Where the Magic Happens: September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“The Chapter Book Club” Easy Chapter Books for Early and Transitional Readers {and tons of FREEBIES!!}

 
Hello everyone!
. I am just starting my 3 week fall break in the company of my boys and my beautiful family who came to visit from out of town.
As the first quarter of school came to an end, I had many meetings with my students’ parents regarding their present levels, needs, strengths, etc.  There are a couple of questions that usually come up in most conferences:

What kind of easy chapter books can I read with my child at home?
What kind of books in my child’s reading level can I get from the public library?

I always begin by explaining parents that hooking a reader goes beyond any reading level.
It all starts with book choice and “just right” books.
I am no Donalyn Miller WHATSOEVER, but I have learned from experience that readers are motivated when they feel successful and the find their book (or text) interesting and meaningful.
I have spent the first days of my break compiling some books and series  that are classic, engaging, and perfect for those students who are itching to read more challenging text.
In my classroom, I  send the following letter to parents first. {Please click on the picture to download}
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I make a HUGE deal about it! And I encourage parents, grandparents, guardians, and caregivers to do the same!
I provide each student with a chapter book club membership card, I alert the librarian and encourage my students to display their card with pride.  I take a picture of my students and glue on the card and laminate.{click on the picture to download}
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I created the following posters to guide my student in forming book clubs, or duos, or trios. It doesn’t matter how many students are there per series or book! All that I really want is that my students are reading, and that they are reading something they like. CLICK HERE to download!
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I  laminate the posters and hang them on the wall… I am kicking myself for not having a picture. Anyways, my students write their name on the poster  of the book or series they are reading. That’s how The children keep track of their group. They meet during morning work, and during Daily 5…
I hope you enjoyed the post, until next time!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My First TpT Milestone and a FREEBIE!

Good morning everyone!
A couple of weekends ago I met my first TpT milestone.

yes, me… such a wannabe.

I have no words to thank you for all your support and trust. Every time I hear a “cha-ching” on my phone I say:
“thank you lord!”

And I truly (from my heart) wish that my product can make the life  of another teacher easier, and that such product can make a difference in the learning experience of her students.
Let me start by saying that I did not start my TpT store because I am oh-so knowledgeable and I had to share all the fantastic things that I do in my classroom.

far from the truth!

I have always been a dedicated individual who enjoys teaching and who loves her students with all of her heart. I have also worked with outstanding teachers from whom I have learned a whole lot, and who have become some of my dearest friends.
So here’s the truth:
One Sunday morning, two years ago, as I was unwillingly vacuuming my house, my vacuum cleaner broke.  I asked my Honey Graham to take a drive to the local Wal-Mart to buy an inexpensive replacement since our carpets were dirty.  He very calmly told me that we would have to make our purchase with our credit card.
I was speechless.
How could this be possible?
Don’t we have enough funds in our checking account?
But I am bilingual?
But I have a masters degree?
But I am national board certified?
But…But…But??!!
That Monday on the drive to work I felt guilty. My Honey Graham had a financial burden on his shoulders just because I loved teaching. It is no secret that we teachers do not make much. AND it is no secret that North Carolina teachers’ compensation falls way below the national average.
This is why I started my Teachers Pay Teachers store:   so I could afford to continue teaching without feeling guilty about it. Teaching makes me happy AND I REFUSE TO QUIT IN SPITE OF THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA.
Because of my TpT store:
  • I can dream again!
  • I have  had no choice but to become the teacher I never thought possible! My Blog is a window to my classroom and I want to show my readers the best, so that they can duplicate in their own classrooms.
  • I am fully aware of current education research and approaches.
  • More importantly: It is the first time in my teaching career, that my effort is reflected in my income.
So yes, I initially I needed to be more financially stable. But now, now I know that I have a lot to offer and I work very hard at creating products that:
  • are engaging
  • are based on valid, current research
  • meet students needs and enhance their strengths
  • are aligned to the curriculum
  • target more than one skill. I truly believe that teachers should work smarter, not harder!
You might say: But how does she do it? Where does she find the time?
Very simple:

I do:
  • work/create when my boys go to bed, after they are fed, read to, their homework is done, and lunches are packed.
  • I also hired a cleaning lady. She comes twice a month and  keeps me sane.
  • network with other awesome bloggers like Krista from Teaching Momster, Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching, and Marie from The Literacy Spot.  {Among others!}
  • take  a lot of pictures in my classroom. You never know when a “bloggable” moment might happen.
  • respect my family time.
  • have very high standards for myself and I keep very strict goals on a monthly basis.
  • go to bed late on most nights.
  • rest when I am tired.
  • read a lot of literacy and math related material. My Amazon wish list is bigger than the state of Texas.
  • drink a glass of wine every now and then.
  • go for runs. They help me clear my mind!
  • cook a nice meal for my family on most days.
  • Read a lot about promotion, design, and social media.
  • have a very supportive husband!
  • Pray everyday

I don’t:
  • waste time.
  • procrastinate
  • clean my bathrooms
  • pick up after my children
  • stress over things I cannot control.
  • eat junk food
  • keep negative people in my life
Why Am I telling you all this?

I am telling you this because I hope that my words can encourage you to become a teacherpreneur. There is nothing wrong in making an extra buck or 20K!    Everyone loves their neighborhood teacher, and sometimes when I speak of my passion for my profession, I can sense the look of "pity" in other people's faces. It is almost like our destiny is sealed. Oh well... thanks to Mr. Paul Edelman and his genius TpT team, we have a choice. THANK YOU!!
 We teachers also have dreams! 
We dream of being able to pay for our own children's higher education.
We dream of paying off our student loans.
We dream of a dignifying future for our golden years. 
There is nothing wrong with that! 

 If you think that you are not good enough, or that you don’t have what it takes to start your own TpT store… You are wrong!

The magic doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. I promise!

If you are ever interested in starting your own store, you may use my affiliate link:


YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!!

Oh Snap, I almost forgot! As a token of my appreciation for all your support and trust, this awesome product will be free until September 27th, 2015!  Enjoy!
Click on the link to get it (for a limited time) from my TpT store!!

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Thankfully yours,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Reading Strategies Book Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading and a ton of FREEBIES!

I am beyond excited to write this blog post today. I was very humbled and honored to be able to join the beautiful {she is gorgeous and has perfect curls!} Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals and the #ReadingStrategiesCrew in this book study.  The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo is  an invaluable resource  that has enriched my knowledge and that I have already started implementing in my own classroom this year.  Every single time that I sit to plan a whole group lesson, a strategy lesson, or an individual conference, I have this book by my side. I have no doubt that this resource will enhance the way I exercise responsive teaching with all the firsties  in room 208.

book study topper for Read Strat gals

I am also thrilled to be writing about a goal that is dear to my heart. A goal that is gaining attention nationwide, and that for us, North Carolina teachers, is crucial: “Improving Writing About Reading”


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Research has begun to point to the strong relationship between reading and writing. When a student is engaged in making meaning from text, they use writing as a process to comprehend, to problem solve, organize information, and internalize what they are reading. In addition, when writing is incorporated as a tool for comprehension, students begin to use what they know about orthographic and syntactic structures. Writing becomes a way to process thinking similar to using think aloud strategies.




Writing in response to reading should be taught explicitly and systematically so that instruction scaffolds to support struggling readers. Modeling is an important component of that support. Through teacher modeling in small group activities students learn a process they can apply in their own writing. This includes shared writing activities that involve the teacher working with students in response to challenging text.


What I love the most, and find most useful, is that Ms. Serravallo outlines all the focus lessons (skills) needed to build up and achieve mastery of each strategy (goals).  {Just in case you are wondering, that is me in the picture. Photography by Megan Hsu - Best photographer in the Cape Fear Region and my dear friend!-  and Arbonne make up and skin care}
This is what each page might look like.
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These are the strategies, skills, guided reading levels, and genres/text types outlined for goal 13:


strategies at a glance

Today I will write a bit about three strategies.

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 Transitioning from Sentence to Sentence
In this strategy the teacher helps her students see the connection between two sentences they want to write. This strategy will enhance our students ability  to write longer pieces and expand their thinking. This strategy is particularly important when students are learning to construct written retellings. By helping students see the purpose of their writing, the will be able to use connecting words that will add to sentence fluency. This skill is recommended for GR levels G and above,  and can be used with any genres or text types.

focusstrategytwo
What’s Worth Keeping
I loved this strategy because Ms. Serravallo gives us the “recipe” for determining importance. It goes like this {click on picture to download the poster}
whatsworthkeeping


Ms. Serravallo recommends this strategy for GR levels L and above and it  can be use with any genre.

focusstrategythree
Five Sentence Summary
In this strategy, students determine the most  important events in the order they happened. They use the fingers of their hand and write one sentence per event. Retelling and summarizing deserve a lot of importance, I wrote about it earlier this year. You can read the “retelling” blog post HERE. Ms. Serravallo recommends that this strategy be used with students reading at a level M or above and with nonfiction only.

Classroom Implications

How  have I transformed Ms. Serravallo’s masterpiece into classroom instruction?
Let me show you:
I changed my CAFÉ board for a SAFER one.  SAFER is an acronym just like CAFÉ. You can click on the picture to download the posters.
SAFER board

Ms. Serravallo’s strategies and skills go way deeper than the ones I have used in the past. My strategies board needed a makeover.  These are the posters in my SAFER board and my explanation of what they mean.

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During the literacy block I do not want to limit my students writing to written responses only. I want them to apply what they have learned in the writer’s workshop during their  “work on writing” time as well. I also want them writing across the curriculum in science and social studies …after all, our standards call for a stronger focus on nonfiction.
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We all know that our emergent readers need to develop strategic reading behaviors in this area. So not much change here!

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Because a fluent reader is more than “so many words per minute.”
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I want my strategies board to be comprehensive, and not only cover vocabulary but also, language skills as well.
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Comprehension is more than understanding. Comprehension is thinking! Comprehension is interaction! Comprehension is LOVING WHAT YOU READ!
These are some pictures of the SAFER board in action:
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Because writing about reading is very important in my state, I have also had to be very intentional about it. Last week, I developed these posters and bookmarks for my own firsties. They were a huge hit with the teachers in my grade level, my instructional coach, and my BFL Marie from The Literacy Spot. So I decided to treat you all  with a forever freebie in my TpT store! Click on the picture to download!!

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I have been trying to figure out a way to help my students remember the steps when writing from evidence. So far these posters {there are also bookmarks in black and white!} have provided the scaffold my students need! I hope you download them… more importantly, I hope your students rock their written responses like never before!


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One Last Thing

Dear Ms. Serravallo,
I hope you know that the countless hours that you have  spent developing this book, are validated by the millions of students that will be impacted by your research.  Thank you! From the bottom of our hearts… your outstanding resource is 50 shades of awesome. 

Last but not least,  and even though my blog post closes this book study, I wanted to leave you with the schedule of blog posts.
The Reading Strategies Book Schedule

Thank you for reading and following!
Yours in teaching,

Monday, September 7, 2015

LaborLESS Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Hello everyone!
ARE YOU REAAADDDY!!!

Main Graphic Laborless

It is Finally here!


Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!
All of us have been thinking about  good ways in which to treat our readers and followers.   We thought hard, and I mean it! Really, really hard… and decided that  we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter rather than harder… at school and home!
I know what it takes to be a great teacher, the stress, the time, the energy… I could go on and on! I also know that we crave time to ourselves and our families.

So here I go!

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There is a time in my classroom that deserves a lot of  respect and care... yep... my guided reading time. I guard my guided reading small groups with my light saber and my Jedi force.  Why?!?!?! Because if I do not conduct my guided reading groups, how are my students going to make progress? Every year I spent countless hours with my data, trying to organize my students and  strive to provide an optimal learning environment. But, how about the materials? Well, if you ask me this is kind of important. Keeping my materials organized saves me a lot of time and stress.

 Take a peek:


Having my materials organized and ready makes my life SO much easier! 





Keeping track, taking anecdotal notes, and running records on a weekly basis provides me with the opportunity to conduct formative assessment, which is essential for reading development.



Bins with materials per reading level. The baskets and groups change CONSTANTLY!



This is what goes inside the baskets. This is for a F&P guided reading level  G. Things inside the baskets are different... and I follow Jan Richardson's approach religiously!


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Well... what else? My boys are my best therapy!




I also LOVE to spend my evenings pampering myself with Arbonne! Curious about being healthy, relaxed, and fabulous? CLICK HERE!








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Hands down My Main Idea and details close reading strategy pack is my best time saver so far. Very low prep, great content, text dependent questions, comprehension through writing, standards based. I mean... just look!



Top all these great tips and ideas  with these top-notch prizes!

A $100 gift card to Amazon


A $50 gift card to TpT

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2 $25 gift cards to TpT
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1 $10 gift card to TpT
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Thank you for reading! And now don't be silly and get your hands all over this awesome giveaway!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway