Saturday, July 25, 2015

Scholastic Reading Summit Takeaways

I attended on of Scholastic's Reading Summits this past week and it was truly one of the best PDs I've attended. I left feeling refreshed, invigorated, and validated. It was amazing being surrounded by other educators and professionals that value life long reading. If you have an opportunity to attend a summit - DO IT! For $100ish dollars we had breakfast, lunch, two break-out sessions and left with some reading teacher swag! Plus, the opportunity to meet all the "gurus" of reading... Donalyn Miller, Mr. Shu, Colby Sharp, and authors like Cythnia Lord!

{Clipart and graphics courtesy of Ashley Hughes, Meredith Anderson, and Krista Wallden}

At the summit each transition was started with a short book talk. I felt myself excited to hear about some books I have yet to read! This was a great reminder that book talks have power! It was then addressed that if as teachers we gave a book talk every single day students would leave with 180 book recommendations! 180 BOOKS! One goal I have for next year is to get a book talk frenzy started in my classroom. If I start the book talks, my students could easily pick them up and carry them throughout the year. Double bonus? Book talks can easily meet Common Core's Speaking and Listening standards.

"I hope your hearts are focused on finding the perfect book for every reader in your life." - Colby Sharp

Teachers already know that all books have value but Donalyn Miller did a great job of reminding me that we need to make sure we're valuing all books - from a book on calligraphy or sharks to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul all books have value.

"When we diminish a child's reading choices, we diminish the child as a person." - Donalyn Miller

"Books belong to their readers." - John Green

I've been a reader for a long time. I remember asking Santa for a new book shelf. I did have my reading struggles but I didn't know I was a struggling reader. I begged to shop Waldenbooks for new Dr. Seuss books as a kid as saved up money to buy R.L. Stine's latest Fear Street into my teens. However, I don't remember "learning" how to be a reader. I probably don't remember because my mom, aunts, and teachers were such great reading role models. However, not all students have those great models so we need to be intentional and explicitly teach habits of life-long readers.

Some teachable habits include:
- How to dedicate time for reading
- How to maximize reading by reading during "edge" times
- How to self-select a book

"Choosing books allow students to practice making decisions." - Donalyn Miller

"Kids need books everywhere!" - Donalyn Miller

91% of all students say their favorite books are the ones they've picked themselves. 

"The only way to know about what your children are thinking is for us to talk about reading or reading their writing." 
-- Donalyn Miller

Often, I know I get too caught up in my clipboard and standards that I focus on the book the child is reading instead of the reader. Did that happen in the book? What's this book about? Check boxes, check boxes, check boxes. However, I need to be reminded to look at the reader and myself. I should be asking: What do I want to know about this reader? What do I notice about this reader? Is this reader internalizing life-long reading habits?

Every conference should end with a goal for the student and a goal for the teacher.

As we get lots of new ideas and try to implement, implement, implement we need to remember that we need to give ourselves a little grace. Not everything will be perfect right away. We may never conference like Lucy or Nancy and that's okay. I always felt like such a failure when I couldn't perform a Lucy Caulkins in both reading and writing. The most important thing we can take away is to be intentional about our practices and decide our own nonnegotiables. And if things don't work out -  that's okay

Here's a few conferencing tips & ideas:

If you're interested in ALL the great ideas from the Reading Summit, check out #ReadingSummit on Twitter! Check out the keynotes, sessions, and experience the best of the summit for yourself! 

How do you foster the love of reading in your classroom?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Picture {Book} is Worth a Thousand Words!

I've been looking for some new books to add to my ever growing classroom library. I've done a great job with the novels but sometimes, we all just want to read something shorter! I just confessed today to some of my blogging besties that I've been really slacking on my reading this summer and feel like I'm in a reading rut, however, picture books have been my reading savior! They short and easy and still capture my attention eve at thirty-plus years old! Therefore, I've been shopping at Amazon and Half-Price looking some great picture books to add to my library! Picture books are truly worth a thousand words!

Here's a few books I'm planning on using to start off my year! 

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter! I'm hoping to tweet out some more amazing books and words of wisdom from the Scholastic Reading Summit tomorrow! Hopefully, I'll be able to grow  my picture book collection even more!

What are some of your favorite back to school picture books?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Library Redecorating {on a budget}

We start back to school in early August! Eeek! Plus, Open House is the first week of August. Double Yikes! So, I've already been in my classroom working on unpacking and doing some "freshening up." Since, I already did a blog post about growing your library on budget. I thought, I'd do a follow up as I work to freshen up my library this year and, of course, I need to do it on a budget! 

Ikea and even Target often have mark downs on display items! I found some great "As Is" items at Ikea for my library! Including two sturdy wooden chairs and a pillow cover! All items were no return so I made sure to thoroughly check them out. Bonus, the Ikea "As Is" section is usually preassembled!

These green pillows were actually outdoor patio pillows on summer clearance! New indoor pillows were $7.99 but these mark down pillows were only $3.00! Slipped a case on these pillows and they are like new! Plus, now they are easier to keep clean! 

How do you freshen up your classroom on a budget?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wild Reader Locker Tags!

I normally don't blog twice in one day, but I've been super productive today! Many of you saw my teacher headers & student locker tags {on Instagram} that I've been working on after re-reading Reading in the Wild.

Here's the inspiration and my student locker tags I made today... 

Well, have I got a treat for you...

{click the image to visit my TPT store}

This is a forever freebie to help inspire and promote WILD reading. Included are a few teacher tips as well for implementing locker tags and teacher reading displays! As always, make it your own and use it if you can! Can't wait to get mine printed and laminated and blog {after school starts} about our reading community!

Happy Sunday,

Sunday Scoop: Reading, Shopping & Mowing!

Using this Sunday to get caught up with lots of various things around the house! Even though I'm "on vacation" I still feel like I'm keeping busy and not with much of the household "stuff." I've been working on back to school shopping for classroom supplies, organizing my office space, and making necessary BTS appointments.

So, here's what I'm tackling today... 

If you haven't checked out my post about Library Building on a Budget, here's a hint... Print off a Half Price Books 50% off coupon and go by your classroom a more "expensive" book! I feel like adding to my classroom library is definitely a "have-to-do" and compared to the other two items, it'll probably be priority numero uno!

I'm really enjoying going back through Reading in the Wild! There were so many great ideas that I forgot about {gasp!} or just failed to implement the way I wanted. This book is my go to reading book for next year! I'm striving for full out wild readers.

I found this great idea I'd highlighted.... 
So I started getting some headers made....
I'm going to mount the headers about $1 clear wipe-off pockets from Target. Once books come out, I can staple them to my Reading Arena board {aka} my 40 Book Challenge display. 

One thing I'm always happy to do! Go shopping - of course! I really need some new sandals, new Sperrys, and a few cute dresses. I have a few gift cards I've been saving just for some back to school shopping! Everyone needs a few new outfits, right?

Don't forget to link up with the girls over at Teaching Trio to share your Sunday Scoop

Happy Sunday, 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Library Building on a Budget!

Everyone that knows me, knows I love obsess over a good sale! Why pay more if you don't have too? I use a similar rationale with my school library. If I can get the books cheaper - I'm going to try and go for it because many of the "favorites" cease to return at the end of the year even with my record keeping and stellar accountability system. So, I thought I'd share my top ways to build a library on the cheap!

This seems a little silly but trust me, you need to make a list - favorite authors, genres, titles, etc. Anything you can get down on paper before you hit the store the better. This will help you control some of those impulses scream "Ermaghgerd Books!" and then proceed to buy all books! Here's an example of my list I made for a recent Half Price Book Trip. Before I sat down at thought about author's bins that are overflowing {Gordon Korman} and some that are a little less than flowing {Garth Nix} so I could try and come up with a shopping game plan.

Here's my list:

Make sure you have signed up for mobile coupons or check websites! Half Price Books and Barnes and Noble both offer email coupons to help you save even more. Also, don't forget that many book stores {Half Price and Barnes & Noble, included} offer teacher cards for EXTRA discounts!

Okay, so how do you actually stay on budget when you enter the glorious book store??? GIFT CARDS! This was a fabulous idea brought up by my blogging bestie Lisa from Fourth and Ten! You can buy a VISA giftcard to shop for all your Back to School needs or you can set a book budget. I know it's blasphemy but sometimes you just gotta stick to a budget. This year I saved all my Half Price Cards and Barnes and Noble cards from students and had a pretty decent stash set aside for new books.

Once you're at the store, don't forget to check for a clearance section. This is where I can find some great books for genres or authors on my list. If you have a Half Price Books near by the clearance kid's section is usually less than $3 dollars a book. Usually, the books are $1 a piece! 

Also, if you're an Amazon junkie don't discount the Market Place. I've scored some great books with free prime shipping with little to no damage! I've actually only had one negative Market Place experience in numerous purchases! Half Price Books and Barnes and Noble also have a similar resale market place on their sites!

My Half Price Clearance haul from Friday:
{All books were $1 except Amulet (used 40% off coupon) and Maze Runner $4}

We all have a favorite authors {James Dashner, Roald Smith, Sharon Creech, Kate DiCamillo, Sarah Weeks, Cynthia Lord, Wendy Mass, to name a few} but knowing what's "cool" and what kids are reading is also key. This year I kept track of what books my students were checking out through my reading running record and tracking my Scholastic Book Orders. I also tried to note authors making a comeback like Garth Nix who is now the author of one of the Spirit Animal books. So, finding some of his "other" books keeps kids interested in his work. I also grabbed some Gregor the Overlander books since Hunger Games is still so popular! Many students don't know that Suzanne Collins has other books too!

The Nerdy Book Club is also a great place to go find what other teachers and readers are currently reading and loving!
{My Classroom Library - Read more here}

Hope some of these tips and tricks help you build a stellar classroom library! Building a great library can take time. So, save those Scholastic points, wait for warehouse sales, and use the library as often as possible!

Also, if you're looking for great book bins, Walmart currently has $1 neon crates that make wonderful and sturdy book bins!

How do you build your book collection?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pinterest Grilling Finds

Since, yesterday was one of the biggest grilling days of the year, I thought I'd take a few minutes and link up with Inspired Owl's Corner & Pawsitively Teaching for their July Pick 3 Pinterest Party!

Today, my Pinterest picks are all things grilling! In our little family, I do almost all the grilling. I'm definitely the grill-master and I'm always looking for new and super EASY recipes!

Do It All Working Mom - Tin Foil Potatoes

I love grilled vegetables but the though of cooking them in a pie pan.... GENIUS! I'm always worried my little aluminum foil packets will rip or tear and often we still need a bowl for serving. I feel like these "Easy Tin Foil Potatoes" open the doors to so many grilled possibilities! Can't wait to try this out!

7UP Grilled Chicken Recipe

I make grilled chicken two to three times a week in the summer. It's simple, healthy,  and a big bag of chicken can go along way! This chicken looks amazing has an limited ingredients. I'm not sure how I feel about using 7-Up as a marinated but the Pinterest gods have convinced me this is a recipe I need to try out!

Creamy Greek Yogurt Guacamole Recipe on

Who doesn't love some tasty guacamole when grilling out? I thought this guac sounded absolutely delicious! I always have greek yogurt around so I thought this could be a yummy new way to serve up some chips and gauc this summer!

Follow me on Pinterest to see all my grilling ideas as well as everything else! 

What are you cookin' this summer?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Three Great American Memoirs!

Happy Fourth! With our Read, White, and Blue Insta-linky going strong, I thought I'd do a little blogging about one of my favorite reading genres -- memoirs. From favorite authors to sports heroes, I love a good memoir. One of my all time favorite books is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Her family's struggle with instability and mental illness, show how grit and perseverance can take you so many places if you're willing to go that extra mile. If you've never read it - put it on your Kindle right now!  I remember back to freshman year of High School reading A Child called It and feeling guilty for falling in love with such a sad story. Sophomore year we read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I remember laughing out loud and sobbing through the deaths of all the McCourt babies. Those books have left heart-prints on my reading life. So, how can I get memiors to leave heart-prints on my student lives?  I think of books in my classroom library such as Knots in my Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli or My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen. However, I have three favorite memoirs to share with students. Therefore, I'm linking up with the lovely ladies at the Teaching Trio to share my three favorite memoirs!

Memoirs of a Goldfish and Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian are just plain FUN books! If you're missing out. These books do a great job at poking fun at the genre while showing students that a memoir can be about any moment in your life. Whether it be a slightly dull life as a goldfish or a the repetitive life of a hamster -- there is a story to be told! I love to use these books when introducing the genre of memoir because they are fun and approachable for kids of all ages!

Fourth, fifth, and even sixth grade readers will love Marshfield Dreams: When I was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher. Fletcher writes this memoir in a series of vignettes about growing up in Marshfield, Massachusetts and his family's life changing move to Chicago. This book has a little bit of something for everyone. Fletcher includes humorous chapters about his neighbor knowing the latest "scuttlebutt" before Ralph or his little brother eating various "things" off the sidewalk. He also doesn't shy away from personal tragedies such as the loss of his brother or moving away from his life long friends. This book makes a great paired text which Fletcher's fictional life story, Fig Pudding. I've used this text during my launching Writer's Workshop unit in the past because it creates great discussion for how writer's get ideas. 
I really, really, really wanted my students to be able to read Gifted Hands during our nonfiction unit but I'm not quite sure it's appropriate for my 5th graders. This book is a marvelous story about Ben Carson coming up from the slums of Detroit to become one of the world's most revered surgeons. From feeling like the dumbest kid in 5th grade because he couldn't read the eye chart to moving in with family members while his mom takes a "vacation" from life -- this story is full of obstacles and determination. Lots of theme work can be done with this book! Plus, I couldn't put this book down! {Bonus - there is a movie with Cuba Gooding, JR! WHAT!!} However, due to some of Ben's hardships and the focus on religion in the book - I think younger readers would need some guidance through the text. Therefore, I feel like this book is more suitable for junior high readers that are a little more mature and could more easily relate to Ben's story. 

What's one of your favorite reading genres?
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig