Help! I need some advice!

Big Writing and Kung Fu Punctuation
Is anybody still doing this?

My dilemma is this: re: punctuation -  the kiddos I teach are just great at doing practice exercises and mostly understand what is being taught without too many problems.  
It's a pretty dry topic so I try very much to introduce fun activities, use the smartboard, create games etc and it all goes swimmingly well and I think whoop, whoop, they've got it!
Now, don't get me wrong, I think this is entirely normal for first graders, but I sooooo wish they could retain and apply what they have learnt to their independent writing!  It seems to get worse year after year and unless I am hounding them to remember to add punctuation, they just don't bother!  The children who are strongest in literacy will always give it a go, but the majority just don't seem to retain it in order to apply it in other contexts.  I've been thinking about this for a while now, as it also happens in the area of spelling and wondering what I can do to stop the slide - is it a concentration problem?  Is it that the mechanics of writing are just too boring to contemplate?!
Perhaps it is my fault?!  I introduced Kung Fu Punctuation a few years ago, the children loved it, but I didn't see any improvement in their writing, so I stopped it!  Perhaps I didn't give it enough time?  Perhaps I should have done more with the concept?  I just don't know.  So yes, I stopped it.......BUT.......I've been reading Ros Wilson's Big Writing teaching  method again and wondering if I should give it another try......

Quote from Wiki - for those who don't know the teaching method.

Big Writing is a teaching method, based in the UK which was developed by Ros Wilson. The aim of Big Writing is to advise schools on how to raise a child's attainment level in speaking, listening and writing. The method is currently used by numerous schools, primarily in the UK but also overseas. 
The target audiences for Big Writing are Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 students (i.e. those aged 5 to 11), although a slightly adjusted method is also taught that focuses on Foundation stage pupils and is known as 'Big Talk'. 
Big Writing has proved to be successful in a number of schools, both with teachers and pupils, as evidenced in several case studies.

She believes that there are four points that are key to improving anyone's writing: vocabularyconnectives, openers and punctuation which Ros shortened to V.C.O.P.

Just adding a wee video from the lady herself for more detail.

Our school took this on board in a big way a number of years ago, but I feel that most of us have let it go and are not as committed to it as we once were.  The approach needs to be consistent throughout the school.

Ros Wilson believes that if a child can say it, they can write it and the Kung Fu Punctuation moves arose from this - I think perhaps credited to Phil Beadle (although I stand to be corrected!)

Any UK followers will know what I'm talking about, the Aussies perhaps too.  However I would love to know if any US followers are aware of Ros Wilson and Big Writing.  Please, please leave me a comment with your opinion or any ideas to encourage my kiddos to apply their knowledge.

There aren't that many videos to be found on Kung Fu punctuation, so I'm leaving you with the best I could find!

It's a really cute way to learn!  So what do you think?  Should I reintroduce it?  Do you have any other ideas that might be a solution to my dilemma?  I would love to hear what you think!!


Another fabulous giveaway - check it out!

Nicole over at Lanier's Lions has a marvellous giveaway going on.....she will give 1 item (of your choice) from either of her stores to 5 winners!  Brilliant!  I've already picked what I would like - what are YOU going to choose? !  Click on the image below to hop on over and check it out!  Have fun!


Alphabet Posters - freebie for 24 hours!

I'm finishing off last bits and pieces for my room.  
Our school has a primary colour theme throughout, so I can't change themes in my room - nearly every piece of furniture has been made with colour!  I love it!!

The first frieze you can see is my blend frieze.  Right at the back is the one I want to replace.

Room looks so empty without kids!  Has been cleared for cleaning too.

Labels, alphabet friezes etc have become a bit jaded, so I thought it was about time to renew.
My colleagues have been making jokes about my obsession with labels - all of them have been renewed in bright polka dot colours.
I didn't want my alphabet posters to have polka dots, so I thought why not mix it up?  So I've gone mega bright and created kinda neon stripes!!  Courtesy of Scrappin Doodles clip art and some of my own, I just love my new posters and hope you do too!
I included some alternatives, like a choice of frame for the vowels.  You can have these in a different coloured frame.  I wanted my kiddos to have a visual aid to help them remember the vowels, as we do a lot of sound work on them.  Other alternatives include x at the beginning and end of a word and q has an American and British version, as I intend to upload these to my TpT store.
I have posted them on my fb page as a freebie for 24 hours, just a comment with email and I will send them to you, or if you want to comment here with your email, that's fine too.


Yaaaay! I got an award........!

Thank you so much to Janis at:

Grade Three is the Place for Me!

for this wonderful award:

I'm speechless!  Doesn't happen often!  Am I allowed to admit that I feel ever so chuffed?!  
Thank you so much Janis!

My 7 random facts:

I sometimes eat Nutella with a spoon from the jar!

I love Van Morrison and Cat Stevens (showing my age here!)

I like to meditate for 5 minutes at lunch time.

I hate housework!

I talk A LOT!

My favourite holiday destination is Malta.  Can I add a second?  I adore Italy.

I am a night owl!

I will be passing this award to fellow bloggers from the 'New Bloggers' blog hop and will update as I go along.

Teach with all the colors of the wind

Crazy Daze in First Grade

Mrs Bartel's School Family

Lauren and Jeanines Creative Corner

Classroom Couture

Lastly and unbelievably - THE SUN IS SHINING!!!!!  Hope you are all having a great day!

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated


Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop!

Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me had this great idea for newbies, so I thought I'd join in.  
Here goes.........

What state you are in?

The most relaxed state ever, as I'm on summer hols - hehe!  When teaching I'm in a disorganised, stressy, exhausted  state!!  
Sorry for the lame jokes......I can't answer because I'm not in the 'States' and my little country doesn't have states, so I'm answering with country:  Ireland.

Your current teaching position

I currently teach 1st Grade and have been doing so for the last eight years.

 Your teaching experience

I have been teaching for 25 years.  I have taught in London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland and Bavaria Germany.  I have taught most grades up to Grade 5, but am happiest with Grades 1 - 3.

 When you started blogging

I started my teacher blog around April of this year, but I am not a prolific poster - no self-discipline - my mantra - I must try harder!

 Share a blogging tip / blogging resource

Try to leave comments when you can - I often don't know if my posts reach people.  
Also I had no idea that the default on comments, until I read it on someone's blog, was the awful word verifier!  I turned it off pretty quick, as I know how much they annoy me!  They stopped me commenting on many blogs because I couldn't read the letters!  
Lastly I watch videos as much as I can from other bloggers as I learn tips and tricks more quickly from them.


Tell me more! Linky party.

My hubs is always complaining that I am never on time for I'm a bit late to the linky party, but I thought I'd give it a go......linking up with Mrs. Lemons over at Step into 2nd Grade.

I chose this first one, as I am unlikely to ever meet any fellow bloggers - lol -  I live on a peninsula in the far north of Ireland.

I met my husband in 1997 and we married in 2004 on a 'secret' trip to Edinburgh.  We had planned to grab two witnesses off the streets, but were saved when my best friend and her hubby turned up (not so secret then!)  We had an additional surprise when his sister and her hubs arrived from Wales!  It was a wonderful weekend!  
We are both kayak coaches and we met whilst out teaching a group of teens.  The thing I love most about him is that he is young at heart and makes me laugh......

I played trumpet for the church brass orchestra in Bavaria, Germany, where I lived for 5 years.  I taught Kindergarten and speak German.  (My first husband was German).

I have 3 stepsons and 5 grandchildren - 3 girls and 2 boys!

I adore my Border Collies, Holly and Blue.  Holly is 17 now and has been my constant companion for 15 years. Blue is only 2 and as mad as a hatter!  They had a very bad start in life and I have been blessed to be able to adopt them.  We walk on this beach every day:

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2000 and have had a couple of long spells away from teaching :(

Hubs and I love to tour Ireland on our motorbike.  

This is the newest:

For my next 'big' birthday, I want to visit New York - I have yet to convince the darling this space!

I have never tasted coffee - I hate the smell, but drink waaaaay too much diet coke and tea!

When growing up, my Dad's pet name for me was Crystal Tips (popular children's programme when I was young - haha!).  This was on account of my hair - red and curly - I hated it with a passion and spent most of my young adult life getting it dyed and straightened.  Now that I'm a 'proper' adult,  I spend most of my time dying it red to cover the grey bits!  Who'd have thought.......?!  It's long now and I don't mind the tats but still like to get it straightened once a month.

I love to read and have always wanted to write and illustrate children's books.  My other 'want' was to be able to sing.  My greatest embarrassment at High School was being asked to leave the school choir because my singing was so bad!!  I'm scarred for life (!) and feel very self-conscious when singing along in assembly in case anyone hears me!!  Feel like I should have a sign round my neck or, at the very least, a TEE-SHIRT:

Finally on a work note, I have completed half my Masters Degree in Special Education and am allowed to conduct the type of educational testing that a psychologist would normally do.  I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity - funded by my Education Board.

And on a very final note - it nearly always rains in Ireland - so I want to know which one of you stole the sun?  Nearly half way through the summer hols and not a glimpse........!


All things new.......!

Ta- daaaa!
Well, what do you think?  I hope you are as impressed as I am - I just love my new look thanks to Christi over at Design by Christi.
After initial contact, Christi responded promptly, answered my queries and installed the design in the blink of an eye - I was so happy!  What a lovely, kind lady - she made the process so easy - thank you Christi!  I can't recommend her service highly enough!

Design by Christi

My new have to guess what it is!  I love it, but have no clue what to do with it - hehe!  All (polite!) suggestions welcome!



I came across teaching blogs through Pinterest and what a revelation!  Through these teaching blogs I found Tpt and some amazing resources - what a creative bunch you are!
One of my earlier buys was a packet called 'All About Biographies' from The Teacher Wife:

The Teacher Wife

I wanted to create a memory book with my children and use it as a gift for their parents at the end of the year - I found the autobiography section was just the thing!
I was amazed at the writing this activity produced and so proud of the children for trying their best.  I changed some parts as we don't have first grade etc.
Each section was accompanied by photos, either brought in by the children or provided by me.  I haven't shown these to preserve anonymity but they added a lovely touch to their books and the children enjoyed seeing how they had changed!

After photocopying, I noticed the apostrophe and 's' were upside down. I decided to leave them as 6/7 year olds don't worry about these things!!

The 'clothes' are little cut-outs to stick on the body - so cute!

'Top 10 Life Moments' isn't included in the packet.  
This page is from another packet that I downloaded, but unfortunately I can't remember who the author is!

I added a section for autographs.  
The children got the teachers and their classmates to sign.  
They loved this!

A really worthwhile activity that now has a permanent spot on my planner!  
Thank you so much Lindsey at The Teacher Wife ☺

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