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Conferring with Readers

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

Who's ready for this month's professional read?  This year I made a New Year's resolution to read a professional book every month.  FYI-This is the first time I have actually kept a New Year's resolution for more than 5 minutes (probably because they are usually related to me eating less food that tastes really good.)

Conferring with Readers? Who's got time for that?  Well, hopefully you.  This is one of those books that will make you think deeply about what you're doing and how we teach our readers in a one size fits all manner.

Conferring with Readers is the best friend of The Reading Strategies Book.  TRSB is the what, but this book is the how.  A must have for any teacher wanting to teach students through choice and independence.

Why?

I love The Reading Strategies Book.  As I worked with kids on implementing strategies, though, I was left wanting more.  Was I doing this right? How could I better?  I felt like I was shooting in the dark and wanted to know more about differentiating reading instruction for students.

I have decided to refer to Conferring with Readers as the best friend of The Reading Strategies Book and want to dig deeper into conferring with students individually or in groups, this book needs to go on your must read list.

Aha Moment

There wasn't a singular moment in this book that set the lightbulb off.  And that was kind of the best thing about it.  Some books are heavy on ideas but light on implementation.  Too often you're left feeling strongly that the ideas are good but without any clue of how to make it happen in your own classroom.
This book is the HOW.  What it looks like, what it sounds like, why you plan a certain way, how to plan that way, how to manage the structure in the classroom, all the practical parts.
 

I Wish

I wish I had come across this book much sooner.  Sorry previous 3rd and 4th graders.  The third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers are reading this book at my school as part of book club.  I wish that making time and space for teachers to meet to discuss and grow in practice (vs data and standardized testing scores) was something that happened everywhere.  If you're looking for a book club selection to read with a group of teachers, this is an excellent text.  


Surprise

It's not as complicated as it sounds.  If you are already an advocate of the power of independent reading, this book provides a bridge for integrating independent reading with your reading instruction.  I'm not going to say it's easy, but this book shows you how it's possible.


Good For . . . .

Anyone who is in love with The Reading Strategies Book or teachers who want to move towards individualizing their reading instruction but aren't sure what that would look like or how to actually make it work.
I have always admired teachers who were able to run their classrooms this way.  I just couldn't wrap my head around what I would actually "do" with readers in a conference beyond "So, tell me about reading now . . . "  I was pretty confident that wouldn't be successful.  Turns out I was right.  There's more to it, and this book will show you the way.  Conferring with Readers is the How to The Reading Strategies Book's What.


Wise Words



I hope anyone who loves The Reading Strategies Book or wants to move beyond a one size fits all model of classroom instruction will add Conferring with Readers to the must be read list.  It's a practical guide to a typically pie in the sky concept of conferring with students.


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March Desktop Calendar

Happy March to you! I'm so happy March is here. I love spring, and I love spring break even more!

March 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

These spring colors are happy and fun.  I love the yellow.  Since I look wretched in yellow, I'm going to enjoy it every day on my computer screen.  These gorgeous graphics are from Futurel on Creative Market.  You can click here to down the calendar or click on the image below.


March 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

I hope you have a wonderful March!


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February Favorites

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my late night random Priming habit! 

Hey hey! Happy almost March to you.  I never have trouble saying goodbye to February because I hate the cold weather.
It's time for February favorites! Read about my InstaAmazing new kitchen tool, my latest bad habit, and more!

February did me a favor this year, and kept it nice and warm in Texas.  Turns out flip flops in February is a real thing.
Number one hands down, no contest, without a doubt is my Instapot.

We've cooked spaghetti squash in 9 minutes (for real), a roast in 40 minutes, chicken tacos in 18 minutes, and pork tacos in 40 minutes (we love tacos, okay?)  It's amazing.  Worried about having room for a crock pot and an Instapot?  No worries, it does the slow cooking thing, too.  And sautéeing.  And yogurt making, but that's way outside our household abilites.


p.s. Don't get too impressed.  I had to Google how to spell sautéeing.

I love this t-shirt I bought from Mindy Mae's Market.  It was kind of expensive for a t-shirt, but since it pretty much sums up my entire life in one hashtag, I felt it was a worthwhile purchase.


My husband and I visited the Holocaust Museum Houston this month.  It was inspiring and heartbreaking and so many other feelings wrapped up in one two hour visit.  It was an honor to learn about the men and women featured in the museum and very sobering to realize how truly horrible humanity can be.


I'm continuing to ease out of my solid color comfort zone (gray, black, and denim-I love you so much!)  This pattern from Loft is so bright and fun.  I didn't grab it the first day I saw it because it wasn't on sale.  Loft consistently puts the whole store on sale for 40% off, so full price is for suckers.  I was polite enough not to say that to the checkout lady when she told me it wasn't on sale.


Shriners Hospital Philadelphia has a special place in our family's heart.  Our older daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis in 2014.  She needed surgery to correct it, and Shriners Philadelphia is one of the few places in the country that offers an alternative to fusion for kids.  It means we trek back and forth once or twice a year, but it has been worth it.  Our doctor and the staff there are simply amazing.  Now that our second girlie has been diagnosed with Scoliosis, they're keeping an eye on her, too.


It was an amazing 72 degrees in February, so we spent some time out and about.  How cute are they?  Turns out my husband and I make great people but terrible spines.

Who else is ready to say goodbye to winter and hello to March and spring break??



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The Writing Strategies Book


This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

I first fell in love with Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies book. I've written about it a few times:

To say I was kind of excited when I heard she was releasing The Writing Strategies Book would be the understatement of the year.  It was a no brainer to select it for this month's professional read.

The Writing Strategies Book is subtitled "Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers." And she is not joking. Just like the first book, this book is jammed packed with right this minute strategies to use with your kiddos.
The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The first 30-ish pages give you an overview of the book-how it's organized, how to set goals with students, and how you might use the book alongside a variety of writing instruction approaches. After that, there are 300+ pages of one pages strategy instruction ideas that could be used with students individually, in small groups, or in whole class lessons.

Take a peek at The Writing Strategies Book:

•Composing with Pictures
•Engagement
•Generating Ideas
•Focus
•Organizational Structure
•Elaboration
•Word Choice
•Conventions: Spelling
•Conventions: Grammar and Punctuaion
•Partnerships and Clubs

Here's a breakdown of each section:

Brief 2 -4 page overview of the goal

One page overview for each of the over 300 strategies

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

With 38 strategies, the Generating Ideas chapter is amazing. While you may have writers that can write a focused and structured piece, if they can't generate a topic to write about, they're doomed.

The greatest strength of this book for me is as a tool to help me lift writers' practice vs. pieces. I'm really good about giving advice to help a student improve a specific piece, but it's more important to phrase it in a way that students can apply to any piece of writing vs. the piece they're currently on.


Here's an example from the book:

Lifting a Piece:

"Writing about your dog is a great topic! Can you think of specific memories that you have? Like the day you got him or a time you took him on a walk?

This talk will help your writer get through a piece, but unless he/she is only going to write about the dog, this advice won't transfer to other work.

Lifting practice:
I'm so glad you have a topic. Now think about specific memories connected to your topic.

Lifting practice is hard! This book is an incredible resource to help your conferences move away from fix a piece to lifting writing practices.


Here are few quotes I love from The Writing Strategies Book:

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

Are you a The Reading Strategies Book fan?  Do you plan on adding The Writing Strategies Book to your collection?  I hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Want more on professional reads?  Catch up here:


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5 Tips for Getting More from Your Hue Document Camera

Disclaimer: Hue sent me this document camera to review.  But, I do what I want, so if it was terrible I would have said no way and sent it back.  Read on to find out why I loved it enough to write a review.

Hue recently sent me this DARLING red Hue HD Pro document camera.  {I know darling is not a qualifier for a great document camera, but it sure doesn't hurt.}  We all know that document cameras are great for helping students follow along on worksheets and assignments--raise your hand if you've ever had a student go through a entire lesson while on the wrong page--but don't stop there with your document camera.

5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

1.  Writing Feedback

Sharing kids writing this way only works after you've built a classroom writing community.  Once you reach that point, your kids understand that revising and feedback are important elements of their writerly lives.  You may only get a few top brave souls at first, but eventually more and more kids will jump in when they see this isn't a what you did wrong exercise but instead a how to grow opportunity.
I have asked kids permission before and promised not to use names.  I'll say something like,
"I'd love to share this with the class.  Look how you're working on xyz here.  I know a lot of your classmates are working on the same thing.  This would be a perfect example to work through together."

2.  Capturing Notes and Lesson Details for Absent Students

Oh, those pesky absent students.  Hue allows you to capture the work as an image or a video to pass on to students that are out sick or pulled from class (does your classroom ever feel like it has a revolving door?)

3.  Take a Closer Look at Illustrations

My former teaching partner once read The One and Only Ivan to our classes next to her document camera, so she could share the illustrations with them.  Share illustrations or make any book a big book with your document camera.  You could also use it to zoom in on text features like graphs, maps, and photos in textbooks.

4.  Interactive Notebooks

Ever hold up your little composition notebook in front of the class to show them what to do?  Yeah.  You're wasting your time.  Stick that notebook under the document camera to help your students actually see what they're supposed to do.  It won't make them stop opening to random pages in their notebooks (Why???????), but it will help that random page have the correct information on it.  Absent student?  See #2.  Print out your example to help absent students catch up easily.

5.  Save Some Trees

Maybe everyone doesn't need a copy of that worksheet.  Maybe just stick it under the document camera and have them talk discuss it in groups or write or white boards or review it with the class and move on.


While you can do these things with any document camera, what I love most about the Hue HD Pro Camera (besides the fact that it's so darn cute) is how reasonably priced it is for such a high quality image.  Hue's Intuition software makes it easy to "write" on a document, video what you're doing, or capture an image.

Here are a few screen captures from mine:

Zoom in on Illustrations: So much going on in those Jan Brett illustrations!
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Nonfiction Text Features: Stop trying to hold up the book to show them charts and graphs.  Take a closer look together with a document camera.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Dive Into Revising with Kids' Work: Make revising instruction more authentic by using your students' work.  Once you create a classroom community where revising is a part of the writing culture, it's not too hard to get volunteers to share their work.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Sharing Notes: Review with students' notes or use your document camera to capture a copy of notes for absent students.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


If you're ordering 1 or 2 cameras, I recommend ordering from Amazon Prime.  They'll cost the same as ordering from Hue's site, but if you're a Prime member, you can't beat two day shipping.  For orders of 3 or more, you'll definitely save by buying from Hue's site.  Want to know more?  Get the techy details on the Hue HD Pro here.   Too steep for your blood?  Hue also offers a less expensive version.  You can compare the two with this comparison chart.

Got any other great tips for using a document camera?


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February Desktop Calendar

Happy February! Are you a Valentine's fan?  Yay or Nay?  I love Valentine's Day.  More the idea of it than the reality of it-a school full of kids whacked out on candy and cranky teachers from the wild kids?  Not super fun, but I love the idea of a day about love.

 February 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

For the February desktop I wanted something Valentine-ish but that I would still love when February 15th arrived.  These graphics from Corner Croft were perfect! Pink and red and just Valentine-y enough.

February 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

This month you have options.  Click on the image or here to download the image with the quote.  I was a little worried the quote would be too much on smaller screens, so you can download it here without the quote.

Hope you have a wonderful month!


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January Favorites

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my late night random Priming habit! 

Hey hey! I'm usually not a January fan because I hate cold weather, but this month has been super mild even Houston.
It's time for January favorites! Read about a major get focused time saver, a slightly ridiculous coffee accessory, and more.
Time to wrap up January with a run down of my favorites from this month.


The Forest app is forcing me (against my will, apparently) to be more productive.  I was SHOCKED the first time I used it by how distracted I am by social media.

Forest App is an amazing time management tool.  Quit wasting time on social media and get to work!

I knew I was distracted, but this made it clear had bad I was.  I like that you can set the timer for different amounts of time.  You can get back into your phone, but you have to kill a tree to do it.  At $1.99, this one is totally worth it.


Most embarrassing purchase of the month award goes to my new frother.  I love this thing a little too much.  I justified this purchase as a way to cut back on my Starbucks spending.  Having a Starbucks two minutes from my school + the ease of mobile ordering has resulted in my Starbucks spending getting waaaaay out of control.  This makes my plain old coffee maker coffee feel much fancier and I'm happy to report HAS resulted in reducing my Starbucks spending.
Nespresso coffee frother takes your coffee up a notch (or ten)

p.s.  Anybody else come up with reasons to buy stuff because "you're actually saving money"?

The Man in the High Castle had my eyes glued to the screen.  Which was not a good thing because I usually only watch shows on my iPad while I'm working.  This majorly interfered with my productivity, but it was completely worth it!
It's an Amazon Original series with two seasons.  The premise for the show is super interesting.  I love how they worked it into the storyline over time instead of hitting you over the head with it.


I wasn't able to resist the siren song of Loft's 50% off sale.  Since we're having such a warm winter, I've gotten tired of my fake fall/winter clothes.  I'm pretty sure I've been wearing the same five outfits to school every week.  I grabbed several tops, but this one is by far my favorite.  The shirt's material is a little thicker than the usual t-shirt material which gives it some extra smoothing power.  Much appreciated Loft.


I gave A Bird in Hand Designs a top to bottom makeover this month, and I'm super in love with it.  It had become a hodge podge of pages and links and information.  Over time I just kept adding things on here and there, and it had become a majorly disorganized mess.  I wanted to overhaul the site and decided to go with fresh new colors, fonts, and even a new theme.  I'm about 95% of the way done, but happy to call it good and fiddle around with the last parts.
A Bird in Hand Designs • Blogger and Wordpress Designs
I couldn't be more delighted with the finished product!

Hope you a wonderful January! I'm looking forward to February and a new month of favorites!


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