Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Talks

I have something to share today that is so easy to implement into any classroom. It is something that has made a HUGE difference in my fifth grade classroom!
 


 
I cannot express the impact book talks have had on my students. They are SO easy to implement into any classroom and only take a few minutes. Before we dig deeper, let's look at WHAT book talks are.
 
Who? Both my students and I participate in book talks. At the beginning of the year, I did most of the book talks. I placed a sign up sheet in the room and allow students to sign up voluntarily.
 
What? Book talks!
 
When? I know we are ALL pushed for time. One of the best things about book talks is that you get the BANG for your buck! It doesn't take much instruction time AND your readers will reap the benefits. I allot about 5 minutes at the beginning of every class for a book talk. Sometimes it takes more and sometimes it takes less.
 
Where? I teach Literacy and Social Studies. I implement book talks in my Literacy block. Even if you don't teach Reading, you can easily share books within the subject you teach! Just last week I shared a graphic novel about Henry Ford. Remember, EVERYONE teaches Reading!
 
Why? I have seen so many benefits in incorporating book talks this year!
  1. After I do a book talk or a student does a book talk, that book is typically flying off the shelf. They are SO eager to read it!
  2. Students are exposed to TONS of great books. Imagine if you are in school for 180 days (give or take) and someone shares at least one book per day. That is 180 books that students will be exposed to during one school year.
  3. Students are practicing speaking and listening standards.
  4. Students begin to truly see themselves and others as readers. Readers that talk about books. Readers that share books.
  5. Need I go on? :)
 
How? I allow my students to fill in a book talk form if they'd like or they can practice what they'll say at home. I let them know which day I've assigned them to once they have signed up. Most of the time, the book we have shared is a HOT item that everyone wants. I do a book raffle if I have a lot of interest in the book. I have popsicle sticks in a bucket and will simply pull a stick. Students have two weeks to return that book so that other readers can enjoy it.
 
Here are a few books that I plan on doing book talks for in the next couple of weeks. I've read them all and they are GREAT!
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week in Review

Last week seemed like a short week for two reasons:
  1. My son and I had pink eye and we were out of school one day.
  2. We took our 5th graders to our first field trip on Friday.
 
The other three days we spent focusing on how to PLAN for reading and how to make TIME for reading. I sent out our first Scholastic book order and they were so excited to pick out new books to possibly order.
 
This week is Fall Break so we brainstormed ideas on how to make time for reading during break AND our everyday lives. 

These are the thoughts of the two fifth grad classes I teach.

 
 
We also celebrated International Dot Day. We read the book, watched the book on video, and made our own dots using coffee filters and markers. After they made their dots, I sprayed it with water in a spray bottle. They turned out so pretty when they dried.
 
I snapped this picture last week during our chapel. Seeing and hearing our students praise God NEVER gets old!
 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Assembly line - candy cars

In Social Studies we have been learning about the assembly line and how Henry Ford manufactured the Model T using the assembly line. Our Social Studies textbook (Heritage Studies) had a wonderful assembly line activity.
 
I gathered all of the materials into baskets for each group.
 

 
I purchased plastic tablecloths to cover my desks, which made clean up super easy!

The assembly line steps are outlined below. You can change this into less steps to accommodate the number of students in your group. I had two classes and both have 16 students. I had two groups of eight students.  Some of the jobs below could be combined.
*I would recommend trying glue adhesive dots instead of liquid glue. It was a bit of a mess so we used tape and it worked out okay. I think glue dots may work better, though.

Before we began we reviewed what an assembly line is and how everyone will have one job that they would repeat multiple times.

 I heard some of the funniest and best comments after this lesson. One student said, "Henry Ford would have totally fired us.". Another said as he was leaving, "This was so much fun!". LOVE! Each student went home with this baggie with their candy car.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Literacy Week in Review

Last week in Reading we began our unit on realistic fiction. We began our realistic fiction read aloud be reading Fish in a Tree. If you haven't read this book yet, go get yourself a copy. You won't be sorry. It is such a good book!
Last week we discussed story elements and identified them in several read alouds. We discussed theme a bit, but I'll touch on that more in depth in a few weeks. 
The first mentor text I used was Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. Granted, I used this text last week when we focused on asking questions, but we reread it this week with story elements in mind. 
Another day we read Annika's Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis. I read it aloud and students identified story elements in the story. 
 


The illustrator is Pamela Querin and she did a fabulous job. One of the first things I noticed about this text was the beautiful illustrations.


We had our first round of Flashlight Friday and it was a HIT! You could hear a pin drop in my room. I loved it!
 
A parent donated all of these books to my classroom and I was SO excited! LOVE new books!
Check back tomorrow to see what we did in Social Studies this past week. We had a FUN project! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Books I've Read Lately

If you've read my blog for some time now, you'll know that I LOVE books. I love to read and I love to teach Reading! Most of what I read are books for my classroom. My to-do read list currently has 14 titles!
 
I've read a good bit over the last couple of weeks so I wanted to highlight a few of them. Anytime I finish one book, I always do a book talk with my students. Of course, I build it up and then we have so many that want to read it, we have a book drawing! If a book is a "hot item", I give the students two weeks to finish it so that others can read it.
 
I purchased Circus Mirandus recently and read it in one night. It was so, so good. Fantasy usually isn't my favorite genre, but it was a hit for me!
Last year I read Wonder and loved it! Auggie & Me isn't a sequel to Wonder, but it was so good. It is written from the perspective of three people to knew Auggie: 1) Julian - the bully, 2) Christopher - Auggie's oldest friend, and 3) Charlotte - a new friend at school. It was a great read!
Last weekend I stopped at a local thrift store to look through their books. I've gotten so many good books from thrift stores! I got this stack for $6.00. 
As I was reading Donalyn Miller's book, Reading in the Wild, I read a part where her students couldn't believe she hadn't read the classic, Shiloh. I remembered that I'd purchased it at the thrift store and I hadn't read it, either! It was so, so good. I think all students would enjoy this, but I could really see boys enjoying this classic.
Last week I was talking to a parent about books that her son enjoyed when she mentioned he liked The Puppy Place  series. I don't have any in my classroom library so I picked this one up at the thrift store. It was a cute story. Easy reads like this are great for reluctant readers!
Several years ago when Swindle came out, I remember it being a "hot item" in my room. I never read it until this past weekend. Mystery isn't my favorite genre, but I was interested in this novel and enjoyed it. 
What books have you read lately? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Weekly Recap

Last week in Reading, we focused on asking questions. We talked about how good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading. We also talked about WHY we do that and how it helps us become better readers. We wrapped up our fantasy genre unit and finished our read aloud of The Magician's Nephew.
 
I first modeled this skill with a mini lesson using the picture book Fly Away Home. As a class, we came up with questions before reading, during reading, and after reading.

We practiced this skill all week. Sometimes we used other picture books and sometimes we used our read aloud, The Magician's Nephew.
 
The Stranger is a great mentor text to use with this strategy.

 

In Social Studies, we began our study of early transportation. We focused of Henry Ford, the Model T, and Ford's use of the assembly line. We have a FUN assembly line activity tomorrow that I'll blog about later this week.
 
We started reading aloud Who Was Henry Ford? while we are studying about him. 
 
We watched this 5 minute video of the Model T. It was good for the kids to see an assembly line. We talked about other places we've seen assembly lines.

 
 We also celebrated my birthday! I was showered with kids words, sweet homemade cards, gifts, and more!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September Currently

September is here and I am so ready for all that it brings: cooler weather, Fall clothes, my birthday (it's almost here!), football, etc. Summer is my favorite season, but Fall comes in at a close second!
 
I am linking up with Farley for the September Currently post.
 
Listening: It's almost silent here and it is wonderful!
 
Loving: I am LOVING my new school! Love my co-workers, my administration, and my students.
 
Thinking: I'll be so glad when I feel more in a routine. It takes time!
 
Wanting: I could have put this for needing, but I am wanting/needing REST! For the past two night's, I've been unable to fall asleep before midnight. Eeeekkkk.
 
Needing: I really want to add a reading graffiti board in my room. If you aren't sure what this is, check out Donalyn Miller's book Reading in the Wild.
 
3 goals:
  1. Believe - This has been "my word" since the beginning of 2015. I knew there would be big changes coming up and I wanted to remind myself to BELIEVE that God had it all under control. He did and he does!
  2. Communicate well - I want to communicate well with parents and families. Our 5th grade Shutterfly share site (blog) has been WONDERFUL for this!
  3. Take care of myself - Over the past year I've lost around 40 pounds, exercised fairly regularly, and changed my eating habits. With the busyness of this season, I've slacked off and I need to get back on track fully. 

Blog Hoppin' - Classroom Tour

I'm joining in on the fun today by sharing my classroom tour over at Blog Hoppin' AND Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners! For those who are new to my blog, this is my eighth year teaching, but my first year at my new school. New school, new classroom!
 
 
 
As you know, it's never completely finished, but these pictures were taken right before school started. 

Immediately to the left, I have a bookshelf with various materials. To the sides you'll see our recess bag and a school designated recycling bin. There's not really a good place for them so they stay in this area.
I created this bulletin board "What is Mrs. Geren reading?" to show my students that I am a reader, too. I just changed the papers in the page protectors to "Now reading" and "Just finished". 
Past that shelf is my dry erase board and then my student computers. Below my dry erase board is this board I created to celebrate our community of readers! I have added pictures of the books students checked out the first time and will be adding "Shelfies" to this after students complete book talks!
Above my student computers you'll see a map of the world with my map bunting. We will be marking the places in the world we "visit" when we read stories aloud with the theme "Reading takes us places".
 

This print is on top of my student cubbies.
 
On the wall beside the student computers, I created a bulletin board for my fabulous fifth graders! When I sent letters home to my students this summer, I asked their parents to email me a picture of their child doing something they loved. I printed these photos and added them before Open House last week. My new teaching partner gave me the idea to do it and I LOVED it! I think by displaying student photos in the classroom, it helps them to feel a part of the classroom community and I want them to know I care about them, their interests, and who they are as a person.
At the front of the room I have my Promethean board. To the right is my teacher desk.
 
To the left of that board I have another bookshelf with various books. On the bottom I have books that relate to our Social Studies standards. I'll pull these out during those units of study. The middle shelf holds read alouds I'll use or books that I'll recommend soon. The pink basket will hold weekly folders. 
I love this "In Our Classroom" sign. My favorite line is "We are family". I hope to always have a classroom community where we feel like family.
 
 Directly to the back is my student cubbies, which has random student supplies in them in this pictures. We organized supplies during the first week of school. This picture was taken after Open House when students dropped supplies off.
Now to my FAVORITE part of our classroom: the classroom library! 
I love this area and could just get comfy over there with a good book!


I organize my books by genre and have labels on every book. It was such a labor of love organizing this library, but I LOVE the final product. 
 
Three sweet moments from Open House related to my classroom library:
  • One student actually gasped quietly and whispered to her friend, "Look at all of the books!"
  • Two boys came in early, found a book they wanted to read, and got comfortable and read together.
  • Another made himself comfortable in the chair and read while his parents visited his sibling's classroom.

    THAT is what it's all about folks!
    
Above the cubbies I have our "Snapshots" of our year together timeline where I will post photos of our year.

LOVE this sign from Hobby Lobby!

That concludes our classroom tour!