Thumbs Up….Turn & Talk! {Spark Student Motivation Saturday}

Today, I’m linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday!




By the time my kids get to me, they know how to play the game to stay unnoticed.  The ones who know are extremely vocal about knowing…and the ones who don’t just stay quiet and disappear.  

With the EDI model we’re encouraged to randomly call on students. But who would want to embarrass a child who has no idea what the answer is?  So, I use the “Thumps Up” model quickly followed by “Turn and Talk”.

thumbs up

When I ask a questions during guided practice, I tell students to put their thumbs up when they have their answer.  Thumbs up right in front of them, so only I can see.  This gives the students who needs a bit more time just that – time!  Once I see all thumbs up I tell them to turn and talk to their partner and what the answer is and why.  And I’m not talking about them yelling out one letter, word or phrase.  They have to say, “I think the answer is __________ because_____________”.  Then and only then do we check whole group for the answer and I chose students to comment.  That way everyone has had a chance to participate even if they’re not the one to share out. And it gives my struggling students a chance to hear good thinking and emulate it which increases their confidence.  

You should head on over the Joanne’s blog and share you great idea. Plus, she and Fourth Grade Flipper have an amazing giveaway going on!  Stop by and get the chance to earn some goodies.


Until the next time,




The Backwards Writing Design {20 Day Blogging Challenge}


I think I’m a pretty good writer.  I don’t love to write – but I can and will.  I absolutely despite teaching writing.  I think it’s unfair to expect me to teach reading AND writing in a 60 minute block.

I’ve noticed that despite the fact that I’m sure all teachers have preached “prewriting….prewriting….prewriting….” not much of that gets done.  This week as we began our persuasive writing I only had one student out of ninety-seven begin their writing with a graphic organizer…..ONE!  I knew that would happen, so this week I planned for us to use the Backwards Writing Design model to show my students the importance of prewriting.

After they’d written their rough draft, I shared with them an exemplary paper.

Facility Exemplar Writing

We then used colored pencil to highlight the key components of this paper:  Hook, thesis statement, topic sentences of body paragraphs and supporting details.  When you teach four classes, sometimes your last class gets the best of you, or they get the worst of you, if you know what I mean.  This time, my last class got the best of me.  I was able to tweak my lesson each period so that by the time 6th period ran around it was definitely a well oiled machine!

After we highlighted those key elements in each paragraph, we used my writing graphic organizer to see what this person’s pre-planning looked like.

Writing Graphic Organizer

They then had to take their writing and complete blank graphic organizer.  I heard so many “Oh man, I have a lot of work to do!” and “My graphic organizer is blank! I don’t have enough details!” and “I forgot to add my ___________ (insert word here)!”

I’m really excited with what I’m hearing. Come back tomorrow to see how what I have planned to finish it up!

Until the next time,