Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Book Favorites!

I am only a little over 24 hours away from my first day back and I'm SO excited to get started.  I was able to meet 18 out of the 28 students and parents I'll have this year.  I was honestly OVERWHELMED with how much support and love they all were already showing.  I think its going to be a fantastic year!!  So of course this means I'm blowing the dust off of my Back to School binder with all of my favorite 'go to' games, activities and most importantly - BOOKS!! Back to school themed books are some of my favorite ones to read all year.  Above all, First Day Jitters.  Classic!!  So today I bring you...


Myself and other amazing bloggers would love to share our favorite of the favorite Back to School books and with that maybe.. a freebie!!  


So there are so many amazing discussions that come from reading this book.  The biggest of course is  'Did you know that Sarah Hartwell was a teacher?'  and 'How did the author conceal the fact that she was a teacher?'  But something I love to do to help put a positive spin on the book is have the students change the ending.  Yes its an adorable story about being nervous on the first day of school and we always talk about the fact that those feelings are completely natural, etc.  But I want to make sure I end on a positive note in aide to try and relieve some of the jitters my students might be having.  

So with this I have the students recreate the story with a positive twist.  Same characters, same setting, and they even have the challenge of trying to recreate the allusion that Sarah is a student - but this time she's EXCITED to go to school.  How would the story change?  The students get to choose a word to change the title.  Example:  First Day Delights  Then its simple (duh, its the first day of school!)  They brainstorm, plan out their writing, and write!!  I love doing this too because it lets me see how they are as writers and I get to know them so much better.  We always share out our stories when we're done and talk about how we're going to make our own story by having the best first day we can!


If you want to try the activity, please feel free to download it by clicking the photo above!  And definitely make sure to check out the other Back to School Book Favorites these authors have!  Happy Back to School!!








Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why I Don't Level My Classroom Library


Hey friends!  I want to preference this post by saying these are my opinions.  There is probably research out there to contradict what I do as well as support what I do.  Please do not take this post as this is the 'right' way.  Just some things to ponder over ;)  

So you've all seen those pictures on blogs, Pinterest, etc - of those AMAZINGLY beautiful classroom libraries.  Not a book out of place, color matching book containers, and newly placed labels gracing the front of each bin.  Makes me DROOL!!  Grab your tissue now - drool zone ahead!  


Beautiful isn't it!?  Yeah - that's NOT my classroom!  That would be the amazing Reagan Tunstall's classroom.  My classroom, yeah, it doesn't look like that.  The bins are broken, they are mismatched (not my choice - because my budget doesn't allow me to buy new ones), and there are books crooked and laying on top of other books.  Do I WANT it to be like that?  No, but the reality of it is - that's what it has to be and that's what it becomes due to the fact that I don't level my library.  There are many reasons why I don't level mine.  Again, there are pros and cons to both ways - I'm just sharing my thoughts ;)  


You've all heard of the 'walk of shame' right?  When a student gets in trouble and they have to walk over to move their clip on the clip chart or flip their card, or whatever the system might be.  It's embarrassing.  Have you ever thought of that or those students who are always having to pick from the 'lower' book bins?  Let's face it.  The students KNOW what the levels mean.  Whether we do A, B, C or Lexiles, or levels like 1.0 - 2.0, etc.  They figure it out.  How would you like it if you were the child who always was picking from those lower bins?  The other students would look at you and wonder why and YOU would look at them and wonder why...  As minimal as it may seem, I don't want there to be any doubt in my students' reading abilities.  I want them not to have any type of book segregation that may come about due to my organizational need to level my book.  Now - do I have the level on them somewhere physically on the book?  Yes!  Inside the front cover only where the student opening the book could see.  


There are natural categories to books and I want my students to experience those categories.  So when I organize my books, I do them all by genre.  This then allows the students to understand similarities between books without me even having to 'teach' the genres themselves.  Now, I do obviously teach genres - but you would be amazed at how quickly the students understand genres when they are choosing them and understanding them on their own without me giving them the specifics of each category.  


Not leveling my books allows my students to SEE what other books are out there that are not technically on or in their level/range.  If I have my books leveled and they are told to keep to that specific level(s) then they don't get to see the other books that are out there.  Seeing books that aren't on their level gives them something to look forward to.  A motivational tact if you would.  I've had MANY conversations with students about 'I can't WAIT to read this book!  I'm going to get there Mrs. Harris!"  And that's all because as they were searching through the various levels of books, they were able to see books at all different levels.  I also think this is good for their understand of the different types of books - picture, chapter, etc. 


That's basically it.  Like I said, these are just my thoughts and opinions.  There may be logic to them or it just may be my crazy way of thinking but hopefully I gave you something to think about :)  I'd love to hear what you do to organize your classroom library!!  



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shark Week Blog Hop!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love! Even if you're not in school, definitely make sure to 'Swim' through these amazing posts and grab these amazing freebies for later! 

Slide6

So what do I have for you today?  ;)  


This is an example of one of my Close Read Quickies!  They are designed to be used for an entire week.  I struggle getting in all of the pieces of a close read in one sitting, so in my classroom - we do it piece by piece!  Each student gets one copy of the story and on the back, the questions.  That's all they need for the entire week!  Each day they complete the close read step stated on the right side of the paper.  By Friday, they have read the story 3 times, completed a graphic organizer, answered text based evidence questions, and even done a response to text!  And each day it only takes 5-7 minutes to complete.  That's why I call them quickies! ;)

fintastic freebie

If you're in LOVE with this quick read quickie and want more - make sure to check out my TpT store.  Right now (July, 2015), I only have my animals pack (8 different close reads to use throughout the year), but I'm currently working on many other themed packets for you to use throughout the year whenever you need them!  :)  (If you have a specific topic you'd like, let me know!) To check out the animals packet, click on the adorable tiger photo below!  



Be sure to go for a swim and visit Primary Inspiration for your next freebie!


Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a jawesome freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 12  : )




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