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Monday Morning at School

“Today we’re going to write another five-sentence paragraph,” Mrs. K* said.  Her second grade students opened their flip top desks to get pencils.  Mrs. K placed sheets of paper on her students’ desks.

“Julie is sharpening her pencil.  Bill knows to clear his desk of everything except his pencil.  Mary is ready.” 

            Children wiggled and chatted among themselves quietly.  “Who remembers the name of the first sentence of a paragraph?”  Several children shouted, “Topic!” and others echoed in sing-song chants.

            Mrs. K sat at her desk and focused a small camera on paper that projected onto a chalkboard size Smart Board.  “Let’s begin together.”  She wrote and said, “My weekend was _________.  What words could be in the blank?”  She repeated her students’ answers.  “Great. Fun. Happy. Wonderful.”  She wrote ‘great’ in her sentence and then walked around the classroom.

            “Now, we’ll use a transition word. Beth just wrote the word ‘first.’ That’s her transition word and I’ll use it too.”  Mrs. K wrote ‘First, I cooked pizza for Friday night supper.’   “I heard Tom say he didn’t do anything and his weekend was boring.  So, he can fill in the word boring in his topic sentence and what could he write for the second sentence?” 

            Tom’s classmates offered ideas. Mrs. K said, “Tom is writing that he went to bed Friday.  That’s a good detail sentence for his topic sentence.  After everyone puts a period at the end of the second sentence, let’s choose another transition word.”

            Students suggested words: then, after that, next. Mrs. K wrote ‘Then on Saturday, I went to my sons’ soccer games.’ “You write something you did Saturday.”  Again, Mrs. K walked around the classroom whispering to individual students and then she said aloud, “We’ll add one last detail sentence.  What transition words can we use?”  The students were silent.

            “How about another thing I did or finally?” She wrote a sentence and students wrote on their papers. “That’s four sentences.  We’re ready for the concluding sentence.  Is it a detail?” 

            Students responded:  some shook their heads and some shouted, “No!” Mrs. K wrote ‘As you can see my weekend was _______.’  “What’s another word for great?” Mrs. K pointed to her topic sentence and then repeated the words students suggested: fabulous, outstanding, happy. 

            Students wrote and Mrs. K walked around the classroom.  “All right. Let’s draw a picture.” Mrs. K drew a stick person on her paper; a few students laughed.  “Oh, please be kind.  I’m just learning to draw.”

            As a grandparent volunteer, I’d cut out four-inch felt squares for twenty minutes that Monday morning while Mrs. K had guided nineteen students to write paragraphs. I stood from my seat at the back of the classroom and quietly applauded.  Mrs. K grinned and nodded. 

            Mrs. K’s last directions before recess is a quote I’ve saved.  “Take a minute to put things where they belong.  Remember how good that feels?”

I’m thankful for teachers like Mrs. K. Let’s honor them with respect and appreciation.

*Names changed – just because.


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