Monday, July 28, 2014

Must Have for Back to School: Trashy Crafter Book Bracelets


Well, back to school is just around the corner.  I feel like I've been preparing for fall all summer!!  I bet many of you feel the same way.  I've had some relaxation, but not nearly enough.  My daughter's swim teacher mentioned to me that we need two summers, one for relaxing and one for getting things done.  Maybe we just live in the wrong place! Southern California or Florida were seeming like really nice places to be!


Thinking of heading back to school means not only getting the classroom and lesson plans ready, but you need to get yourself ready too.  New clothes and accessories are usually on that list.  I was recently introduced to Kim of Trashy Crafter who makes darling bracelets from old books.  There isn't a better accessory for a hip teacher than a bracelet made from her favorite book.


Kim sent my bracelet set right away in this darling packaging from an old map.  It's a map of Texas, I know you wanted to know!  Inside, was the set packaged as you see above.  The back gave me a few directions about care for the bracelet. 



I chose to get a bracelet set made from the pages of Winnie the Pooh.  It's my favorite book from my childhood.  A.A. Milne had his characters share the most profound thoughts about life like:

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes."
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

How could you not love Pooh Bear, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Christopher Robin?


You can totally see Tigger and Piglet in those beads can't you!!
The beads are strung on a jewelry quality elastic, so they fit everyone perfectly. You can see how well they lay on my wrist. 



Kim makes each bracelet from the pages of discarded or no longer wanted books.  Of course you have to have one to coordinate with your favorite book to help share your love of reading and books with your students.  There are also bracelets from sheet music, many children's classics and adult books too.  There are even coordinating earrings! 

Here's some great news for you!  Kimberly is offering readers of this post a special discount! You can get your own bracelet set (or anything else you like in her store) for 15% off by using the code tc2014 at checkout in her Etsy shop.   Hurry over and make your order now so you'll have yours ready for back to school. 

Don't miss anything new from Kim.  Be sure to follow her by clicking the links below: 






Go get your book jewelry now! 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Guided Math Conferences Chapter 5


Brenda at Primary Inspired is the organizer of the blog study on Guided Math Conferences. If you don't have a copy, TpT seems to be the best place to get it right now.  Amazon isn't stocking it yet.



I'm so grateful to be part of it and hosting Chapter 5 along with Carmen from Exploring Elementary.  Be sure to go here to read her post about Chapter 5.



"Implementing Conferences in the Guided Math Classroom" is the title of Chapter 5 and it's all about how to make conferences happen in your classroom.  Here are some of the suggestions Ms. Sammons makes for when to conference: 
  • As students enter the classroom
  • While students are working independently
  • During transitions
  • Just before or just after meeting with a small group (Bring one child back a little early or have one stay a little longer.)
I'm thinking mine will most likely take place in the first 5-10 minutes of math class as students work on the math starter for the day and get settled.  We group and rotate for math, so this seems like a good time for me to fit it in. 


I LOVE the section where she addresses how often to meet with students and the idea of "fairness".  We need to remember that doing what's right for each student does not mean doing the same thing for each student.  Some students will require more conferences, either to challenge higher students or to support lower students.  Some students are so self-regulating they'll need little guidance or prodding from us.  Know your students well enough to know how much conferencing each needs. 

A large portion of this chapter is devoted to procedures and routines with independent work.  In order for you to be successful at having time for conferences, students must be able to work independently with only emergent interruptions to you.  She even mentions the book Boushey and Moser's book Daily 5: Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades as a reference for teaching routines and procedures.  I love how these ladies outline teaching procedures.  Their book is well worth the read just for that.  It perfectly outlines gradual release and turning all responsibility to students during independent time thus freeing you to confer with students and work with small groups. 

It is imperative that you write down or have a very firm understanding of what your expectations are so you can clearly teach them to students and hold student to them.  Take your time at the beginning of the year to make sure students are independent before rushing into content.  Content can be taught while working on expectations and routines, just make the content secondary for the first few weeks.  You'll be glad you did when you're able to teach more effectively later in the year rather than continually spending time reviewing and being frustrated about behavior later in the year. 

I use the ideas from The Daily 5 to teach independence routines in my classroom, how do you teach independence?  Feel free to add your comments to this post or link up your own post below. 



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reading in the Wild Chapter 3

Be sure to click the picture above to be taken to other posts on this chapter.

Chapter 3 of Reading in the Wild is about readers sharing books and their reading with other readers.  My students share together when they read the same books in literature circles, but I haven't had anything in place for students to share their choice reading with each other.  I'm still figuring out edmodo, but am thinking this might be a good place for students to post reviews.  

I've been learning what a valuable connecting resource Twitter is this summer.  I started tweeting just a little at the end of last year with my students, but tweeting out to connect with authors and other classes to share book reviews would be a wonderful way to get students sharing with other readers and authors.  I learned from George Couros, a Canadian ed tech expert, at the Utah Technology Conference last spring that I could have students tweet from my account and just add the hashtags and student initials to the tweet.  I have so many things going on just with Dilly Dabbles, that adding another account would be crazy for me.  So, I just use tweet deck and have a student write the tweet, add his/her initials and the hashtags and then send it.  If you're really wanting to keep your blogging world a secret from your school, you'll want to set up an account just for your class.  I'm pretty out there now with my school, district and community, so I've just decided to go with it. You can find me and my class on twitter @dillydabbles.  Posts from my class will be tagged with #sierrabonitabears or #sierrabonita5 along with any other relevant tags. 

Ms. Miller mentions many other groups and websites available online as well.  Be sure to read this section to see what would be the best fit for your classroom.  

Another great way that my students might share their reviews is a quick video.  I do have 2 ipads in my classroom and should have 7 chromebooks this fall.  Students can record a quick review of their book and post it on our class website or to edmodo.  There are several apps that would allow students to do this without having to load it to a site like YouTube.  Fotobabble allows you to take a picture and then record a narration.  Students could take a picture of the book cover and then give the review. There are many other similar apps that could work for this.  Fotobabble saves the recording and gives a URL to access the saved file.  Students can share the URL on a blog for others to access. That could also be tweeted out or shared with other groups. 

How do you engage your students in sharing and conversing about reading? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Small Group Reading: Literature Circles


Literature circles are nearly the last component of my small group/guided reading time.  You may have noticed that I only have my students do one activity per day.  This might be different to you as many teachers I know have students visit 3-5 activity centers during this time.  I strongly believe that in the upper grades, emphasis should be on responding to reading.  That is what nearly all of my activities focus on and I don't want to add more centers of busy work just to occupy my students.  I want whatever they are doing to have a purpose and be meaningful.  So, when students finish their activity for the day, they are expected to work on reading and responding to their literature circle book.  Their activities should generally take no more than 1/2 hour and that leaves about 1/2 per day for students to work on literature circle books. 

I shared that my guided reading lessons are usually focused on shorter texts.  Short leveled readers that came with our basal series, articles, non-fiction and short stories are what I most often use.  That meant that I needed a way for my students to also read novels.  So, my colleague started running literature circles in tandem with guided reading and I started to as well.  

I generally have six novels going at one time.  I choose various levels, so I have something appropriate for my struggling readers and something that would be a good challenge for my higher readers.  I like to try and choose books around a theme or author or genre.  This helps so all students get exposure to similar types of books even if they are not the same books.  

Once I've chosen the 6 books for the next time period, I have students come to my reading table one reading group at a time to choose their books.  I start with the low group to ensure that the books that are their level are available.  I give them 2 choices.  Students in the same reading groups do not have to choose the same book, I just call them by group for convenience of putting out appropriate books based on their reading levels. 

I then call a group at a time back to choose.  I give a quick summary of each book and some time for students to choose.  Students often pick up the books, read the cover and sometimes a few pages.  They ask me questions and some ask for recommendations based on what I know they like.  I leave out the books that were not chosen by the last group and as the groups go on, there is usually more choice.  



I divide each book into 6-7 sections and assign a set of chapters for the students to read each week.  Students read the chapters and then write a summary of the section.  We meet each Friday in place of guided reading and each group discusses the reading and their responses.  I post the book title and chapters for the week on these dry erase pockets mounted on the wall behind my reading table. 

This coming year, I want to make their responses more meaningful, so I think I'm going to have a few questions for students to answer.  I'm also going to have an edmodo group for each book and have students discuss in their forum about the book throughout the week.  I haven't worked it all out, but when I do, I'll be sure to post more about it.  Additionally, my study of Notice and Note this summer has also influenced what I'd like to do next year.  Either in their notebooks or on Edmodo, I also want students to record what signposts they notice and what they noted about that.  

You might be wondering about the traditional literature circles in which each student in a group has a role.  I don't give students roles, because I felt like students read only to find what they needed to fill out their portion.  I wanted students to read for comprehension and enjoyment, so we don't assign roles.  We run it more like a book club. 

I'm lucky that my school does have several 10 book sets of novels for small group reading.  I've also increased my own collection with the $1 books that Scholastic offers throughout the year.  I always purchase sets of 10.  This gives me a teacher edition and an extra or two to have on hand.  I usually like to keep my groups to 6, but if the book is very popular, I allow up to 8 in a group.  You can see my post about how I number and track my group sets of books here.  

Do you have literature circles or book clubs in your classroom?  How do you make it work for you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It: Bags and Quilts

This week's Monday Made it is all about my hobby, sewing.  This week I worked on several bags and a quilt.



This bag is headed to Danielle of Crayonbox learning.  She did the update to my blog, which I am loving! I'm working on two more in different patterns that aren't quite finished that are headed to Logan, UT. 





This quilt I put together in memory of my father in law.  He passed away from complications of a brain tumor he had been fighting for four years last summer.  This was a mystery quilt along with Heather Spence Designs and Missouri Star Quilt Company.  The small donation they collect from participants is donated to cancer.org.  I chose grey colors as grey is the symbolic ribbon color for brain cancer.  It was quilted by Sew Shabby Quilting and I just got it back from her on Friday.  I'll finish it up with some binding and it will be my son's quilt to remember his grandpa. 




This last one isn't a made it, but it's so fun I just decided to include it.  I was with my parents this weekend to attend my cousin's wedding.  Between the luncheon and the evening reception, we took a little drive.  This darling house is near my parent's house.  It was built to resemble the house in the Disney' movie UP.  Isn't it darling! They get a LOT of visitors.  I don't think I'd want to live next door... ;)

Have a great week!
See the many other "made its" that were linked up this week by clicking the button below. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Small Group Reading: Deeper Reading



Deeper reading is based on a guided reading lesson, with the objective to get students deeper into texts.  This is where I do my guided close reading.  I take a text we have worked with before either in guided reading or as a whole class and we look deeper at it.  I choose small, significant parts of the text and we have a discussion about it.  After reading the book Notice and Note, I plan on using this time to reinforce understanding of looking for signposts in this small group time as well.  This is also the time I reinforce whole group language lessons as we look deeper at places in texts where language elements we have learned about are apparent. 

I generally meet with this group for about 20 minutes.  Since I meet with the guided reading group first, I sometimes ask this deeper reading group to read the selection or answer some questions about the text on their own first, while I'm meeting with the guided group.  This is helpful for longer texts or selections I want to really dig into.  This is most often the case for my highest reading groups. 

How do you work in close or deeper reading with smaller groups?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Small Group Reading: Guided Reading Group



When we begin small group time, they gather their response notebooks and a pencil and meet me at my reading table.  I conduct a traditional guided reading lesson with this group.  I usually use articles or shorter texts.  Our district has adopted the Journey's reading program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  With that program came shorter guided reading texts that pair with each weeks main basal selection.  

My district literacy team firmly believes in the principle of teaching students at their instructional guided reading levels and therefore, do not want us teaching the books that are paired, just because they are paired.  We are to choose books that meet student need and instructional level.  So, I choose the books that are at each groups instructional level and that focus on comprehension skills that were taught the previous week.  For example, if we focused on the skill of main idea and the strategy of inference last week, I'd look to choose a short book that had these as a focus as well at the instructional level of my students.  This gives me opportunity to reinforce in a guided group the topics we learned as a whole class the week before.  I spend about 20 minutes with this group.  

The lesson plan I base my lessons on was created by my district from the teachings of Fountas and Pinnell.  You can see it here. 


Empty boxes waiting for new supplies.

They sit atop the three bookshelves I have in my room for the classroom library.

I have my students keep their reading items in these magazine boxes I purchased from Ikea.  There's five boxes in a pack for about $2, I believe.  They're super popular.  Last time I went to my Ikea, about 40 miles away, they were completely out of them.  Luckily, it's near my parents, so I'll keep checking back when I visit them.  I need a couple to replace some that got ruined last year.  You can see though, that I'll be able to re-use most of boxes from last year.  I just labeled each with student numbers. 

Students keep their reading response notebook, literature circle book and any other book from our class library that they are reading in this box.  I don't allow students to keep reading books in their desks to keep them from being ruined by larger text books, snacks or water spills.  It also makes it quick and easy for students to find what they need for reading time. 

How do you organize student materials for small group reading? What type of lessons do you teach during small group reading?


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