Saturday, May 16, 2015

Favorite Pins Fraturday

A few days ago I blogged about some things I want to change up for next year. So, today's Favorite Pins post is going to be related to some of these changes I'm wanting to make.

I have actually pinned a lot of things lately, but I'm only going to share five with you today. If you want more resources, go to my Pinterest board and check out my pins.
Want to have your students set goals? This is a great blog post to get it all started! It talks about different ways for students to keep track of their progress as well as different goals they can make.
With my reading time pretty much cut in half next year, I'm looking for some creative ways to incorporate read to self time. Having students use their own books to practice our skill and reading with a purpose (whether it be point of view, conflicts, theme, change in character, etc.) is a great way to maximize class time. This is a great read to get your creative ideas going!
This is a great blog post about an informational writing project to have your students complete. This teacher shares some things that worked really well with her students and some things that she would have done differently.
I've read this, and it is wonderful! It's a great post about incorporating reading and writing into your instruction.
If you don't have time to read any PD books about close reading, you need to make time and read this post. It has quick and easy strategies for teachers to teach their students and students to begin using right away! Stop what you are doing and read this NOW!!!

These have definitely put me in next year mode. I'm reading to get some plans in full swing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

End of Year Reflections

As this school year is coming to a close (it's crazy, right?) I'm left wanting more for my students next year. Although I will still be teaching 5th grade ELA next year, it's going to be totally different. Our 5th grade team is completely departmentalizing next year. That means I'll teach four ELA classes instead of two. Unfortunately, that also means that I will only have about 70 minutes to teach reading, writing, grammar, allow independent reading, and still have reading conferences. I'm not a magician, and I'm not sure how in the world I'm going to do it all. So, my mind is racing right now on what my students absolutely need and what they could really do without.

So, here's what I've been thinking. These are just quick reflections and may totally change. I would love to hear how you incorporate some of these things in your own classrooms or some ideas you may have.

  • No homework besides reading- this year I had a reading passage with questions and some type of constructed response, a reading log, and grammar homework. I will be cutting waaaaay back on this since I really will not have time to go over homework! I'm thinking about a reading log (definitely) and a passage with questions that will be reviewed on Fridays. So, I will not be checking homework each day which will be a huge time saver!
  • Work from the moment they step foot in my door- Always have them doing something! I started using my seat work for this purpose and it's been wonderful! The students are busy with meaningful work from the moment they slip the work out of their binder. AND.. they know exactly what to do each day.
  • No more small groups except for my struggling readers- Last year I did three rotations in each class, even with my gifted students. Although this was great and gave me an opportunity to really get to know all my students, I felt like there were some skills and some students that really didn't need the small group instruction.
  • More Conferences- I love having reading conferences, but it's a challenge to fit them all in. Next year I am hoping to do less small group and more individual conferencing on a regular basis... not just when I have time... whenever that is!!
  • Incorporate grammar within my reading and writing instruction- last year I taught grammar as stand-alone instruction. Next year I am going to embed it more into my reading and writing instruction. This is mainly due to time and they way students are assessed on our state assessment.
  • More goal setting- This is a goal I have at the beginning of each year. Then, the craziness of the beginning of the year approaches and before you know it, half the year is gone! 
  • Incorporate more close reading- I LOVE close reading! There are some really good resources out there if you look for them! I am wanting to incorporate this even more next year!
I'm sure this list will continue to grow. If I have and ah-ha! moments, I'll be sure to come back and tell you about theme!

What are your next year resolutions?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading Strategies That Work

Do you remember the feeling you get when you find a PD book that totally grabs you in? Everything on the pages are highlighted and there are stickies everywhere with notes because it is just.that.good?

The last time I felt this way was when I read a close reading book a few years ago.

Well, have you read this book yet?
Available on
It is SOOO good! In fact, it's so good that I am planning on sharing some great take-aways that I've had while reading it. Right now I'm still digging in so it will be a little while. I'm thinking maybe a summer series? Keep looking for it because it's coming! Grab your copy if you'd like to join in with ideas! I'd love to hear some take-aways you have!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Favorite Pins Friday {& New Look!}

Hey, y'all! I'm wanting to try out my new blog design today, so I'm sharing my {suppose to be} Favorite Pins Friday post. Maybe one of these days I'll get it right! I'm LOVING my new color scheme! I got the inspiration from the Simply Southern tees. If you have not checked these out and you live in the south... shame on you!

Let me start off with my very own seat work! This has been such a WONDERFUL addition to my classroom. I love how the students know exactly what to do when they come into the classroom. It normally takes about 5-10 minutes from the time the first person comes into the room until the time we finish going over the correct writing for the day.

This looks like it would be a great resource for my informational unit. I love how he has the students differentiate between text features and text structures. They get so confused with these two. I already have a few fun activities for this unit like the one below. BTW- if you don't follow me on Instagram... you totally should!

This year, we didn't really know how to teach writing because we really didn't understand how the state department was going to assess the students. Now that we have an idea, my writing instruction is going to need an entire overhaul! I love the organization of this anchor chart.
What's not to love about the way these adorable poems are presented? So clever and unique!
I don't teach math any longer, but if I did, this note taking technique would definitely be on my to-do list. I love how organized it is. This is a great way to take notes on any skill that contains a lot of information.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Favorite Pins Friday {on Saturday.... again!}

Hey, y'all! I'm back again for another Favorite Pins Friday {on Saturday}! Most of my pins today focus on reading workshop and conferencing with my students. Next year I will be teaching 4 ELA classes. I will not have much time for small groups, but I am still going to work in individual conferences and individual remediation. Here we go!

I used something similar to to this pin this past week. We were comparing a literary text to an informational text. It was a little challenging since they were two different genres, but I TOTALLY loved it!

I've posted this post before, but it has changed the way I am organized in my classroom. I do things a little differently than she does in her post. I'll have to share it soon!

This is a great idea especially when you have a lot of students! I may look into this for next year, but I will have to change it a little since I teach 5th.

I love this! It's a great idea for teachers with a lot of students {like me}!

This is such a great idea for helping your students remember what you discuss in conferences. Just have them write it on an index card and place on a ring for storage. This would be really great for my struggling students.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Text Mapping

If you follow me on Instagram {if you don't, you totally should!} then you have probably seen this picture I posted last week.

I had several people ask to learn more about what I did with my students. So, I decided to share it here with you! At the beginning of the year, I wanted to teach a little science in reading to help the science teacher out. We decided that I would cover a unit about how people and technology can aid in erosion and weathering. I saw a pin on Pinterest over a year ago. Here it is below.
I thought it was really cool, but I was afraid of it! It looked like a lot of planning, explaining, and patience. A couple of weeks ago, I knew I needed to teach this science unit ASAP. The science textbook had a lot of useful information, but I didn't want to just have the students read it. How boring is that? So, I finally decided to read the blog post. It had a ton of useful information, however the best information can be found on the Text Mapping Project page. There is a ton of information here and everything you need can be found. Once I read up on all the information I would need, I started to create my color codes. I then created a Powerpoint presentation and talked to the students about how to do it. 

Before you begin, you will need to copy the pages from the science textbook that you will be using. Since each student had their own copy, copyright should be okay. It would NOT be okay if you copied pages from a text that you do not have enough for each student. Students will need to tape together the pages to create a scroll. You can read all about the setup, prep, and process at the Text Mapping Project page.

To make it easier, I divided my class into 6 groups. Each group had their own caddy with all of the needed supplies in it. They were able to take it where they were working (mine worked on the floor) without having to get up and go get what they needed. I'm hoping this answered some of your questions! Let me know if you have others after reading my post :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Literal Vs. Inferential Questioning

So, I'm not gonna lie! I pretty much used the same exact plans that Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View has on her blog for Literal & Inferential Questioning. You can check out her activities here. We did it all. Here's the breakdown.

Day 1: Anchor Chart & Foldable
Day 2: Task Cards
Day 3: Book Questions Rotation
Day 4: Create Our Questions
Day 5: Library Day

What I really want to talk about today is what went down on Day 4. Does some of your best teaching come at the spur of the moment? I had planned for students to use the books Mary used for her book questions along with some I already had. Students were going to create 2 literal and 2 inferential questions. It was really up to them if they wanted to do just one page or several.

As I was explaining the assignment, it hit me... this would be a GREAT activity to include DOK questions. So, (like I always do.. thank God my room is near the copier) I quickly found a DOK questions stem handout. We then went over what each level meant and what the questions look like. I encouraged them to include at least 1 DOK level 3 questions and the remainder needed to be either DOK 2 or 3. They were so excited to create questions like a teacher! We didn't really go near the DOK 4 questions because they are more for product-type results.

You can download the handout here. I have included what it looks like below.

As we were discussing DOK levels, I spoke to the students that these levels are similar to digging. I have a shovel hanging on my wall that I reference to when I want the students to think deeper. I always tell them to dig deeper :) One of my sweet students decorated a shovel and gave it to me as my end of the year gift last year. You may have seen it on my Instagram before.
I then drew a {horribly illustrated} sketch of a hole being dug into the earth. The first sketch was just scratching the surface of the dirt. I told the students this was like DOK level 1. It just scratches the surface of information and doesn't require a lot of thinking. These types of questions are okay, but we really want to stay away from them. Especially in 5th grade! I then drew a hole that was a little deeper. This represented DOK 2 questions. I'm guessing you kind of get the picture. The students had a lot of fun with this! I think the connection to the DOK levels to using a shovel to dig a hole really helped them.

The students then gathered sticky notes and got to work. They placed the sticky with their question on it on the page the question was from. Once they were finished, they traded books with another partner pair and answered each other's questions. Once everyone was finished, the students shared their questions and placed them on an anchor chart based on whether or not the question was inferential or literal.