Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cool Blue Capitals

Remembering to use capital letters when writing can be tough for our little friends (Well, and some big friends we know too, but we won't go there...). No matter how much we cram, shove, beg, instruct, model or encourage, most of them just could care less forget. 

It is an area we know the teachers we pass the torch to appreciate having in place from the get go, but it is one we hear concerns about from teachers as late as 5th grade (maybe longer, we just never make it out of our elementary cave). We notice it all the time with our own kids at home (soon to be 3rd and 5th graders. tear.sniff.) too. 

When the writing gets flowin', the capitals aren't showin'. 

Our Firsties are supposed to come to us from Kindergarten capitalizing the beginning of sentences and when using the pronoun I. We are to reinforce those skills and add the capitalization of dates and names of people. These are tall orders for little ones who are just beginning to write. 

To encourage our friends to capitalize on capitals, we give our Coool Cats  "Cool Blue Capitals" pens to help them remember those large letters when writing!

Early in the year, we introduce this fun writing procedure on Cool Blue Capital Day.  We leave a pair of sunglasses and a pen at each student's desk before writing time. 

We give each student one of these blue felt pens to keep with their supplies on Cool Blue Capital Day, but any blue pen would work. :) 
We found these cool sunglasses through orientaltrading.com which we love because they go along with our ocean theme and are cool bright colors ~ very cool!  

We review the wheres and whys of capital letters and all sport our shades to drive home the cool factor. 

We can't help but channel our inner 80's valley girl voices, which was cool, back in the day. We teach them words like tubular and radical and play our favorite 80's tunes in the background, for purely selfish reasons. 

Once we're feeling cool enough, everyone grabs their Cool Blue pens for journal writing.

Each time they need to use a capital, they are to switch to use their cool blue pen. It takes some practice, but most of them get it down pretty quick. 

We have found, this physical switching of writing tools helps train their brains to use those capitals more regularly.

We know what you might ask ~ 
Does anyone ever "forget" and write their entire sentence or story with the pen?

Yes, sometimes but not as often as we'd expect.  Annnnd, as we all know every class is different. So some years we are cool as cucumbers from the get go, and other years... well we need a lil' longer cool blue training.

How do we handle those friends that over extend their coolness?
First time, we have a chat. 
It is a good assessment opportunity to see if they are truly not understanding or just displaying their own level of perceived coolness ~ Aka, I'm cooler than you teacher. Let me show you how I can use this pen in the exact opposite manner in which you demonstrated ten times.

If we have repeat offenders, then we are firm believers in natural consequences, so they lose their cool blue for the day. Not so cool anymore~
They usually don't like not having their Cool Blue, and that nips their over use and reaffirms our coolness under pressure.  :)

Cool Blue Capitals have worked for us. We use them as long as the kids need the support. Some years, we take them away and they don't notice or care. Other years, we keep them for the entire year. It just depends on what they each need, but they help the kids remember, and it keeps us cool with teachers of older grades in the lounge. :)

So, we're curious...
How do you get your students to remember to use capitals when writing?

26 comments:

  1. What a great idea! You two are so creative. I don't have a cool idea - just constant reminding - so I may have to give this a try!

    Thanks,
    Crystal
    Teaching Little Miracles

    ReplyDelete
  2. Adorable idea. I have always had them use a highlighter. But this idea sounds a lot more fun.
    Tammy
    Primary Paradise

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOLLLLL "How do we handle our friends who over extend their coolness?" ahhhh too funny.
    Love this idea. I have always had them circle with a crayon - but cool blue sounds way.... cooler. ;P

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds like such a CUTE idea! Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is such a smart and adorable idea!! I love it ladies! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is such a great idea!!! And I love how fun it is!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the idea! I just started following your blog! I look forward to pinning more of your ideas.
    www.curiousfirsties.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great idea!! I want to be as cool as yall ;) I'm gonna try this!!

    Kimberly
    The Learning Tree

    ReplyDelete
  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea and am so excited to use it next year with my 2nd graders!!! (They still haven't seemed to figure out they need capitals!) I think the switching of writing tools and sunglasses are a GREAT idea to get it to stick!!!! Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is an awesome idea!! I am going to get blue pens this week!! Thanks for sharing.
    Barbara
    happyteachingfirst.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I LOVE this idea! I am totally using this for this year. Knowing where and where not to is a constant problem so I am giving this a whirl. Thanks for the AWESOME ideaa DUDE :)

    Joanna

    http://giveahootforcommoncore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well this is my first year back in first grade after 9 years in the upper grades so I'm very excited to have found a blog like yours to help us stay "cool"!!! I will definitely try this in my room this year!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have used green for the first letter and red for the period. Like... green for go and red for stop. :)

    PS... I nominated you for an award. Come over to our blog to accept! :)

    http://curiousfirsties.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is the bain of my existence. I consider myself a fairly good writing teacher, but I swear this is developmental in 1st grade because some of my students who can't practically write novels STILL can't remember to consistently use capitals. But this is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I mean't "can" practically write novels.. whoops!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I always made the analogy that putting beginning capitals and ending punctuation on sentences was like getting dressed each morning. I asked them to tell me what the first thing they put on after a bath or shower, and they always loved to tell me "my UNDERWEAR"! Then I asked what was the very last thing they put on before coming to school, and they told me "my SHOES"! I told them their sentences needed to be dressed properly, too, and needed beginning UNDERWEAR and ending SHOES! My students got so used to underlining their "underwear" and circling their "shoes" that they hardly ever forgot beginning sentence capitalization and ending punctuation throughout the year!

    ReplyDelete
  17. SOOOOOOOOOO clever!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love this idea! I'm going to try it with my two firsties! :) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is, like, SO totally rad! hehe I love this!! Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Such a cute idea. Thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is a great idea and so simple! In the past I have spent way too much time creating little felt capes to hot glue to the kids pencils to make "Captain Capital". While I do love him, he is a lot of extra work! I may just switch to your wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am excited to introduce Cool Blue this upcoming school year! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Cute idea!! I have my students circle the capitals with a green colored pencil (green go) and periods with a red colored pencil (red stop).

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am going to give it a try....THANKS- and fingers crossed

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm going to give this a try. Nothing I try seems to stick. So, being cool with a blue ink pen might just do the trick! We can be "cool" like Pete the Cat.

    ReplyDelete

Leave Some Love...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...