Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blog Changes and Book Clubs!

So I've added these pages (above), a FaceBook Page, and more to the "What I Believe" section of this blog. Below is an add on that I wanted to share.
This is simply what I believe so PLEASE don't think I'm trying to preach to all you awesome teachers because I'm NOT. I just like having an outlet to share as I grow and learn. =)

Here is a little more about being a very organic teacher. My coach Candace and I have slowly started realizing how important it is for children to be able to mock the habits of real life readers and writers- because that is our goal- creating life-long readers and writers. Here are a few example and points to help clarify.  
*If we don't do it as readers, why ask the kids to? (do you write a report after a book? or have a great discussion?) Or, another example, I was stressed out because one of my students was SO busy trying to use expression and voice when I was doing her running record, that she couldn't even focus on the story. Uhhh, my fault. I had stressed and stressed how important it is to read with voice changes and such that it was all the poor girl could think about. I ran this problem by my coach and she basically said that there is a time and a place for reading with dramatic expression, and I should teach them that. If we are having a round of Reader's Theater or about to buddy up to do some performance reading with a KG class, then I should do mini lessons on how expression is important in performance reading. She asked me if I went home, snuggled up on the couch and started reading the book out loud with all these dramatic voice changes?....nope. I use all my comprehension strategies to understand- so that is what I feel I should teach. But if I know I'm going to do a read aloud for a class, I might practice that- knowing that someone else would hear.
*We DO believe in scaffolds to get kids thinking, but not to use for ever. A great example would be the fact that I created a Retelling Prompt Bookmark for my kids who were struggling at retelling. This is a scaffold, simply something to get them started. My coach was doing a book club in my room and gave my kids half sheets of paper that had some inferring prompts, and the explicitly said to the kids, "Now do you think Mrs. Tabb and I go to dinner to talk about a book we shared, and pull out or retelling prompt sheet? (Noooooo!) So then Readers, this is just something to get your brains ready to think!" It let my students know right off the bat that this is something they need now, but one day, they want to be able to read, think, and talk about books- Just like Mrs. Tabb and Ms. Ewing (Candace) do together all the time =) (They started forming their own book clubs at lunch because Candace and I always model how we read together- hilarious!!) my room, the majority of our literacy block is spent READING and WRITING. I am conferring (which is an art in itself) EVERY MOMENT I can. 

*This means- as I create and sell over the summer, you won't find me doing a whole lot of centers (not that I think anything is wrong with them at all- I use the ones I've purchased from TpT in my flexible small groups!) and such. You'll find me searching for good read alouds that lend themselves to accountable talking, and thinking, creating scaffolds and units of study, finding mentor texts that will support my life long readers and writers, creating thematic activities and most importantly, reading. Reading professional mentors that help me evolve my thinking. Everything in this post came because I read, applied it, and reflected on it (with the help of Candace, of course).
and now....Our Character Book Club Cycle! We read Kathy's Reading For Real, which is all about Book Clubs. If you haven't picked it up, I HIGHLY recommend it! Then you can see how the things I'm saying are basically being repeated! hahaha!  

So, Ms. Ewing came in and did a cycle of character book clubs. I had done a non-fiction cycle before, so they knew the drill when she came. She had a great layout of mini lessons and focused on inferring- because character studies lend themselves naturally to inferring.  She tucked in the comprehension strategies into these units of study- instead of teaching a whole unit on one strategy.

Here are some photos of the journey....

Mini Lesson Shots...
Choosing A Character To Study

 Talking about characters!
 Loves It.
 Ms. Ewing gettin' her conferring on =)
Teaching Share (last step of the workshop)

Every Unit of Study ends with a CELEBRATION!

 Cookies and Juice...and A Character Study Clue Game!
 Keep those balloons in your lap!
 And the class favorite character is....TACKY THE PENGUIN!
 Fine. You have 5 minutes before specials to get the urge to play with balloons OUT! =)

I was super scared to try book clubs on my own, so I was so grateful that Ms. Ewing came to model for me. After seeing the benefits and book talks...I can't WAIT to do them as soon as I teach my kiddos how to talk to each other!

Happy Sunday,


  1. What a great post!! My building has spent the last three years in a profession development training program that taught us the same thing - provide authentic reading and writing experiences if you want your students to become readers and writers! I look forward to reading more about the literacy structure you use in your classroom. How lucky you are to have a "Candace" !

  2. I'm in Florida and our curriculum has shifted to more of an 'organic' nature as well.

  3. amazing job girl!!!! you gave me some great ideas for my next students. keep it up super teacher :).

    btw I just added your button to my blog.

    take caaare

  4. Love seeing the photos of your classroom. You are so blessed to work with a literacy coach!!!

  5. I just found your blog and I love it! Thanks for sharing so much about Reader's Workshop! I can't wait to read more!

  6. I also just found your blog through a link from really good stuff's facebook page and love it! I was getting the back to school blues as July wears out but now I feel better. In fact, I am heading to the library to do some organic reading!
    thanks so much for sharing your energy and ideas.