It's almost back to school. When this year rolls around, I always picture that commercial where the kids are glumly following their dad through the store as he skips merrily through the aisles, dumping in their school supplies. The announcer cries, "It's that time again! Back to school!"
There's a missing piece to this commercial. It's the teachers, also at the store, frantically cramming things into their carts. Things that will make more work for them. Chevron paper to cut letters out of, and ribbon to make bunting. Baskets and spray paint because the color doesn't quite match your decor.
And then we race to school on our days off and spend hours sweating in the non-air conditioned room, cleaning and painting, stapling and glueing.
Having nightmares about the first day. I recently had one that my principal had moved me to kindergarten, but hadn't told me until the first day of school! All the kinders were sweet but I had no clue what I was doing. To make matters worse, I was still the Literacy Leader, part-time. So I spent all morning running back and forth from my room to my new classroom, teaching for a few minutes, and then coaching for a few minutes, racing down the hallways in a school the size of a mall. It was not a nice dream.
That's the real back to school.
Anyway, I've had a lot of questions about Reader's Workshop. Especially from teachers who are moving from kinder or first to fourth or fifth grade! Tto help you roll out your back to school Reader's Workshop, the next few weeks are going to be full of Reader's Workshop tips & tools for you!
I'm starting it off with a Reader's Workshop MiniSeries. It'll run from August 3-17 and include Teacher Tips and Freebies!
This summer, I spent a lot of time thinking about what tools would help a teacher new to teaching, or new to teaching reading. We're going to have several of these on our campus next year, and I know that reading can be overwhelming.
I don't know about anyone else, but when I think about reading, it almost seems like there are so many options, that I have a very hard time choosing what to focus on. It's true that you can only do a few things well and once we start to throw in everything, quality and consistency suffers.
This is why I put together my Rolling Out Reader's Workshop Pack. To provide materials and tools that teachers can use to get their Reader's Workshop rolling.
Starting August 3rd, I'll be sharing Reader's Workshop ideas, sources, and pieces of my Rolling Out Reader's Workshop pack with you as freebies and tips.
So I keep staring at my laptop, thinking I will have ideas... but I don't. I'm completely preoccupied with wedding stuff and have spent the last three days driving from one end of town to the other, trying to find the items we need to rent for our October wedding.
I have it in my head that, once school starts, I will not have a spare minute to spend on wedding. This is happening around August 1 - we have a reading camp and grade levels are coming in to plan for the year. This is exciting and a great idea, but I know that the more time I spend at school, the less time I spend on the wedding and the more likely I become a BRIDEZILLA!
I'm not one yet, I've been told... but it could happen at any moment.
Anyway, I thought that, as people are getting their rooms ready for school, Reader's and Writer's Workshop are great blogging topics. And the best part is...
I already blogged about it, back on August 25, 2012. So here's my Throwback Thursday Post: Must-Have Materials for Reader's and Writer's Workshop!
As soon as I saw Lindsay's Linky Party, I knew I had to link up. The problem was I have been a little braindead when I get home. It's like the hamster in there is so exhausted from running all day that he just keels over and zonks out for hours at at time. Don't ask me questions after 6:00. My answers don't make any sense.
But I definitely had to link up with Lindsay's Linky Party, and I just needed to wait until my brain worked well enough to do it
I Looooooooooove Reader's and Writer's Workshop. To be honest, my Writer's Workshop is a modified version - I find that students need smaller chunks of independence and so I spend more time on a ping-pong instructional method than WW allows for, but I love the ideals.
Now, be prepared. This next section is a teacher's nightmare.
One year, my whole campus was contaminated with mold. Seriously. Mold. The swamp coolers (lame excuses for air conditioners) stopped working and it rained. A lot. Considering we live in a desert. The library, full of lovely books, became a swamp, and we lost everything in that library. Everything.
They had to throw out all the books.
Isn't that awful? ALL THE BOOKS! IN THE LIBRARY! HAD TO BE THROWN AWAY BECAUSE OF MOLD!!!
Holy cow, right?!
Because our campus was full of old, and therefore, uninhabitable, we were displaced. Without our stuff. Three weeks before school started, they said, "Guess what! You're going to be shipped across the city. Every day your kids will ride the bus for half an hour - all of them - and sometimes, you will ride the bus, too, to monitor the kids!
Also, you won't have access to your stuff! All your classrooms are being sifted through and we are throwing away things we think are contaminated with mold!
But you better meet accountability.
So we started the year in an old building no longer used as a school. We rode the bus for a week out of every four weeks. And that was pretty awful.
The word essentials took on a new meaning for me, because that was all I could afford to buy. Again. And pray they didn't throw our stuff out. Which they sometimes did.
This is what I considered to be essential:
A well-stocked and engaging classroom library is necessary for kids to make good book choices and learn to read independently. I tried to have books at a variety of levels to match my readers at a variety of levels. Series books always seem like a good addition to the classroom library because the kids can get hooked and then you've got a reader. Nonfiction is always great (and necessary) too.
New model mini-library in my new room.
Nonfiction shelf with book display on top.
This was a nonfiction nook I had several years ago. Loved it.
I use a lot of chart paper. I chart everything. Once my hunny came into my classroom and was asking about things on the walls. "They look useful," he said. I said, "They're supposed to be." He thought it was interesting that everything was in my handwriting - I don't use pre-made posters very often because I think that kids look at them, say, "Oh, that's nice," and then forget. I chart everything out with the kids during my lessons and then very occasionally I'd use a nicer version, if I thought it could do the same job.
These are some reading and writing charts through the years. Oh, how things change but how they don't, too.
These are the sample charts I have in my room now as a literacy leader. Exciting to share with teachers!
Guided Reading Binder, Table, and Tools
I did a whole post a while back on guided reading and how important this structure is to me. My guided reading binder documents all of the work I've done with students and is a great source for a number of things. You can check that post out here.
-Planning future instruction
-Demonstrating to students and parents how their child has grown
-Supporting the RtI process
-Asking for help from support staff by showing evidence
Last year's guided reading setup
This year's guided reading setup
I use mentor texts for both reading and writing instruction. Our mentor texts become our buddies in reading and writing, and we try to connect everything we do back to the texts.
These are some of my favorites.
Click here and here for a post about Tomie DePaola's books.
Click here for a post about using In November.
Reader's and Writer's Notebooks
Students have to write about their thinking and they have to try things in writing. We use our notebooks constantly and I've had students fill up one spiral and need another.
Included in this free packet is a sample cover for a Reader's Notebook.
Clipart from KPM Doodles and FrogSpot From the Pond
Fonts from Kevin and Amanda and Hello Literacy
And last, but not least, Post-Its!
Big ones, little ones, yellow ones, pink ones, all varieties!
We use them to mark our thinking in our books: shared reading and independent reading.
So go check out the linky party to get some great ideas for growing your reader's and writer's workshops!
So lately I've kind of been snowed under with all of this work I've been doing for my new product: Rolling Out Reader's Workshop for grades 3-5. But I also have several other items on my list to accomplish today, including reading some articles for an inservice I have tomorrow, cleaning, and paying some bills.
This, of course, means that I am looking for other things to do so I do not have to do those things I just mentioned. And I found the perfect one!
I was browsing through some blogs the other day, and came across this graphic.
Oh, yes. I can participate.
I have piles of piles. I have piles upon piles that have been created to disguise piles of other piles. My StUfF is piled on top of other sTuFf and it's giving me anxiety.
I hate walking by these piles. Because these piles all represent
- Things I am supposed to do
- Things I can't do yet because I'm waiting for another thing
- Things I already started but haven't finished
- Things I started but can't finish unless school starts and/or I get married
This is because I have two kinds of piles. As I was wandering around the house with my phone, snapping pile pictures, I began to realizes... I don't just have SCHOOL piles. I have WEDDING piles and piles and piles!
I have a whole room piled full of wedding piles!
I hate my anxiety-causing piles.
I am a lover of "a place for everything, and everything in its place." These piles have taken over places where nothing should be. I am pretending I want them there.
Let's start with the tour.
Near my front door, in a high-visibility spot, I keep my school bag. Inside of this bag are items (documents, papers, articles) that I intend to take to school with me. Stacked artistically on top is a bag of Office Depot stuff I bought two weeks ago, ready for the first week in August!
Inside of this Office Dept bag are my purchases: A new notebook and a new calendar. I love technology, but when it comes to note-taking and date-keeping, I am surprisingly simple. I need to be able to flip. I also like notebooks small enough to fit in my purse, and the covers should be bendy without creasing.
To find the right notebook is kind of holy-grail-ish, so when I found it, I bought and put it in a place I can't miss it. Neither can anyone else.
I also keep my gift mug here; a gift from one of my teachers that I want to take with me when school starts. I find it creates a homey atmosphere.
This pile is new, especially embarrassing, and was not created by me.
It is an enormous Smucker's box full of crap. It is from my brother and sister-in-law. They are extreme couponers. Need I say more? At least this pile is contained in a box. Unfortunately, this box has crayons somewhere deep inside, so I can't put it in the garage. It is in my den. Lovely.
On my dining room table, I have another set of piles. This is a pile of books to read. I have read exactly 1/3 of each of these books.
This is a pile of sample anchor charts I made for a my never-ending Reader's Workshop product. I'm going to take them to school to put in my room (I'm the Literacy Coach) as ideas for the teachers. It's taking up half of my dining room table.
This is a mini-pile of pop tabs. My school collects them for the Ronald McDonald house, and I've chosen to keep them in this aesthetically pleasing spot.
Also being collected are more bottle tops for my teachers. They're using them to make letter manipulatives and don't they look lovely in that antique ice-cream dish? Really finishes off the look, I think.
These are wedding piles. These are much worse.
My entire guest bedroom is heaping with boxes full of things I'm saving to work on for the wedding
And things I've already worked on. I have about 100 glass jars, about half of them wedding-ready and half nowhere close.
My craft supplies are strewn in bags.
I've got empty wine bottles and piles of fabric.
I even found a mini-pile of jars by the kitchen sink.
I've rinsed them but now I need to figure out how to remove that label!! (The sticky ones are the worst)
My piles are embarrassing. They're downright shameful. They're not even all hidden from the casual observer, although I do slam the guest bedroom door shut as soon as the doorbell rings. That's the least I can do to HIDE MY PILES!