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Friday, March 16, 2012

Spicing Up Your Writing!

Last year, I worked at a different school. I loved it, but my principal and I didn't especially click. To complicate matters, I was an assistant teacher in someone else's classroom, so I didn't really have as much control as I would have liked. My evaluations- the first ones I'd ever had as a teacher- didn't go as smoothly as I would have hoped, and really got my confidence down.

When I switched schools this year, I was blessed to end up with a principal who 'gets' me. Her evaluations are still critical and constructive, but she is incredibly positive, encouraging, and supportive.

After her first evaluation this year, she left me a note that made me almost giddy. I knew the lesson had gone well, and her note confirmed it, and it was one of those moments that just plain made me feel like a great teacher.

While I was still on cloud nine, I had an idea. I scrapped my writing plans and started over! I wanted to teach revising and review the ways we had learned to "spice up" our writing, and this happened:

Definitely the anchor chart that makes me the most proud! (Borders make a crazy difference!) The class helped me brainstorm things we had already learned to make the list, and then we wrote an example off to the side for each. My only regret is misspelling onomatopoeia, but oh well!

Then, we each got out a piece of writing and we "spiced it up" with red pens! (Red pens become a little less scary when you just think of them as making the writing 'sizzle'!) Next year, I think I'll want to find some mariachi and salsa music for in the background!

Once we had added things like similes, dialogue, and onomatopoeia, we wrote our newly spicy writing on some special paper, colored lightly with red and green colored pencils, and cut out the peppers. We stapled more pages to the back if necessary, and then posted them in the hallway with our chart.

This was a great way to introduce revising to add all those little aspects of great writing that we'd already learned about, but it can also just make a terrific review as we approach the end of the year. The chart hangs in our room as a constant reminder of ways to make our writing better, and sometimes I even use it to give kids a more specific direction for revision ("spice up your writing at least 3 ways before you publish.")

If you can use our special pepper paper (say that three times fast!), download a free copy on Google Docs. I'd love to hear how you use it!


  1. I love the anchor chart and the pepper paper! I'll have to try this. Thanks for the idea!

    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  2. what a terrific idea! Sounds like it really worked!!

  3. Sweet lady, I had to update my Linky tool account and had to create a new collection. Would you be so kind and link up again?

    BTW, you chart is super cute! Thanks for linking up.

    Ms. M
    Ms.M's Blog
    A Teacher's Plan

  4. Ok I didn't get to say how fab I think your chart it. :) Love it. Glad you linked up. :)

    Ms. M

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog Jenny! I've just become your newest follower. You have so many wonderful ideas. I pinned your anchor chart and already it has been repinned like crazy! I'll definitely be creating one of these for my classroom!
    I can't wait to see more of your ideas!
    Mrs. Castro's Class 2nd Grade...Spanglish Style

  6. Love it! I'm always looking for ways to spice up writing! Thanks for sharing! So glad your year is going better!

  7. Wow! This says exactly what I need my third graders to focus on. It's so clear and concise. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

  8. Love your chart. I use the saying spice it up when teaching writing to my second graders. Now I how I visual that I can use. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is awesome!! I totally want to use it in my 4th grade class!!

  10. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I will definately be using this soon with my 8th graders (with some adjustments, or course). Thanks for sharing!

  11. I love this!! I am going to try this out in my class! Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Love the chart and idea. You may be a newby, but you are helping us "oldies" spice up our info!


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