Thursday, September 22, 2011

I am a Versatile Blogger!

Thank you to A Year of Reading for recognizing me!

After accepting this honor there are some things that I am requested to do:
1. Thank the people who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog...see above :)
2.  Share 7 things about you.
3.  Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.

My List of 7 things about my blog:

1.  The idea of the blog came from a professional development class that I was teaching in my district using Franki Sibberson's Book, Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop.  The group of teachers in that class created a bond based on reflection, conversations, and passion.  Some of the teachers requested a way to keep our "thinking" alive outside of the classroom.
2.  At the time I started the blog, I was a literacy coach for grades 3-5.  So many reflective conversations were going on in our school that I wanted a place to lay them out there.  Since "time" is something we make for the things that are most important to us...this gave my readers the time and place to reflect, spark ideas, and share books that were being used around us.
3.  Currently I am a teacher in a fourth grade classroom and I am so excited to be getting back to the "heart and soul" of the many conversations I have had over the years.
4.  The audience for this blog covers more than 10 countries!
5.  My goal is to reflect and post one time a week and my most popular post has been "Need to make a decision about reader's notebooks".
6. The use of Wonderopolis/inquiry and assessing in the Reader's Workshop are my two main areas of focus on this blog.
7.  Thank you to all of my followers!  All of you who are known and those "silent followers"...I hope that my real words about reading and wondering support you in your literacy journey!  I am also thankful for the "virtual support" that have developed from this blog, specifically Maria@Teachinginthe21century

Ahh....many of the blogs that I follow the most are already can not add 15 more.  I want to say that I concur with the list from A Year of Reading.  I will add one more...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feeling MOODy????

I know I have been a little lately...interims, grading, planning...oh my!  Now to when being MOODy should happen in the classroom :). I decided this year to start off with a focus in reading workshop called, "Words, Phrases, and Moods".  I wanted to put out all of the strategies, types of figurative language, and the mood/senses the author were suggesting so we could examine it all year long.  To start off the focus...I found a great website link to book trailers.  Scholastic has a section of their website with MANY book trailers called "Exploring Books".  The students and I watched several book trailers and discussed the mood the book trailer was suggesting.  Not only did the students really catch on to "mood", they were itching to write down titles to books!  I even found one student rolling his way toward our classroom library because he wanted to see if we had the book!  Double whammy...teaching mood and finding books for our "Next Stack"! :)  Their favorite trailer was the one on Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Next week...we will be moving on to explore "mood rings"  We are going to examine a list of moods and assign a color to all of the feelings.  Our focus for jotting this week in our independent books will be to find words, phrases, or sentences that suggest a mood or appeal to one of our senses as a reader.  Then, the students will create a mood ring for their favorite jot at the end of the week.  This week it will be ok to be moody! (or to read Judy Moody) :)

PS...Wonderopolis if you are reading this...I would love a Wonder of the Day on how mood rings work!
PSS...Here is their favorite book trailer from the Scholastic website.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Talking to the text...

"That is NOT a good idea!  How will Annie survive the fall? Why would could they screw the lid on the barrel?  This is not going to be be good..."  This quote came from a student who just HAD to talk back to the text!  Chris Van Allsburg's, Queen of the Falls, was a book that I stumbled upon during a texting conversation with a colleague this summer.  This book not only was a huge "interest" hit with the students, but was perfect for modeling how to "talk back to the text."

I had made it a goal this school year to stay true to what I believe about reading.  Reading is thinking.  I wanted students to be aware and to appreciate all of the moments when during an authentic reading experience students were "talking to the text" and how it supported their understanding of the text.  I started off with Queen of the Falls.  Any time a hand shot up or a comment stumbled out, I quickly jotted on a post-it what the student was saying while they were saying it.  Then, I encouraged the students to "jot" down moments when they felt this urge during their interdependent reading (Sidebar: I love that term!  Thank you Lucy Calkins!  Reading is not independent...we depend on each other for conversations, recommendations, encouragement...).  Share time was amazing!  Students were sharing moments from their post-its, such as...

  • "I get it now because..."
  • "Now I know why the book is called..."
  • "I found out the adventure! It is when..."
  • "What does commotion mean?"
As we shared, the class sorted the post-its by the kind of thinking that they had done.  During each of the three days, we read a little, I jotted their thinking, and then they practiced with their own reading... and of course I left them hanging (and wanting to read more)!  This book is not only beautifully illustrated but the strong main character of Annie Taylor has the students interpreting, analyzing, and synthesizing!  A great book to get their "thinking" going!

PS...When we did our Top 10 List of the week on Friday...Queen of the Falls was number one!  Many students chose it for their ABC book writing of the week!  Little did they know...they were writing the best summaries ever!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Yes...this is a real word!  This word that consists of 36 letters and 15 syllables is one of my fondest and most informative lessons that has occurred over the start of the school year.  When launching word study, I posted this word on our "Wonder Word" board.  I informed the class that this was the first word we were going to "wonder about" and study in fourth grade.  After hearing gasps from the class, watching fingers that began to count the letters, mumblings of "Is she serious?", and comments about how to pronounce this word...word study for the 2011 school year had begun!

I asked the students to share observations about the word.  I heard observations about how it had 36 letters, how they could determine the syllables if they knew how to pronounce it, and that they saw words they recognized such as hippo and pot.  Then...came observations on meaning.  Students were commenting on how they knew what a hippo and a pot were.  Another student commented on knowing the meaning of "phobia".  On and on they went....after deciding that it was not the "fear of hippos sitting in a pot", students started making observations about the connotation of the word.  One student thought it sounded like a magical spell when pronounced.

So...what does this word mean????  It is the fear of long words.  In the word's history, it was intended to exaggerate the length of the word and the idea of the size of the words being feared.  We quickly jotted this new word down in our "Wonder Word" notebooks.  From this moment on, my class has become interested in words of all kinds.  Hopefully we will began to break the "fear of long words" in our spelling and reading and find power in observing words closely!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Best Part of Me...

Wow!  After four years of being in the role of literacy coaching, I headed back to the "heart of it all"...the classroom!  It has been a whirlwind of not only focusing on instruction, but all of those management items that needed to be dusted off in my to do lunch count, remembering my philosophies for math instruction, how to communicate from home to school, and keeping up with all of the technology changes that have developed for classroom use over the past four years.  I have spent a lot of time searching and remembering the best part of me as a teacher...thinking about what I believe and where the evidence would be in my own classroom.

We are two weeks into the school year and Parent/Curriculum Night has come upon us, like a blink of an eye!!!!  I decided to continue the theme of self-discovery this year into an activity my students will be doing for Curriculum Night.  I am using the text, The Best Part of Me: Children talk about their bodies in pictures and words.  A photographer asked children what the best part of them was.  The children wrote (in their own handwriting) about the best part of them and each response is represented with a black and white photograph.  I found this book in the poetry section of our school library.  This book inspired discussion about our special talents, our thoughts, what others' think, and how we are special.  Each child in my room selected the "best part of them" and is writing why it is so special.  Everything from hair to feet to legs to heart to thoughts to being flexible have been brainstormed by the class.  We are going to leave this writing out at Curriculum Night and I am going to ask the guardians to write back to the students on stationary titled "The Best Part of You."  My class (and me too) have learned a lot about each other through this writing opportunity.  I am sure I will learn even more when the guardians write back!