February Favorites

Hey hey!  February is almost over, and frankly, I’m ready to say goodbye. We are getting our house ready to sell and have worked like dogs to get it there.  Bring on March and hopefully a sold sign!

February Favorites

Ummmm, the weather this month has been INCREDIBLE.  It’s not like we’re expecting frigid winters this far south in Texas, but it’s been in the 70’s for almost the entire month.  I have been able to steal a few minutes in the afternoons here and there to just sit by the pool and enjoy it.  As a friend said though, “We’ll pay for it in bugs this summer."
Tieks Poolside

I got to spend some time with a Texas sized group of Houston area bloggers and TPTers.  A nice man stopped to take this picture for us when we were leaving after he noticed our attempt to take a six person selfie was not going well.  Turns out, he is the pastor at a large Houston church.  He even asked if we wanted it square.  I have a feeling his church’s social media game is on point.
Houston blogger meetup

My sweet mom picked this hand towel set up for me from Homegoods.  Never thought we’d be dachshund people, but after adopting our sweet wire haired Murray, we’re in love!
Dachshund hand towel

Despite my husband’s cries of alarm over the amount of coffee cups I’ve purchased recently, I had to add this cup from Etsy seller Oh Hello, Sugar! to my collection.  So very true!!
creativity starts with coffee mug

And finally, here’s a sneak peek of what will make all the work this month worth it!  This is the beauty we’re hoping to make the move to.  Also, apologies in advance if you follow me on Instagram.  I have a feeling there will be house picture overload going on!
New house front porch

Hope you had an awesome February!!

Digging Deeper with Persuasive Text

I recently had the chance to work alongside a fourth grade teacher at my school and teach some lessons on persuasive text.  Persuasive text often got the short end of the stick when I was teaching fourth grade, and I really enjoyed diving deeper into this standard this time around.
Digging deeper with persuasive text

We started with fiction text because it’s what most kids are much more comfortable with it than nonfiction texts.  I chose the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs for a few close listening lessons.  I chose it because the kids would already be familiar with the story and ready to dive in at a deeper level, and it’s full of persuasive language.  Plus, it’s just an awesome book.
We started out by connecting to a persuasive experience that all kids have experience with-trying to convince a parent to buy them something at the store.  We talked about how you can’t just say, “I want that.  Buy it for me.”  That never works!  The type of language you use has to be persuasive, and authors use that language, too.

Before reading the book, I asked the class to be on the lookout for persuasive language and to give me a thumbs up whenever they heard any.  This book is so filled with persuasive language, they could have had their thumbs up for nearly the entire book.  We stopped throughout the book to talk about the difference between pages that had just gave information and pages that had persuasive language.
We returned to the same book the following day to dive even deeper.  I added another element to our thinking.  An author of a persuasive text can’t just give information, he has to have an idea of what is already in the reader’s head, so he can use that to change a reader’s mind or appeal to those feelings.  We read through several parts of the book to look at what the author knew was in our mind about the wolf and his actions and how he tried to change our thinking on the those events.

As we were discussing this, I recorded our thoughts.  I was lucky enough to have a large number of copies of this book, so the kids were able to work as partners or individually to dive into the text on their own.

Good frame of reference for when introducing deeper topics in reading instruction.

I purposefully kept the assignment VERY simple because the thinking they needed to do was deep.  I enlarged the chart and ran it on 11x17 paper to give them big space for big ideas.  When kids are working as partners, it helps to give them paper that can be in front of both students.

{Yes, I know persuasive is misspelled in the picture.  It is not on the download.}
Digging deeper with persuasive text


Five on the Fifth {February}

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!

Don’t Bother with Close Reading Until . . .

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 listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.

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.
Close listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.

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:

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Close listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.

February Desktop Calendar

Happy February 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!