Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where am I today?

I'm visiting My Carolina Classroom today, sharing my tips for the beginning of the school year!  Be sure to stop by and check them out!  Happy Sunday friends! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Creating a Reader's Workshop

Oh workshop. How I love thee! I am a workshop fanatic, y’all. Reading, writing, math, science, social studies…. I swear I use it for everything! Something about it is so soothing to my soul. Ideally, I have an hour for each subject, but not always. In reading and writing I like to strive for at least one hour of each. I’m not sure what my new schedule at my new school will be like, or what will be mandated, but I’m hoping I can make something like this schedule work in my new classroom.

Holding my mini-lessons to only 10 minutes {ideally} means I have to be p r e p a r e d, ALWAYS.

But it also means my kiddos get a good amount of reading time and that I love. It’s really what it’s all about, right? Actually reading and writing. Not learning about it or studying it. But doing.

Mini Lesson 
Based on the CCSS and my own anecdotals, I plan a scope and sequence that meets my student’s needs.

Independent Reading 
During independent reading time, students read, respond to their reading, and meet with me for book clubs or guided reading. In the older grades, I meet with each group once or twice a week for about 10-15 minutes and one or two groups a day. We discuss the reading and do our guided reading thang!  Our groups change about every month to every 6 weeks and are typically based on interests and student needs. I use the remaining time to confer with readers one on one. Some students I meet with multiple times a week. Others I meet with just once a month. {And most of the time I can't meet with them all enough!}  This is also the time I do assessments and running records. Every quarter I try to adjust my schedule so students are met with as needed. You can grab my reading anecdotal page here from dropbox!
Share time 
For the last 5-10 minutes, we all come together and refer back to our mini-lesson and share what we noticed about it during out reading time. I usually try to have an example ready based on my groups or independent conferences.  For example, "Today we talked about using inferences to understand our characters better.  Kate and her book club saw something really interesting today.  Can y'all share what you saw in our reading and how it helped you?"

Word Work was done at a separate time, although this year I may need to find a way to work that into our writing schedule. We shall see… Ive been doing some blog stalking and reading to see what type of options I have! 

Now, let’s be honest here. Am I great at meeting with all the groups every time we’re supposed to? Not in the least. That’s something I want to be better about. Sometimes my ADD kicks in and a group lasts 20 minutes+ . But on the good days, the schedule above is what we’re striving for. And I love love love when it goes smoothly!! I’m loving checking out everyone else’s schedules! Have you stopped by Catherine’s blog to see what everyone is up to? Be sure you do! You won’t be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Catch Up & Help Please!

So, a little life update is completely necessary.  I feel like I'm a little all over the place these days.  Am I living in Spain?  Georgia?  South Carolina?  Some days I'm not even sure, BUT we're back from Spain!  And living with my family in Savannah, GA until we move to South Carolina next month {hooray!!}.   While we miss Spain, it's so nice to be home.  If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I went to Target yesterday for the first time in 10 months.  1)  Products in English= Amazingness 2)  Nothing beats Target and their beautiful binders... nothing!! 

And just day to day tasks are much simpler here.  Again, it's nice to be home. 

And in other news, I am super excited to share that I have been offered a job teaching 4th grade in Greenville, SC.  I taught 4th grade my first two years of teaching- so I'm really excited to go back to that grade level.  And fourth graders are so much fun!  AND the best news yet, came this morning in an e-mail from my new principal.  I am being given about $450 to spend on my new classroom!!  WHAT?  I know- I don't know where the money is coming from or WHY- but I know more than enough to argue with anyone telling me to go spend, especially these days!!  So now I need some help!  I plan on spending about half the money stocking up on new books for my classroom library {you can never have too many!}.  And I won't see my classroom until tomorrow- so I'll learn more then... BUT, what should I be considering for my must haves?  Here's some of the items I'm thinking about... Mainly {okay, entirely...} consisting of math manipulative right now {I mean, let's be honest... you can never have enough math manipulatves...}But what am I forgetting?  What else should I include? 

Be sure to stop by tomorrow and Thursday for some new book club material!  This summer has brought so much great reading time!  I am one happy reader :)

Happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Made It {Interview Style}

Who doesn't love their grandmother's style?  (Sheepishly raising my hand)  I know that some grandmothers have great style, but this isn't one of those stories.  So, while we were still in Spain, I was {obviously} unable to interview in South Carolina.  So all of my interviews were done through Skype.  And I was living in a furnished apartment... that looked like it had been decorated by an 80 year old Spanish woman.  Which it had been... but that didn't make it easy to find a cute place around the piso to interview.  Since it's already hard enough to really get to know someone over Skype, I wanted the  area on the camera to show me.  The best light and open space {note- also the cleanest} was the big table in our living room.  However, I could either sit in front of a boring and blank white wall {not happening}, or I could sit in front of two, shall we say, tacky pictures. 

Here's one of them...

I tried to take the pictures out of their frames, but it wasn't possible.  SO, I resorted to the only thing I could think of... I created a pretty picture, printed it out on regular paper, and taped it over the tacky framed pictures!!  It wasn't great, but it sure as heck looked better than the before pictures!  And I got a job!  So it must have worked, right??  {More about my job coming tomorrow!!}

Haha a little ridiculous, but it did the trick :)
I'm sharing the pictures I created for free here and here!  Just download the images from dropbox and print in whatever size you want!

Sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do :)  Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Monday! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Why Reading Time at School Really Matters

About three years ago at New Years my husband decided he wasn't happy with his reading life.  He's an avid reader but felt like he wasn't reading enough.  So he set a goal to read 52 books in one year.  To some, that may be simple.  But to him, a reader of mega non-fiction books and thick fiction chapter books, this was somewhat of a lofty goal.  Since that year, he has yet to reach his goal.  But he keeps a reading log and pushes on.  This doesn't discourage him or frustrate him.  It motivates him.  And he keeps on reading, starting over each year... thus is the life of a reader.  

Chapter 1 of Reading in the Wild has really opened my eyes to things that were right in front of me.  Coming from a reading family, I thought it was the "norm" to read while waiting for things like the doctor or to keep a reading log of what you've read.  Miller shows us in Chapter 1, however, that this is not the case.  Thinking like this must be taught and practiced.  Just this morning I was waiting at the doctor's office and was delighted that I had a few moments to read my book. Now our students must start thinking the same. 

I adore how chapter 1 is focused around the importance of not just modeling reading or teaching reading strategies, but the importance of modeling loving reading.  Miller provides a "pedagogical base for her approach to teaching reading" (introduction by Teri S. Lesesne).  Miller wants her students to not only love reading, but she also wants "them to understand why reading matters to their lives" (intro), creating readers who have an understanding of reading that isn't solely focused on how to answer test questions or write a book report. 

What shocked me the most (and I guess I had known all along *doh*) was that part of being a good reader is very simple- choosing books.  Years ago my parents got me a Kindle for my birthday.  I had always considered myself a reader, but all of a sudden I had complete access to books all the time.  I could finish a book at the eye doctor, find a new one on my Kindle, and have it downloaded within three minutes (true story).  Suddenly, I was a different reader.  I was devouring books like I never had before.  And I was 25.  Imagine if I had had this type of access and knowledge when I was a student.  Miller stresses the importance of being able to recommend and find the right book for readers.  This means, we as teachers, must be equally knowledgeable about them- capable of discussing and sharing moments as professional readers.  By doing this, we show our students that readers not only read, but they know where they can capture moments to read and what type of books will hold their interest. 

I am so exited to continue reading this book!  Have you started?  Be sure to grab the book and join in on the conversation with Catherine!!  I look forward to hearing the thoughts of others!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading in the Wild

Have y'all decided to join Catherine's book club yet?  If not, be sure to pick up the book and join!!  It starts today and you can check out Think Wonder Teach and Third Grade Bookworm's thoughts on Chapter 1.  I'll be posting tomorrow and sharing my thoughts on the first chapter!  If you're reading, what do you think about it all so far?      

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Study! {Chapter 5, Chapter 6, & Chapter 7}

If y'all follow me on Facebook or Instagram {which I hope you do- go  check them out!} you know that I've been in the process of moving from Spain back to the States.  Before this, my good teacher friend from Colorado was visiting me in Spain.   Sooo, life has been fairly busy.  BUT- I've been following along and reading 100 Minutes.  Even if my activity on this lil ol blog has been next to nothing. And tomorrow is the start of Catherine's book club, reading Reading in the Wild.  So much reading and love for this teacher's soul.

Are you reading 100 Minutes?  It's been a great experience for me; challenging me to think differently.  Chapters 5, 6 symbolize the start of Part III:  Writing, Reflecting, and Feedback.  Whoa-  three hugely important tasks of any writing class.  Chapter 5 and 6 focus on "how do we help our students develop a repertoire of approaches to writing that are comparable to reading strategies?"  (p74).  Writing and Reading go hand in hand but I had never thought about teaching strategies for tackling writing.  I am anti-gimicks in writing.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, I am not a fan of teaching abbreviations or "tricks".  They get confusing {especially for kids who move around} and I don't think they can beat just good ol' writing lessons spent studying what great writers do.  That's my method.  The "secret" to teaching reading and writing.  I learn best.  Am I an expert writer- absolutely NOT- but for all intended purposes, I can serve as one for my little writers.  And THAT'S how we can teach these great strategies... by serving as the model.  Writing and struggling and editing and thinking right there in front of our writers.  It's not perfect, but neither are they and they should know writing isn't perfect.  It's an experience.  An art form.  And something to be treated very very specially.
And in all honesty, that's how

Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Denver to hear THE Lucy Calkins speak.  It was amazing, thought provoking, and encouraging.  I may have sat in the front row and everything.  But she mentioned that in order for students to become real writers, they must be writing daily and for extended periods of time.  They must be producing multiple writing pieces every WEEK.  Not every month or year, but every WEEK.  And Lisa speaks to this as well, stating "In order for students to become good writers, they need frequent opportunities to write for various purposes and audiences.  Through these writing experiences, they learn how to vary their writing style, organization, and voice to suit the purpose and audience for their writing." (79)  Frequent.  The key word.  Sure, I can tell me students 45,613,639 times that they need to write to a specific audience, but that won't teach them how to do it.  I love that Lisa provides many ideas and techniques for drawing out passionate writing in chapter 6.  It touches on what Catherine for Brown Bag Teacher did to motivate her students.  LOVE

Chapter 7 kind of switches gears and moves on to the foundation of independence.  I love how Lisa discusses the importance of independent time mixed with specific and purposeful {two words that I love that Lisa loves to use} instructional time.  In this chapter, Lisa shares how her AWARD time {or workshop time, in my mind} is used to benefit readers and writers.  Again, she paints this picture of peace and tranquility where students are working on different things, really being readers and writers.  Want to know more? Go grab the book!


There are a few guidelines that Lisa Donohue and her publisher have asked that people follow.
Please read through these carefully. 


  • Anything created for 100 MINUTES should be shared for free. 

  • Anything created and shared based on 100 MINUTES should include a disclosure statement  "Adapted from 100 MINUTES and not endorsed by Lisa Donohue." 

  • Please cite the complete publication information:  "100 MINUTES, (2012), Donohue Lisa, Pembroke Publishers" in order to make it easier for others to find the book.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Study! {Chapter 4: Reading Response}

"One of the biggest challenges we face as teachers is assessment of independent reading." (p55)  Can I get an Amen?!  How can we be sure that our readers are thinking while they read?

Chapter 4 of 100 Minutes really helped me think about my students' reading responses.   I really do believe that reading responses are a spectacular way to fit in some extra writing practice.  They're so multi-purposeful and lovey.  There's nothing I adore more than writing about reading.  They're two of my faves!  In this chapter, Lisa discusses how to slowly integrate reading responses into student's workshop time.  "The gradual release of responsibility is created by initially working with students directly through guided reading and then immediately following with a reading response." (p58)  Superb.  By providing this structure to readers, they understand the purpose of the reading responses; something that is frequently lost during this process.  Lisa does a great job of sharing great reading prompts and different possibilities for how students can respond.

What I love, is that reading responses go with everything- not just reading.  Read aloud?  Check!  Science?  Check!  Social Studies?  Check!  In each area there is the opportunity to read and respond. 

While reading this chapter, low and behold, I came across this article via The Colorful Apple's Facebook page.  10 Authentic Ways to Hold Students Accountable for Reading at Home. I think this does a great job pointing out some fun ways to make responses purposeful. 

As adults, we make sense of reading on our own, but our students are still learning how to do this.  How do you make sure students are held accountable for their learning?

There are a few guidelines that Lisa Donohue and her publisher have asked that people follow.
Please read through these carefully. 


  • Anything created for 100 MINUTES should be shared for free. 

  • Anything created and shared based on 100 MINUTES should include a disclosure statement  "Adapted from 100 MINUTES and not endorsed by Lisa Donohue." 

  • Please cite the complete publication information:  "100 MINUTES, (2012), Donohue Lisa, Pembroke Publishers" in order to make it easier for others to find the book.

Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share my Five for Friday!  Hop on over to join.

I've been participating in Thinking of Teaching's 100 Minutes Book Club!!  The book has really been a great motivator for me and I've enjoyed it!   You can read more about it here.  Are you doing any book studies this year? 
I am ecstatic to be joining Catherine over at the The Brown Bag Teacher for her book study for Reading Into the Wild.  The book looks like just what I need to get excited.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I had a skype interview the other day.  I maaaay have heard back about my job interview but I will have to let you know more once things are finalized :)

My good friends from Colorado are visiting us this week in Spain!!  We've been beaching and explorin' the island!  We haven't seen many friends from home since we moved here.  It's really nice to have them here.  It feels like we're with family again!

And tomorrow we jet off to one of my favorite cities ever- PARIS!  It's my husband's 30th birthday and our friend's birthday {they're twins!} so we have plenty to celebrate while we're there!

NEXT WEEKEND we fly home for good.  Peace out Spain.  It's so sad but also very exciting.  We have a lot to look forward to this coming year.  It looks like we will officially be moving to Greenville, SC.  My husband and I graduated from the University of South Carolina so we're looking forward to being back close to where we met and in the Southeast again after a year abroad and several years on the West coast.

Happy weekend!!  I hope you have a GREAT one!!  Off to enjoy some Sangria and explore with our friends :)  Thanks so much for stopping by!