Book Photos in a Snap

My reading teacher heart went into overdrive the minute I saw this picture on Instagram from Teaching 3rd with Mr. G.  (You can read more about his amazing classroom here.)  How incredibly powerful is for students to see the books their class has shared over the school year displayed this way?
I loved the idea of committing to reading students a picture book everyday and knew the minute I got back in the classroom I wanted to do this.

BUT


It's kind of a big commitment.  It is a very simple display, but finding or taking the pictures, uploading them, printing them, sizing them, laminating them so you can use them again . . . .  Next thing you know, it's been six weeks, and you haven't updated it.
Make your Classroom Book a Day reads visible without spending a ton of time. Here's a simple hack that will have you caught up in no time.

Then a lightbulb went off, and I realized an app I'd been using for documents called CamScanner was the answer.  (PS-if you are buying a house, this app will save your sanity.  Trust me.)

Here's my rigged up display.  I don't have a classroom right now because job hunting 3 weeks after school starts is no joke.  Crossing my fingers that I'll eventually have a real picture to update with.

In about 20 seconds, you can have a beautiful image ready to go.  It's super simple:
1.  Take the picture.
2.  Adjust the corners if necessary, and tap the checkmark.
3.  Tap the checkmark to accept the enhancements.  You can adjust the image, but it does a nice job on it's own.
4.  If you want to take more pictures, tap Add.  If not, tap more.
5.  Select To Album to save the images.
6.  It's now on your camera roll!
Make your Classroom Book a Day reads visible without spending a ton of time. Here's a simple hack that will have you caught up in no time.

After that, I used the Walgreens app.  I uploaded the pictures, and they were ready in less than an hour.  Walgreens often has a photo coupon, so I would hold out if there isn't a current one.  Because my pictures were 40% off, they ended up being less than a quarter each including tax.
**Heads up on ordering your pictures-the proportions of the book don't always fall in the 4x6 or 4x4 range.  The app will choose the best size for your image, but you may want to adjust how it's cropped in the app.  If you're super Type-A, you can edit them on your phone before uploading.

I think I'll just pass on doing much cropping of pictures though.  Sometimes I make things so complicated, I end up not doing them.  I think this is powerful for students, and I don't want to get in the way of it.  If one looks really bad, I'll crop it myself and reorder.  They're only about 20 cents each, so it's not too big of a deal.

I hope you'll embrace A Book a Day and make that experience visible by displaying all of those beautiful books!

Mail Call! Books Written as Letters

Who doesn't love mail?  Growing up, I was obsessed with books written in letter format.  To this day, Daddy Long Legs is still one of my favorite books.

While the letter format of these books provides novelty, they're more than just fun.  Because the story is not directly written, readers must piece together bits of information making these books a fun and authentic way to teach inferring as well as letter writing skills.  They're also perfect for just reading and enjoying.  (Don't forget to do that, too!)
Who doesn't love mail? Your kiddos will love this book collection of stories told through letter format.  This format is perfect for making inferences and teaching inferring as students will have to piece together the story from pictures and what is written in the letters.
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!

Dear Peter Rabbit

I love this story.  Not only is it written in letter format, but the letters are from different fairy tale characters, so it is a great book to show kids how background knowledge influences comprehension.  Peter Rabbit, the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, and more send each other letters in this book.  Don't miss out on the additional books from Alma Flor Ada-With Love, Little Red Hen, and Yours Truly, Goldilocks.


The Day the Crayons Quit

In addition to being hysterical, The Day the Crayons Quit is great for teaching opinion writing, voice, personification, and a laundry list of other things.  And you won't want to miss out on The Day the Crayons Came Home.  This companion book is written as a series of postcards, and as just as full of fun voice and opinions as the first book.


The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

In this book, Tameka writes to her Uncle Ray inviting him to visit.  He isn't able to visit Tameka, so he sends Oliver K. Woodman in his place.  Oliver just happens to be a man made of wood.  The story of Oliver's journey from South Carolina to California, is told through letters and postcards of those who help him make his way across the country.  In the companion book, Searching for Oliver K. Woodman, Imogene Poplar follows clues to find her friend, Oliver, who has gone missing.


Dear Mr. Blueberry

This sweet story is told in letters between Emily (who is convinced a whale lives in her pond) and her teacher, Mr. Blueberry (who is just as convinced a whale does not live in her pond), over the summer.  Your students will enjoy the humor as well as the imagination and faith Emily shows.


I Wanna Iguana

Alex's wants and iguana, and he wants one badly.  This fun story is perfect for teaching persuasive writing and may having your kiddos writing their own letters to Mom and Dad.  Your students will enjoy more of Alex's adventures in I Wanna New Room and I Wanna Go Home.


Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School

Ike's letters in Dear Mrs. LaRue are so fun to teach with.  You'll watch those brains stretch as writers compare Ike's doomsday description of doggy school to what is happening in the pictures.  Opportunities to teach inference and point of view overflow throughout this text.  Kiddos will love the side by side illustrations showing what is happening in Ike's descriptions with reality.  Don't miss out on the companion book, Detective Mrs. LaRue: Letters from the Investigation.


Dear Mr. Henshaw

In this Newberry Award winner, students read letters from Leigh to his favorite author Boyd Henshaw.  Leigh writes about his struggles with his parents divorce, moving to a new town, and bullying.  The sequel, Strider, is written as a diary.  In it, Leigh writes about his life, running, and a stray dog he finds.


Daddy Long Legs

This book was originally written in 1912, but its humor and twist at the end have helped it stand the test of time.  Daddy Long Legs is the story of Judy Abbott who has grown up in the John Grier orphanage and is sent to college by a mysterious benefactor.  Judy's up and down experiences transitioning from orphanage life to college girl are shared in letters to her anonymous patron.


Hermelin

This last story isn't told through letters, but they are important to the story.  I love it too much to leave out because it's a wonderful story about acceptance.  Hermelin is a mouse who solves mysteries on her street.  When her neighbors throw a party in Hermelin honor to thank her, they are not so happy to realize she is a mouse.  Hermelin is crushed to learn she is considered a pest.  I won't spoil the ending for you, but it is a happy one.


Want to extend your study of letter books?
Read The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves by Gail Gibbons to teach your students how mail gets from one person's hand to another's.

Let me know if I missed any of your favorites!

September Desktop

Happy September to you! I have to say, I was more than ready to say goodbye to August.  Our family has many things to be grateful for after my daughter's successful surgery and our safety during Hurricane Harvey.  With that said, good riddance to August and welcome September!
• September 2017 Computer Background •

I actually have two calendars for you this month.  I've been obsessed with this marbly look ever since seeing this notebook from May designs.  The pattern on the background is from Lara's Wonderland, and it's so beautiful.  You can grab the calendar here or by clicking the image below.



Grab the matching iPhone backgrounds, too!  Grab the calendar background here and the plain one here.


We live in the Houston area and are heartbroken at the devastation in our area.  I loved making the beautiful background, but this was weighing on my heart the whole time.  If you need encouragement this month, I hope you'll find a little bit here.  The beautiful watercolors are from Graphic Rain.  You can click here to download the calendar or click below.


There are matching iPhone backgrounds, also.  Grab the calendar background here and the plain one here.

I happy you have a happy September!

August Favorites

Well, August is a month I'll be glad to say goodbye to.  My older daughter had major surgery, and we got hit by a hurricane.  Her surgery went well, and we stayed dry, but I'm looking ahead to a new month and fresh start.
August Favorites-a book you need to read, my life summed up in a t-shirt, and a tough month.
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!

Having said that, there were many bright spots this month.


As I said earlier, my older daughter had major surgery this month.  This required us to travel from our home outside of Houston to see a specialist at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia.

She received excellent care, and we could not be more grateful to the hospital staff and the entire Shriners organization.  And after a long hospital stay with a rough recovery, we are so happy to be home again.



I had seen The Hate U Give all over Instagram this summer and knew it was important for me to read.  I have been putting it off, though.  I knew the topic would weigh heavily on me.  What I didn't expect was how amazing the storytelling would be.


This book hooks you right away.  It's not a contrived story that only exists to to say it's a book about an important an issue.  I hate those books.  This is a story.  And it is amazing.  If it doesn't change your thinking or open your eyes or confirm your experiences, then I don't know what to tell you.



"Can we stop by the post office to mail off our spit?"


Weirdest thing I have said in a long time.  My husband and I have talked about doing 23 and Me for a long time, and now I am anxiously awaiting our results!!



As soon as I saw this t-shirt, I knew I had to have it.  #storyofmylife  Heads up on the women's sizing-I needed an XL.  I'm usually a medium occasionally a large in women's fit.  The XL fits nicely, but it is in no way loose on me.  This is juniors' sizing disguised as women's sizing.




We have a dry home.  Houston has been pounded by Hurricane Harvey.  The devastation we have seen even within 2 miles of our own home is heartbreaking.  I am filled with gratitude for a safe, dry home to be in and heartbroken for the devastation the grows daily surrounding me.


As an educator my heart hurts because I know teachers and students lost their second home as well-their classrooms.  Knowing that school insurance policies do not cover "personal property" (basically everything in your classroom not provided by your school), many teachers will have lost years worth of investments in their students' education.  The Donor's Choose fundraiser was one of the first that I donated to.

Disrupting Thinking

This book both spoke to and challenged my heart as a reading teacher.  Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst titled the book Disrupting Thinking because they want you to disrupt your thinking, so you can in turn disrupt your students thinking.  I feel like this book helped me solidify all the rambly thinking thinking I have about literacy to a more solid understanding of what's important to give my students and what I want for them while they're in my classroom.

Want to disrupt your students' thinking? You'll need to disrupt yours first.  This book will have you rethink your reading instruction and the framework for all of your teaching.

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!


Why?

Two reasons-I was hearing a ton of positive feedback about Disrupting Thinking on social media from other literacy professionals that I respect.  The quotes and text they were sharing spoke right to my heart-quotes about real reading instruction, choice, and the dangers of teaching to a test.  Also, everything I've read or listened to Kylene Beers is nonsense free straight talk with no fluff.  She is hardcore.


Aha Moment

The differences between extracting and transacting information in text was a moment for me.  Most of the work we have students do with text is extracting information-summarizing, timelines, citing evidence, defining words, plot structure, cause/effect, etc.  The authors go on to say, "We need students who can do more than answer questions; today's complex world requires that our next generation of leaders be able to raise questions."  I also love the simplicity of cutting to what matters in our reading with the 3 big questions.  Nope! Not telling.  You'll need to read the book. ;)


I Wish

I wish there was a clear cut path on how to blaze on with these ideas in our classrooms.  That's an unfair wish because while many of us have similar concerns in our classrooms, the path to change will vary widely depending on grade taught, school/parent support, and where we are in our own understanding of literacy instruction.


Surprise

There was some really good actionable information to use in your classroom.  This had the feel of a thinking book (and those are important, too!), but I don't love books that leaving me wanting to make a change with no idea how to do that.  I love the simplicity of the 3 questions, and I'm ready to jump into Notice and Note for more instructional support.


Good For . . . .

Everybody.  Seriously, no matter where you are in your thinking:
•My classroom instruction is just fine, thank you very much.
•I'm doing everything I can, but it still feels like something is missing
•I have strong beliefs about literacy instruction, but they are feel vague and difficult to articulate

If you read this book and don't rethink assumptions that are consciously or subconsciously rooted in your teaching, you might want to rethink your career choice.  We should always be questioning what we're doing.  You don't have to embrace the authors ideas 100%, but there's no way you can read this and not at the very least have your thinking disrupted.

Wise Words

Want to disrupt your students' thinking? You'll need to disrupt yours first.  This book will have you rethink your reading instruction and the framework for all of your teaching.

Want to disrupt your students' thinking? You'll need to disrupt yours first.  This book will have you rethink your reading instruction and the framework for all of your teaching.

Want to disrupt your students' thinking? You'll need to disrupt yours first.  This book will have you rethink your reading instruction and the framework for all of your teaching.

Want to disrupt your students' thinking? You'll need to disrupt yours first.  This book will have you rethink your reading instruction and the framework for all of your teaching.

I hope you'll make time to read Disrupting Thinking.  With instructional minutes more precious than gold, we need to be questioning all of our practices to make sure we're making the most of every minute.

August Desktop

Happy August to you!  The first of August definitely gets me feeling a little panicky.  Summer is winding down, and we're about to be full speed ahead.

Even though it will be hot and sticky here, this desktop has me feeling fun and cool.  The cactus is on point (heehee), and I love the fun colors.
Grab this cactus themed background for your computer! • August 2017 •

Grab this sweet background by clicking here or on the image below.  How cute is that cactus background from Red Chocolate???

Grab this cactus themed background for your computer! • August 2017 •

Plus, you can grab these iPhone backgrounds, too!  Grab the patterned background here and the plain one here.
Grab this cactus themed background for your computer! • August 2017 •
I hope your August is amazing!!

July Favorites

Hey hey! I hope you've had a great July.  Summer is winding down for us, and I'm starting to get a little panicky about BTS time.  Mostly about getting out of bed at a reasonable hour.
July Favorites-road tripping, an AMAZING book, a printable freebie, and more.
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!

Here are a few things I've been loving this month.


Day tripped with my momma! We hit the road and headed to Waco to visit The Silos.  It was incredible.


Everything there done in a way that is beautiful, on brand, and makes my Type A heart sing.  It's basically the Disneyworld of shopping expeditions.  Just like everything else there, their cupcakes were amazing.


I read my first Colleen Hoover book.  And wow.


This one will keep you thinking for days.  I can't believe how good it was.  It Ends with Us is one that needs to go on your TBR list.


I took my first trip to Disneyland this month and got to share that day with these ladies!! We had an amazing time.


I think I even like Disneyland better than Disneyworld.  It's so much more "doable".  The fact that it wasn't 1,000º in July helped, too.


We got another to do project off the list!  There was nothing technically wrong with our fireplace tile except it was super blah.


They're actually coming back next week to add the trim pieces, but I'm already in love with it.


I've been wanting to visit Bless Your Heart in San Antonio forever.  I follow their shop on Instagram, and they have THE CUTEST clothes.

Maybe don't go for the first time with your daughters.  We spent a little more than I planned.  But we're darling now.


We're wrapping up our month of fun and heading into a hard month.  My older daughter is having surgery.  On the first day of school.  Not only will she miss the first day of school, but we'll miss my younger daughter's first day of junior high.  My momma heart is aching that I can't be in two places at once.  But, I'm holding this verse close to my heart.
Free printable: Don't worry about anything. Instead pray about everything.
I definitely haven't moved from all worrying to all praying, but I'm reminding myself to turn to that when the worry gets heavy.  If you've got a worry on your heart, you can click here to download the print, and post it in a place that will remind you.