Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene and The Book Whisperer

Well, Hurricane Irene continues to thwart me at every turn.  Personally, I fared well.  No hot water, but I have electricity and that's HUGE!  Power is out almost everywhere around me.  Trees are down and the dam in town that holds back a rather large lake overflowed, took out the bridge road, and is in danger of breaking. 

This is the bridge. Yeah, over that bridge?  That would be the route I normally take to school. 
See the pole to the left.  There's usually about 4 feet of grass, then a small fence, then a drop down to the lake. Not so much anymore.  This picture is after the worst of the flooding.  The road is gone and the pipes that ran under the road are completely exposed.  Going to have to find a new route to school.

Speaking of school, I couldn't go today because the power is out there as well.  We've been told it could be up to 5 days before the power is restored.  Teachers are supposed to start on Thursday.  We'll see if that happens.  I feel sorry for the teachers that waited until this week to go in and prep their rooms.  It doesn't look like they will be able to get in.  Thankfully, I just have some minor finishing touches to do.  That and some OCD stuff that only I will notice but really want to do, like line the inside of my desk drawers with this cute Contact paper I found! :-)  So, as soon as I can get in I will take and share the pictures.

The Book Whisperer has been keeping me busy during the weather mayhem.  I have a little bit more to go, but I can tell you I LOVE THIS BOOK!  Honestly, it speaks to me.  It's everything I have believed about reading, instruction, and children put into words eloquently and smartly. I'm going to do a full review as soon as I finish, but I can tell you now RUN, RUN, RUN, AND BUY THIS BOOK!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene Squashed My Plans. :-(

I had promised to post pictures of my finished classroom this weekend, but it's not going to happen.  While working in my room today, an announcement was made that we had to leave as they needed to secure the building for HURRICANE IRENE.  Yeah, take a look at that lovely little map of New Jersey below.

I happen to live along the shore in that top red county.  Yup, I'm living in a hurricane warning area.  We are going to get hit with hurricane Irene sometime tomorrow.  So, as per the announcement, I ended up rushing out of my classroom without getting to take any pictures.  I should be able to get back in Tuesday, I hope.  

They are taking this storm very seriously around here.  Our governor was doing a live television broadcast a few minutes ago and, on the airwaves, told people in one beach area to, "GET THE HELL OFF THE BEACH!"  In case you don't know of our Governor Christie, he's sort of known for his blunt manners.  However, he's right!  They do need to get off the beach.  New York is essentially shutting down starting tomorrow.

I'm happy to say I am prepared for the hurricane. We have food, water, ice, and have battened down the hatches.  I was going to work on my lesson plans, but in my rush to get out of school today I forgot the books I need.  Instead, I will be working on some professional reading.  Still working my way through the Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop book I had told you about earlier.  It's a very good book, but for some reason I keep putting it down.  I also have The Book Whisperer to read.  Looking forward to that one!  And, since I am still technically on summer vacation, I picked up a trashy beach novel at Barnes and Noble today.  Let's see which book gets read first!

Monday will still be a hurricane day, but If I can get in my classroom on Tuesday, I should be done by the end of the day.  I promise pictures.  I'm really happy with how it looks.

If you are in the hurricane area, stay safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let's Get Physical!

No, this isn't a post about Olivia Newton-John.  It's a post about my tired body.  You think I would be used to it, but I really forget every summer how physical teaching is.  I don’t think the non-teaching crew has any idea.  Here are just some of the ways I get my teaching workout:
Putting my room in order.  I have lifted so many boxes, unpacked tons of books, and climbed on more chairs and ladders to hang bulletin boards and posters than I can count. My body aches!  I feel like I’ve had a serious gym workout.  I have lifted so many heavy objects that I should be in that commercial: “I pick things up and put them down.”  I hope you know that commercial, or that just sounds crazy. J And, that picture below will make no sense to you!

Stairs:  I live in a one floor home.  In school, my classroom is on the second floor.  I pick up my friends downstairs each morning and walk them up.  During the course of the day, we hit those stairs several times.  The second floor is all classrooms, so we need to go downstairs for everything; lunch, specials, library, the computer lab, the nurse, the office, the photocopier, and the teacher’s lounge.  I also walk them down again at the end of the day.  It’s like having my own personal Stair Master!  I just do it with 24 little friends every day.
My feet hurt!  The first week of school is always killer on my feet.  All summer I’ve been in flip-flops, sneakers, or mostly barefoot.  My tootsies always pay the price for putting those school shoes back on.  I don’t even want to think about heels!  There are a couple of teachers I work with who rock the full-on 3 inch heels every day.  I just can’t do it, and I have no idea how they do it.  I’m a comfy flats girl.  However, even my comfy flats are uncomfortable by the end of day in early September.
Oh, the sounds of silence!  Unlike in school, I am not required to talk ALL DAY LONG in the summer.  Welcoming my friends to a new school year requires a lot of conversation.  There’s welcoming them, telling them about you, going over procedure, etc.  On top of that, we have to be so repetitive. Those first couple of weeks you are constantly reinforcing and reminding procedures.  In September, I can’t just say, “Okay friends, let’s line up for lunch.”  Instead, I have to say, “Okay friends, let’s line up for lunch.  Remember, we push in our chairs and form a single file line.  And, let’s make sure we are nice and quite as we travel through the halls.  Did everyone remember to get their lunch from their locker? Who is last in line?  Remember, it’s your job to turn off the lights and close the door.  Okay, this line looks great!  We are ready to go!”  And, this kind of thing goes on throughout the entire day in September.  All I can say is that by the time I get in my car to head home, I don’t even turn on the radio.  I am so done with talking.  I don’t want to hear myself or anyone else for a bit!  I just relish the silence.
These are all the things I just forget about until the start of the school year.   The good thing is that it doesn’t take too long to get back in the teaching groove and forget all these things again.  The room is in order, the feet adjust, the talking lessens, and the stairs. . .  well, there’s still the stairs!  But, it’s all good! 
And on that note, I’m going to go lie down now.

Oh!  Just a quick update.  The classroom is coming along!  I’m going in tomorrow to finish up the d├ęcor and organization stuff.   I will be bringing home my lesson prep materials to work on over the weekend.  Hurricane Irene is going to hit us Saturday and Sunday, so I’m planning to hunker down and get a lot done.  Or, sleep.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finally!

Finally!  I was able to get into my classroom on Monday.  If you are a blog reader of Teaching My Friends, (Yes, all 4 of you!) it is not a surprise that I was eagerly awaiting Monday.  I was a bit afraid to see what I was walking into.  However, the custodial staff was wonderful!  My room was very clean, and they put my furniture back in place perfectly.  It makes it so much easier to get your room in order when you don't have to begin by moving tons of furniture.

A quick tip:
I don't know how it works in your school, but in ours they completely empty out the classrooms over the summer.  They need to strip and rewax the floors, so getting everything out is a must. They do sections of the hallway at a time, so there are about four classrooms worth of furniture and materials stashed in the hall while they work. 
On the last day of school, I use chart paper to make a bird's eye view map of my room. I place and label every desk, cabinet, and table.  It is stapled to a bulletin board along with a friendly note to the custodial staff.  I request that, if they have the time, I would appreciate it if they could put the furniture back according to the map. I also make a point to thank them and wish them a great summer.   In the 15 years I have been teaching, I think only once has my room not been put back together perfectly.  And, that was because all our district elementary schools were reorganized and chaos was the order of the summer!

One more tip:
In June, because our rooms are emptied into a jumble in the hallway with other classrooms, we have to label everything in our room.  And, I mean EVERYTHING!  I have found blue painter's tape to be fantastic for this. I slap a strip on every table, shelving unit, chair, book, etc.  Then, I use a Sharpie to write my last name on the tape.
Here's what makes the tape so wonderful:  come back two months later and the tape peels right off with no sticky residue.  In the past, I have done it with masking tape, but the heat of the summer just bakes it right on.  I was always left having to peel it off in tiny pieces and then there would still be sticky gunk left behind. It's the heat that just kills it.  Painter's tape solves that problem.  I find myself also using it during the school year for putting up posters and other things I want to easily remove later.

Now, on to my room!
I'm going to leave you with some before pictures of my classroom.  I have lots of plans!  Two days in and I have a lot done, but there is still so much more to go!  I'm planning on posting my "after" pictures over the weekend.  It's going to take me all week to do what I have in mind. 

This is the back of my room.  It's the view you have from our doorway.  See all those boxes?  Ugghhh.

If you turn to the left a bit, this is the front of the room.  You can see my Promethean board front and center.
 
Here's a view of the other side of my room, opposite the wall of windows.  Just to the left, out of the picture is the doorway to enter the room.  This was the front of my room until they put in the Pro board.  It has a long white board that I love because it is magnetic.  Remember those magnets I  made?  This is where they will shine!

If you stand in the front of my room, by the Pro board, this is the right side of the back of my room.  See that yellow wall?  It is a collapsing wall.  It can be opened to make my room and the classroom next door one giant room.  Not that we ever have.  What's cool about it is that it is made to be a giant bulletin board.  I can staple anything to it anywhere.  What's not so cool about that wall is that it's not such a great noise buffer between my class and the other class. 

And, if you stand by the Pro board, this is a view of the left side of the back of my room! Like my mish mosh of bookshelves?  Not one matches another!
So, that's the before.  Stay tuned for the after.  I'm excited to show you the finished product.  To be honest, I think I'm just going to be excited to BE finished!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm a Lollipop Rebel

Here it is.  It's the last Pinterest inspired project I tried this summer.  On Pinterest, there was this really cute lollippo tree.  In fact, this is the picture that inspired me:
It is from the blog Meet the Dubiens.  If you follow the link to the blog, it will show you the project and just how to do it.   I followed Jill's directions, and here's what I came up with:
Not too bad, right?!!!

Just a couple of things.  First, this take A LOT of lollipops!  Way more lollipops than I thought it would. 
The second thing, is that it is very easy to make and takes no time at all.  I did it while watching TV.  Here are a couple of progress pics:


It was a fun project, but now that I did it, I'm not so sure why I did it!  It's cute, but really once you start to take out the lollipops the cuteness factor goes way down.  In NJ, we also have laws (yes, crazy sugar snack laws) that don't allow us to have foods in school that have high sugar and/or fats. 
 Ummmm, lollipops?  Ummm, sugar?  Ahhh, YES! 
Now, I have been known to bend this rule on occasion, but I'm not sure having a big ol' lollipop tree sitting in my classroom will be the brightest thing I've ever done.  However, that's me.  I'm a rebel!  If you were here right now, you would see rebel written all over me from the cup of tea and pile of picture books sitting next to me right down to my striped fuzzy socks.  Oh well, it's cute and I'm bringing it to class.  And, I'm even going to let my little friends have a lollipop from time to time! 
So, there!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wild About Books (and who isn't?)

I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and simply could not leave without this awesome picture book:  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra.  I was not familiar with the works of Judy Sierra, but if you click on her name it will take you to her web page where she has many other books that look fun.  However, this is about her most recent book that I am wild about!


This book is about a librarian who drives her bookmobile into the zoo.  The animals discover all the wonderful books she has and begin reading. They read everything!  The monkeys read banana cook books, the crocodiles read Peter Pan, the otters read Harry Potter, and the hyenas read joke books.  That's just a few of them.  All the different animals read books that somehow connect to the type of animal they are.  Best of all, the love of reading in the book leads to, wait for it. . . , WRITING!  The animals are inspired to write their own stories.

When I read this book in the store, I immediately made a text-to-self connection.  When I was a little girl, we lived in an apartment complex.  Every other week, the local book mobile would come and park itself next to the playground.  My parents didn't have a lot of money, so buying books wasn't an option.  I remember walking into the bookmobile that first time and being simply stunned that I could read all these books for FREE! It was like someone had opened a candy store just for me.  I haven't seen a bookmobile in ages.  Do they still even have them?  Hmmm , thinking about it now, you might have to explain the concept to your friends before you read this book!

Regardless, there are so many things to love about this book and so many ways to use it in your teaching:
  • Introduce a love of reading and having an opening for your classroom library:  These animals LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the books they get to read, and it comes across well.
  • Genre:  There so many different genres referred to in the text and through the illustrations making it a really good lead into a genre lesson.  It would be great to read aloud and have your friends jot down the different genres they hear and notice.
  • Vocabulary:  This is a great picture book for the upper elementary crowd because it has some sophisticated vocabulary woven throughout.  You will find words like conquer, resistance, niches, devoured, outrageous, pretentious, and  redundant. You can easily use the text to teach using context clues to define unknown words.  However, the more sophisticated vocabulary will in no way prevent out lower elementary friends from enjoying the book.
  • Word Choice: As Molly McGrew, the librarian, reads aloud the animals don't come to her.  They are attracted to her.  The animals don't walk over, they are stampeding.  The termites don't eat the book, they devoured it.  There are many, many examples of excellent word choice throughout the text.
  • Poetry:  There is a two page spread where the insects write haiku.  They are silly and fun and perfect examples.
  • Strong Openings in Writing:  Just look at this picture I took from the book:
On the page you find this illustration, the cheetah has begun to write a novel.  In case you can't read it, the illustration above shows the opening to his novel.  It reads:  "It was a dark and stormy night.  The wind howled.  The moon cast a mournful pale yellow glow.  Dogs wailed in the . . . "  Come on, how great is that?!  The look on the monkey's face is priceless.  If that doesn't clearly show your friends how a good beginning can pull in a reader, I don't know what does.  It would also be great for teaching mood.

Those are just a few of the lessons I could think of off the top of my head.  I have no doubt you will find many uses for this amazing picture book.  I should mention just a couple of other things.  First, the illustrator.  The illustrator is Marc Brown.  Our friend from all the Arthur books?  Yep, that's him, and the illustrations are amazing.  Amazing as in beautiful to look at, but also amazingly detailed.  You can really examine the illustrations to get more information than the text offers.  The illustrations are great for a lesson on drawing conclusions or making inferences.

The other thing I want to mention is that the book is an award winner.  Now, I'm ashamed to admit that I was not so familiar with the E.B. White Read Aloud Award.  Here's a blurb from their web page to explain:
"The E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, established in 2004, honor books that reflect the universal read aloud standards that were created by the work of the author E.B. White in his classic books for children: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. In the first two years of the award, a single book was selected.  In 2006, in recognition of the fact that reading aloud is a pleasure at any age, the award was expanded into two categories: Picture Books, and Older Readers.Books are nominated for their universal appeal as a “terrific” books to read aloud.
After a list of nominations is gathered from ABC booksellers, a shortlist of four books in each category is determined by a committee of booksellers chaired by an ABC Board member."

If you follow the link I highlighted above, it will take you to their web page where you can view current and previous winners in the different categories.  I plan to check it out and see what I've been missing!

Finally, I leave you with this illustration from the book.  After you read Wild About Books, you will be sure to feel the way this little lady does. . .
Disclaimer:  These are my own thoughts on the book I purchased.  Judy Sierra, Marc Brown, and their publishing company don't even know I can read!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School Student Supply Lists

There's only so much a teacher can buy!!  And, that brings me to the student supply list.  What do you ask your little friends to purchase?  Below is the link to my supply list for my friends.



I have a secret.  Don't tell anyone, but. . .  I actually feel guilty asking my students to bring so much.  But as I noted before, there's only so much a teacher can buy!  In the days of budget cuts, more and more falls on the families to purchase.  Luckily, my students generally bring in everything on the list.  If they can't, then I fill in the gaps. 

My list changes year to year.  I've tried streamlining the list as much as I can in an effort to keep the cost down for my parents.  For example, this year I have a ton of tabbed dividers for their binders and a bunch on notebooks I purchased at Staples for ten cents each.  I was able to take those items off their supply list this year. 

How do you handle school supplies? 
Do your friends bring them in or do you have to make do?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some Shopping and Reading. That's a Good Day!

It's going to rain Friday.  I wish I could make the most of a rainy day and get in my classroom.  Not happening.  I have to wait until Monday.  But, I am so in back-to-school mode!  Today, I went to Ikea to purchase these magazine storage boxes.  How cute are they? 

I'm going to use them as book boxes for my friends.  They can store their books for reader's workshop in them.  I'm going to put their names on the front and keep them on a bookshelf with their reading binder.  I have these cute little book cut-outs that I think I'm going to use to label them with my friend's names. They were a great deal.  4 boxes for $2.99.  They even have plain white ones that are 5 for $1.99.  What can I say?  I'm all about the cute! ;-)  Originally, I wanted to get the plastic tubs for their durability, but the dollar stores around me just didn't have them this year and I couldn't bring myself to pay top dollar at the teacher's store.

Amazon was calling my name last night!  I made some purchases that I'm really excited about.  I've been reading about The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller on different blogs.  I can't wait to read this. 
Miller is a 6th grade teacher.  As a 5th grade teacher, I'm always on the lookout for books that address the upper elementary ages.  I think this one does!  In addition to giving you ideas on how to spark the interest in reading, the book is full of resources and forms.  I will be sure to do a review after I read it.

I also ordered Practice With Purpose: Literacy Work Stations for Grades 3-6 by Debbie Diller. While I have literacy stations ready to go, I've only used them on and off over the years.  My district is going to require them this year, so I'm hoping to find some new, fresh ideas in this book.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Now, the book I am most excited about!  Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne.  This is a picture book that, I think, will be an amazing resource for my friends. 

Here's a blurb from Amazon.com about this book:
"The author of King Kong and the Willy stories again features anthropomorphic chimps, who provide four unique perspectives: an uppity, overbearing mother and her glum son, Charles; and an unemployed fellow and his cheerful daughter, Smudge. What transpires factually is simple: the two children play together, their dogs do the same, the adults keep to themselves. Yet Browne reinvents and overlays the scene as each parent and child in turn describes their version of the events, altering light, colors and words."
This book should be great for mini-lessons on point of view, perspective, mood, word choice, and voice.  As with most good picture books you find, I'm sure I'll be able to use it for many other different lessons.  The illustrations are bold and interesting, sure to keep the attention of my friends.


Finally, here's what I am actually reading right now:  Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop: Making Informed Instructional Decisions in Grades 3-6 by Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak.  I'm only halfway through, but this book has been very helpful so far. 

My district has a very cut and dry report card.   In 5th grade, we use the same grading scale that is used in our middle school and high school.  Students get a letter grade, A+ to F, based on a numerical average. I've been having some difficulty figuring out how to use a reading workshop approach while still getting enough formally graded assessments to allow me to come up with a grade that fits our report card.  Day-to-Day Assessment has been really helpful.  I'm going to do a review when I finish reading and tell you just how I'm making it work for me. 

So, that's what I'm reading and will be reading.  I have a pile of other books I will save for another post.  If you know anything about any of the books above, please share your thoughts!


 

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Do It Because We Are Teachers

Today, I went to my local teacher store.  Even after my many trips to Walmart, Target, and Staples, there were some things I still needed for my classroom.  Just a few things like three rolls of colorful fadeless paper for three bulletin boards, desk name tags, several different borders matched to several different subjects, sticky tags for labeling the 25 shoe boxes waiting in my car trunk, cut-outs for my bulletin boards, letters that I need to pop out, and. . .  well, lots more!  Let's just say it wasn't a cheap trip.  These were all the things my seriously cut school budget money just couldn't buy.  That money was spent on frivolous things like pencils, paper, tape, file folders, and other much needed items.  So, that leaves me to buy "the rest."

Well, it leaves me and the crowded store full of other teachers with overflowing baskets and carts to buy "the rest."  It leaves us and the thousands of teachers in each and every state to buy "the rest."  And, how do we buy the rest?  With our own hard-earned money.  Money that, here in New Jersey, people seem to think we teachers are overpaid with.  Money that doesn't buy groceries for my family, money that doesn't pay my electric bill, money that doesn't go in my 403b account that I have to have because my state has ceased paying their mandatory contributions to our teachers' pension fund.  It is with my hard-earned money that I choose to purchase school supplies for my classroom each and every year.


And despite how it may sound, I do not buy these things begrudgingly.  In fact, I do it with a smile on my face.  Why?  I know that these supplies will help to create a warm and welcoming environment for my friends.  I know that these supplies will help me organize and execute the learning plans I develop for my friends.  I know that these supplies will be available to my friends who are in need.  So, I don't buy them grudgingly.  I buy them happily, knowing they will be used well and assist in the learning that happens in my classroom.

I was prompted to write this when two things happened while I was shopping today.  This was the first time my mother had ever come with me on one of these back-to-school teacher shopping trips.  She looked around the crowded store in awe at all the teachers buying bags and bags of supplies.  It was with total amazement that she looked at me and said, "You really buy all this and pay for it with your money every year?"  Yes, mom.  I DO!  WE ALL DO!

As we were leaving, there were two teachers in front of us, each with full bags in both hands.  One was holding the door for the other as they both struggled to squeeze through.  As one balanced her bags, she looked at the other and said, "Well, there goes our first paycheck!"  And you know what?  We all laughed a resigned, knowing laugh.  YES, there goes a huge hunk of our first paycheck.

But, we do it anyway.  We spend our money to purchase those items that our ever decreasing school budgets can't buy.  We do it for the greater good.  We do it for our little classroom friends. We do it because learning is our priority.  We do it because we are teachers, and teachers actually do the stuff others just like to legislate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Jealous. . .





In my district, teachers aren't allowed in their classrooms until August 22nd.  That's a maybe.  That's an only-if-the-custodians-have-finished-the-floors maybe.  We officially report to school on Thursday, September 1st.  We have workshops and meetings all day Thursday and Friday.  School is closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Kids start Tuesday, September 6th. 

I NEED TO GET IN MY CLASSROOM! 
My trunk is full of goodies I have accumulated over the summer.  My living room couch is a pile of Staples bags (Staples is my new BFF ya know!) and my head is full of ideas.  I have plans to totally rearrange my room and reorganize all my supplies.

I am jealous of all you teachers that have been able to get in your classrooms and set everything up.  However, as I surf the web, you have given me some great ideas.  Thanks!

I guess I should stop wishing my summer away.  I need to take a moment, head to the beach, and stick my toes in the sand while I still can.  Of course, I will be reading about assessment in the reading workshop while there. 
You can take the teacher out of school, but you can't take the teacher out of the girl!
Or something like that!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guided Reading in Grades 3-6

It's a book review!  This summer, I have been reading more and more about Reading Workshop and all its components.  Guided reading is a component I especially wanted to focus on.  I found Guided Reading in Grades 3-6 by Mary Browning Schulman to be a great source of information with practical, applicable ideas.  Let me tell you more about it.


Teaching 5th grade can be difficult at times when you are looking for professional literature.  There is so much out there for the K-3 teacher.  I'm in the unique position of teaching an enrichment 5th grade class, so I have some very proficient readers.  However, they are still only 10 and 11!  There is still so much learning to do.  That's one of the things I like about guided reading.  You are always teaching.  All you say and do has meaning in that group meeting and to the child.  There is no lost learning time.

Schulman starts off by explaining how guided reading fits into a comprehensive literacy framework.  Meaning, you want to have your read alouds, independent reading, shared reading, partner reading, etc. in place before you get your guided reading groups going.  This makes sense simply because it is important to do some assessment of the students so that you can form focused groups. 

"Observing students as they engage in the various reading and writing experiences within the framework helps determine what students are learning and what they need to learn next, providing you with valuable insights and directions regarding which instructional approach would be the best one to meet students' needs." (p. 25)

What I love about this book is that it so clearly explains how guided reading works.  Schulman does a great job explaining how it functions in the classroom, including time frames.  She explains how to get yourself organized for your groups as well as how to organize your students.  Over the years, I have learned that organization is one of the best teaching tools I have!  There is even a section on how to organize your classroom library.

Chapter 4 is all about reading strategies.  There is a fantastic seven page chart included that is a must copy.  It summarizes the various reading strategies, gives a definition, and tells why it is important.  The last two chart columns tell what the "teacher talk" and the "reader's inner talk" in teaching/using the strategy would sound like.  This chart alone is worth the price of the book!

As you get to the end of the book, the last chapter brings it all together.  There are four model guided reading lessons scripted in the book.  These model lessons are gems.  They explicitly explain what the teacher noticed in her students that led to the teaching of this lesson and what the focus of the lesson will be.  The model lessons then go on to "teach" the lesson.  There is a column for lesson dialog and a column right next to it that gives notes about the lesson dialog.  Schulman also gives times as to how long each part of the lesson should last.

Guided Reading in Grades 3-6 has a very useful appendix.  Among the many riches you will find are sample guided reading passages that you can use in the classroom, sample classroom forms, and resources for more reading opportunities for your students.

I could go on about this book, but there is just too much to tell.  You really need to read it!  It's a great book for first-year teachers as well as experienced teachers who aren't familiar with the reading workshop approach or guided reading.  It's also great for the teacher who just wants to brush-up on the topic.  There's always something to learn! After all, we are life-long learners.

Are you doing guided reading groups? 
How's it going for you?  Any thoughts, tips, or suggestions?

By the way, this review is totally my own.  The thoughts and comments above are just my wonky brain at work!
Scholastic and Ms. Schulman don't have a clue who I am or that I read their book!

A Treat!

One of my favorite healthy living blogs, Danica's Daily, is hosting a great give-away.  It's a one year membership to Sam's Club with a $25 gift card to get you started.  I love that she mentions Box Tops for Education.  Buy some goodies and donate your box tops!  They really do help schools.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Extreme Clipboard Makeover Edition

Here it is.  Pinterest inspired craft #3.  I give you. . .  FANCY CLIPBOARD!


I've been seeing these really pretty clipboards and wanted to give it a try.  Here's what you need:



  • A clipboard
  • 2 pieces of craft paper
  • craft paint in a color to match your paper
  • Mod Podge (Get the matte kind, although that's not what is pictured.)
  • Ribbon
  • foam brush





First, tape off the metal clip part of the board.  Use your craft paint to paint the edges.   I've seem some of these boards unpainted, and they looked really nice so you could skip that part.  It's just the OCD in me that wants it all matchy-matchy!   If you balance it on a glass to dry you can paint both sides at the same time.  Just hold the board by the clip.

 Next, you want to make a template that's just a little smaller than your surface area and accounts for the metal clip part.  Use it to cut out the same shape on your craft paper.  For the back, you can use the same template.  Just don't cut out the cut-out section that allows for the clip. Did that make sense?

Now, I must have had a brain cloud (Name that movie!) because I forgot to  take pictures of the next couple of steps.

Once the paint has dried, cover one side of the board with Mod Podge.  Then, place your craft paper on top.  Use a credit card to smoosh it down really well.  Let that dry resting on the cup, and then do the same with the other side.  On the back of the clipboard I used there were two metal rivets up at the top.  Instead of fighting with it, I just painted the top a little lower, cut my paper, and put it on. Do make sure you cover the entire back with Mod Podge, even the painted area. It sort of seals it all in. Once it all dries, you are almost done!



All that's left to do is add the ribbon.  I just tied some matching ribbon around the clip part.  It doesn't get in the way, and looks really cute.  Overall, it wasn't a difficult craft at all.  If you search Pinterest for this project, you will find a ton more examples that are fancier and cuter than mine.  However, considering this was my first try, I'm super pleased with the outcome!