Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
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Oh. My. Word!! Y'all! I know there are so many planners, organizers, binders, etc out there, but my sweet friend Joey Udovich has answered all of your planning needs with The Ultimate Teaching Binder

And guess what? Joey is letting me give one away to one of my lucky followers!!

Joey has listened to teacher wants and needs for the last three years, and put each of them into this product. It contains 100% editable forms for your organization needs! Check out the table of contents below- EVERY SINGLE page within this portion of the product, which also comes in black and white, is completely editable. There is NOTHING that can't be changed.
There are so many forms and pages available. It surely has what you will need for your planning needs. It even comes with a K-5 editable CCSS file!

Color and black and white options are available on both the covers and forms. There are also Excel grade book and lesson planning pages included, which are also completely editable and already formulated for easy use.

There are 259 cover choices and 41 themes available!! You won't ever need another planner, and each year it will be like you have a new one with all the cover and theme options! I've never seen another teaching binder that offers a selection like this.

Check out this awesome blog post on how to organize the binder!

Enter to win this amazing ULTIMATE binder below! Good luck!

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!

One of the questions I get asked the most about using mentor sentences is, "Don't you review all the grammar concepts before starting mentor sentences?"

And my answer is always, "Nope!"

Now, I am not "one of those" telling you to stop teaching grammar. Understanding grammar is beneficial to proper communication. Instead, grammar should be taught in context- not in isolation.

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
  • Expecting students to "find" errors in a sentence that they've never seen before isn't going to help students learn grammar or become better writers.
  • Simply telling students what an adverb, adjective, or preposition is and having them "find" those parts of speech in random lists doesn't help them utilize it in their own writing.
  • Diagramming or labeling a sentence just for the sake of labeling doesn't help students write more effectively.

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
  • Showing students well-written sentences and discussing why these sentences are excellent will help them know what to do in their own writing. Using the same sentence the students have studied and discussed to later practice editing skills (alter a few things about the sentence for students to identify) will help them apply those skills in their own writing.
  • Explaining parts of speech when seeing/identifying them in context will help students understand them. Practicing with those parts of speech in writing and speaking will help the skill "stick" and usage is more likely in writing later.
  • Labeling the sentence to discuss how parts of speech are used in context will help students see how the words work together to form an awesome sentence that they can imitate in their own writing. 
**note the difference from the isolated labeling: students are discussing why and how they know the parts of speech they are labeling vs. just diagramming and moving on.**

I know what you're thinking... "At the beginning of the year, how can we expect students to find everything we want them to find about the weekly mentor sentence?"

Simple answer: You don't!

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
Students will begin to "soak up" the language and the skills as you consistently use mentor sentences. I promise! It will take some time and a few weeks of modeling the expectations.

And as for "finding everything" - not in the beginning! When you start, take baby steps and work up to "everything." Will they all understand all the skills at the same time? Of course not- just like everything else you teach, students are going to be all over the map when it comes to understanding... but the GREAT thing about using mentor sentences is the spiral of the basic skills every week!

Their mentor sentence notebook also becomes a resource and reference tool for their writing!

Do you own any of my mentor sentence products? You can check them out in my store!

They are perfect for all levels of learners- from ELL and students with disabilities all the way to gifted students! Mariane R. says about using the mentor sentences products in my store: This has to be my absolute favorite. The lessons are easy to follow and use and my students have been getting a lot out of each week's lessons. I teach in a special education classroom for students with hearing loss. A lot of resources and products they cannot understand or access but they have really gotten in to these lessons and I have seen improvement in both their comprehension and their writing.

Have you used mentor sentences in your classroom to replace your isolated grammar instruction? Tell us about how it went in the comments! I love to hear from you!

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Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!

I am so excited to announce the return of the Summer Workshops for Mastering Mentor Sentences! This year's sessions will be held on June 24, 2016 at Gwinnett Tech in Lawrenceville, Georgia. There will be TWO SESSIONS! The morning session will be all about implementing mentor sentences into K, 1, and 2 classrooms, and the afternoon session will be for my 3-5 teachers. You CAN attend both - there is an all day ticket if you are interested! 

Early Bird Pricing Ends June 1!

I understand that this may not be convenient to some of my blog readers, but don't worry!! I have some online options coming soon for you! :) Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know the details about upcoming webinars and online courses that will soon be available!

Both of these workshops are located in classroom 657 at Gwinnett Tech in the 100 Building. We will meet from 9:30 AM-11:30 AM for K-2 and 12:30 PM -2:30 PM for 3-5.

I will explain the routine, show video of mentor sentences in action, practice the process with you, and of course, answer any questions you might have about mentor sentences!

Are you ready to register? Click below!

There will be mentor sentence lessons available at a DISCOUNTED price for you to purchase at the workshops in hard copy and digital form. If you already know you will want to buy these awesome discounted items, you can get them when you purchase your tickets to save money on your entry to the workshop! You can buy them as a digital bundle or printed book bundle. Don't worry- if you aren't sure now about buying, you will still have the option at the workshop to get the items at a discount if you'd like!

There will also be some awesome giveaways, just like last year! The lucky prize winners last year won mentor texts, digital lessons, and even hard copies of lessons! I have some fun up my sleeve this year, too. You won't want to miss it!

Register now for the EARLY BIRD pricing!


I felt extremely lucky to be able to experience Mentor Sentences in action! Jessica's workshop was well-organized and full of practical tips and solid content! She's done the research and knows her stuff! There was plenty of time for Q&A which was definitely an advantage of attending an in-person workshop. I love how she has integrated social studies and science content into her mentor sentences. I feel like grammar sometimes gets lost in Language Arts instruction and Jessica has created a no-excuse way to make sure students don't miss out. They only take 15-20 minutes! I highly recommend attending the Mentor Sentences workshop and buying the bundle especially so you're set for the whole year! 

~Andrea Runnels

Jessica Ivey's mentor sentences are a huge game changer! You can improve student writing and teach grammar skills while using the high quality literature you know and students won't let me skip a week. Students love it and are engaged the entire lesson!
~Deanna Sessoms

I had already been using Jessica's mentor sentences before attending the summer session, but I loved hearing her present to not only confirm that I'd been doing it correctly, but also to get new ideas of ways to use mentor sentences in my classroom. She was able to answer everyone's questions based on her personal experiences with delivering mentor sentences in her classroom. I've seen huge improvements in my students' writing and understanding of grammar skills thanks to mentor sentences!
~Toni Libby

Attending Jivey's mentor sentence workshop last summer was the best professional development I have ever been to. Starting mentor sentences can be scary, but Jessica really takes you step by step on how to implement them in your classroom. My kids loved doing them every week this year. I saw the most growth in my students' writing styles this year than any year prior. They became better and more confident writers because of these mentor sentences!
~Lizzie Vaughn

Jessica has done a great job of embedding grammar and writing skills together to help students see the connection. Mentor Sentences is a scaffold approach that starts easy and therefore any student can be successful with a mentor sentence. My teachers in my building love it, especially the hands on training that Jessica provided us with!
~Stephanie Lindstrom

Mark down this awesome workshop on your calendar now! JUNE 24! :)

I blogged over at The Primary Peach to share a fun end of year activity with OOBLECK! Head over and check it out!

Mentor texts help students learn how to read like writers and write like readers- yes, even in the early years! In fact, K-2 teachers are a super-big-help to the upper grades teachers because their use of mentor texts helps ingrain the importance of reading, as well as to write like the authors we love.

In the primary grades, it's important to choose mentor texts that are engaging. First, read the book to them for pleasure- you want them to enjoy the book! Once they've listened to the book, you can go back and discuss (and maybe re-read) the content for reading comprehension. Finally, you can incorporate the mentor text into your writing lessons! With a good mentor text, you will be able to teach multiple skills across reading, writing, grammar, and maybe even science and social studies!

Read Like a Writer!

Reading like a writer does not come naturally for little ones. You will want to do a lot of modeling and "think-alouds" with a text they are familiar with- point out characters, dialogue, the author's word choice, the way a problem is solved, the way the author might have surprised you... and so on.

One way to help students notice the style, structure, and conventions of great writing is to use mentor sentences! Students are encouraged to notice what makes the sentence a good sentence, and then are able to practice writing their own sentence just like the mentor sentence. (If you are unfamiliar with mentor sentences, you can read more about them here and here, too!) There is also a grammar focus in first and second grade mentor sentences, so you can touch on parts of speech and conventions during mentor sentence time, too!

Write Like a Reader!

Once you and the students have analyzed how the author wrote a mentor text, you will want them to practice writing that way, too. Try to choose authors that have series of books when you can- it's a great way to see how consistent they are!

One of my favorite authors to use is Doreen Cronin with her Diary series!

Read these books with your students and take note of the first-person point-of-view diary format with your students. Talk about how the characters reacted to certain events, and how that is similar or different to how they would react in the same situation. Also discuss the things Doreen Cronin included that is typical of that animal (for example, the worm digging in the dirt, and hanging out on the sidewalk after the rain). Have students write their own "Diary of a ____" story with a different animal or insect than in the books!

Teaching about animals or insects in science? BONUS! You can incorporate that into your writing time by allowing them to choose something they've learned about and include characteristics just like Doreen did! (Diary of a Caterpillar, anyone?!)

You can try out some lessons that I've created for Diary of a Worm by clicking on the links below! They are great for first and second graders and MAYBE some high kindergartners, too!

Want to see some more mentor text ideas? 
Be sure to check out this pin board, put together by The Reading Crew!

If you're on the fence about using mentor sentences, Ideas By Jivey can help you decide once and for all if using mentor sentences in your classroom is right for you.

Have you been straddling that proverbial fence about whether or not to start mentor sentences in your classroom? I'll admit, they aren't right for everyone. Below, I've listed three reasons why mentor sentences might not be a good fit for you.

If you can't live without the grammar workbook, mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you prefer your students to sit quietly at their desk and work out of a grammar workbook, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. Mentor sentences engage students in discussion about grammar, style, and conventions. If you were to teach grammar through mentor sentences, students would be getting a spiral review of many concepts every week, instead of just the one skill on the page in the workbook. There would be a lot of great conversation about things they notice. They would get excited about learning about style and conventions. If you like the groans and sighs you get when you tell students to pull out their grammar workbook, then mentor sentences aren't right for you.

If you don't like reading authentic literature to students, mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you don't like reading authentic literature to students, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. If you detest picture books that engage and excite students, then go ahead and stop reading here because mentor sentences just aren't right for you.

If you love reading story after story of simple and/or run-on sentences with no description, vivid language, capitals, or periods, then mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you love reading story after story of simple and/or run-on sentences with no description, vivid language, capitals, or periods, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. Mentor sentences will show your students all the RIGHT things they should be doing in their writing. Students will imitate fabulous sentences (from those books in reason #2) and become authors. They will learn how to revise their writing to make it even better. But, if you prefer to read stories that put you to sleep at night, then please do not use mentor sentences in your classroom.

After reading these three reasons, if you realized that maybe...actually... you might be a teacher that is JUST RIGHT to implement mentor sentences in your classroom, click here to read all about HOW to implement them in upper grades, and even see a video of them in action in my classroom! First and second grade teachers, click here for the how-to and a video, and K-1, click here for your video and how-to post!

Ready to give them a whirl, but don't want to jump in head-first? Try out some free lessons with your students!

Are you all-in, ready to go? Your best bet (and best bargain) is to get the bundle that best fits your needs! Check out the descriptions of the bundles to see complete book lists!

It is NEVER too late in the year to start mentor sentences! Sure, you'll see more growth in your students if you start from week 1, but you will still see the lightbulbs come on over their heads in week 31 if you wanted to start then! 

What are you waiting for?

How did the last week of April get here so fast?! For many of you (some with less than five weeks left of school), you are beginning to think about how to wind down the year with some fun activities. But if the majority of you are like I was... you want to plan fun things, but your to-do list is sooo long and you are just so worn out! There were lots of things I would have done if only it had already been pretty much created for me. And that doesn't mean you are a bad teacher... it means you are a busy, tired teacher.

You've probably seen the fun balloon pop countdowns before- perfect for ANY grade! But as mentioned above, sitting down to think of all the activities that could go in the balloons and typing them out might be one of those things that keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list... and then suddenly it's the last day of school... so I'm here to help you cross that one off!! But sorry, I can't come to your room and blow the balloons up for you.

In this free download, I have provided MORE ideas than you could use to give you plenty to choose from. Most of what I've listed are "free" things to do. Some require students to wear or bring something from home. Don't want to do any kind of food? Skip that page! Do as many as you want- you can make it a twenty-day-countdown or even a five-day-countdown! Make it work for you! 

Cut apart the slips you want to use and roll them up, then stick each rolled up slip into a balloon before blowing it up.

One of the struggles you might have is actually managing the balloons. Here are a few suggestions of ways to have your countdown:

1. Print off two copies of the activity slips. One will be used inside the balloons, but the other will be for your records- number this page with the "days" you are doing each one, and number the balloons to match. NO SURPRISES with this method - well, not for you anyway. :) This one is especially important if you want to use the food slips, for example. You'll want to know when you need the supplies for them, and can ask parents ahead of time to send in goodies, too. (No one wants a note home the afternoon before an ice cream party that they need to send in two quarts of chocolate syrup.)

2. Maybe you DO like surprises! I suggest choosing activity slips that don't require a lot of planning ahead, then stuff those balloons! You could let a student choose which one to pop in this case.

3. Use it as a behavior incentive. At the end of the day, if everyone has had a "good day," pop a balloon to see what special activity will be the next day.

4. Hang the balloons from the board, a piece of string, or even from ribbons attached to the ceiling! Here are some ideas:
5. The actual popping can be done with a pin or thumbtack, or by sitting on the balloon, or in the upper grades- (if you're super daring) letting a student throw a dart! This could also be a great behavior incentive- let a student who had an AWESOME behavior day pop the balloon.

This idea is just one of many from the bloggers of The Primary Peach!

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