Tag Archives: language arts

Dividing Paragraphs

I remember writing reports in middle school. I remember enjoying the writing process—but I also remember turning in papers that were two pages long—but all one paragraph. Anybody else out there remember that?

Dividing Paragraphs

I also remember the teacher giving my paper back to me and telling me to divide it into paragraphs. What I don’t remember is any lessons on paragraphs. I think those would have come in handy! 🙂

When new students come to my writing classes, the first “writing” problem they encounter is that of paragraph breaks. And I would expect no less. Paragraph breaking is difficult. We tell them that when they change topics, they should change paragraphs—but the entire paper is about the same topic! We tell them that each paragraph should be a unit of thought—but the whole paper feels like a unit of thought to them!

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Introducing Meaningful Composition 2 – II

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be done with my Meaningful Composition (MC) elementary books? Yep, the second through fourth grade books are done, bringing the grand total of MC books to twenty-one books of 300 to 450 pages each! Shwew….what a relief!

Introducing Meaningful Composition 2-II

I am slowly getting the videos up that go with the samples at the store. Each MC book has two weeks of completely free lessons (in their entirely..not bits and pieces). And each book will eventually have a video that explains that book’s contents and the two free sample weeks.

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[Video] How To Use the Preposition Practice Packet

Video: How to Use the Preposition Practice Packet

In this Wondering Wednesday video, Donna Reish (author of seventy curriculum books) teaches parents how to teach propositions with meaning. Using her downloadable e-book, the Preposition Practice Packet, Donna explains the importance of understanding what prepositions do in order to memorize many of the over 200 prepositions out there.

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Preposition Practice Packet Product Intro and Video!

Preposition Practice Packet

Aboard, about, above. Along, among, around….

Whether your kids sing them, recite them, chant them, rap them, or write them…prepositions are important.

I learned them in chant-like form when I was in school. However, I never knew WHY I needed to learn them.

My newest downloadable product will teach kids prepositions—in a way that focuses on the WHY, that is, what prepositions really do!

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Podcast: Teaching Language Arts Across All Grades

Podcast: Teaching Language Arts Across All Grades

In this Wondering Wednesday podcast episode, Donna Reish explains the various areas of language arts instruction for each grade level—what to focus on, what to continue with, and how to move through language arts grade-by-grade. She touches on the essentials of language arts in the areas of listening, phonics, reading, spelling, comprehension, writing, grammar, oral communication, literature, and penmanship.

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A Writing Tip for Every Year: Fourth Grade

A Writing Tip for Every Year Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade: Teach students to outline before writing.

I know many students do not like outlining. And they are sure it is not needed. Trust me. It is.

I have had students who come back from college and bring me a paper to help them edit. When I mention that it seems a little “rambly,” the student sheepishly tells me that she didn’t have time to outline. And it shows. (She couldn’t have gotten away with that in my cottage classes as we take a grade on the outlining/prewriting step as well as any research steps that are needed for report writing!)

Outlining keeps a writer from rambling. It helps him get thoughts on paper in shortened form—while the ideas are flowing. He doesn’t have to interrupt the creative process with writing out full sentences or paragraphs. He can jot down notes quickly—thus, keeping up a little better with the mind than writing full sentences usually allows.

Outlining is the thinking/creating step. Writing is the style step. By learning to outline first, the student’s focus is on gathering data and organizing it in the order he wants it. He doesn’t have to do so many skills at one time—research (or think in creative situations), write notes, determine order/placement of material, write quality sentences, divide paragraphs, edit, etc.

There are myriad of outlining types to use with the fourth grade student. There is the Sentence-by-Sentence approach (what some materials call the Key Word Outline) over source material. There is the aforementioned Q & A outline (see Third Grade). There are templates to “fill in the blank.” There is, of course, formal outlining (which I like to teach gradually by using outlining cards with the eventual numerals and letters already written on the cards).

For young students, a fill in the blank outline might work at first. For story writing, I like to use a Directed Brainstorming outlining box in which each quad has the elements that the student needs to include in his story: character/setting, goals, obstacles, and resolution. There are outlining methods for each type of writing—and each outline is a stepping stone to a fourth grade student becoming an outstanding writer.

Note: Go to our store to see (and print/use) two week samples of my Meaningful Composition series. These samples have, for the most part, complete writing projects. Thus, you can try out many of the outlining methods that I have been describing in this series. Also, keep your eyes on my stores (Teachers Pay Teachers, CurrClick, Teacher’s Notebook, and the Character Ink Store) as I put up various writing project downloads that are in my longer books.

Character Ink Summer School Classes in Fort Wayne!

Character Ink is expanding our cottage classes for summer 2015 to include a ten week summer session. (It is recommended that  your student be able to attend eight of the ten meetings.)

Call Donna Reish to inquire about availability of class spots: 260-433-4365. Address: 11120 Aboite Center Road, FW. 46814.

Here are the classes that we are considering:

(1) Jump Start I–a remedial writing class (that will not be called remedial after this post!) for students going into sixth to ninth grades who are writing below a sixth grade level right now. For example, a student coming into this class might only be able to write a couple of paragraphs on his own (or not more than four). This class will take most writers from a fourth through sixth grade writing level up to seventh or eighth grade level! This is a good class for students who are at a higher level in grammar and spelling than they are writing but want to go into CQLA in the fall–though that is definitely not required.

(2) Jump Start II–a remedial writing class (that will not be called remedial after this post!) for students going into eight through twelfth grades who are writing below an eighth or ninth grade writing level right now. For example, a student coming into this class might only be able to write four or five paragraphs on his own (not more than six or so) and not able to include quotations, various sentence structures, and other high school techniques. This class will take more writers from a seventh or eighth grade writing level up to a  tenth grade writing level! This is a good class for students who are at a higher level in grammar and spelling than they are writing but want to go into CQLA in the fall–though that is definitely not required.

(3) Elementary Language Arts–This “remedial” class is for students in grades three through six who need additional tutoring in vocabulary, spelling, editing, grammar, usage, writing, and comprehension. This will cover all aspects of language arts and will use Character Quality Language Arts Level A as its basis.

(4) Private Tutoring Option–Depending on how full the classes are, I would consider doing a few private tutoring sessions or very small group sessions in whatever areas of language arts you desire (including learning to read for young students and reading comprehension/fluency for olders–I would test reading levels at the first session and go from there…).


Other Details

(1) Classes will be on Tuesday mornings beginning on Tuesday, June 2nd, at our home on Aboite Center Road (across from the back of Homestead High School).

(2) Each of the three classes will be seventy to ninety minutes in length, depending on number of attendees.

(3) Classes will run for ten weeks; however, since it is summer, we will charge only for the classes that your student attends at a minimum of eight classes. In other words, everybody will be charged for eight of the ten classes regardless of ability to attend eight of the ten classes. (Obviously, the more classes a student attends, the better his skill improvement!)

(4) Homework will be given, and you should plan for your student to work on his assignments thirty to forty minutes a day the other four week days. (Please do not send a student who does not have time to do the homework! It is crucial to the success of the program! 🙂 ) Note also that if your student misses class, no homework will be expected (unless you want it).

(5) I (Donna) will be the only summer teacher; therefore, we are only able to offer a select number of classes. If you want another class (i.e. story writing or SAT Essay or research writing, and you can get four students or more to attend, please feel free to call or text me to discuss that offering possibility.

(6) Classes will be held on Tuesday mornings with this or a similar schedule (again, depending on enrollees’ schedules):

Elementary Language Arts–9:00-10:15

Jump Start I—10:15-11:30

Jump Start II–11:30-12:45

(8) Class fees and books will be due in two parts–half with registration and half on the first day of class. Here are the totals:

Eight class meetings (or more if student can attend all ten!): $80

Books/copies (at least 300 pages!):                                          $30

Total tuition and fees:                                                     $110 (or up to $130 if all ten classes are                                                                                                                             attended)




Affect vs. Effect

Affect vs. Effect

I can remember learning about affect and effect in school–and being completely confused all of the time. Is that how you feel? Well, get ready to be relieved of your affect/effect phobia!

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Wondering Wednesday: Summer Reading Help for Young Students

Summer Reading Help for Young StudentsDonna Reish, curriculum author and parenting/homeschool speaker, answers readers’ questions about bringing an elementary student up to grade level in reading during the summer. In this episode, Donna helps parents learn what to focus on in bringing their child to reading fluency, including terminology, phonics programs, reader selections, and steps in helping children learn to read during the summer school break. She has many links to help parents find the phonics program, readers, and methods that will work best for them and their children.


Click here to download the printable handout.

Subscribe to our Wondering Wednesday podcasts in iTunes

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