Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Read Aloud Linky Party

Hey guys...

I thought I would join Tracey at The Teacher's Chair for a linky that is close to my heart ...beginning of the year read alouds!

Those of you that know me...well, the hardest part is to not drop a ton of book titles here.

Hahaha...let's see..here are just a few faves..


I always start the first day of school with this cutie patootie from Melanie Watt!

My goal every year is to create a fun and safe place to learn, a place where every student is comfortable enough to step out into the unknown - something that cute little Scaredy Squirrel is just too afraid to do.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts
This is always a student favorite (a teacher favorite too, but they all are it seems lol.) There is something silly and lighthearted about Scaredy Squirrel and his minute by minute schedule and list of fears. My kiddos are eager to find out if Scaredy will make it out of his tree. We refer back to Scaredy often as we talk about taking risks and being comfortable with our choices. Scaredy becomes our poster child for stepping outside our comfort zone and trying new things.

I also read another fun favorite of mine, Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. This is another of my just "put a smile" on their face stories. Even though we giggled along with it, we will come back and revisit this when we talk about different kinds of endings in our own writing. This is always a surprise ending for the kiddos, and it cracks me up to see those gaping smiles every time. 

As we continue to build a safe place to grow and learn from each other, this book is a MUST! The fact that it is illustrated by David Catrow only helps. I love anything illustrated by Mr. Catrow and usually will buy it without even reading it. There are a few of his that I will share early on, but let's start with Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell.

I feel like I say, "This is such a sweet story," so often, but this is really a sweet story! Not sure of how many other ways to say it. Molly Lou Melon is a precious character who is not afraid to be just that, her very own character. In our room it is perfectly fine to be different; that is what makes us special, and we will revel our differences and use them to help each other in every way possible! 

"Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you."

This next one is a new one for me....I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira! Holy Cow...I couldn't get my own copy in my hands quick enough.  

Any..who....I must tell you about this precious story. Again, another awesome look at characters and common themes! I cannot say enough how much you will fall in love with this precious pink pig as he tries to win the hearts of a frog family that was firmly attached to their pond! In the end, the old wise beetle opens their eyes to the simple truth to their questions...who is he...what does he want?

The illustrations by Poly Bernatene are pure magic! I have spoke of him before in this previous post. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of his amazing work!

Just look at those frogs...LOL

It does not get any better than listening to a little wit and wisdom from Grandma Dowdel! A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck is a book that I read early each year because without a doubt, we will refer back to it all year long! Grandma is such an amazing showcase of character traits, and the story is littered with figurative language! I usually have students won over with the first chapter, and I can also promise you the minute I read the last page, students are clamoring for the next book! Who would want to miss that? 

I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Peck at the Arkansas Reading Conference. "Giddy book nerd" does not even begin to describe what I looked like in line waiting to meet him, but what fun! I would just love to sit down and pick his brain for a while; such amazing talents he shares with his stories and unique characters!

Special day for me! LOVE me some Richard Peck :)

Like I said, I could go on and on...These are just a few of my faves, and those of you that have been with me from the beginning are probably familiar with them. If you have just started following me, well I am sure that you will see them again; hopefully with lots of new ones added!Happy reading, friends.

I just saw that Looney's Lit Blog is hosting a Wild About Read Alouds Linky...Deanne at First Grade and Fabulous is hosting a Picture Books for the First Week of School Linky and Jennifer at Elementary School Garden is hosting a Back to School Read Alouds Linky! How perfect... so I thought I would join in the fun!

Be sure to stop by their corners of the blogging world!


Looks like everyone is thinking about all the wonderful read alouds for the beginning of the year!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshots

Happy Saturday friends...

My day started off very lazy as Mr. Dunn and I tried to catch up on some pretty serious zzzzz's we've been missing out on.

But all good things must come to an end, and we had to get up and get moving...too many things to do!! I managed to pull myself out of my comfy bed to run errands and do a bit of work in the classroom.

Tonight I am joining Miss Nelson for her Saturday Snapshots while I've got a bit of Saturday left. :)

Earlier this week, I was going through some old papers and found this note from Katie Byrd...I had to text it to her just to remind her, haha....You can't see it, but in the corner she had written "you're my idol"....ahhh...the good old days!

This week has been full of pet drama and so much worry...(hence the lack of sleep.) Joshua thought his new baby girl swallowed a penny which can be very dangerous for a little one because of zinc poisoning. We had a few worried days waiting for the penny to make its appearance, and when it didn't, we had to get X-rays....here he is waiting for the news...all turned out well.

Our next pet worry was the worst ever...our sweet boy Clancy was in an accident and as a result he had to lose one of his eyes. It was very traumatic for all involved (again, much lack of sleep)...but when we went to pick up our sweet little pirate, as we are calling him now, he wagged his tail as if nothing ever happened. The vet said I was probably more traumatized than he will be. I sure love this sweet boy and am so relieved to have him home on the mend!

I swear he looks happy regardless...little angel!

When I stopped by my classroom today, I found a note on my desk from my crazy flamingo friend Vicki ...she had borrowed my room to do some tutoring while her neck of the woods was being waxed. After working for a bit, I started noticing Post It notes like this all around the room. Sure made me smile after such a stressful week - I just love my flamingo friends!

She  is ready for some beach time! Me, too!!!!

No particular reason for adding this one other than I think it is pretty :)

Flamingos and Butterflies

Joshua and I made it out for a very southern (aka amazingly fattening and yummy) breakfast. 

Found another pic of one of my murals...really makes me want to find the time to paint again! 

This was our local news...can you believe?!...poisonous MEETballs? REALLY?! LOL...can't wait to share this one with my new kiddos when we hit this set of homophones....

That's it for me! Be sure to stop by Miss Nelsons and check out all the other Saturday Snapshots!

Happy Reading, friends!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Workshop Wednesday and Liebster...again :)

Wow...so many linky parties this summer!

I don't even know where to start! I have had so much fun blog hopping and have grabbed up so many great ideas for this upcoming year.

Today I am linking up with fellow fourth grade teacher Jivey at Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday. Link up to tell what tools and resources you need for Reading, Writing, and Math Workshop Set-Ups for Wednesday in July!

Just one guess to which workshops I want to get ready for...LOL

For Reading Workshop...I spoke about my go-to book yesterday...I could not do all that I do in my reading block without this wonderful resource. It is a very easy read, but it is so powerful at the same time! I refer to it often! I also refer my friends to it often, and I am sure they are tired of it. LOL....I am kind of a Donalyn Miller stalker.

One my favorite points from her book..."...but focusing on test scores or the numbers of books my students read does not tell the whole story. It does not tell half the story. You see my students are not just strong, capable readers; they love books and reading. Building lifelong readers has to start here. Anyone that calls herself or himself a reader will tell you it starts with encountering great books, heartfelt recommendations and a community that shares this passion."

How can you not LOVE that! I cannot wait for our "book frenzy" those first few days of school as we plow through baskets looking for just the right book or two or three...

The next book that I revisit at the beginning of each year is The Daily 5  by "the sisters." Again, another very easy read, but one that has been just as crucial in my helping me be more reflective and truly look at what is important for my kiddos! 

Well...every year...that is where I start for my Reading Workshop. 

Now...on to Writing Workshop.

Again, yesterday I mentioned two of my faves in the writing world...

I could not begin planning my writing lessons without these two gentlemen, Jeff Anderson and Barry LaneMechanically Inclined is my grammar-go-to! LOVE it...I cannot tell you how many days I have this book opened right next to my lesson plan book. Hooked on Meaning is my content/style-go-to! Some of my favorite writing lessons each year come from this wonderful book with CD. 


One book that I did not mention yesterday is one that is never far in that first few weeks of school....

Launching the Writing Workshop by Denise Leograndis. I am such a visual person that this step-by-step guide in photographs was so important for me. Over the years, I have tweaked her ideas and mentor texts suggestions to make them my own, but I promise you...this one has been a huge influence on my teaching. 


A Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher and Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner are my next steps in planning my workshops. Having notebook examples ready to go is also a must!

That's all I have for now....when I get back in my room, I can add more pics of all that I do to get ready to launch my Reading and Writing Workshops. Like all of you, I know the list can go on and on!

I have to give another thanks for being thought of for the Liebster Award...that makes 3! Thanks to Contemporary South Teacher for thinking of us.

I know you guys have been through this with me before :) so I will try to keep it very brief!

First of all check out this post and this post to see my past answers and nominees.


I just hate to not answer Contemporary South Teacher's questions since she took the time to think of us, so here goes...

1. How many years have you been teaching? This will be my ninth!
2. Have you taught more than 1 grade? If so, what's your favorite? Nope...only 4th! Whoop, whoop!
3. Why did you start a blog? I had a TeacherWeb page for a very long time, and well, I guess I just got tired of paying for it. LOL...blogging is free and honestly, it has been so much fun!
4. Where do you get most of your classroom inspiration from? Hmmm...The Book Whisperer LOL...
5. What are two qualities that you think every teacher NEEDS to have? a true love for kiddos and a passion for what they teach!
6. What is your favorite holiday and why? Thanksgiving! All the fun of family and food and no pressure to find that perfect gift!
7. If you could visit one place for an entire year, where would you go and why? Scotland! LOL....all my Outlander friends are laughing with me now. :)
8. Name somebody who provides you with encouragement. Wow...there are so many! Off the top of my head, my oldest son has always been so encouraging of almost everything I do...he is my mini-me.
9. Describe your teaching style in 5 words or less. Passionate, fun, lighthearted, caring, bookish
10. What are you most excited about for this upcoming school year? continuing to grow as a teacher especially in Responsive Classroom
11. Do you have a favorite joke? If so, share!...LOL...no jokes...do eCards count?

Eleven random facts...

1. I am the proud momma of four almost grown kiddos
2. I have been married for 20 years
3. I was in the Air Force before I became a teacher
4. I love the smell of a new book
5. I have never passed a book store without buying a picture book...or two...or three
6. I have a tattoo ~ (beach trip with the Flamingos ;)
7. I LOVE zombies...Walking Dead is the best show EVER
8. I watch way to much trashy reality T.V....I mean Big Brother? Really? Yes, please!
9. I have WAY too many pets...these 5 dogs will be the death of me
10. I hate, yes, a strong word but entirely appropriate here, folding laundry
11. I used to have time to paint, and I miss it

One of my most favorite murals..painted by ME!
Do you recognize it? It's The Great Kapok Tree!

Whew...another long one! Thanks for sticking with me! 

Happy Reading, friends!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Lists

Good morning, friends!

I am up bright and early this morning for some unknown reason...guess I'm am subconsciously getting ready to head back to school in a few short weeks. I was thinking that I cannot believe that summer has flown by so quickly, but ...well, really...it always goes by way too quickly. 

Guess I will use this burst of up-and-at-'em energy to write a quick post, then stop by the school to do some last minute work in my room.

I am excited to join Courtney at Swimming Into Second for her new linky party! She loves Top Ten Lists and wants to do a different topic each week! How stinkin' fun!

This week...Classroom Must Haves...

So here is my list....

1. While most of my list is no particular order...this first one is definitely the most important must have of all...ANYTHING Responsive Classroom...Last year was my first year to be a full responsive classroom after spending the summer before in training...and I will never go back! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE morning meetings!



2. So...speaking of Responsive Classroom...I could not function without my chime...
I use it not only for morning meetings or afternoon closings...but for almost every transition as well! 

3. YES..I know you are tired of me going on and on about my summer project...but this is definitely my NEW MUST HAVE...

This is my new mentor text library...although I do not use every single text every year...I could not live without all of these wonderful picture books and having a large variety to meet the needs of each set of kiddos each year is priceless because we all know that every year is a new challenge!

4. This may be a bit redundant, LOL, but a must have in my classroom would be my large library...I have worked very hard to build a library large enough to try and reach every reader that enters my room!

5. For me...creating a true LOVE of reading for all of my kiddos is my ultimate goal...The Book Whisperer truly inspired me to look at my teaching practices and the goals I have for my kiddos. I revisit this great read often, and I love checking out Donalyn Miller on her blog.

6.  I know it is old school but this chart stand is an absolute must have! Bringing my kiddos to the carpet to discuss and anchor with them is something we do every day! Although sometimes I find this chart stand big and clunky, I have grown to depend on it!

On the subject of anchors...when I run out of the very limited room I have to hang all of my anchors, I use this to store the anchors that I cannot bear to part with. It has two bars, so I can use one side for writing and another for reading.

7.  I have to share my new fave pen...These are the BEST erasable pens I have ever used! I am a bit obsessed with them! If you have not used these pens, you really MUST try them!

8.  As a literacy teacher, I could not begin planning my writing lessons without these two gentlemen, Jeff Anderson and Barry Lane! Mechanically Inclined is my grammar-go-to! LOVE it...I cannot tell you how many days I have this book opened right next to my lesson plan book. Hooked on Meaning is my content/style-go-to! Some of my favorite writing lessons each year come from this wonderful book with CD. 

9. Post Its, Post Its, Post Its...a very definite must have in my room...

There are so many uses for them...but this is my favorite...

I just love reading my kiddos' notebooks with all of their Post It "thinkmarks!"

10.  This next one is a simple but practical one for me...I must have these Sterilite plastic dish tubs from WalMart...I spent just a couple bucks on each one.

I use them to store a variety of books for each group...nonfiction as the priority...I love having these at their fingertips for random down time.

Well...there you have it. My Top Ten Must Haves....although I am sure I left something out, and as soon as I make it to my classroom today, I will think of a million other important things. LOL

I have also joined Fifth in the Middle for her blog lists by state...come on Arkansas bloggers! When I joined the list, there were only 11 of us, so stop by and add your blog. You can also check out some other pretty amazing southern bloggers out there! :) 

Caffeine and Lesson Plans also has a great list of blogs by grade level. Now I know just where to look to find amazing fourth grade ideas!


Be sure to stop by both of their blogs!

With that ladies and gents...I will say goodbye for now. I am heading to the classroom to get some work done!

Happy reading!

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