Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm on Fire and on a Sugar High!

Oh my goodness...I've seen all these rip roaring blogs on fire and can hardly believe I've been added to the bunch.  I'm just tickled pink!!!!! Thanks to Jennifer over at Herding Kats in Kindergarten for thinking of me and I think you are crazy on fire too!

So, rule follower that I am - I have to tell 7 things about myself and nominate 7 other blogs...

1.  My nickname is Bug - I was the "baby" of the family with a brother who is 9 years older and a sister 7 years older.  I was always begging people to play house, school, anything - but as you can imagine a 7 and a 14 or 16 year old don't have much in common - that's when I took matters into my own hands and offered to pay a quarter if somebody would play with me - somebody, anybody.  Hence the nickname...Bug.

2.  I grew up in a super small town - one blinking traffic light, no fast food restaurants - everybody knew everybody.  It was home to Muhammad Ali though...our only claim to fame.  I miss that...sorta {I now live in a booming suburb}.

3.  I have two boys - a fourth grader and a first grader.  I love my boys.  While I would take what the good Lord gave me and *love* him or her to pieces - I'm so thrilled that I have boys.  I wouldn't know what to do with a girl.  I'll have girls in my class ask me to fix their hair and I just look at them and remind them I have two boys at home...

4.  I love Starbucks venti nonfat Chai...

5.  My hubby is a teacher too - I say I could never teach his hormonal pre-teens and he says he could never tie shoes and tell kids to use their walking feet.  We're both happy where we are!

6.  My first was born with Clubfoot.  We traveled to Iowa City {from Michigan} with a newborn {as first time parents} and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House {amazing organization} for a month to be treated nonsurgically by the guru {a 90 year old doctor who came out of retirement to treat clubfoot children}...thank goodness for the internet! {that's where we found him}

7. Speaking of the internet - that's where I met my hubby....his pick up line?  Basal or whole language? No joke...pretty suave.

There you go...I could keep going, but remember - I'm a rule follower.

So, now to nominate 7 other to choose, how to choose:

Seriously, if I weren't such a rule follower I'd keep adding blogs - because so many of you have inspired me beyond belief.  Thanks and {{hugs}}!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Give Away Over at Teach it With Class

Happy Sunday!

Randi over at Teach it With Class is offering some AWESOME stuff - like....

A 10 dollar gift certificate over at Scrappin Doodles...who wouldn't want some cash to spend on some mighty cute clipart? Or, if you're not lucky enough to receive the 1st winner prize, don't worry - you could win the uber cute Thanksgiving book "Turk and Runt" by Lisa Wheeler.  Never fear...if you aren't the 1st or 2nd winner you may just be the 3rd and can choose any three items from her TpT or Teachers Notebook stores.  Sweet stuff, eh?

Head on over and enter!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slow Her Down....and a Freebie

Hi Girlies,

There is no light at the end of the tunnel so I might as well embrace the craziness.  Be one with it.  Either that or I'll just unleash like the loose cannon I feel like I am!!! 

Better watch out!

I'm like the department stores - I'm done with Halloween.  Party's over...took down the classroom decorations {I know, I know but Halloween is Monday}.  Room 8 is moving on...bring on the gobble gobbles. {That and I really want to calm things down...holy Moses are the kids crazier this year than last?  I think so.}

Our reader's toolbox is almost full of tools {strategies} to help us decode those tricky words.  We're adding our final few strategies this week.  To wrap up this unit of study in reader's workshop we'll talk about how we know when a book fits us.  We've done IPICK and the kids already have been thinking about how to choose good books for them when they go shopping on Fridays.  I really like to drive this home...just how you know when you've found a good fit or just right book.  I've tried different analogies from shirts that are too big or too small, to shoes that fit just right.  It seems that the analogy of riding your bike seems to make sense and stick.  I found this idea somewhere on the WWW and can't remember where - so if it was you...thanks bunches {and let me know so I can give you credit and kudos}! 

After we talk about and I model books that are easy, hard and just right I give the kids their read-to-self book logs that they keep in their personal bookshelves.  I ask that they record the level, title and reflect on how the book felt.  They record this in their logs as well by noting: TE {too easy}, TH {too hard} or JR {just right}.  At first the kids all put TE...of course they do...but after lots of discussion about being a BIG first grader and being REALLY honest with yourself...things change somewhere along the way and most years I find that they really do become reflective and honest.

Here's a little freebie hope you find it helpful.  If my technological skills {thanks to some bloggy friends} are beefing up, you should be able to click on the picture below to grab a copy of my "How Does Your Book Feel" anchor charts.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Linky Parties and Bubble Baths

To celebrate 1/2 way to 100 followers I wanted to start a linky party.  Man, that technology is WAY beyond what I can comprehend at this hour.  Honestly, I think about all I can handle right now after my day {I literally had kids barking, and one kid stood on her chair in the middle of my rivoting math lesson...say what?!?} is a good read in a nice hot bubble bath {I believe all problems can be solved in a bath full of bubbles - and a good juicy star-filled magazine...say Us Weekly or People}. 

But seriously, how *does* one create a linky party? 

I had grand plans...wanna hear 'em?  I was going to start a linky party where we all shared how we got started.  Like, think back to when you had a wee 50 followers and who you were then as a blogger compared to who you are now.  Maybe post a document you created "way back when" and tell us what got you started blogging in the first place?

But that will have to wait.  For now - I'm going to walk my weary feet upstairs, get the water as hot as my tootsies can stand and maybe if I'm feeling wild I'll pour in TWO capfuls of bubble bath rather than my standard one...

Oh, just so you don't think I'm slacking - I do have a really cute thing cookin' with bikes and books that fit...hmmm...are you curious?

Happy Thursday Eve!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ahhhh......Lovin' My New Computer

Howdy Doody,

Well, I feel like a brand new woman - life has been pretty eventful around this household.  Hubby in the ER for a bad back, computer fries, my kiddos are completely bonkers (both at home and at school), it's been project central around this house...who do these teachers think they are giving MY children so much homework?  Family Tree?  DONE!  Diorama? FINITO! Carnival Game? Just about done...PHEW. I still have lunches to pack, clothes to pick out, but by golly if I thought my fingers were permanently attached to my computer out baby!

Last week we did Learning Stations for the first time this school year.  Like I've said before, I'm so jealous of you girls who are able to create these fun, thematic, game-based units.  My curriculum just doesn't allow for that.  Seems everything is canned between our new math program {that they have paid out the wazoo for - so we just better use it}, and our science kits {FOSS - which I DO love} there just isn't a lot of wiggle room.

My cronies and I call ourselves "The Stepford Wives"...with that, there are couple of things I refuse - REFUSE - to let go of:

1. Snack/Free Choice {A lot of teachers do a working snack}Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!? Put a group of teachers together at an inservice and how many of you agree with me that we are the world's worst listeners?  Holy chickatoli - we're all whispering, grading papers, cutting out lamination - and even with all that multi-tasking we need our breaks, am I right?  One can only listen to the Charlie Brown teacher for so long.  I will *never* do a working snack in my classroom {okay, unless I'm really running behind...sometimes I do - but not very often}

2. Give up Learning Stations - Learning Stations/centers are my most favorite day of the week.  Back in the day {okay, 13 years ago} we used to do centers every day {and I used to teach in themes}...oh the good ol' days. So, while I DO salivate over your adorable thematic units/games/etc., etc., I am able to incorporate some of your cuteness and create even a little of my own during this SACRED hour one day a week called Learning Stations. My kids were in heaven ...and seeing the happiness in their little faces and their active engagement just made my heart sing.  Check out some of the pictures of our fun ...learning

Candy Corn Word Wall Game

Pick it up here

The kids loved this and the candy corn they ate at the end of the game!


Write The Room

Candy Corn Men (and more candy corn eating)

I'm off to do some blog stalking - need some ideas for my little slice of heaven Learning Stations...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Life Without My Computer...

...STINKS!  My gosh - hubby is out shopping for one right now though.  Here's hoping he gets something good.  While I'm excited for a better computer - I knew my baby inside and out and could do stuff FAST!

Cheryl, over at Crayons & Curls is having a cute little giveaway ~ head on over there to check it out for  stickers, stamps and more! 

My conferences are just around the corner - I have a conference sheet that you may find useful.  Feel free to copy the idea and make it your own if this particular one doesn't fit your needs.  My friend BARB {remember her?} and her team made a similar one and so freely shared it with me - it was similar to the one my team used - I meshed the two together to meet my needs.  Don't you just love people who share?!?!?

Well, it took me about two hours to complete this little nothing blog post - and hubby is home - our new little slice of heaven named PC {yes, he went with the PC for various reasons I won't go into here} will arrive in t-minus two days...the Geeks are working hard {$$$} to save everything on the other computer and will move it all over to the new one.  OY.

Click here to download the conference sheet. 

I took pictures this week of our first Learning Stations (centers) and couldn't wait to share them with you.  At this rate - I'd be lucky to have this post complete by the end of the day if I did that and it's WAY to gorgeous outside!  Guess you'll just have to wait on pins and needles...

Have a happy week leading up to Halloween...hold on tight, it's sure to be wiiiiild and crrrrrrazy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ay Carumba - Mac or PC?

Ay carumba! I'm having computer issues in the worst way.  Our family computer has completely bitten the dust.  Needless to say, I haven't had a chance to back things up on the external drive lately - sooooo, a trip to the Geek Squad will *hopefully* save the day.  In the meantime I'm trying to use my son's computer...good gravy, that thing isn't cooperating either.  I'm typing a good many sentences and they don't decide to "show up" until about 5 minutes after they've been typed.  Glory be...what to do?  Any normal person would just stay away from the computer...I've never been called normal.

So, until the situation is fixed - I won't be able to post anything of significance on my blog.  I did want to pose this question since we're in the market:

Mac or PC?

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Halloween Goodness

Hi Gals,

Are you hanging in there? I know a lot of you are busy doing report cards and conferences...'tis the season...That will be me in a couple of weeks.  Right now, assessments are the monkey on my back.  Assessments are never my favorite thing in the world but I *really* hate them at the beginning of the year.  Seriously, how do you keep 24 some odd first graders "busy"...oy. 

So, being the procrastinator that I am {I really should be thinking about those assessments - which ones I'm doing when, how I'm going to squeeze them into my day...} I made this little game for my upcoming Learning Stations.  I'm so jealous of those of you who teach themes and do centers. The way our curriculum works {it's all so canned} I don't have the liberty of creating the fun stuff.  Learning Stations day is my favorite day of the week {not counting chai tea and jeans Friday's}.  I run four different stations/centers each lasting 15 minutes.  I have two parents come in to help out and the kids have SUCH a blast and I do too!

This game is a great way to practice those high frequency words...just print the words, laminate and cut.  I place them on the floor in the hallway and use a large die for the kids to roll.  The kiddos are the "pawns" and move themselves around the "game board" reading the words, or doing what the candy corn tells them to do.  Fun stuff!

Click HERE to download

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Look ~ Keepin' Up with the Jones!

Hi Girls,

I started off in the blog scene with some apprehension...I mean, there are a lot of big wigs out there!!! How on earth could I post anything anybody would want to read {I'm still not sure I'm doing that!?!} but I'm learning so people don't use parenthesis like this ( ) they do them all cute like this { }. I learned that I shouldn't post twice in one day, that I should be me and not somebody else A Teeny Tiny Teacher {ever notice how she crosses out random words/sentences...too dang cute} Oh shoot...let me go back and put in those cute parenthesis...

So, having said all that...I think I'm here to stay - for a while anyway, so {I say "so" a ton} I thought I should actually PURCHASE a template rather than use a freebie {Oh, don't worry - I'm still all about a freebie}'s pretty cute, isn't it???

So WHO am I as a blogger? I'm an ellipses queen....I'm a comma happy girl, I'm down to earth and I LOVE talking teacher-stuff...I guess that makes me legit...too legit to quit!

One regret with this whole blog business? I don't think I can say ya'll...I'm a Michigan girl...dang.

Happy Sunday!

An oldie but a goody to start your week off right...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

End of Molasses Classes

I'm joining in on the book club linky party over at TBA!

If your state is anything like mine {Michigan}, which I really hope it isn't, you might be feeling a little {under exaggeration} underfire from politicians and pretty much the public in general.  Teachers are WHO we are not just WHAT we are, so my heart has been aching because I feel like the passion I've felt for teaching - dating way back to first grade when I used to line up my stuffed animals in neat little rows for today's lesson has been yanked right away from me {Don't worry - it takes A LOT to bring this girl down}.  Beyond that sadness I feel ANGER...and with that anger is where I find my energy to fight.  Fight for my students and for myself because I know when I'm happy in my profession my students FEEL that energy and grow...

This book came at just the right time and I just ordered it over at Amazon...

This past summer I spent a lot of time reading articles berating public education/teachers, watching video links of various political figures working hard to dismantle public schools and PUBLIC education in general, and fought incredibly hard to recall Michigan's governor.  By summers end I felt like a bedraggled teacher just having fought a war and wondered how I was going to be present and encouraged not to mention encouragING of my 24 first graders.

They say you are what you eat -I feel you are what you read as well.  For the time being I'm going to be politically irresponsible by burying my head in the sand...and while I'm down there I'm going to read Ron Clark's End of Molasses Classes...because, I'd rather become that than the other!!!  If you're not sure what I'm talking about check out this video by Ron Clark  made for TBA {Teaching Blog Addict} here.

One teacher blog friend mentioned that Principle 4 really hit home for her ~ Uplift other adults who play a role in the lives of our children ~ if you're like me, you sometimes find yourself  coming down hard on those parents who just don't seem to do the best they can for their children.  While it might be true that some parents could do better and DO have the resources to do so...there are others that clearly are doing the best THEY know how to do.  Just last year I had a little guy whose parents just weren't doing things the way I felt they should.  Out of nowhere a lightbulb went on and I realized - they ARE doing the best THEY know how to do.  Together, we can work toward educating their child {my student} by being a team, a true team one that reserves judgment and just wants the best...because that's what we want for those we care about and these parents with limited resources both monetarily and emotionally love their children and are doing all they can do with what they role in all of this? To support and matter what.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hodgepodge - Pictures, Celebrations and Shout Outs!

Hidy Ho!

Man, ever have one of those days where you try to cram WAY TOO much into it - it's almost like you're going to've got smoke comin' out of your ears...but you don't slow down because you've GOT. TO. DO. IT. ALL!

That was my day...and my blog entry won't be much different.  So much to say, where do I start?

First, I got the most adorable freebie for being one of the first 10 to respond in a spook-tacular give away over at First Grade Fever .  It's too cute to pass'll want to run right over to TpT!!!  I'd have you click right on the picture to take you there if I could...but, ummm....yeah, I haven't learned that technique quite yet.  Here's a picture of it though...see how cute it is?!?

We had our first writing celebration today to finish up our first unit of are a few pictures of our apple juice toast.


We just finished sharing our writing with a buddy

More proud authors!

Our published work!


What a great way to celebrate our hard work!

So, the funniest thing happened right after our toast. A little guy came up to me and asked me where the bread was.  I was like - "The bread?!?"  What are you talking about? He insists I told him there would be bread.  Then it hit me..."TOAST"....LOL.  Poor guy was expecting toast with his apple juice.

Next up...I thought I'd take some pictures of my classroom.  I realized today I need a snazzy new camera.  Any recommendations?

Oh my goodness - my teacher area looks mighty messy...

Front of the classroom - if there is a front...

Library/Meeting Area

Love the peacemaker/peacebreaker idea...thanks Cara!

Our Pledge

From the door

Our Morning Message

Another thanks goes out to Cara!       

 There you have it!

Have a GREAT Friday darlins!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Use Your Eyes To Revise

Hi Girlies!!!!

Okay, this post will serve a few different purposes.  First and foremost - I'm trying to talk my dear friend Barb into joining the blog world.  Why? Because she's one creative, sassy and tech savvy girl - and my blog (and you) need me.  So let's all chant together...BARRRB! BARRRB! BARRRB!

Second on the you remember this post here?  Well, here's a cute little addition to the "Writer's Eye" called...wait for it...

Use Your Eyes To Revise!!!!!  How darn tootin' cute is that? (Thanks Barb - see, I told you we need you)  So you can use your eyes to edit AND revise.  I'm going to hold off until after my next unit before I ask my kiddos to revise (editing with a writer's eye and with our cute lil' glasses went SOOOOOO well)...but I'm so dang excited for it!!!!

In the meantime...I think I'll buy some cheapy joe plastic sunglasses for each kiddo for that big event and send home their paper ones with their packet of writing from the first unit of study so they can share how they work with their family.

Click on the link to download some Use Your Eyes to Revise cuteness!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Life in a Fishbowl

Oh my - I'm sure you're used to years like that.  I have some kiddos who are keepin' me on my toes which means lots of observations from Larry, Moe and Curly.  I know it's necessary and I appreciate the support but do you sometimes feel like you're the one on display, you're the one being observed.  I know, I know - my school social worker friends tell me that's not so...they aren't paying the least bit attention to my cuteness (or lack of) but I can't help but think they are wondering what the heck I'm doing ...just a tad bit.

Today was the ultimate of fishbowlness (we're allowed to make up words in blogland right?).  Our superintendent comes to visit every school year.  So nice of her - she let's us vent, ask questions and tells us how things are going at a district level.  She comes and observes a lucky few and writes a really nice letter stating her observations...chock full of kudos.

I try, try, try not to get my nose hairs into knots over this...but I do...I get nervous, really really nervous.  Today, I was one of the lucky few TIMES 100!!! Not only did our superintendent come in for THIRTY MINUTES (usually it's 5 maybe 10 tops) but my principal AND our assistant superintendent came along for the ride.  Of course we just finished up 14 minutes of deliciousness called read-to-self before they walked in...but that's okay. My kiddos were delightful, well behaved and really knocked everybody's socks right off their feet when they transitioned from read to self to working on writing.

After a day like today - having Larry, Moe and Curly observe will feel like a walk in the park...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Daily 5 Bumps and Bruises

Hi Girlies,
I think I did something wrong - my post is gone from my own dashboard but I see it when I check from hubbies...  Anyhoo...sorry if this is a double post, but I can't even find it in my posts.  Strange!

I really like Daily you ever worry that you're becoming one of "those" teachers?  You know, the ones that are stuck in their ways and don't want to try new things?  I was doing Book Nooks/Literacy Centers and was really happy with them...after joining the blogging world, I was inspired...I've been inspired in SO many ways.

I'm a chef's surprise kinda girl..I like to take a little bit of this and a little bit of that....tweak it to make it mine and call her a day.  So, while I say I'm doing Daily 5...I am, sorta, kinda, pretty much...

So far we're up to 13 minutes during read-to-self...woot woot!  I added Book Nooks and I tell you, my pokers, touchers, talkers have magically stopped their prodding and nudging and are really reading those books.  Phew (we went from 10 minutes to 13 in one session)!

One of my tweaks is read-to-someone - I do this on Fridays, I like it feels right.  I love walking around the room, venti nonfat chai in hand, and record all of the great things I see and hear on my clipboard. The kids can't wait for me  to "report out" my observations.  One of my most favorite days of the week. (Okay, truth be told, I'm afraid of the management piece if I put it in my Daily 5...that, and I can't walk around with my Starbucks...with my jeans...and my tennies, I'm only allowed that on Fridays!!!!)

Today, I introduced our writing notebook (you can download my cover if you want) and am so excited to do more than just Lucy each day.  I just know my kids are going to like writing lists, poems, short stories...tomorrow they will start writing in them.

I haven't introduced working with words - but plan on doing that next week....ahhhh, I'm overwhelmed thinking of how it will all fit together and WHEN!?!?

Here's my quandary - I'm feeling a little behind.  Am I?  Do you think I need to pick up the pace? My pace feels good and I'm really trying to make "start slow so you can move fast later" my mantra....but I'm easily swayed when I see reading groups in full tilt across the hall.

Where are my teacher-friends who started school after Labor Day?  Am I way behind you?

Thanks bunches!

Here's a copy of my cover....

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Sound Boxes Freebie

I don't know about you - but I have kiddos in my class who have a hard time stretching out words both when reading to decode tricky words and when writing to use their "kid spelling".  I like using sound/elkonin boxes in small strategy groups to help beef up this skill for my strugglers.  Try this Halloween twist on an oldie but goodie...

Click HERE to download

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Lucky 13th Follower Freebie

Lucky number thirteen!  I love the number 13 - it's my favorite.  Hubby and I were married on Friday the 13th and 13 has always felt like a pretty lucky number to me.  Let's celebrate my 13th follower!!!!!

For our social studies unit on families we talked about how we and our family change over time.  Click here for a cute little timeline worksheet.   Click here for a different look of the same worksheet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing in Room 8

I've never participated in a linky party so I'm awfully excited about this!  We're wrapping up our first Lucy Calkins unit of study.  We chose a piece to "fancy up" and learned all about looking at our writing with a "Writer's Eye"  - a great idea from Mrs. Phippen over at Laugh While You Learn.  I used Cara Carroll's awesome Writer's Eye posters and I have got to tell you - getting my kids to understand "editing" in the past was always a CHORE...and I always felt like I did a horrible job at it.  Looking at our writing with a writer's eye just made sense to my kiddos.

I added a little fun to it on a whim (don't you love when ideas come to you 10 minutes before you plan on teaching the lesson?!?) We made our own "Writer's Eyeglasses" from a template I grabbed here.  The kids decorated them all up and put them safely in their writing folders. 

On Monday we plan on pulling out the piece we plan to "publish" for our writer's celebration, we'll put on our writer's eyeglasses and will look to see if we did what writer's do (use upper/lowercase letters, use ending punctuation, etc.).  To make the lesson even MORE fun - I plan on wearing some crazy clown glasses which will magically become my very own writer's eyeglasses. 

On a side note:  Because I thought of the glasses on a whim, I sent a frantic email to the staff asking if anybody had any "crazy big clown glasses"...I'm sure you can imagine all the smarty pants responses I got. 

Happy Friday Everybody!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My First Freebie!!!!! - It's No Great Shakes - But I'm Proud!!!!!!

I should be outside tossing the football around with my little guy, but noooooo, I am so fixated on this whole blogging thing that I have got to figure out how to post a document here. I received my scrappindoodles license and can't wait to post my first creation.  It's nothing to write home about...but I'm proud of it nonetheless!

Let's see how long this takes me...and the clock starts....NOW (5:47 p.m.)

6:03...hey, not too shabby!

Happy Hump Day Girlies!!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Can I just tell you how nervous I get before posting a blog entry?  I mean, I think about it all day. I wonder if I can be entertaining enough?  Will people want to read what I have to say?  Will I make a ton of grammatical errors and people will think: "And SHE'S a teacher...<gasp>"

Taking a breath...I. can. do. this.

Years ago when I started using Lucy Calkins Units of Writing I fell in love with ending each unit with a celebration.  I thought I would share a few that we do in Room 8!  (Thanks Cara Carroll for the Brown Bag Book Club idea and thanks to my dear friend Barb for making the cute little Brown Bag worksheet!)

We celebrated making connections with a Brown Bag Book Club celebration!
Of course we had to fill our brown bags with yummy popcorn!

A shoeless workshop is always fun - bring a stuffed buddy and it's even better!
After working on mental images in reader's workshop and making our writing more fun for others to read in writer's workshop we had a flashlight celebration where kids brought their flashlights and blankies to school.  Can you think of a better way to "get lost in a good book"?

Flashlight Reading and Writing Celebration
Library Grand Opening Celebration!

Books, Books, Books!  I love having a grand opening - the kids can't wait to get their hands on all those good books!

Our Current Favorites go here

It's not a reading or writing celebration - but we do enjoy a nice Fall Celebration!  Making applesauce is delightful!!
I would love to hear of any celebrations you might do in your classroom - I'm always up for a new one...any reason to have fun!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Teaching Decoding Strategies

I love starting Readers Workshop off with a maxi mini lesson.  I try REALLY hard to make them short and sweet...being short and sweet just isn't in my nature.  Ask anybody.  Irregardless my upcoming maxi mini lessons will be taking one decoding reading strategy each day and model how they work using a big book.

I make the analogy of strategies being "tools" and readers go everywhere (the library, their house, under their covers with a flashlight) with this invisible toolbox (Remind you of something: Bucket Fillers) In this toolbox are many strategies (tools) that a reader can use when they come to a tricky word.

During my first mini lesson I bring hubby's toolbox to school with me (don't worry - I leave his plumber's smile at home).  I tell a story of how one day Mr. Teacher (hubby is a teacher too) was fixing our toilet (I used to say sink - but I seem to keep their attention more if I repeatedly say toilet or potty).  First, he asked for the wrench; he did some twisting and turning but it just didn't do the trick.  Then he asked for a screwdriver - more twists and turns...he was getting closer to fixing the potty (insert snickers and giggles) but wasn't quite there.  He needed to use one more tool (reading strategy) the hammer did the trick - he fixed it!!!!

Some nice follow-up questions: Did Mr. Teacher fix the potty with only one tool (strategy)?  No, he needed to use many tools.  That's how figuring out tricky words sometimes works.  Sometimes one tool (strategy) will help us figure out that word but sometimes we need to use many tools before we get it.

For the next week or so I take one tool/strategy a day - model it using a big book and place it in our classroom Reader's Toolbox.  Once our toolbox is full I give each child a smaller bookmark version for them to keep in their personal bookshelves for independent reading.

Let's see if I can figure out how to post pictures and documents...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It!

I can't believe I'm doing this.  I'm busy enough, right?  I mean, I have two school-age kids who are both in sports and busy being boys. I have a husband who might like to see my face on the other side of this laptop, and a class of 24 firsties who take a lot of oomph right out of me.  BLOGGING?  Who signed me up for this?  Who do I have to blame?  I think I know...Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade perhaps?  Maybe Abby of The Inspired Apple?  It might just be  Rebecca from Teaching First!  No matter - it's all your fault each and every one of you de-lish-ous blogesses!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
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