January Favorites

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!

Two Simple Rules for Engaging Independent Readers


Recently I was rereading Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading, I came across a small section in her book about engaging independent readers.

Two simple rules for engaging independent readers: it’s a easy and challenging as this.
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:
Two simple rules for engaging independent readers: it’s a easy and challenging as this.
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.
Independent reading boils down to this: If students don’t love what they’re reading, they’ll never learn to love to read.
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!

Five on the Fifth {January}

Happy New Year to you!  It's the fifth of the month, so I'm here to share five great ideas from five amazing bloggers.
Five on the Fifth January 2016

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


This calculator license is such a fun idea from Amanda at Teaching Maddeness.

Calculator License

She shared this post on Owl-Ways Be Inspired about how she gets her students motivated to work accurately when solving two-digit addition and subtraction problems.  And it involves the cutest calculator license in the whole world.



I love this post from Vicky at Teaching and Much Moore about how she repurposes kids blocks for math.  Such a good idea for place value.

Place Value Blocks



Maria from Everyone Deserves to Learn shared how she teaches New Years Eve Around the World.  That's kind of smart especially for older grades if your students have done Christmas Around the World one too many times.
New Year's Eve Around the World



Stop it.  How cool is this digital poster lesson idea from The Applicious Teacher?  Hop on over to her blog to read about how she used this free app.

Digital Poster



And last, but not least, is this darling idea Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher posted on her  Instagram account.  It's not too late to write New Year's resolutions for characters and animals.  It can't be too late because this is too much fun to miss.

Character New Year Resolutions

Happy January everyone! I hope 2016 is a wonderful year for you!

January Desktop Calendar

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 New Year!