Moving beyond the Worksheet

It has been my mission the last two years to cut worksheets out of my classroom. I am not a fan, and neither are students. This means I have two choices: think outside of the box and plan something original or reach out to my PLN on Twitter or Pinterest. There are so many great ideas floating around out there, and I do not mind using them! This is why it is so important for teachers to share what they are doing. In my opinion quotation marks are one of the harder concepts that 4th grade needs to master. I used to do worksheet after worksheet after worksheet of quotation marks – never again. I have started thinking (and searching) for ways to teach quotation marks other than the worksheet. Here are a few ways that we have worked on them so far this year. The first picture you see is my white board. I put characters together in a box and told students to come up with dialogue between them. They loved this activity. I think it is better than worksheets for so many reasons. It’s fun. Students are able to be creative. They are writing their own sentences, which allows them to work on so many other concepts besides quotation marks as well. The kids could not wait to share the dialogue that they created.

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I am sure that y’all have seen this one. I call it Macaroni Quotation Marks. I found this idea on Pinterest last year, and once again my students loved it. I gave them their own bag of macaroni to keep this year. This way they can pull the macaroni out at anytime and work on quotation marks. Several students have been writing sentences on their individual dry erase boards and moving the macaroni around for commas as well. That was their idea not mine. This proves that if you allow students to work with engaging, hands-on materials they will start to think outside of the box all on their own. It’s amazing to watch.

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Another activity my students like to do is making up comic strips using quotation marks. This allows them a lot of creative freedom. They decide what they want to draw, say, etc. I like this because they are excited to do it. It does not seem like “work” to them. It is so much better than handing them a worksheet with quotation sentences on it to edit. This is engaging, it’s fun, and they are creating their own sentences, which once again covers more concepts than just quotation marks.

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The last activity we tackled this week targeting quotation marks was created on the app Write About This. We love this app because it can be used for so many different things. The students took a picture of their friend and uploaded it into the app using the custom prompt feature. They then had to create dialogue from their friend using quotation marks the correct way. Students love working on the iPads. They especially love emailing their finished products to their parents and teacher. This is a win win activity! This was the assessment for the week on quotation marks. It was easy for me to check their work from my phone or Mac Book. As a teacher these activities are so much better for me to check over than a worksheet. Sometimes I find myself cracking up laughing at things they have written. If I like these activities more than worksheets than how do you think my students feel? It’s time to step up our game, put in the work, and engage these learners.

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Now check out the picture below to see how awesomely hilarious my students are. Have an amazing outside of the box week!

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