Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Wonders Freebie Blog Hop

Whew! Today was my first day back, and I have to say that I was not ready for an alarm before 7:00… but I got up, got ready, and after enduring some sad faces from my dog and a frozen-shut car door, I got to school.

I was having a hard time getting in the groove, and then the kids came in… and I remembered why I do this!

The winter blahs are tough sometimes, but my friends from the Adventures in Literacy Land blog are here to cheer you up with some Winter Wonders freebies to celebrate our one year blogiversary together!

Today our group of reading specialists, literacy coaches, and Title I teachers are sharing some short posts and free literacy resources for you- so be sure to follow the link at the end of my post to the next one! At the end of our “hop,” you can enter to win a Barnes and Noble gift card!

When a struggling reader is told to go back in the text, you can see their face fall. They JUST pushed themselves, and maybe embarrassed themselves, to make it through the text- and you are asking them to go BACK? Are you kidding?


Telling kids to go back in the text with no extra guidance is a surefire way to make sure that they ONLY do it when you’re watching. Struggling readers need a method to the madness!

Last year as a reading specialist, I worked with so many kids who didn’t want to stop in the middle of the reading, because it slowed them down even more- but without me slowing them down, they were thinking about the next word, and not about how that word fit into a sentence, how that sentence fit into a paragraph, and so on. They couldn’t build meaning as they read.

We practiced stopping after each paragraph to write the topic off to the side. It wasn’t even a summary, really- just a few words to answer, “What was this paragraph about?” By jotting it down, my students had an easy reference- almost like a table of contents for their passage.


Then, when we finished it, we glanced back at the topics. It’s a quick way to recap the text’s main ideas.

By the time we get to the questions, we know what each PART of the text is about- which makes it so much easier for kids to predict where to look for the answers to the questions. Oh, it's talking about where George Washington was born? That's probably in the paragraph about his childhood- and now I know where to look first.

Of course, our predictions aren’t always right- and it’s important to model that for kids- but stopping as students read to really get them thinking about the big ideas of the text helps give them somewhere to start.

When you’re not a strong enough reader to scan and quickly find the answer in a large piece of text, a strategy that gives you somewhere to start drastically increases the likelihood that you’ll even try looking back in the text.

And while this is a great test prep strategy, it’s also fantastic for real-life applications like research that require looking up specific pieces of information and even deciding which Google result to click on in a search.

Want to try it out? I’m sharing a free snow-themed sampler of my Text Detectives series for finding text evidence!


download here }


It’s my students’ favorite way to practice finding answers for “right there” questions in text, because they get to color! I aim for about 3rd grade reading level, although it works well in 2nd –4th. You can read more about how I use them in my classroom here.

Next, hop over to Deniece at This Little Piggy Reads for the next Winter Wonder!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to hop all the way to Adventures in Literacy Land to enter our giveaway and welcome our new members! Happy Winter!

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Helloooo, 2015!

Somehow, every year,  Back-To-School Rush turns to Conference-And-Report-Card Madness and then just when Thanksgiving Break gives you time to breathe, it’s the Go-Go-Go-Crazy of December. And suddenly, thank goodness it’s winter break!

This year, I had such grand plans for catching up on schoolwork, cleaning up my classroom, and getting ahead on planning…

And instead I’m getting REALLY close to finishing up watching Gilmore Girls and Better Off Ted on Netflix, I’ve shopped a little too much for fun new clothes, and I’ve spent a ton of time just hanging out on the couch with my husband.

It’s been a good break, even if it hasn’t been crazy productive. So, to link up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade, here’s what I’m currently up to:

Currently January 14

Really, the best thing about break has been time with my husband. He works second shift, so it’s been such a blessing to actually see him every day. All in all, 2014 has been good- and I’m ready to start another year!


I’m not really one for resolutions, but I do like to set goals- and January seems as good a time as any to set some, so I’m also linking up with Erica Bohrer at Erica’s Edventures.


Financially, this year has been so much better for me. My husband spent a looong time in college- and started out out-of-state as well, so we have mountains of student loans. (We’re talking 6 digits, people.) He’s only been out of college for a year and a half now, so we’re still at the bottom of Loan Mountain… but thanks to TeachersPayTeachers, we’re climbing it!

It takes hard work, but if you’ve ever thought about opening a store… I think it’s worth considering!  Finally having significant savings has given us stability and progress on our debt that we wouldn’t have otherwise. You can sign up  here through my referral link if you’re interested in selling on TpT!

For my next year, I want to reach my next TpT milestone, build up our savings, and pay off one of our student loans completely- but I also want to get better at spending some of our money on the things we truly enjoy! We are so hesitant to spend, which is a good thing- but I don’t want to put off everything in the name of savings, either!


Professionally, I need to give myself a BREAK. At least until I get to be in the same position for another year!  My goal is to spend LESS time at school by prioritizing and being better organized… oh, and to get my plans in by Sunday afternoon!


This one’s tough. The first half of 2014 was so good for me health-wise! Thanks to MyFitnessPal and FitBit, I started taking small steps towards being healthier. And because I didn’t try to change everything all at once, I built up a lot of momentum and lost about 25 pounds. More importantly… I felt GOOD about how I looked for the first time in forever!

Then, cue a new teaching position and lots of stress this fall… and I’ve gained it all back. It bums me out, because I KNOW what I need to do- it’s just hard to DO it!

My goals for 2015 are to get back to good habits. Little soda, lots of water, better food, more movement! I know a healthy weight and better body image follows better choices- so that’s where I want to put my energy!


Sometimes I make a lot of excuses as to why I shouldn’t do things- but I want to make less excuses and just DO it already!

Examples? Travel more, read more books, take a photography class!

As always, I want to be better organized, too- and I want to get rid of some of my stuff to make that happen!

Last personal goal? I want to find a cool way to donate and/or volunteer. I’m thinking about finding a shelter or rescue I could take animal photos for. I’m no expert, but it’s something I enjoy and I think it could help some of them get homes. The tricky thing for me would be taking photos without also taking the animals home!

Alrighty- well, that’s certainly plenty to do. But I have a whole year, and I’m aiming high!

Garwood  Couples-057

In the meantime… Happy New Year from my little family!