Sunday, September 13, 2015

Using Photos for Writing Prompts

Hi everybody!   Danielle here from Crayon Box Learning.  I'm going to share with you how to use photos as writing prompts, as well as, my go-to sources for photos that are suitable for classroom use.

Using photos for writing prompts can be a fun way to peak a student's interest, and spark their imagination.  Photos can provide opportunities for students to consider what is happening or has happened in the photo(s), or what the objects in the photo represents and then write about it.  

Photos can be prepared ahead of time and put into packets for writing centers, take home packs, and for independent desk work (early finishers).

Photo writing prompts can be printed onto cardstock, photo paper, or in some instances printed by an online processor such as Walmart or Shutterfly.     In my example below,  I used my photo editing program to add a number, border, and a sentence prompt.   Having a numbering system on the photos is helpful in case you want to refer back to the photo when reviewing your student's writing!

The photo prompts don't always have to have text on them.  They can be left open ended for students to write about what is depicted in the photo.

A good way to keep students engaged is to let them select their own photo writing prompt.  If they are interested in what they are working on, they are more apt to write more!

Photos are fairly easy to come by, and can be changed out based on different themes or seasonally. 

I recommend laminating the photos after you've printed them so that they remain durable.  

Online sources that I use for photos are:

1.  Morguefile:   A huge collection of photos under many different subjects.  Photo quality is excellent and the site is free. I use this site in particular for animal photos and some action pictures.

2.  Pixabay:  Another depository of photos.  This site is also free.  I use this particular site for animal photos, and some scenery.

3.  Dollar Photo Club:   This site is not free,  it is $1.00 per photo which is quite reasonable.  This site has an amazing assortment of photos.  I have found a lot of photos on this site that would be perfect for writing prompts.

(Note:  The sites mentioned above allow photos to be used for personal and commercial use. It's up to the individual user to know and understand the Terms of Use for any stock photography site they may use.)

Another idea using photos is for using your own digital camera or iPhone to capture photos as a daily writing prompt.  The photos you use do not have to be taken by a professional in order to use them for writing prompts.  Some of the best photos were taken by luck or a happy accident. 

If you use photos in your classroom, or have questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!  I love hearing from you!

Have a great week!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Goodbye Summer"

Ok you guys, how is it already September? It’s as if I blinked and summer was over.  It seems like a change is in the air, and fall is just around the corner.  Today I’m going to share a quick writing activity that I like to use with my students at the beginning of each school year.  My students love to make and read class books, so this is always our first class book that we make and put in our class library.  The students love to be “authors” and share these books with parents during parent-teacher conferences, and other school events.  I usually have this paper sitting on their desk the first day of school so they can work on it while I am talking to parents at back-to-school morning, but it works great for fast finishers or at your writing station.  Students write one thing they will miss about summer and one thing they will NOT miss about summer.  Then they draw an illustration to go with each of their sentences… they have come up with some pretty clever things over the years.  Here’s my own little example:

Once everyone is finished, I either 3-hole punch it and put it in a folder, or spiral bind it, then add it to our classroom library.  

Click HERE to download your free writing page.  What is one thing you will and will not miss about summer? I'd love to hear your answers in the comments.  Happy fall, teacher friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Parent Communication 101

Parent Communication is so imperative in today's education. Need to send them a quick reminder about an upcoming test? You can do that! Want to inform them of bad behavior? Yup, got it covered. How about those times when you need to inform of GOOD behavior? We can do that!

I'm here to tell you about two of the ways I communicate with my families.
In my classroom, we utilize ClassDojo on a daily basis. If you look back at this post, you'll see that I am a big advocate for ClassDojo for classroom management purposes. But, what's also amazing about this {FREE} program is the chat component!

I am able to message my parents in an instant, and they are able to message me right back - the good thing is, regardless of the time of day!! If they need clarification on a point loss or point gain, homework assignments, upcoming tests, or field trip information - I'm there!!

I love that I am able to get the messaging feature from my phone, the computer, or my iPad. I could be in California and get the information from my parents at a moment's notice!

The only negative about this program is the only way to connect parents is for them to have an e-mail address. At the school I am at, many of my parents don't have an e-mail address. Therefore, I have about 17 out of 25 parents connected... but that's okay! CUE THE NEXT COMMUNICATION TOOL!
This is my first year using Remind in the classroom. I didn't use it last year because I wasn't really liking the idea of giving out my phone number. BUT you don't have to do that!! With Remind, your parents don't get your phone number. Instead, they get a short number to text with any information they need or want to know/want to tell!

If I'm having any issues, I can quickly send a "text" to my parents, either whole class or specific parents, to alert them. If I just wanted to send a quick, easy, nice message - I can do that, too!! I love Remind for the fact that messages have to be concise. 140 characters or less. Just like Twitter!

Happy Back-to-School time, pals!!