Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Teacher's Wish

This year there seemed to be a common theme in several of the novels we read together - wishing. We analyzed our characaters' wishes and learned: Wishing helps you hope. Wishing doesn't make things come true. Wishing things for others shows you care about them. 


As we read our last read aloud, I Wish You More, together as a team, I began to think about my wishes for my students. Many of my wishes are for the future of my students as many I will not see again for several years if ever again. I want them to have new teachers and experiences that challenge and change them. I hope that some of my wishing on acorns, stars, and flowers will bring my students some good luck in the future.

A Teacher's Wish

To my students

I wish you more
good days than bad.

I wish you more magic
and mischief
than repetition.

I wish you more stories
and love and laughter
than the boredom of being
alone.

I wish you more challenges
than easy answers. 

I wish you more books
than I could ever buy.

I wish for you to stay
readers, creators, and believers
no matter how old. 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Celebrating Our Reading


As the end of the year starts to feel more real, it's important to stop and celebrate all the good that's happened in the year. I know it can be hard with parties and stir crazy students, but it feels amazing to stop and reflect on all the great things happening that just feel routine at this point.

Something, really important in my room is celebrating our reading successes. The initial idea came from Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild. We didn't compare goals because we're all different readers. For some a HUGE reading success was reading 10 books this year, for others it was reading 79, 87 or even 104 books.  We counted any books they wanted. Some students included picture books as well as novels - other kids wanted their count to be strictly novels. I told them that all reading is valuable and worth celebrating - so we did just that.

We took 20 minutes of class time and made our awards (I made one too! I read 61 books this school year) and then we went outside to capture this memory! If I've done my math correctly, we've read over 2,000 books this year! The best part for me is that you can't pick out my students that told me they were non-readers at the beginning of the year - because they are all readers now. Thanks impart to a growing classroom library, Mock Newbery book club and some of my at-times-relentless-crazy book loving nature.



I'll print these as 8x10s and hang them in my classroom next year. I really wish I had started this tradition 11 years earlier. Hopefully, it will become a new tradition of readers celebrating and looking up to other readers. We also had sixth very dedicated readers complete the 40 Book Challenge and step outside their reading comfort zones this year. #BucketFilled



We also wrote Farewell Letters today. Each student wrote a reflection to his/her homeroom teacher. They could reflect on the year, their favorites/not so favorites, and even share their summer plans. These letters were truly heartfelt and amidst the crazy of our party today, it made me realize just how much I'll miss this group of students.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Life Without a Teacher Desk

I know there are only thirteen more days of school but I've been wrestling with an idea all year... Can I live without my teacher desk? Several teachers I know have already #ditchedthedesk this year and haven't stop raving about the space and flexibility it provided. I wanted those things too. But I still wanted my own space in my classroom. I don't sit at my desk very much but I felt like I needed a place to enter grades, check over work and keep my supplies. I'll admit, I was way too scared at the beginning of the year to take the leap.

My teacher desk was big and spacious and made me feel like a teacher... Plus, it was my space.


But alas, last Friday, with only 14 days left of school, I decided to try living life without a desk for just a few days. It would be a trial run. Just a few days to see if I really could completely ditch the desk. I knew I wouldn't have to officially give up my desk (since it can easily roll out into the hallway) and I could see if I could really live the desk free life.


Today was my first full day of being desk free. And I realize --  I have space. Glorious much needed floor space! Students commented about being about to stretch out more and we weren't all on top of each other or the massive furniture. My room has so many possibilities by moving Big Bertha to the hallway. I have room for some small end tables or more seating in the library along with room for two more book shelves! once I'm not sure how I'm going to quite utilize the new found space just yet, but I get myself organized, I'll start making some plans. I can't wait to see how one small change will impact my classroom environment. For now, my home base as I'm calling it is at my small group kidney table. I still have a access to all my supplies and have a space for myself in the classroom. I really wish I would have had the courage sooner.


If the notion of getting rid of your desk is even tickling your teacher brain, try it. Do it. It may not work out - and that's okay. But it's so worth giving it a try. I'm not sure why this little change was so hard but I'm glad the desk is ditched.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

#IMWAYR


It's Monday! What are you Reading?

I've been feeling the reading slump lately. I currently don't even have an audiobook which is very uncommon for me. I've been listening to A LOT of podcasts and trying to get myself organized during this end of the year push. Between writing a grant application and trying to get a lists of materials ready for Mock Newbery, I think I'm just feeling restless. Sometimes, you just need the right book at the right time. I think it's important to share these natural breaks in reading with our students. If you're not feeling it - you're not feeling it. It happens even to the most dedicated of readers.


If you enjoyed, The Distance to Home, you'll definitely want to check out Jenn Bishop's newest novel, 14 Hollow Road. This book centers around Maddie, who is trying to find her place as a soon to be seventh grader. She's a very real character that many girls will be identify with as she struggles with friendships and her first crush. To complicate matters, a tornado has hit Maddie's hometown and she's focused to deal with life at a neighbors and the disappearance of her beloved dog, Hank. As someone who experienced a tornado my freshmen year of high school, Maddie's experience brought back memories of seeing the devastation and having so many friends displaced for months. Look for Jenn's book out June 13th!


Image result for The Legend of Rock papers

If you haven't seen this book on social media, you may need to reconsider who you follow! Seriously, this book has been blowing up on Instagram and Twitter. So, when Target had this title on Cartwheel - I was there! One of my absolute favorite picture books of the year! You'll be laughing as Rock, Paper, and Scissors do battle against household objects including dinosaur shaped nuggets! Laugh out loud funny and the perfect read aloud for ANY day!


Image result for Pirasaurs!

Josh Funk is a picture book genius! I was singing this book aloud as I read it at home to myself before taking it into my fifth graders. From swabbing the deck to searching for buried treasure it's a pirasaurs life on the high seas. This book is filled with wonderful rhythms that'll make you want to sing this book aloud! Lots of fun word plays make this a great addition to any upper elementary classroom. We're Pirasaurs, Pirasaurs with spiky tails we'll raise the sails and we are never bored! Google the trailer, you'll have the song in your head all day! If you don't know much about Josh or Pirasaurs check out the {Book Trailer} and it's guaranteed to be the best minute of your day!


Image result for Children of Refuge

I could absolutely NOT put The Children of Exile down! #Unputdownable So, needless to say, I was very excited to get to read an ARC of sequel, The Children of Refuge. Refuge follows Edwy's journey from after he and Rosi split up in the woods. I'm enjoying the difference in perspective and voice and it really showcases Haddix's craft as an author. I'm hoping to settle into this book and give it the time it deserves this upcoming week! So far, the cliffhangers are on point! Haddix is the queen of the cliffhanger! Look for The Children of Refuge out September 12th! 


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grand Slam Books!


If you're from Cincinnati, then you know that Opening Day is a true holiday! Even though, I had to go into work, students and teachers alike were decked out in their Reds gear to help celebrate Opening Day. There is even an extensive parade - baseball is a BIG deal. Whether you're from Cincinnati or not, here's a few grand slams that middle grade readers may enjoy! I'll confess that I'm not a big reader of sports books, but I try and keep up with new books and authors since they hook so many readers! Bust out those peanuts and Cracker Jacks and let's "Play Ball!"

Running Favorites in Fifth


The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop

Skinny Bones by Barbara Park

Heat by Mike Lupica


Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman

Sluggers Series by Loren Long & Phil Bildner

Wild Pitch Sports Illustrated for Kids Graphic Novel


Sports of All Sorts



The Crossover & Booked by Kwame Alexander


STAT: Standing Tall and Talented series by Amar'e Stoudemire


Rip and Red series by Phil Bildner


Guys Read: The Sports Pages

Kid Owner by Tim Green

Chickens Don't Skate by Gordon Korman


What sport novels are all-stars in your classroom?
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