Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reading Strategies Book Study: Goal 2-Teaching Reading Engagement

Welcome Back to The Reading Strategies Book Study!

Goal 2: Teaching Reading Engagement 
Focus, Stamina, and Building a Reading Life 

      Greetings Everyone! Welcome back to our Reading Strategies Book Study. I am so excited to host the study for Goal Number 2. The moment that little box arrived on my doorstep containing this book, I knew my reading instruction was going to be forever changed and impacted. This book is truly phenomenal. Every new and veteran teacher should have this book on hand. It doesn't matter if your school uses a basal or reader's workshop approach, this book CAN and WILL work for you. 
       Goal Number 2 is all about TEACHING READING ENGAGEMENT. As a first grade teacher, reading engagement and stamina can be especially tricky for my students. However, the strategies enclosed in this book demonstrates just how easy you can foster and create a successful and effective environment for independent reading.  

      Jennifer Serravallo's quote above conveys just how important EFFECTIVE independent reading can be for our students. I have been guilty (surely I'm not the only one) of sending my kids off to Read to Self and just hoping for the best. At the very least, I'm hoping they are quiet and don't interrupt my guided reading block. After reading the contents of this goal, I now realize just how important that twenty minute block is to my student's overall reading success. According the the book, Reading Strategies, the author notes how research shows that the amount of time students spend actually reading with their eyes on print and on task, will make the biggest difference in their reading. That means it isn't just about what happens at the Guided Reading table. It's about what happens when they are simply engaging and actually reading a text.  

Strategy 2.1 A Perfect Reading Spot
Level: Any    Genre: Any   Skill: Focus 

      The first strategy I want to highlight from this Goal is Strategy 2.1 A Perfect Reading Spot. Allowing your students to have a choice about where they read is critical. Choice is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS powerful! This strategy suggests that you lead students in a discussion about the BEST reading spot for them (which may be different for different students). Once again, allowing students to take responsibility for their own learning/reading. The anchor chart example provided in the text is perfect to show that reading spots will be different for different students. This particular chart shows with sticky notes the variety of readers in this classroom. It will also be powerful to show that the reason we are "quiet" is because we are showing reader respect to those students who need their reading spot "quiet." This lesson can be done with all readers, and is not limited on grade or particular reading level. 

Questions to think about for this strategy: 
1. Does my room accommodate reading spots for a variety of readers? 
2. What kind of lighting should I consider? 
3. How can I convey reader respect when introducing this strategy? 

Strategy 2.4 Keep Your Eyes and Mind in the Book
Level: Any    Genre: Any   Skill: Focus, Monitoring for Meaning

      The next strategy I want to shift our focus to is Strategy 2.4, Keeping Your Eyes and Mind in the Book. I chose this particular strategy because I feel it is one that we do (even as adults) naturally, but can be difficult to teach our readers. But it is SO IMPORTANT to lasting reading engagement and overall comprehension. I always tell my students that we have a "reading voice" and a "thinking voice" when we read. When reading we keep our eyes in the book and read each word, but as we read we also want to keep our mind engaged by using our "thinking voice" too. Jennifer Serravallo provides AMAZING prompts that you can use with each strategy as well. One of the prompts she provides for this strategy is, "Can you picture what's happening?" This simple chart is very powerful for young readers to remember to keep both your eyes and mind in the book. I love that this book provides prompts and a sample anchor chart for EVERY strategy. 

Questions to think about for this strategy: 
1. How do I want to define "attention" and "focus" for my students to easily understand?
2. What text(s) will work best for modeling "backing up and re-reading?" 

Strategy 2.12 Ask Questions to Engage with the Text 
Level: E and Above   Genre: Any 
 Skill: Questioning, Focus, Stamina

      The third strategy I will highlight is Strategy 2.12, Ask Questions to Engage with the Text. This is one of my FAVORITE strategies in this text, simply because it piggy backs off the others and can lead to even deeper comprehension connections as students grow as readers. Also, this strategy is for Level E and above readers. I love that this anchor chart uses language and visuals that are completely appropriate for a Level E reader.  This strategy is perfect for modeling that "Thinking Voice" and "Keeping their Mind in the Book"  as they read. It is powerful for helping students monitor their own engagement as they read. One of the prompts the author provides is, " Tell me about the conversation you're having in your mind." Talk about having purposeful and powerful reading conferences! That simple prompt could lead to some amazing opportunities for understanding a student's approach to comprehension. That is just ONE of the prompts for this strategy. There are TEN other equally amazing prompts as well. 

Questions to think about for this strategy: 

1. What text will work best for modeling "waking up your brain?" Consider using both fiction and nonfiction texts for this strategy. 

      As we approach "Back to School," time, where we will begin introducing routines and procedures for our classrooms, it is important to remember the quote above. This year, my goal is not "rush" to get students to "Read to Self" quickly, but rather to get my students to "Read to Self" effectively. That may mean that I may not be launching my "Read to Self"  or independent reading center/time as quickly as I have in the past, and that is OK! It's similar to telling our student's to swim, yet not giving them instruction on how to do so. I don't want them to simply have to "float." I'd much rather have them actually swimming. If they have successful reading engagement at school, this will also make their reading experiences at home more engaging and effective as well. 

How my reading instruction is going to change from this goal? Instructing students in effective reading engagement is far more than a "standard of behavior" in a classroom or center. It is about developing strategies and habits that will help them in independent reading, guided reading, home reading, upper grades, college, and adulthood. It's a tool for a lifetime of reading success! 

Resources to Help You Build Engagement 

Here are two posters to help you teach Strategy 2.4 Keep Your Eyes and Mind in the Book. Click on either poster to snag these FREE posters. 


    One way that I love to keep students motivated is to hand out "Read to Self" raffle tickets. When launching read to self, if students are "on task," give them a ticket. At the end of each month, you can hold a "raffle," and raffle away one or several books. I usually use the $1 books from Scholastic for this. Students love giveaways and raffles just as much as teachers! It keeps the Read to Self Center motivating and fun. Click on the picture below to grab your FREE Read to Self Raffle tickets. 

I recently created some new center and station signs that have visual reminders for students too. You can grab these by clicking on one of the pictures below too! 

 It's not to late to get caught up on the book study. Head on over to Literacy Loving Gals to read about GOAL 1 and enter to WIN a copy of the BOOK: READING STRATEGIES. Click on the picture below to read about Goal 1 and enter the giveaway to win your free copy!  

Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers


CAN'T WAIT...Need to Order Today! 
Click the picture below to order your copy today. 

Tune in on August 10th for our Goal 3:Supporting Print Work study with The Literacy Spot

Check out the calendar below to make sure you don't miss a post! 

Link Up & Share Your Thoughts! 
The #ReadingStrategiesCrew is so excited to hear your thoughts on this goal. Link up or comment below to share your thoughts on this AMAZING text!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rock Your First Year of Teaching

I still remember my very first day of school. Not as a student, but as a TEACHER!  I was terrified of the 'not knowing.' Guess what? It went GREAT! I am so excited to be teaming up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls and My Mommy Reads to share advice for first year teachers. Here's what I got :)

1. Ask your principal for a copy of your school's Employee/Faculty Handbook and a copy of the Student Handbook. Familiarize yourself with the policies of your school. Post it note any questions you have that you may need clarification on. Learn your school's mission and climate. This will help you decide how you are going to contribute to helping the school achieve that mission. The handbooks will also help you understand the "nuts and bolts" of your school. Little things like learning how to "log money" and requesting field trips will snatch up your time if you are unfamiliar with the processes that are specific to your school. Also, sit down with your principal and ask questions about how the evaluation process will work. It's good to know up front what the expectations are so you can meet them! 

2. Buy comfortable shoes and clothes...You don't have to sacrifice your style to still look cute and professional. However, when and if you teach lower grades, I have learned to dress to expect the unexpected. Most days I end up sitting on the rug with my students, bending over and leaning across the guided reading table to help a reader, or crawling under a table chasing the top to a glue stick. Oh the random bus evacuation drill and tornado drills are always fun too!  :)  Just know you'll want to be comfortable and professional. especially your first year!  

3. Build rapport quickly! Start networking with your colleagues and tour their rooms to get ideas. Find a colleague that can mentor you and offer you advice. As soon as you get your class list, start contacting parents to introduce yourself. Let them know how excited you are to be their child's teacher. Go all out, do the phone calls, post cards, etc. Positive communication upfront goes a long way later down the road if you have to make a difficult behavior phone call. If you can build rapport at the beginning of the year, parents are more likely to trust you and come to you with any problems or concerns versus running to your principal. Continue building positive rapport throughout the year with "good" phone calls/notes home and through parent conferences. Also take the time to build rapport with your students. Those first few days, focus on building a community and bond with your students. If they don't feel the love and respect from you, they certainly aren't going to learn from you!!!  

1. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help. It's okay to have questions. In fact, you'll probably have a lot of them. Find a mentor to whom you can ask, but please don't be afraid to ask. If your district has instructional coaches these people can help you tremendously. I know in my district, our coaches are there simply to "coach," and not to observe. This allows us to risk that vulnerability and ask those questions we are not sure about. Attend grade level planning meetings and any professional development classes that your district or school offers. Both of those environments are there for you to ask questions! 

2. Don't expect to have it all together. For your first year, focus on your instruction and classroom management. Your cute Pinterest classroom decor ideas can come later on. For now focus on mastering your curriculum. Your cute classroom isn't what is going to keep you in the classroom, it's your instruction that will! Many of the teachers that you see through social media have been teaching for MANY YEARS. Don't compare yourself to them, and expect to have it all together when starting out. I've been teaching for only five years, and I'm still trying to get it all together. ;)

Set GOALS! Set yourself mini-goals for each day and month to keep you on track. Goal setting will help keep you from getting overwhelmed. Learn to prioritize your goals. Along with your goals, allow yourself time for reflection. Reflect on things that went well and areas you want to improve upon. Teachers are life long learners and life long goal setters. Each year, I decide one area of instruction I want to really focus on doing better the following year. This summer, my goal is to really think about my writing instruction. I have worked hard to really strengthen my reading and math instruction in the previous years, but I know I could still use some tips on improving my writer's workshop block. So, guess what I'm working on and reading all about this summer?

Good luck on your first year of teaching. I pray that it is the first of many fulfilling years ahead! You are seriously about the enter the hardest, but BEST career ever! Enjoy the journey, do your best, don't forget to get some rest, and TEACH YOUR HEART OUT! 

Don't forget to link up and check out all of the other AMAZING advice too! You can click on the picture above to read it all! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream

So excited for another round of The TPT Seller Challenge. This week was a little hard for me at first, because I've never really allowed myself to think about my TPT really 'going anywhere.' It's always been 'just a hobby.' With these set of challenges I am really beginning to believe in my ideas and my stores so much more now. So here goes...

First, I just want to make a lot of memories with my family. I have a one year old soon going on eighteen. I'm  aware that this growing up thing will happen quickly. So I would love to be able to have as much fun as possible with him and husband as possible. I personally think he and my husband would love a boat, a UTV, and to travel (even though I hate flying). Memories! Memories! Memories! I want a lot of them! 

Second, I have my eye on the new Tahoes. I really, really want a car with a third row seat! 

Third, we are outgrowing our little home. So I would like to be able to move into a bigger house one day. 

Last, which I didn't put in the picture but is vey dear to my heart is that I'd love to give my mom and dad something really, really, really nice. They have also given so selflessly to me. One day, I'd like to be really show them my gratitude! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge 1: Makeover Madness

Wow! I am loving this Teachers Pay Teachers Sellers Challenge. It has really given me the motivation I need to revamp my products and store. The product I chose to revamp is one that I use in my classroom often, so it will be nice for it to feel "fresh" this upcoming school year. Just know, that my before...Yikes! Seriously, borderline embarrassing. But...we all have to start somewhere!

I am so glad I did this challenge. I love my new cover. It is no longer a product that I would be embarrassed about! I decided to use a real cover this time. I also went clean and simple, can you see my OCD coming out. Yep, it's there!

As for the product, it is Common Core Reading Responses for First Grade. This product contains easy prep reading response journal slips that can be glued right down into a journal or interactive notebook. I really like to use these for Guided Reading or the guided writing portion of guided reading rather. They help keep the students on track with their responses. We also use them as an accountability option for the Read to Self center as well too! If you would like to take a closer look clip the picture below. Also, it's on sale for the next week! So grab your copy today!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie

Updated information is at the bottom...

I am linking up with Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K for their Tell All Tuesday Linky! Here it goes, see if you can spot the lie!

1. I'm allergic to seafood. It's a true bummer really. Luckily, it doesn't even appeal to me, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on much!

2. I've been shot. Like really shot with a gun. Well, it was a BB gun, but that's still a gun! I was five years old. The bullet hole put two holes in my intestines and I was in the hospital for over a month.

3. I've never broken a bone. Nope, not even one! It's hard to break bones reading books and relaxing all the time.

Alright! Can you figure out the lie?

Link up with us by clicking the picture below to share your two truths and a lie!

Thanks for stopping by! And the lie is....

Number 1! I am NOT allergic to seafood. I actually LOVE it! Shrimp, crab, and lobster are my absolute favorites! Yes, I was shot with a BB gun in kindergarten and had to undergo emergency surgery. It was a complete accidental and innocent thing that turned into a life threatening issue. Thankfully, the doctors repaired me right up and I have had zero complications ever since! Praise the Lord! Also, I haven't ever broken a bone (knock on wood)! My husband however has broken 26 bones! Yikes! He raced motocross in his younger years and let's just say he is paying for it now. I figure he has broken enough for the both of us! Congratulations to those who guessed number one! You are the RIGHT!!! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gradebook Be Gone

So I have a confession...I can't stand grading! It doesn't matter how many pretty Papermate Flair pens I buy, I still don't enjoy it. Especially after I sit there grading my papers and then have to gather them to put them in my gradebook. So instead, I started notebooking and only graded assessments. But...I didn't grade them in the typical way, I decided to get down with data. After all, if I'm going to spend precious time grading something, I'm going to walk away with something useful. I know DATA is that big scary word that's thrown around way TOO much these days. But data, when used for its true purpose, and not to beat up teachers, is actually quite powerful. So, here is a peek at my gradebook or actually Data Notebook. 

This cover is courtesy of Haley O'Conner-Teacher Binder. I now have an addiction with pretty covers! I love how easy it is too coordinate her binder covers! It's worth the purchase! 

Next is where I plan my data. I look the upcoming assessment, and decide how to best plan my instruction. Think, backwards design. Just taking the time to do this (which isn't as much as you think) is really powerful for your instruction. When we are always trying to fit everything in, this preparation will help you figure out what the most important take aways are.


Next is where I keep my recording data template. I have other subject tabs (literacy data, math data, etc.) were I store the scoring sheets for reference after completed. I just like the keep the template close for copying purposes. 

This is a SAMPLE of how to do the data sheet. It can look overwhelming, but is is not at all! It takes the same or less time than the old gradebook method. Just from this sample, I can clearly see. Which questions were the most missed and which students I need to pull for further instruction to ensure mastery. Plus, when you go to meetings, you can easily discuss student progress and data.


At some point, and maybe not for every assessment, I try to reflect. After all, data is only powerful if used correctly! I used the SAMPLE to show you how I reflect on the data. But this will look different for all. This is your time to be that reflective practitioner. Also, for evaluation purposes, you have evidence of purposeful retracting as needed.


After that comes my RTI tab which contains district RTi information and this Data at a Glance Sheet I created to help me track data points for specific RTI goals.


The last tab is a page for each student where I can jot down anecdotal notes when grading assessments. Notes that will be important for conferences, meetings, and report cards, etc.


Whew. So that my friends is how to get down with data! If you like to purchase his pack please click the picture below! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blogging Here I Come

So being a mom is hard. Being a mom and a teacher, is even harder. I keep praying that with every TPT purchase I make that I will find some miraculous product that makes finding the balance easier, but so far no luck. It's just a daily journey of praying and allowing God to direct me. But, one thing I know, is I like connecting  with other teachers. It makes me feel more human I think. Like there are other people in this struggle too. With that being said, my goal is to blog more, connect more, get out of my to do list routine more. But, because I can't entirely give up my to do list...I did create some little sheets to help me stay focused! So with that I give you..

My TPT and Blogging Binder
Yep! There it is! This cover comes from Haley O'Connor's Teacher Binder which is awesome! Really awesome! Like, just go get it as a present to your OCD self! Click Here for the link!
Inside I have some pages I created to help keep me on track. 
A master planning page to keep a handy list of all my amazing ideas.


Calendars for each month to keep me motivated. Because let's be real, I'll do anything to be able to check a box off!

And a project planning page! So when I decide to create a project I can plan it out and keep up with  the fonts and clip art used and such. Also, I like to make lists, so that's really half the reason!

If you'd like to snag this pack for FREE, just click on the photo below.