Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Clubs and Literature Circles

I have had a few questions about the books I have used during my book clubs.  The first thing I do before I start a book club is to round up a few book sets in the genre we are focusing on.  This can be tough since my school has a very small collection and I also have a small collection.  So I reserve book sets at the local library which I have two different counties very close so I use both.

It can be a lot of work but I love watching the kids' eyes light up when I bring the books sets into the classroom.  They get so excited so it is worth it.   I then present the class with the choices and they write down on a piece of paper or in the Google Classroom they submit a doc. I form groups and away we go.  Here is their groups from last year...

My book clubs each revolve around different genres.

Realistic Fiction: Hatchet, Stargirl,  and Bridge to Terabithia Each day we answered comprehension questions I created in our interactive notebooks.  This was a lot of work and collecting notebooks to grade.  Boo!   I do not think the kids enjoyed it as much either.  They did enjoy completing activities from a student choice board (Click here for TpT product) for the final assessment.    

Mystery - Westing Games, Bunnicula, and Library Card  I had the kids form a more formal literature circle. I used a Literature Circle Booklet with roles they completed each day and they shared the next day before they read.  I also used audio books with this book club.

Biography -I was a bit crazy here, I had each student pick out their own biography to read.  I did recommend the Who Was / Is? series but they could pick something different as long as it was a biography and they could finish it in 2 weeks.  So everyone read independently in class.  I would like to group / partner kids up this coming year.  Hmmmm maybe kids that read books on the same person could partner up to do a final project together.

Whole Class Read - The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - This book we read together right before Christmas Break.  I would put up on the Smartboard a roaring fire in a fireplace and we would read either as a class, partners or alone. Each day we would fill out a sticky note with 2 things we read and one question.  The next day we would discuss our sticky notes. They really loved this book and we did watch the movie and compared the two.  Warning the book and movie does use the word, "sex" in it.  Hmph why do the authors do that to a great book!  I may not use this next year because of that. I wonder if there is a "clean" version or better yet maybe I can White Out the word in all the books.  LOL

Historical Fiction - Number the Stars, Bud Not Buddy, and The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson I used another Literature Circle Packet on TpT this was my favorite plus it is free! I will be using this next year.

Fantasy - James and the Giant Peach - This was a whole class read at the end of the year.  This kids loved it.  Each day we read either together, partners or alone.  After they read the daily section I had them fill out a sticky note with 2 things they read about and 1 question.  This was then placed in their interactive notebook. The final project I had them do a report on their favorite characters.  Just a warning this book does have swearing in it. Why do these children authors have to have swearing in their stories?

Mythology - I assigned each group a short story (myth) in a book club format.  Here is the packet I found on TpT Greek Mythology.  It was awesome!

I also did a poetry unit and worked on close reading.  I think I forgot a few things but this is definitely the gist of each.  Here is independent reading repsonse sheets I created for next year's book clubs in my TpT store.
Available in my TpT Store

What do you do for reading?  What are your favorite books that you use in your classroom?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Struggling Readers and Book Clubs

It seems like lately all I post about on my blog is for linky parties or challenges.  I do have to say it does motivate me to write more posts especially if I get comments. But it is not the real reason I started this blog, that was to share my classroom ideas.

In my classroom, I try to motivate kids to read and to read a lot.  Practice makes perfect right?  In fourth grade it can be magical!  Just think for a lot of the kids, fourth grade is the year that they read a novel (chapter book) for the first time all by their self without Mom or Dad reading to them or with them.  It may be the first time they actual finish a novel by themselves! I know you always have those higher readers that love to read and have been reading books forever and I LOVE those kids.  But I mean the average to lower kids who struggle or just hate to read.  Now to see that light turn on to reading,  that is the reason I LOVE to teach.

Here is a few things I do during my class to motivate and support those types of readers.

1.  This is number one, I am extremely enthusiastic about reading.   I read with my classes and during independent reading.  I talk about books I am reading or my own children are reading (because I read everything my own children read) and bring them in for kids to read.  I challenge the kids to read 40 books and I also do that challenge during the school year.  I take AR quizzes with the kids on books we are reading in our book clubs or on books I have read. I read books the kids recommend to me and talk to them about those books.  I also model what good readers do, how and why I read and the variety of types of reading materials I read.

2.  I give one class period  a week totally devoted to independent reading.  I usually like to conference with the kids at that time but sometimes I also read during that time. Model, model, model! Kids learn so much by watching those around them.

3.  I have even picked a kid that is really struggling but is almost there and read a book with them.  I have the student pick a book they would like to read and I get the same book and we form a mini book club.  I let the student chose how much they will read each day and I read that section with them and the next day we discuss what happened in the story.  When it comes time to taking the AR quiz, I am right there with them taking it too. It is a trick I have used with my own children with great success.

4. During my book clubs (my version of literature circles), I have audio books that the groups take turns listening to.  I have 2 ipads and my phone which I download audio books from the library (free) or I purchase from Amazon or Audible.  Audible is a $14.95 membership that you can download one audio book per month.  The first book is free.

 Since my book clubs usually have between 4 - 6 kids I use a headphone splitter that has 5 ports that the kids can plug their ear buds into. Sometimes we have to share ear buds to get the entire book club on. The kids then listen to the section for the day while reading along.  Nothing is sweeter then hearing a group bust out laughing because of a part in their book.   Since I only have 3 devices and I usually have 4 - 6 book clubs going we take turns each day using the audio books.  The groups that are not listening to the audio book either read out load together, in partners or silently.

 The kids get very passionate about their day to listen to the audio version of their book club book.  They love it!  I have read, that listening to a book while reading it can increase comprehension by 50%.  I definitely have seen those test score increase after using audio books.

By doing this I am supporting my struggling readers without the rest of the class knowing it and for those that are below grade level they can read a more challenging text.  My fourth graders hate being treated like a baby and reading what they consider "big kids'" books I am able to boost their self confidence in the process.  I also recommend to parents to get audio books with the actual book so the kids can read at home. The trick is they need to do both, read and listen to the book at the same time.   I have seen tremendous growth in my students' Star scores.  The best part is when I hear one of my kids say, "I actually like to read now after this year!"

Next post I am going to reflect on what I am going to do new next year to up the ante in my reading classes.  I have some great ideas brewing!

Have a great week and happy reading,


Monday, June 22, 2015

Dare to Dream and Dream BIG

We are on week 2 of the TpT Seller Challenge and this week's theme is Dare to Dream.    In this challenge we are to blog about our BIG  dreams for TpT. Every time someone purchases one of my products or downloads one of my freebies I am truly humbled.  When I get that email that someone has purchased something or left feedback I am jumping up and down with excitement and also thinking, "WOW someone bought one of my products?"

 Around adults I am pretty shy and quiet until I get to know them.  So when I decided to post my first product on TpT it was way out of my comfort zone.  I am very happy I did and it is all a work in process for me  but it has totally been worth it.  I even forced myself to go to a Northeast Ohio Meet Up this last spring.  I was so happy I did!  I met some wonderful ladies and learned a thing or two.  I would definitely do it again.

Here are my BIG Dreams I would like my TpT store to help with...

Dream 1 - Ok this is not one I am very proud of but it is truthful. We are in dept up to our eyeballs due to losing my job 5 years ago due to budget cuts.  I did find another job for the following year but at a significant pay cut.  We had to put a lot of daily living on credit to make it for 4 years.  This last year I found another awesome teaching job and I am extremely thankful that it pays much better.  Now we are digging ourselves out of a very big hole.  If I could get my TpT store going, it could help pay off some of that yucky debt.

Dream 2 - After all that yucky debt is paid off (and dream 3 is on its way) I want to go to Italy with my hubby.  Both of our families are from Italy and it is a dream of ours to visit where our families came from.  Life is just too short not to follow your dreams.

Dream 3 - This dream is number 1 even though I listed it as number 3.  It is to put some money in  our savings. My  TpT store can definitely help with this dream. I just need to get out of my comfort zone and advertise / promote my products.  It is scary to think that someone could be criticizing (ripping a part) my work. It is so hard to put yourself out there.

Well I hope you have some big dreams.  I cannot wait to read about them.

Have a great night,


Monday, June 15, 2015

TpT Challenge Week 1 - Check

Okay wow is all I can say!  I decided to jump on the TpT Sellers Challenge that I started to see on Instagram.  

Oh my goodness this is totally amazing the amount of sellers jumping on board.  I love seeing all the great advice and tips.  I honestly have never been involved in anything this big.

The first step was to post a stats report.  Before and then I will do it again when this is all done.

I know pretty sad...but I am proud of where I have gotten my blog / store.  I can't wait to see if I can get those numbers up a bit more.

Then every week they give us a challenge....this week we had to make over one TpT product.  Last week I started messing around with my decomposer lab so this challenge was prefect.  So here is the before and after...

Here is the link to my TpT Store if you would like to pick it up.  Click here to purchase.

Come check out the other hosts and blogs.

Sparkling in Second Grade
Third In Hollywood
Peppy Zesty Teacherista
Teach Create Motivate

Have a great day.  I know where I am going to be.  Looking at all this greatness!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Painting, Reading, A Little Rain and A Lot of Baseball

Well my first full week of summer vacation just flew by and I did get a few things done off my summer To Do list.  Washing down my kitchen cabinets and organizing my kitchen pantry.  No where on my fun meter but they needed to be done.  Now what is really on the fun meter......linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday!  Here we go!!!!

My youngest took a one day summer painting class.  I think she did an awesome job and her smile shows how much fun she had.

I went on a reading binge and finished this book in 2 days.  I loved it and I am pretty critical about professional reads!!! I was shaking my head up and down countless times throughout thinking wow if I could get parents, my principal and other teachers to read this!  Also it gave me some inspiration for my own classroom.  Now if I could figure out a way to visit RCA, You know the old saying, "If there is a will, there is a way."  I am already thinking I have a girlfriend who lives in Atlanta!  Hmmmmmmmm

Baby chick update, they are now moved out to a temporary coop next to the big girls coop only during the day.  I am hoping this will accumulate the big girls to the chicks so hopefully there will be less feathers flying when we move the chicks into the big coop.
Today plans were ruined due to a torrential downpour.  So I went Target shopping with my oldest daughter.  Love Target and of course did not even buy what I went there to buy (stove top griddle), just everything else.  LOL
These were today's original plans, my oldest playing baseball (he is a catcher).  They were able to get  one game in of a double header. I think someone was listening to our prayers to get a rain out though since today was the 5th & 6th game of the week. Still 3 more games this weekend. UGH too many.  

I hope you are enjoying your summer off or if not there yet you are on the home stretch!  

Have a great night,

Thursday, June 4, 2015

New Year, Chicks, and Summer,

Ok I am totally in love and guess with what?  It is officially summer for me and my kiddos! YAHOO!

It was a wonderful year at my new school and I am confident that I made the right choice in changing schools last year.  I was so scared and worried.  But.....I had so much FUN with my kids and I even was able to hatch a baby chick.  Here is a picture of Julian on her birthday...

Shhhh you may notice I am using the pronoun, "her / she."  We are praying its a girl.  We won't know for a few more weeks.  Chickens are not like puppies or cats where you can just flip them over and check out those privates.  Nope they are well hidden.  LOL

Yep you do see two chicks.  Only one hatched (out of six) which is blocking the other one we bought (Tweedy Bird) to keep Julian company.  They are not the cutest right now since their big girl feathers are coming in. I did let my classes name them both.  One of the names they wanted was SHAQ!  Thank you that did not win.  LOL

Also since my time is a bit more relaxed I had to join Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her June Currently. This is my FAVORITE linky party.  So here it is...

Listening and Loving - Self explanatory:)

Thinking - Feeling a bit guilty that I have not hit the floor running with my gigantic To Do list. Oh well it will get done..right?

Wanting - I am looking for a new and inspiring prof read.  I have read quite a few lately, Teach Like A Pirate, Lighting Their Fires (summer read for school -  finished in 2 hours), Ron Clark's Essential 55 ( I so want to visit his school now), Book Whisper, Reading In The Wild.... What is your favortie professional read?  I would love some recommendations or to join a book club (something I have not tried yet).

Needing - Nothing!  Live is not easy but it is good.  I am enjoying this time in my life.

Summer Lovin" - I love to organize and purge my house during the summer.  My poor pack rat and garbage picking hubby.   He is already swearing under his breath but he does love to have his wife back if its at least for a few months.  I love to spend time with my family and we do with all the traveling we do with baseball and soccer.  Also love to do crafty things around the house.  I just have to pick one of many to start.  Maybe paint the front door a bright cheery color.

I hope you are out too or will be very soon.  Would love to hear from you:)