Thursday, February 26, 2015

Using Anagrams to Construct and Develop Sentences

In a recent LETRS training, our instructor shared a wonderful activity for helping students develop their awareness of word order in constructing sentences. She introduced the idea of sentence anagrams, an activity in which students examine words and rearrange them in a logical order to create a sentence. I have begun using this exercise with my students, and while it proves to be challenging at times, they love it. I simply write the words on small notecards (I usually cut the cards to conserve paper) and place the words on the table in a random order. They immediately begin playing with the words and possible word orders. It's amazing how intensely they focus on this sentence-building exercise.

I always use words within the sentences that reflect the current phonics skill we are studying for reading/spelling. The wonderful part about this activity is that it provides fluency with reading and application of the particular phonics pattern, without any anxiety that struggling writers may experience in a standard dictation exercise. I still use dictation regularly, but it is used in conjunction with sentence anagrams as well.

Here are two images of sentences from different grade level classes. This shows how even basic sentences can be used as anagrams with younger students compared to more complex sentences for older students.

I take these anagrams one step further by providing students with blank notecards, on which they write a word they would add to the sentence. Sometimes I specify which part of speech I would like for them to add, (adjective, adverb, etc.) while at other times I give them complete freedom to experiment. Again, they love this. Not only does it help personalize the activity for them, but they have so much fun combining their ideas to create silly -but still grammatically sensible- sentences.

I usually give my students markers with which to write their words, and we note the fact that their descriptive words make the sentence more colorful. In the images below, you can see how a few students began to expand the original sentences with their colorful words.

You can easily incorporate this concept into your daily instruction with small groups! It takes little preparation, and once you establish the routine of the activity, most of the "work" is done by the students.

For those of you who teach younger children, I have a pre-made option available in the Tally Tales TPT store that could be used as a center or independent learning activity for young readers and writers. This activity pack, "Sentence Building and Using Details to Write Stronger Sentences" builds upon the concept of sentence anagrams, but is particularly appropriate for use with smaller children.

This product contains a variety of colorful pictures with corresponding word cards for building a sentence. While not necessary when working with older students, the pictures are particularly supportive for young learners who are in the foundational stages of writing and constructing meaning through print.
These are all ready to print, cut, and laminate for a center full of sentence anagrams! Of course, you could also pull them to use as a tool in small group instruction.
In addition, I have provided a word bank to which students may refer when writing their own sentences.
 I also included posters for "I can" statements that correspond to this activity.
I hope this post will be helpful to you! I would love to hear about your experience with sentence anagrams, should you choose to incorporate them into your daily instruction. Good luck! :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Another Miracle-of-Life Blog Post

I haven't been around much lately. In fact, it's been over a month since I shared a blog post.

But I've been a little busy… Giving birth and tending to a newborn will definitely deplete your blogging time. But that's okay.

I have been trying to decide how to share our good news with you, blog friends. How do I share our new-baby experience in a way that is significant and special for others as well?

I could write a long explanation of how it felt to meet our baby for the first time… but I'm not sure how to describe that. I will say that when I was a child my grandmother used to tell me that she thought she knew what it was like to love someone... Then she met my dad. She really felt love then. Pure, joyful, uninhibited love. When they handed me our baby for the first time, I remembered her words, and I knew exactly what she meant…

And I could also share that my husband said the way I looked at her, that first time? Well, he had never seen love look like that on anyone before…

I could write about all the things that current moms already know and future moms have already heard… That from the moment you leave the hospital, the lack of sleep, the anxiety, the hormonal roller coaster, the frustrations, and the uncertainty of suddenly being so responsible for such a little piece of big life can hit you hard... That going home can be really, really overwhelming.

But I could also describe the way all of that pales in comparison to the fact that I would do anything -anything- for this little girl. So when you think about it, none of that really matters. She matters. She is so much more than sleep or emotions or hormones, and while those things are certainly significant struggles, I don't want my conversation about her to revolve around them. She's so tiny, and yet she's bigger than all that. And our home is such a beautiful place now with her in it…

I could say that after years of subconsciously (or consiously) wondering what pregnancy would really do to my body, it turns out that the only weight about which I have really concerned myself is hers. The only physique about which I really care now is hers. And my body? Well, it gave me her… this bundle of love in its purest form. So how much can I really criticize it now?

So at the end of the day, this is all just another blog post about the miracle of life. Regardless of the words I choose, it all falls short of reality. Anything I say, anything I write… it's all what current moms already know and future moms have already heard. This little baby is the greatest blessing of our lives.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above…" ~James 1:17

So, thank you for reading this very ordinary post to share and welcome our own little miracle, Miss Ambree Kathleen.