back and fix it!

Later in the year, we will add the other sentence frames for the first opinion sentence {The best ____ is _____, and Did you know _______ is the best...?}

I do not put sentence frames on the reason sentences.  And we do not use "because."  Those linking words are in 2nd grades standards and, honestly, it is just too hard for them to understand.  Especially in September.  I always tell them it is possible to start a sentence with because, but when they write, "My favorite sport is football because...." it either becomes way too long of a sentence and I can't tell the difference between their opinion and reason sentence, or it becomes an incomplete sentence.

Last week, our focus was on character traits.  By the end of the week, our kids needed to be able to describe a character from a familiar Cinderella story just by looking at a picture {This was a task our district asked us to do!}  So, we spent a good part of the week talking about adjectives.  On Tuesday, we talked about what and adjective was {a describing word}.  We brainstormed 3 of the categories on our anchor chart {feel, smell and sound}.  I had one of our class stuffies, "Moosie," for us to describe.  First, we described his feel, then smell, then sound.  After 15 minutes of discussion and sharing with partners, I could tell we were getting restless {it was also 2:00 in the afternoon...hello???}  So, I decided to stop at those 3 categories.  I dug through my reward tubs and found 6 objects--one for each table group.  I had them go back to their tables and describe the feel, smell, and sound of their object.  And they made webs describing them.

This was the basic "on the fly" idea here and it wasn't "pretty!"  I didn't even take pictures.  But it was REALLY good.  I could easily see which groups were getting it and not.  And having the 3 categories gave me a frame for scaffolding my questions: "How does it feel? Smell? Sound?"  After they had written at least 5 adjectives, we went back to the carpet and I quickly shared {for time} each poster.  They actually really liked this and even liked finding groups that came up with similar adjectives.

Wednesday, we brainstormed the other 3 categories {taste, look, how many} and I used my left over almonds for us to describe whole group.  Since Tuesday's group work was so successful, I was able to plan a little better and decided to give each group an Oreo to describe.  They had one Oreo and I told them we were leaving "taste" for last!;)  They did SO well again!  And, really, their hand drawn webs were just as cute, so I didn't even make up a handout for this.  They just did it on blank paper again.  Nothing fancy with 2 late nights of parent conferences! *wink*

Here is the anchor chart we made together!

Adjectives are not something I normally do a whole lot with at the beginning of the year, but the group work made it fun and accessible so early in the year.  And it was great background building for describing characters in a story.

Because of our great adjective work, they have done an even better job writing about their favorite character this week. {We have been reading a version of Cinderella and then they are choosing their favorite character to write an opinion piece on.} The supporting details for their favorite character writing have been great describing sentences and I know it's because they got so good at using adjectives last week!



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