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Freaky Fast First Week

The first week of school…exciting, exhilarating, exhausting! Exactly as I expected and so much more. After all the preparation and anticipation, the big day finally arrived last Wednesday. I welcomed 29 students into our fifth grade classroom. What a great group of kiddos they are!!!! I was amazed at how smooth our start-up was this year. Hopefully the smooth start is a good sign of what lies ahead. My class earns marbles for awesome behavior in our classroom and around the school. On the first day they had earned SIX marbles before 10:00 a.m. WOWEE!!!

Once we had settled in and gotten to know each other, the teaching finally began. I absolutely loved the first days of teaching. I felt like I was “home again.” I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in front of my class, doing what I love to do…aaahhhhh!!!!

My first week teaching highlights are many, but I’d like to share how excited I am about launching the Writer’s Notebook. Thanks to Dr. Biggs-Tucker for sharing all of these amazing ideas and activities with our masters class, this process has been very smooth! Both my students and I have loved all the start-up activities we have done. We started by reading from some mentor texts (I chose Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, and Wallace’s Lists by Barbara Bottner). Each of these books provided us with a hearty discussion about what writers do, where they might get their ideas, and how they capture those ideas. I distributed notebooks to each of my students and we talked about decorating them with items that are special to them. We watched a fabulous Writer’s Notebook video on YouTube by Ruth Ayres (author of Day By Day) on how she fills her notebooks. Then, we read the Introduction chapter from Ralph Fletcher’s book, A Writer’s Notebook, about what a Writer’s Notebook is and what it is not which lead to a great class discussion. And today, we completed our heart maps which helped us focus on the people/places/things we love most in the world. The enthusiasm toward writing in my classroom is inspiring! I can’t wait to reach new writing heights this year!

Heart Map


Notebook Covers



About heatherk5

I am an enthusiastic, energetic, fifth grade teacher who loves reading, writing, and working with my students.

18 responses to “Freaky Fast First Week

  1. nzshamm

    Heather, I really like the books you mentioned to encourage a discussion about what writers do! What a great idea! 🙂 I promise I won’t steal your books! I will find my own books that will encourage a discussion about what writers do! 😉

  2. megane23

    Your post reminded me to put heart maps and notebook decorating in my lesson plans for next week. I love these ideas. Thanks for the pictures of them “in action” in your classroom. Sounds like a great start to the year. Hope you’re more awake then I am after this week! Whew!

    • heatherk5

      These heart maps were a great way to get the kids excited about writing. I’m finding that they are going back to them from time to time. Hopefully the maps will serve as an idea catcher for them so they don’t get stuck with “nothing to write.”

  3. lorisboys

    Wow… what an amazing first week. It sounds like it is going to be a great year for you as well as your students. I am so excited to launch writer’s notebook, but am not quite ready yet (you are so brave!). It sounds like it was quite a success and I can’t wait for you to share more about it. Yes, it is great to be back in our rooms teaching, isn’t it? I absolutely love my job and am so grateful for this. You have inspired me to stop dragging my heals and get our notebooks going. Thank you!

  4. niki1975

    I launched Writer’s Notebook this week too! My kiddos loved the video! We will continue to weave it into our daily lives. We also brainstormed our Writer’s Rights today. Such fun!

  5. I love hearing that you are already using ideas from Dr. Tucker’s class to promote a positive opening to your school year. Your class sounds awesome. I can’t wait to hear more about how they are doing with their writing. It sounds like you have set up your classroom quite well. I’m glad I am busy with my trip so that I don’t miss the beginning of the school year too much.

  6. Angie Gulliford ⋅

    I am so glad your first week went off without a hitch. I am going to do writiers notebook too. I am looking for cheap notebooks (walmart had them for 17 cents but of course was out of them) as I need to purchase 45 of them. I think I am going to make them with some xerox paper stapled together!

    The cover of the two journals you showed us are great. You have some artistic friends!

    • heatherk5

      I hope your little friends are liking their writer’s notebooks, Angie! Thanks for the hot tip of notebooks at Wal-Mart for 17 cents…I went out and bought 30 for my reader’s notebooks. I couldn’t ask my kiddos to buy any more school supplies. My total bill was around $6. They are going to use these for our novel studies, literature circles, etc. Very cool!

  7. Heather, It certainly seems like your students are understanding the spirit of the Writer’s Notebook based on the picture you included. Also, your first week’s introduction to the Writer’s Notebook sounds inviting, encouraging, and full of helpful information for the kids. I am looking forward to frequent updates about writer’s workshop and writer’s notebooks from you.

    • heatherk5

      Thanks, Kirby! I really am enjoying this journey with Writer’s Workshop and the Writer’s Notebook. It’s definitely changing my approach to writing, but I believe that it’s all leading in a very positive direction for my students. They actually groan when I tell them it’s time to “finish writing your last line” each day…those groans are music to my ears!!!

  8. kempfams

    Heather – It is so nice to read about your love for teaching. Sometimes it is just so nice to just be with your students and do what you love. I love the mentor texts that you mentioned as well. Stephanie’s Ponytail is one of my favorites. The kids always get a kick out of it. I am also in the process of launching writer’s notebooks with my kindergarten friends. We did our heart maps and “What Can I Write?” webs this week. It is going well, but I’m definitely still learning. Thanks for sharing all about your great week!

    • heatherk5

      I’m so glad someone else loves Stephanie’s Ponytail like I do. My students always laugh when I read it aloud! It’s a great book for predicting and having them anticipate the upcoming lines like, “Ugly, ugly, very ugly!” They love that line and gladly join in with me. As teachers, we do have the best job, don’t you think??? I hope your writer’s notebooks are going well for you and your class!

  9. Angela ⋅

    Good for you Heather! Applying already! 🙂 It sounds like you will have a great year with your students. They seem like a group of kids who really want to learn and be there with you. I know what you mean about feeling like you were “home again.” This is only my second year, but when I finally was able to be up infront of my classroom, or down on the carpet with my mini friends, I was just so happy to be back. I did a heart map with my kids too! I’ll be sharing tomorrow.

  10. hi that was cool ⋅

    I still remember you doing that!

    • heatherk5

      Me, too! It seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it? I can’t believe we are bringing this year to the end. I’m so happy that we will be able to keep in touch, though. Can’t wait to hear all the good reading you’ll be doing this summer.

      • surfer ⋅

        The end of the school year came so fast! I’m currently reading the 5th book of the Sister Grimm series! What are you reading?

      • heatherk5

        I love the Sisters Grimm series, as you know. It’s on my Someday List to read this summer. I’ve only read up through the 4th book in the series (I think). Right now I’m reading a book called “Stranded” by Ben Mikaelsen. I’m going to blog about it, so you’ll find out more about it then. I really like it! Keep up the great reading:)

      • surfer ⋅

        I will!!!

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