This Local Destin Teacher is Going Above and Beyond – Emerald Coast Magazine – February – March 2015

This Local Destin Teacher is Going Above and Beyond – Emerald Coast Magazine – February – March 2015.


Christmas Reading and Writing

oh no santa's stuck craft connectionsnowman vocabularyneeds or wantsgingerbread mangrinch vocab

My brain is geared up for having fun when we return on Monday!! Here are a few reading/writing activities I am toying with right now…
1. For the Grinch we will read the poem, watch snippets of the movie. This is a great time to work on character analysis as well as the figurative language in the poem. Finally, my students will write a “how to make the Grinch happy” paper.
2. For the gingerbread, we will read various versions…and compare and contrast. Of course we will eat gingerbread and record the sensory details. Finally, we will write a new ending to one of the versions we read aloud.
3. For Santa got stuck…I don’t care if this is first grade, my brain is turning it into older grades…LOL…students will write a cause/effect/solution paper and attach it to this adorable art work.
4.For the needs/wants, my students will write in the stocking many wants and needs. Then elaborating WHY a couple of selected wants and needs are important. I also want my students to write a persuasive letter based on two of the wants in the stocking.
5. For the adorable snowman…I want my students to collect winter words. I have a large basket of books for Christmas, winter, etc. After collecting, I want them to write a narrative about being trapped in a snow globe!! And last but not least, we will attach the narrative to the snow globe artwork. If you have not made snow globes from a clear plastic plate before…they are too fun. Let me know if you want me to attach a sample!
What I love is that I did all of these activities on a simpler scale when I taught K-2 fifteen years ago. I now just need to think of a way to differentiate for my older students. If you like these activities please visit my website for additional ideas!!

Florida Writing One Day Training!

It is time to get ready for the FSA!!! I am offering the following workshop: Putting it to the Test: Strategies Specifically Designed for FSA Success. Please email me at or visit my FB page Lisa’s Literacy Station for more information!
If you are interested in more information …I will gladly send it to you. Just send me a message and I will get back to you ASAP! This workshop is based on three of my published books!! Here is an overview of this workshop.
JANUARY 10th from 9:00-5:00!! This training is for teachers of grades 3-8.

***RTI Meets Writer’s Workshop (Corwin Press)-
*Creating well-crafted differentiated lessons
*Save time with effective curriculum-based measurements
*Formative, summative and low-stress diagnostic assessments
*Techniques and tools to encourage student self-monitoring.

***Expository Explosion (Tate Publishing)-
*Creating opportunities for developing topics with concretes details and relevant information
*Modeling organizational strategies that include structure as well as text features
*Techniques for selecting precise language and vocabulary to support writing
*Focusing closely on task, purpose, and audience

***Powerful Persuasive/Argumentative Writing (Tate Publishing)-
*Techniques for guiding self-selected topics of interest
*Strategies to teach logical reasoning and collecting relevant evidence of support
*Focusing on the use of credible sources
*Editing for conventions that demonstrate a command of grade-level expectations

Using Mentor Texts and Themes to Collect Narrative Ideas

5 Lessons for Collecting Ideas

I would like to provide you with 5 core lessons that will help your students collect personal narrative ideas. These lessons are enough to go through several cycles of a personal narrative. If I frontload my collecting lessons at the beginning of the year and allow students to continue to add to these charts whenever a moment arises, then I really don’t have to collect again, at least for a personal narrative, for the rest of the year.  Where do my students collect these ideas and keep them salvaged? In the back of their writer’s notebooks. My students enjoy having any and all reference items at their fingertips and easily accessible. Many teachers use writing folders or binders. Any organizational tool that teachers can give their students saves time and frustration when items need to be found quickly.

Lesson Plan Example 1:

Personal Narrative Collecting Day One: A time(s) you were afraid
Mentor Text: Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

Strategy: Webbing

Guided Practice: While listening to the mentor text, students will recall moments form their lives when the emotion of fear was present. The mentor text, Thundercake is used for making the connection between the main character and her fear of thunderstorms.
Independent Practice: Students will use a web to brainstorm moments in their lives when they were afraid. Each of these “moments” has the potential for a personal narrative seed idea.
Evaluation: Students will share a few of the moments on their web with a partner.
Conferences: Students I met with today are…

Lesson Plan Example 2:

Personal Narrative Collecting Day Two: A time(s) you interacted with nature
Mentor Text: Salt Hands by Jane Aragon

Strategy: Listing

Guided Practice: While listening to the mentor text, students will recall moments from their lives when they had a special interaction with nature.
Independent Practice: Students will create a list of moments when they interacted with nature. Beside each moment encourage students to also include feelings and visual details of the moment.
Evaluation: Students will share a few of the times with nature on their list with a partner.
Conferences: Students I met with today are…

Lesson Plan Example 3:

Personal Narrative Collecting Day Three: A time(s) you received a special gift
Mentor Text: The Rag Coat by Lauren A. Mills

Strategy: Timeline

Guided Practice: While listening to the mentor text, students will jot down several special gifts they have received. These gifts may or may not be linked to a holiday.
Independent Practice: Students will select one moment and create a timeline of that event, concentrating on the sequence of events. Students need to include important details beside each point on the timeline. This is often referred to as “chunks of time and details.”
Evaluation: Students will share some of the gifts listed on the timeline with a partner.
Conferences: Students I met with today are…

Lesson Plan Example 4:

Personal Narrative Collecting Day Four: A special time(s) spent with friends
Mentor Text: Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney

Strategy: T-chart

Guided Practice: While listening to the mentor text, students will brainstorm a list of friends that they have spent special moments with. These names will go on the left side of a T-chart.
Independent Practice: Students will look closely at each name on the left side of the T-chart. Then, on the right side of the chart, special moments spent with each friend will be listed. Encourage students to think of one friend at a time.
Evaluation: Students will share their moments with friends that were listed on the T-chart with a partner.
Conferences: Students I met with today are…

Lesson Plan Example 5:

Personal Narrative Collecting Day Five: A time(s) you built something
Mentor Text: Butterfly House by Eve Bunting

Strategy: Quick Sketch

Guided Practice: While listening to the mentor text, students will brainstorm things that they have built. If they had a parent or friend help them build this item, then that name needs to be included.
Independent Practice: Students will evaluate the list and decide on 1-2 items that they emotionally connect to the most. Then students will create a quick sketch of a 1-2 of the things that were built. The quick sketch needs to be labeled with details.
Evaluation: Students will share their sketches of things built with a partner.
Conferences: Students I met with today are…

Another Way to View Mentor Texts: Teaching with Themes

There are so many books and so little time that sometimes I like to look at “themes” with regards to finding mentor texts for collecting ideas. The following chart shows some basic themes for writing and a few books that will fit within that theme. Again, the mentor texts and the collecting part of the process are all about those connections that make excellent personal or fictional narratives.

Theme/Prompt Book Titles/Authors
Think of a special holiday(s) you remember.
  • Turkey Pox
  • The Jolly Christmas Postman
  • The Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing
  • The Night Before Halloween by Natasha Wing
  • Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
  • Christmas Tapestry Lady in the Box
Think of a special time(s) spent with a relative.
  • The Piano Man
  • The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
  • Aunt Flossie’s Hats
  • Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive
Think of a time(s) when you traveled to a special place.
  • Goin’ Someplace Special
  • Round Trip
  • The Magic School Bus
Think of a time(s) when you were very proud.
  • Oliver Button is a Sissy
  • I’m Proud to be Me! by Gabriel Fitzmaurice
  • The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
  • Being Bella by Cheryl Zuzo
  • Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney
  • Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell
Remember a time(s) when you helped someone
  • Duck in the Truck
  • Hometown Hero
  • An Angel for Soloman Singer
  • I Can Hear the Sun
Remember an accident(s) or a time you got hurt.
  • Jamie’s Turn
  • My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
  • Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine
Remember a special shopping trip(s)
  • Anno’s Flea Market
  • Flower Garden
  • A Chair for My Mother
Think of a special time(s) you spent with a friend
  • The Tin Heart
  • We Are Best Friends
  • Alejandro’s Gift
  • Emma Kate
  • The Grouchy Ladybug
Think of your worst/best day(s) at school
  • David Goes to School
  • Billy and the Bad Teacher
  • Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
  • Marianthe’s Story One
Think of a time(s) when you learned how to do something new.
  • Papa’s Mark
  • The Bat Boy and his Violin
Remember a special birthday(s).
  • Jenny’s Birthday Book
  • A Birthday Basket for Tia
  • Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton
  • Happy Birthday to You! By Dr. Seuss
  • Some Birthday! by Patricia Polacco
Think of a day(s) when you were very happy/sad/frightened.
  • Thundercake by Patricia Polacco
  • Shortcut by Donald Crews
  • On the Day His Daddy Left
  • The Wall by Eve Bunting


Branching Out

Oh how I have neglected this blog. But today I decided it needed my attention. I actually added a new .com ( domain so I am feeling techy right now. My goal with this blog is to help writers with some strategies, resources, ideas, etc. I have come to rely on in my writing world. Many of the ideas I want to pass along to teachers can be differentiated to help writers as well.

This brings me to my second goal, providing teachers with educational strategies, lessons, ideas and resources for writing instruction and reading instruction. Many times I will include chapters or segments from books that have been published. Other times I may include student samples or personal examples to help demonstrate the task at hand.

Please help spread the word about this blog because I know me…the more support I get the more I want to share. I also love when hints for specific needs are requested!!

Happy Writing!


I am excited to announce that my latest books are on my website with links that will take you directly to the Amazon page. For this “non-techy” writer…that was a HUGE accomplishment. I must thank my writing buddy Stephanie for her help!! Please go check them out! I am now working on my 3 Chicken Soup for the Soul books…I want them easily accessible as well. I will keep you posted!