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Hey hey!  Happy February to you.  I’m here to share five great posts from five awesome bloggers from the past month.




Want more Five on the Fifth?  Visit the Five on the Fifth Pinterest board here!

I loooove books that get kids motivated and excited to write.  Hop on over to Stories by Storie to read about how she used this book to get her students writing.

Fortunately, Unfortunately Stories

This is the time of year when things start to fall apart as a classroom community.  The newness has worn off, and they’re starting to act more like brothers and sisters.  The bickering that goes along with that territory is super fun.  This lesson from Inspire Me, ASAP! is a great reminder about how to be a good friend and squeeze in some procedural writing!
Procedural Text Friendship Writing

Thanks to Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher, I want to quit my job as a literacy coach and go teach first grade, so I can implement good morning tubs.  
Morning Math Tubs First Grade

One of the reasons I have always loved visiting other teachers classrooms is to see not just the big ideas, but the little ones that make a difference.  I love this post from KTeacherTiff on how she uses plastic cups in the classroom.
Plastic cups in the classroom

If you’re not on Instagram following allllllll the teachers, you’re missing out!  I love this reading workshop chart from Tales of a Tenacious Teacher (you can find her on Instagram as @talesofateach).

Stop and Jot when reading

Can’t wait to see what ideas my teaching friends share this month!


This past weekend, I attended the Early Childhood Winter Conference in Houston.  It was geared to Pre-K through second grade teachers.  One of my favorite sessions was on close listening.  The session was designed for K/1/2 teachers on how to teach close listening: reading a text multiple times with a deeper focus each time.

Close reading is such a hot topic in upper grades, I loved seeing how the thinking was made transparent and accessible for kids at a younger age. (You can read a super article here from reading guru Timothy Shanahan about what close reading is, why it’s important, and how to guide students through the process.)


Close reading is asking kids to go deeper with text, and that’s hard.  Modeling the thinking necessary for close reading is something students are going to need to hear over and over again.  And then again and again and again no matter the age.

So, what’s the difference between teaching close listening and modeling close reading for our older students?  Not much except for our mindset.  When I model a concept for students, I anticipate that there is some foundation ready for me to “show” my thinking to, and then they’re ready to take it over.  When I teach students a concept, there’s a bigger commitment on my part to build that foundation.

One of the beliefs of Words Their Way is a step backward can be a step forward.  Removing the layer of reading allows us to build a firmer foundation by only asking students to focus only on the thinking this deeper level of comprehension requires.  So, take a step backward with close listening.


Choose a high quality literature text.  Read it the first time for the surface level understanding of the text.  For each future reading, use the tenants of close reading to return to just a portion of the text to go deeper with your students. Repeat a million times.

Hearing how in depth these teachers were going to develop their students' understanding of text and how it works made me realize that my older students need this just as much and that I need to sssslllooooowwww down the process of getting them there.

The reality is our students may not have many close listening experiences.  I sure wasn’t doing what these amazing ladies were talking about when I taught first and second grade.  Close reading is such a valuable strategy for readers to use, it deserves the laying of a very firm foundation.

Want to learn more about Close Reading? Here are some great posts for you from other bloggers:











Happy December to you! I'm sharing a desktop calendar background over at Owl-Ways Be Inspired today.  Click here or on the image to hop on over and download it.



Happy February!


This month's favorites post is heavily influenced by my late night iPhone holiday shopping.  This was bad news for my wallet.  When I was too lazy to even get up to grab my laptop, I could just lay on my couch and shop away.


{Sidenote: The type of things I start ordering gets weirder the later it gets.  Anybody else find this to be true?}
Because Murray is kind of a jerk, he ate the inside of one of my fuzzy slippers.  Here he is.  Doesn't he look angelic?  If you look closer, you can see he had the nerve to snuggle up on my couch with the decimated slipper.


Since I live in the frigid climate of Houston, I definitely needed a new pair.  I bought these Minnetonka slippers, and (I hate to say it) I think Murray did me a favorite.  These come up much higher than my old slippers and keep my feet warmer.


And yes, I realize posting about slippers makes me 87 years old.

My notebook from Plum Paper arrived! And she’s a beauty.  Their notebooks and planners are gorgeous.  You can add all sorts of sections to them.  I added to do, checklists, and blog.

Anybody else a Bridesmaids fan?  I was super disappointed no one got me a sassy coffee mug for Christmas, so I had to buy my own from Etsy.


This is an obvious favorite.  When you come across a t-shirt on Pinterest with your blog name on it, you obviously purchase it immediately.  It’s from Thug Life Shirts (can’t make this stuff up, y’all.)

I've saved the weirdest purchase for last.  This was a total late night random Amazon purchase, but I actually love it.  I really need to get on the exercise train, but I'm pretty amazing at coming up with excuses not to exercise.  (It's my other superpower.)  Mostly, I don't want to.  I wouldn't be completely horrified it I could do it while watching TV, but I don't want a giant machine in my house.  I've also learned from previous experience that a gym membership doesn't work well if you don't actually go.


So, I present to you the mini elliptical.

It's actually awesome.  The reviews were really good for it.  And the price was on point compared to a real treadmill or elliptical.  Some people even put it under their desks, so they weren't sitting so much during the day.  Not a problem many teachers have, but thought I would just point that out.

Hope you had an awesome January!


Happy January! This year has started off with a bang.  I love the fresh start and hope the new year brings.

January from the Shop

I added three new mini sets to my store, and they are all boys! I’m not sure what took me so long.  I love the color combos for Owen, Hudson, and Jack.






I also added Maddie, a new jumbo set with some fun, fresh colors.  I’m completely in love with them.


I also updated my Every Paper Every Day Bundle as well as the frames.  There are 4 new colors and 2 new patterns in the set.  I’ll be adding another frame style soon.

 

Thanks for making it all the way through this post!  Here's a freebie to coordinate with the Maddie Jumbo Set.



Want more freebies delivered to your inbox?  Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and receive an exclusive freebie every month.



Hope your new year is off to a great start!


Recently I was rereading Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading.  It's a fabulous book, and one of the books I wrote about in this post.

While most of the book is dedicated to planning and teaching your guided reading groups, she did write some about activities the other kids are engaged in while you're teaching.

This quote about intermediate readers struck a nerve:


Here was my thought process immediately after reading it:

1.  Yes! That's amazing! And simple! And so understandable!  And the kids will get it!

2.  Hey, wait.  What about the fifth grader who picks "Go, Dog, Go"?  Because there is always that one kid.

I can't help it, after 17 years of teaching reading, my brain goes straight to the level.  BUT what if we ignored the level and instead thought about why that child is choosing Go, Dog, Go.  Helping him find the right level isn't going to solve this student's problem.

Because that kid probably doesn't really want to read Go, Dog, Go.  Other than a quick trip down memory lane, most fifth graders have more sophisticated interest levels than Dr. Seuss.  He'd probably rather choose a text that he finds interesting but doesn't know how to do that or believe it even exists.
Students loving to read quote
Can we print this out?  {You can do that here} Tattoo it on our hearts?  Wallpaper our classrooms with it?  Maybe plaster the room where we go to discuss student data and turn kids into numbers and forget why we started teaching in the first place?

Engaging and supporting readers takes a big time and effort investment on our part.  Spending time getting to know a student, pulling resources, coaching a student to create engagement is hard work.  But it is worth.  Guiding a student to books in the blue zone does none of these things.

If you’re looking for more ideas helping engage readers, here are some great resources:


But wait a minute-what about the just right book?

The just right book is a real thing and has it's place in the reading world.  When students are still learning to read, it is our job to select their instructional materials at a just right level.  Let's face it-Level E books are not the most engaging texts in the world.  Their purpose is to teach kids to read, not to create students who love to read.  Once students begin reading more independently, pleasure reading should be, well, pleasurable.

How many of us are reading YA novels? I enjoyed Percy Jackson, Gregor the Underlander, and the Hunger Games series as an adult.  I recently reread Daddy Long Legs because my fifth grader was reading it, and I have always loved that book.  These may be well below my reading level, but I loved every minute of it.

What are you doing to create a love of reading in your classroom?  I’d love to hear your ideas!


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