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Hi everyone!

I am having a 20% off sale at my Teacher's Notebook store and I wanted to let all of my blog followers know about it!!  I hope you get a chance to head over there are pick up something that you've been wanting!  While you're at it....follow my store!!

I'll be back later this week with a new post!

Love and peace,

Reader's Notebooks

I'm starting to get my little duckies in a row for back to school time (I DO know that it's still July)! I've got a lot of new things ideas running through my head and I can't help thinking about it! This year I am going to revamp my classroom library with brand new book baskets and new labels.  Everything started looking a bit shabby towards the end of last year, so I want to freshen things up.  I purchased some neon blue and green baskets from Really Good Stuff....I'm going for a serene, tropical, oceany feeling.  I will be sure to post some photos once I get things up and running!

I am also thinking about how I'm going to set up Reader's Notebooks. 

Last year, my students used binders instead of composition books and it worked great!!  They were able to keep their things much more organized.  We didn't have tabbed sections in our binders, so the kids just shoved stuff in there.  So, this year we will definitely have a much more thought-out and organized binder, which will include some divider pages.   I really want students to have a place to keep ALL of their reading resources including mini-lesson notes, handouts, response pages, small group work, etc.  That way they can always find what they need and will have a great reference book to keep at the end of the year!

Here are the sections that we are going to have in our notebooks:

This is where we we record our reading goals.  I like students to set goals every 2-4 weeks.  I provide them with a reading goals "menu" to help them in choosing meaningful goals.  I encourage students to read the goal they've written down before beginning their daily reading.

We have a reading mini-lesson every day during reader's workshop.  I like to have students write a little "blurb" about what they've learned.  They usually copy this blurb from the board and then add their own ideas to it.   I try to confer with each student every 1-2 weeks (sometimes it turns out to be once each month).  Students write down a brief note about what we talk about in our conference and keep it in this section.  They also keep all mini-lesson reference sheets and handouts in this section along with a list of  handout titles and the dates they were given.

Here they keep their word collectors and vocabulary sheets.  I encourage students to write down new and interesting words they come across in their reading.

Many students in third grade are still working on fluency.  They self-monitor their progress by timing themselves to find their reading WPM and have a partner listen to them read aloud.  They use a rubric to score themselves and write down this data on a fluency check-in sheet.  I encourage them to do this once a week or so during partner reading.  They keep all of their fluency stuff in this section.

I require my thirdies to do a written response to their own independent reading book or our class read loud at least once each week.  Of course, I have to do a lot of modeling at the beginning of the year to show them the different ways they can respond.  They use regular notebook paper, which is kept in this section.  I frequently will give students a thinkmark or a response worksheet, which is also kept here.  I have students turn in their responses so that I can read them and since they are written on separate sheets it is really easy.  After I've read and commented on them, they are returned and kept in this section of the notebook.  They love going back to read them later!!

Last year we kept a separate folder for our reading logs, so that students could transport them home each night for their nightly reading.  I don't like students to have two different reading for home and one for school.  The purpose of keeping a reading log is to help students to analyze their reading habits/patterns so that they can set authentic goals for themselves, so keeping a separate one for home really defeats the purpose!  This folder houses the reading log, reading wish list, genre reference sheet, and any other handouts that relate to book selection.  The students can transport their books home in the pocket of this folder...very handy!!

Here are few photos to help you visualize what I'm thinking:

If you like this idea, I have compiled all of the pages that you need in The Ultimate Reader's Notebook!  It also contains some great open-ended response sheets that you can use all year.  I usually run off lots of copies of these response sheets, so that students can help themselves during Reader's Workshop.  To see everything that is included, check out the preview in my TpT store!

If you would like even more information about how I start the year with reader's workshop, check out Reader's Workshop:  The Ultimate Launching Guide.  It has 20+ mini-lessons and all the materials you need to start the year (includes the above Reader's Notebook pack)!

Hope you are enjoying summer!!  I am loving every blessed minute!! I would love to hear from leave me a comment or question!!

Love and peace,

Thinking about Supplies and a Planning Book Giveaway

Well, it isn't even August yet, and already the stores are filling their shelves with back-to-school goodies!  It gives me goose pimples thinking about a shiny new school year, filled with brand new sharp pencils, never-been-used erasers, and piles upon piles of rainbow colored post-its!

I have been thinking about how to handle classroom supplies this year.  This is funny to me because you'd think after 21 years of teaching, I wouldn't even have to think about it!  When I taught first grade, I had supplies down to a science.  Everything was considered "community" supplies.  First graders have enough trouble with their wee attention spans without dealing with a pencil box filled with colorful temptations!  Parents still happily donated supplies....with the understanding that they would be shared with the whole class.

When I moved up to third grade (three years ago), I reconsidered this strict perspective and thought that 8 year olds should be able to manage a small box of their own supplies.  Right?  I kept the faith for almost three years, and then I  "lost it" somewhere around February of last year.  That is when I had all of my students take home their personal boxes of pencils (i.e. hockey sticks), erasers (i.e., hockey pucks), post-its (i.e. mini-paper airplanes), and markers (which caused an underground trading market, complete with a mob boss).  When they came in the next day, each desk had 1 small plastic container filled with pencils, erasers, scissors and gluesticks; and another container filled with crayons.  Just like with my former first graders, I could now remove those supplies at a moment's notice when they became too much of a distraction, nobody could claim that they did not have a pencil (since I replenished the supplies as needed), and since there was no "my supplies/your supplies" peace reigned over the classroom and the monopoly on markers and pencils ended!

I wonder I removing a learning opportunity by doing this?  How will students learn how to be responsible for their belongings if I do not allow them to have any belongings?  I didn't mention that a few of my students were pretty resentful about having to take home their school box.  I felt pretty bad about that....especially because some students were doing fine managing.

 So, I soon will be writing a letter to parents, and will have to give them instructions on what their child needs to bring.  I would love to know how other teachers manage their classroom supplies.

On another note....

I haven't actually started planning anything yet.  But I am excited about the new Teacher Plan Book that I created for TpT.  Here's a preview:

I would love to give you one!!  Any follower who comments to this post, will be entered into a random drawing.....and the winner will receive the editable version of The Ultimate Teacher Plan Book!!

Don't forget to check out Mrs. Leeby's amazing giveaway!!


Enjoy your week,
Love and peace,

July Currently and A Writing Process Freebie

Hello Friends,

I am enjoying these first weeks of summer vacation and getting a lot of stuff done!!  It is really hard to find the time to do everything that I want to do!  I bet all teachers feel that way in the summer!  It is like I am trying to pack a whole year of chores and vacation activities into a few months.

My "To Do" List:
  • Cleaning up 9 months worth of dust, dirt and clutter from the house
  • Making summer memories with my kids
  • Long-term lesson planning for next school year
  • Catching up on my reading
  • Catching up on my excercise
  • Stocking my pantry and making freezer meals for the fall "crazies"
  • Yardwork (ugh) of the things I dread about summer
The list goes on and on...

Here is my July Currently....

Living with teens is a curse and a blessing.  One of the blessings is that, if you let them, they will sleep in very late, making for very quiet and peaceful mornings.

If you haven't taken the plunge and signed up for Microsoft Office 365....I highly recommend it (especially if you use Powerpoint for creating Tpt products).  You pay a monthly fee, which keeps your product updated, meaning you always have the newest version.  They have Skydrive, which means your files are saved on a "cloud", so if your computer crashes your files are safe.  Plus, you have access to your files from any computer connected to the internet, using your Skydrive login.  The most amazing thing about it is that you have access to the latest version of matter what computer you are using because you can access 365 and use it online.  That means if your computer at work still has the 2003 version of Office (like my school district), you can use the 2013 version on your school computer by logging in to your Microsoft Office online account without downloading any software at all!!!!!  So brilliant!!!

Last week I went on a three day Leadership retreat with an amazing group of teachers.  Our focus was learning about how to put Stephen Covey's 7 Habits into practice in our very busy teacher lives, both personally and in our classrooms.   I was already very familiar with Covey from reading his book years ago....but never really changed my habits.  There was something about this retreat and the wonderful people in our group that really has me motivated to make some real changes both personally and professionally.  I am beginning by working on some long-term goals.  Covey challenges us all to plan our 80th birthday party (i.e. what kind of person do you want to be remembered as, what do you most want to accomplish).  He calls it "beginning with the end in mind", the second habit of highly effective people.  This really has me inspired to sit down and set some long term goals.

I started my workout program.  I trimmed the front bushes (with a really heavy power trimmer).  I am very, very, very sore.  Ouch!

One of the joys of summer vacation...leisurely enjoying my coffee into the late morning hours!

Have you heard of de-contaminated space?  This was something else that I picked up at my retreat. One of the presenters shared this idea:  Always teach from a spot that is different from where you "correct" (i.e., nag at) your students.  By nagging at your students from the same spot from which you teach, contaminates the area, making it a place where students will tune you out, which is the last thing you want when you are introducting your students to new content.  Keep your teaching space uncontaminated!  She also mentioned that you should always call for attention from the same place, rather than from different places around the room, which will reduce your transition times.

I hope you all are having an amazing summer!!  Thank you so much for reading!

Here is freebie for you:

Love and peace,