Monday, July 10

The Reading Strategies Book: Goals 1 & 2


I have to be honest and say that it's been so long since I shared on this blog that it gives me a little bit of anxiety to write, so forgive me.

Today, I'm participating in a book study and sharing some of my favorite strategies from the first 2 goals. I must be crazy. Seriously! I'm already taking 2 classes towards my Masters this summer. Why not add a third book to my weekly reading list, right? Ha! It's a great book, though, that I will feel challenged to include in my basal repertoire this year. (I'm not sure that I mentioned last year, but last summer, I moved from one district to another. It was a positive change.) I'm the veteran teacher now on my 2nd grade team, a position I'm not used to having, so maybe it'll give me some great ideas to suggest as my team is planning this year.

Goal 1 is supporting pre-emergent and emergent readers. Coming into 2nd grade, most of my students are either early fluent readers or almost in the early fluent stage, so I probably won't use most of the strategies included in this goal.

I did wonder if strategy 1.2 The Whole and the Teeny-Tiny Details could be used as a very quick, basic way to introduce main idea to my early fluent readers. The teaching tip said that the strategy helps with informational text structure. It could also maybe be used to introduce the structure of informational writing.

In strategy 1.7 Act It to Storytell It I really liked the visual and think it would be good for higher readers too. In this strategy, the students are basically acting out what is happening in the text, so one option on the poster is to match the character's voice. Another option is to match the character's facial expressions. The last option is to match the character's body movements. I think this is a great strategy to add some engagement and movement to a shared reading activity. I will definitely be using this one in my classroom!

Goal 2 is teaching reading engagement which focuses on focus (LOL), stamina, and building a reading life. I loved this quote in the beginning of the chapter, "Engagement is everything. Research has shown that the amount of time kids spend participating, on-task, with eyes on print, makes the biggest difference to their success as readers, and across content areas" (p.44). Amen, sister!

I loved strategy 2.1 A Perfect Reading Spot because it causes students to self-reflect on what's best for their needs to help them make better choices. I really think that this strategy can be used in all parts of our day, not just during reading. I mean, don't we want our kids to always be proactive in choose the best environment for themselves? Heck, yeah! I especially loved the poster where students add their names on sticky notes when they realize a preference between bright or dim lighting, noisy or quiet, hard or soft seating, and vertical or horizontal sitting.

Another strategy I thought was good for all parts of our day was 2.4 Keep Your Eyes and Mind in the Book. It's all about staying self-monitoring and staying focused. I especially loved the third bullet on the poster, "If you notice your attention shifting... rethink your book choice or rethink your environment." Of course, on the flip side, is strategy 2.13 Mind Over Matter, which I was really happy to see, because kids absolutely need to learn how to stay focused when it's a required reading, something you didn't choose but need to read for an assignment. That's a life lesson. How to work through something you don't want to do.

There were a lot of really good visuals in this goal helping readers learn how to monitor themselves for when they start to lose focus or lose comprehension. I also was able to make a lot of connections to real world applications in many of the strategies throughout this goal.

Anyway, it's a great read so far. I love the ideas and am excited to get into the next goals to see what Serravallo has up her sleeve. I'm sure it'll be good!

And Crystal, thanks for hosting this book study!

Happy reading, 

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Friday, June 24

Midwest Tribe Meet-Up

I attended a meet-up today with other teachers from the Midwest. It was really great! 

We met at Bravo!, a delicious Italian restaurant. It was so lovely getting to meet with this group of ladies and talk about teaching and their TPT experiences. 

One teacher shared about how the first two years she was on TPT she didn't really work to make her store succeed. That's been me the last two and a half years. I haven't had the time, or rather, I haven't taken the time to really create a plan to help my store be successful. I want that. I love creating products out of things I've made for my own classroom. I just haven't made my store a priority. 

I liked the advice given to focus on one social media outlet to advertise. I currently advertise on zero platforms, so I think I'll give Pinterest a try. I wonder if most people create a separate account to do their advertising. I liked the advice to stagger your pins because if it's just a blast of product pins, people will ignore them. There was also advice to pin other people's products, too.

I also came to the conclusion that maybe I should create a brand name, something catchy. My store has just been called Mrs Jones since it began in 2013. In the beginning, I liked the anonymity, and I didn't think much of anything would come from the adventure I was talked into, but I think maybe I should change the store name. I wonder how that will affect everything I already have set up. 

My husband and I had a brainstorm session on our date night tonight. I'll keep thinking about it over the next few days, and hopefully I can nail something down before July 1. Really, sooner would be better! 

Finally, I really liked what was shared about product covers, because I know when I go shopping on TPT, the product cover {sometimes} makes or breaks whether or not I'm going to click to see the product description or the preview. I need to take time to go back through some of my original products, recreate them on PPT, and make a more attractive cover. Sometimes, I admit, I spend just as much time on the cover as the rest of the product. 

I really enjoyed this meet-up, seeing a familiar face from the meet-up I attended a couple years ago, and having some great conversations. I can't wait until the next one. 

Thursday, June 23

Space Day 12

This week has been interesting. I have a completely new group of kids each hour, so some activities have been the same as before, but I have also included some new activities. 

On Monday, for instance, we made sundials. We used a clock printable, decorated it, and glued it on a paper plate. Then, I poked a hole in the middle. The kids put a Popsicle stick in the hole, we laid it on the ground, and, by golly, it worked... for the first two groups. The shadow pointed to the correct time when the 12 was facing North. In the third group, though, the shadow was an hour off. I could not figure out why...


Tuesday, we made the string of planets I have already shared. Yesterday, we made the pneumonic device My very excited mother just served us nachos. and did the Earth painting where we squish and twist globs of blue and green paint. 

Today, we explored the Earth some more. We learned about the layers inside the crust with this really cool picture. We started by making a picture of the Earth. Then we glued our layers together for inside the Earth. Finally, we put our two pictures together on a black piece of paper, labeled the layers, and added some stars on the background. You probably can't tell, but there's a flap sticking up out of the picture. 

The kids did a great job with putting their project together and knowing each of the layers. 

I sure am thankful for a three day weekend! I secretly miss my groups from the first two weeks and wish I could have them back. Tomorrow will be a busy but great day, so hopefully I remember to come back and write about it. 


Saturday, June 18

Space Week 2 Pinterest Inspirations

Yesterday, I ended up attending a job interview instead of Summer Academy, but luckily, I had a kind colleague who was willing to take my three groups of kids.

Today, I wanted to share where my ideas came from this week. As usual, click on the pictures to go to the site.

Our pneumonic device was a free product from TeachersPayTeachers. This was such a great thing and really helped some of the kids because they would point to the underlined letter and name the planet. When I printed this, though, I printed them so that they were just half the page, a smaller version.

This project took us two days. We painted one day and cut and put the picture together on the second day. I loved how each kids' pictures looked different based on their paint dots and how they twisted the plate. It really is a neat project.

Space slime sure was a hit this week! This was so much easier to make than I thought it would be. Most of the ingredients I added, but the kids started it with the glue bottles and stirred away throughout. I would definitely do this again with my students.

We made our own constellations this week. First, I had the kids draw a picture. Then I gave them a row of star stickers to put somewhere on their pictures. I also gave them a special glittery star because we learned that each of the constellations usually has a brighter star nearby or as a part of the constellation which helps us identify it.

On Thursday, if I had been at school and not at an interview, we would have made astronaut pudding. Not to worry, we'll still make it later on, but I wanted to provide you with the link anyway.

Have a good weekend.

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Wednesday, June 15

Space Day 7

We learned about constellations today. Constellations are groups of stars that form a picture. We learned about some of the constellations in the sky and how because of the Earth's rotation we only see the constellations during specific seasons. I learned that the Big Dipper is called the Plough in England and the Wagon in Germany. We also learned that astronomers use the constellations to find stars in the sky. 

Our activity today was creating our own constellation. The kids did a great job and some of them were very creative! 

Tomorrow is astronaut day. It'll be a favorite, for sure. We'll be making a delicious treat, watching some videos of the astronauts in the space station and possibly making one more craft. Cheers to the last day of my work week tomorrow! 

Tuesday, June 14

Space Day 6

We finished our Earth pictures today. We cut out our Earth circles. We glued them onto black construction paper. We added some stars for some extra glitter and sparkle. I thought they turned out great. 

We also made space slime. Most of the kids loved the ooey, gooey slime. 

We started with emptying a glue bottle into a bowl. Then I poured in a layer of glitter. The kids stirred it well with a Popsicle stick. Then, I slowly added capfuls of liquid starch as the kids stirred. 

After 3 or 4 capfuls, the kids switched to using their hands to knead the slime. I added 1 or 2 more capfuls of starch until it wasn't sticky or stringy anymore. 

My first group loved watching it slowly stretch down to the table, and later down to the floor, it was so stretchy. It wasn't as messy as I thought it might be. Once there was enough starch in the bowl, it was an easy clean up. Any goo left in the bowls easily washed out. 


The glitter was supposed to be stars because our topic today was stars. 

I started my grad class reading for this term. One of the books is called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It's been an interesting read so far. I have read about the author's experience of living in a hospital for several weeks after burning herself on the stovetop while fixing herself some hot dogs, living in the desert, and shuffling around to too many "homes" to remember before the age of six. What an immensely loyal family, though! I'm anxious to read about their next adventure and eventually read how she broke the cycle of living in poverty. 

Monday, June 13

Space Day 5

We worked on learning the order of the planets today. When I was little, I learned My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, but there is no pizza anymore. Poor Pluto. So, this pneumonic device from Teachers Pay Teachers was very helpful for the kids, though I will always use the pizza sentence.

Some of the kids were able to point to the words in the sentence and tell me the planets in order by the end of our time today. Aren't pneumonic devices awesome! I should definitely use them more. One of the older girls was sharing with me the ones shed learned in music this year, the same ones I learned, interestingly enough. Every Good Boy Does Fine and FACE.

We also began our Earth paintings today. We squirted paint drops on the back of our paper plates. We dripped 4 green drops and 6 blue drops because Earth is mostly water. The kids, even the little ones, all did pretty well with controlling the size of their drops. We squished it down onto a bigger paper plate, spun the little plate a bit, and lifted them up to reveal the Earth. 


As usual, I really love how everyone's painting is different depending on the size and location of their drips. I did have a few kids that twisted their plates too much, but that's just the way it goes. 

We'll finish them tomorrow, after they've had some time to dry, and I know they'll look great. I'll post some finished pictures. 

I really love the kids' enthusiasm for our space class. They are excited to see me and find out what we'll be doing. Cheers to a great start to week 2!