Descriptive Writing with Jumanji

We first read the book, “Jumanji” by Chris VanAllsburg. Many students had seen the movie but hadn’t read the book. We discussed the writing strategy of “stretching the moment”, and “show-not tell”. Students chose one moment from the book and wrote more about it as if they were the character playing the game.

Here is the collection of writing the students created: Just click on the picture below

Asking Deep-Thinking Questions

This lesson started out with a quick discussion around the difference between quick questions and deep-thinking questions.

Then, we read a fun story that we all connected to.  We have all had the experience of feeling bored. In this story the main character asks a lot of deep-thinking questions.

After identifying the deep-thinking questions and discussing possible answers, we added Thinking Stems to our Inferencing anchor chart.

The next step was to begin writing our own questions. We used Padlet to collect and organize everyone’s questions.


Made with Padlet


Tomorrow we’ll use those sentence stems to write a paragraph to answer some of those questions!

An Introduction To Inferencing

We have begun a literacy unit with Inferencing.

First we discussed the meaning of inferencing and what that looks like while reading. An anchor chart was created as we talked.


Then, students were given a bag of items with instructions to use the clues to determine who the bag might belong to.

Here’s what each group had inside their bags:

Students recorded their evidence and made their inferences.  Our next step will be to establish thinking stems to help write our thoughts clearly and with detailed explanations.

Visitors:  What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the students? Who do the bags belong to?

Writing and Self-Assessment

Students spent some time, today, looking critically at their writing.  The writing task involved a shared reading of “Splinters” by Kevin Sylvester. Then, students thought about what could happen next. What would part 2 of the story be? The drafting began!

We came up with a list of Success Criteria:

Then, we discussed what a star and a wish is.

Students were given 2 sticky notes to record their stars and wishes. There was a lot of thoughtful self-evaluation going on as well as goal-setting as we begin a new writing unit tomorrow.


The Christmas Tree Ship and a Mentor Sentence

While we read a print copy of this story, you can listen to the story here:

The students enjoyed thinking about history as we read this book, based on a true story. The students worked to identify the problem and solution. They also worked on inferencing skills throughout the reading.

Then, we read the following mentor sentence and examined it for verbs, nouns, adjectives. We also pointed out the temporal words. Students also noticed commas.

“Every year Captain Santa would load up his little schooner, Rouse Simmons, with thousands of beautiful Christmas trees from our northern Michigan forests.”

Today students were invited to imitate the sentence on sticky notes. Here are some examples:

The Sentences Are Growing!

Everyday the students engage in word study activities. They always start by sorting their target words for the week, thinking about spelling patterns and applying their knowledge to read, write, and use the words. On Wednesdays students choose 5 of their words to use in sentences. At the beginning of the year the sentences were very simple. But now, after a couple of months writing sentences and examining Mentor Sentences the students’ writing is starting to BLOOM!

Here are 3 examples of this week’s sentence writing: