Pin It button on image hover

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 1

     I love it when I listen  to someone who is speaking right to my heart!  That is what I thought as I read Chapter 1.  I have run a workshop style classroom for over 15 years.  It has changed has I have changed, but the one thing that I keep an important part--student choice.  I think it is so important that they have some say in what they read. 

     I have had others that I have worked with over the years who did not agree with this philosophy.  This made me question what I was doing--but only for a little bit.  My students helped me to know what I was doing was right.  In fact, this spring, I received an email from a student that I had 15 years ago.  I have long left the district that he grew up in, and have moved to two other communities in our state, but he found me.  He said many nice things, but the one thing that he said that he remembered after all of these years is "that you let us read."  This email was a wonderful gift, and I was glad to see that, even after all of this time out of my classroom, this is what he remembers.  I want that to be true of all my students--no matter what grade or what district I am teaching.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When You Reach Me

So, today, 9 hours in the car gave me a great reason to do nothing but read.  I had already begun The Book Whisperer before leaving home. I got through a couple more chapters today, and it continues to reaffirm my beliefs.  I can't wait to have a discussion with my fellow book club readers!

I finished two books.  I finished my Scaffolding Young Writers book and enjoyed it.  It gave me some new perspective for reaching my students.  I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to "beef up" their writing workshop.

Finally, I read my new novel, When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  It was a good book.  The mystery kept me reading on, and I liked the characters in it.  I appreciated the main character's growing knowledge of relationships.  Miranda was a very believable character.  As a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, I also liked its tie-in to the story line.  I did enjoy the storyline although I thought it was a little predictable.  This book would be pretty hard for most of my 3rd graders.  The plot is a little hard to follow even for my best readers.  I would recommend this book to middle school students--esp. girls.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Answers to The Book Whisperer Read Along Questions

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood?  I have quite a few favorites...I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but I can also remember summers when I challenged myself to read every Bobbsey Twin book and every Nancy Drew book. 

2) What is your favourite book (or series) now?  Harry Potter--still.  The books boosted my love of story to a new level.  As they have been released, I have devoured them, and then waited for them to come to life on the big screen.  I have been a little sad about the upcoming release of the last movie, but now J.K. Rowling is offering Pottermore.....:)

3) What is your opinion of e-readers?  While I don't feel like they will completely replace books soon, I know that they are the future. Students are very comfortable reading on them, they are convenient, and for me, they allow me to read books more quickly.

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."  go to church, and then spend the day with my kids.

5) Describe yourself in 5 words!  passionate, creative, loving, energetic, BLESSED

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?  I am happy to spend the extra money on a hardback book, if I know that I plan to keep and use it for a long time-- like book series my boys and I read or picture books I use in my class.  Because I purchase so many books, I buy a lot of paperbacks because they are the cheapest.

7) Coffee or Tea?  Coffee!  Although, a goal for next year is to not drink coffee in the classroom when my students are there.  I have gotten into the bad habit of doing that,  and I want to stop.  I guess that means I'll just have to get up a little earlier to fit in a couple of cups before my kids enter the classroom.
WONDER WHAT'S GOING ON?  Thinking of Teaching interviewed Donalyn Miller in preparation for the TBA book club's reading of The Book Whisperer.  Now we are sharing our answers to the same questions.  Interested?  Head over to the Thinking of Teaching website.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Night at Barnes and Noble

So last night, I took my boys to Barnes and Noble to purchase new reading material for our upcoming vacation.  It has become a nice tradition, and hopefully, it encourages my boys to recognize the beauty of reading.

I had some gift cards that I had received as gifts to end the school year, so I had to use them!  Here is what I purchased:

I am going to read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Steadwhile we travel.  I had not heard of it before, and it is one that my sons would not be drawn to. (That is how I often find new books.)  I'll let you know what I think.

I picked up the Scaffolding Young Writers because I am just never satisfied with my writing instruction, and I like Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos.  I am hoping that this will help me continue to tweak my writing workshop and make it stronger.

Finally, I read and then purchased The Gardener by Sarah Stewart.  I have quite an extensive picture book library, but I am always looking for new additions.  This sweet book will work well for many of my CAFE skills like:  using pictures to gain understanding, inferencing, and understanding characters.  I like the fact that it is set in the Depression and the positive story line it has.  I was really drawn to the strong female character of the little girl and her love of her family and others.  The illustrations by David Small were also lovely.  What a sweet, beautiful picture book!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gifted Education Press Quarterly

Would you like a complimentary copy of the Summer 2011 Gifted Education Press Quarterly?  Email Maurice Fisher at and request a copy. 

Our gifted students too often get overlooked as we try to meet the needs of our learners, but they are deserving of our best, too.  This publication may give you some new ideas.  Give it a look.

Student Feedback

I believe it is important to assess ourselves regularly. I try to do this in a variety of ways throughout the year. However, I also believe it is important to get feedback from others. I actually like the years when I get evaluated by my principal. That feedback is important to me, and I like to know what others see when they enter my room.

For many years, I have had my students evaluate me at the end of the year. We discuss how important it is to review ourselves and our performances in many areas. I point out to them that I evaluate them all year long. I also point out the importance of the evaluation being honest, but not mean. I allow them to complete the evaluation with anonymity, but I find that most sign the paper anyway.  I like the feedback I get from my students. I like knowing what they see in me, and I use this information to change some things I do the next year.

In recent years, I have begun having a parent feedback page, too. However, it has been mainly to review something new that I have implemented in the classroom like my webpage, or a new curriculum component.

What kind of evaluations do you have in a year? How do you use them to push yourselves to the next level?

Click below to get a copy of my student evaluation form.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A freebie for the end of my first week

I am having fun reading and learning about other's teaching through blogging. Today ends my first week as a blogger, and so I decided to share something to celebrate.

I provide SMARTBoard training for others in my district and area, and I have developed many lessons. I really love it, and I work hard to make my SMART docs user friendly and child-centered. If you click on the link below, it will take you to a SMARTBoard math review game for 3rd grade. It certainly could be used at other grades, and the content could be changed as wanted by the user. To open the document, you will need to have SMART Notebook 10 on your computer.

I hope you like it! If you do, share my blog with others!

SMARTBoard math review game

Monday, June 20, 2011

3rd grade Words Their Way

So I have been learning more about Words their Way by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston. Has anyone out their tried this idea in their classroom?

Last year, I went to a complete word work approach in my classroom. Much less emphasis on memorizing spelling words. The kids did pretty well, and the feedback from parents was good. I used our district supplied list of 120 words that they feel all 3rd graders should be able to spell.

This year, I am going to assess my students at the beginning of the year, and use that to determine the list of words they will use for word work and for any type of assessment. Does anyone have any tips for me? Years ago, I used individualized lists, so that part is not too frightening to me. I am just wondering what successes or concerns people have had after using this book as their guide.

I am very interested in feedback from people about this. Let me know what you think...

Wiggins World Giveaway!

Adrienne, who has a 3rd grade blog, is having a giveaway. Go to her site to check it out. Wiggins World

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Froggy Cupcakes Giveaway

Janaye over at Life Isn't Always Frogs and Cupcakes has surpassed 100 followers! She is having a great giveaway, so get over to her blog before Thursday, June 23rd to check it out!

Froggy Cupcakes

Home Links for Reading Skills

Communicating with parents about school is essential, but sometimes difficult in a subject like reading. Of course, students can read at home, but it is nice if parents have an idea of what skills we have been focusing on so they can help practice at home. Last year, I found these school home links to use as a communication tool. It allowed parents to help children work on skills during independent reading in books at home. I often used the standard 3rd grade one and adjusted it as necessary for learners' needs. I liked the accountability it gave the students to practice the skills at home.

You can download the whole document if you want--they are available for grades K-3, or you can check out the table of contents for each grade level and choose the ones that you find most appropriate for your classroom.

I think these are a great resource even if they have been around for a while. Good readers have used many of the same skills for centuries!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Primary Inspired Giveaway

Brenda over at Primary Inspired is having a giveaway because she reached 200 followers! Good for her! She is giving away one of those cool interactive math mats to one follower. The deadline to enter is Saturday, June 25th. Get over to her site and check it out!


Two free SMARTBoard apps for the Iphone/Ipad

This week, I downloaded two free apps for my Iphone. Both offer support and ideas for ways to use your SMARTBoard in the classroom. Resources can be found on each app, plus they have some training videos accessible, too! Great for those times that I am waiting for a child to finish a practice or activity!

One of the apps is by SMART, the SMARTBoard company, and the other is by Teq, which as I have mentioned before, is a great teacher resource!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson

This afternoon, I watched a thought-provoking presentation by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2010 TED Conference. He called it Bring on the Revolution! He was a very entertaining and interesting presenter. He talked about changes that he thought needed to happen to education.

In his presentation, he discusses the fact that school is so often taught in a linear fashion with the line beginning to point towards college degrees as early as kindergarten.

Not all children will immediately go to a traditional college program after 12th grade, but even so, they are likely to become important, contributing members of our society. It made me wonder, "Do I show my students how much I value their talents? Do I work to make my room a place that lets children explore possibilities rather than just a place to "jump through the hoops?"

If you have time, watch some of the presentation. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teqsmart is a great place for SMARTBoard users!

Are you familiar with TeqSmart?  They are a company out of New York who does SMARTBoard training for teachers in that area.  Well, since, I don't live in New York, I use their teacher resource pages to get new learning objects and files.  This summer, they are holding a bunch of webinars.  I'm glad, because I am able to attend those!  The webinars that don't fit my schedule can still be found on the website to watch at my convenience.  They are a great resource for teachers with SMARTBoards and those trying to integrate more technology into their classroom.  Check them out by clicking here!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Common Core Standards

So, I am trying to learn more about the Common Core Standards and what they will mean to me and my classroom.  However, I think that it is important for parents to know about the changes, too!  For that reason,  I have attached the following PDF to my website.  It is from the National PTA, and it gives parents a general explanation of what should be expected from a 3rd grader following the Common Core Standards. 

Everything must have a beginning...

I'm not sure what I am thinking as I start this blog.  Maybe I am crazy.  I just enjoy reading others' blogs so much, and I want to see if I can do it myself!  I guess we'll find out.

Today, it has been rainy, so I have been playing online.  I enjoyed the site below.  My sons did, too!
I hope you find it fun. Let me know if you think of great ways to use it in your classroom.