Friday, July 29, 2016

Beginning of the Year Read-Alouds

Like most educators, I am slightly obsessed with bookstores. I love the way they smell, I enjoy watching people browse for just the right book, I love hearing the conversations between parents and their young children as they discuss authors and characters, and I get excited every time I find perfect books for lessons I want to teach or share with the teachers with whom I work.

The other day, I was in Half Price Books and found two gems that I am excited to take with me to school this year! Elementary teachers spend considerable time at the beginning of the year building community with their classes and setting the stage for future reading success. It is important to share special books together so that students can anchor their learning to mentor texts, establish norms and procedures for working closely in a shared space, and simply adjust to their new learning environment with the presence of quality children's literature. 

Wise teachers are very intentional about the books they choose at the beginning of the school year. They read books that are funny, books with characters that help children make connections, and books that model expectations in easy, relatable ways. Teachers understand what feelings and anxieties students may bring into their new classroom and can leverage read-alouds for a positive start to the year.

There are classic read-alouds that I have always read to my kids at the beginning of the year, but I get giddy when I find new titles that I can add to my coaching room for teachers to share with their new groups of kiddos. Here are two finds that I highly encourage you to check-out!

The Book That I Love to Read by Joe Fitzpatrick. This is the cutest read-aloud ever! The main character is a boy who has found the PERFECT book. It kind of reminds me of The Monster at the End of This Book because each new page has fun surprises that primary kids will LOVE. Selfishly, I want to keep this book for myself when I do read-alouds in classrooms the first few weeks of school year to introduce myself to the kids. But, if a teacher REALLY wants it, then (of course) I will concede!

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner. This is quite possibly the most perfect book to read to kids before a lesson on choosing a Just-Right book. It is versatile enough to read at home with your own kids or to your class as you establish norms for independent and partner reading.  It is kind of a clearinghouse of all beginning of the year reading mini-lessons, as it addresses everything from choosing a place to read, to changing your voice to match the characters, to boldly exclaiming, "The End." Just precious. Amazon recommends this book for K-2nd grade, but I would read it to third graders in a heartbeat. If I had to choose a similar book, it kind of reminds me of Wolf! by Becky Bloom.

As the new school year quickly approaches, I will continue to find books to support the teachers and students I get to work alongside all year. What are your favorite back-to-school read-alouds?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Reflections from the Stands

I got the opportunity to guest blog over at Your Instructional Coach. It is a blogged aimed at Instructional Coaches, but applicable to any in the field of education. I was recently struck by how teaching is a lot like playing baseball...

I would be honored if you would head over to Eric's page and check it out! I am rooting for you, teachers!

Great baseball reads...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mindsets for Parents!

I'm so excited! I have blogged before about the power of Growth Mindsets for kiddos, but I am thrilled about this new book by Mary Cay Ricci written just for parents! I hope to start up a Growth Mindset parent study at school soon. What are some things you would address in a group like this? I think parents and teachers working on this together could have a real impact...I would love to know your thoughts.

Mindset books I have enjoyed...

Friday, July 8, 2016

School's First Day of School

Looking for a fun new read aloud for the first day of school? Check out this cutie by Adam Rex. The story is told from the perspective of the actual school building...his floors are getting waxed and buffed, he's not sure about meeting the children, and he has a charming relationship with the school janitor. School overhears a big kid saying he doesn't like school, and his feelings get hurt, but then he witnesses a shy, upset kindergartner change throughout the story and get excited about coming back the next day. 

In First Day Jitters fashion, this book tells the story of back-to-school nerves from a perspective other than a child, with the clear goal of helping students identify with a character without admitting their own nerves. This is a must-add to your first-day read aloud cue! 

If you like School's First Day of School as much as I do, check out my resource pack for some fun ideas to use after reading the book to your new class.

I have a few more back-to-school read aloud ideas coming up soon...What are some of your favorites?


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Podcasts are the New PD

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with Gretchen Shultek from Always a Lesson on a project we've talked about for awhile. I connected with Gretchen through Twitter and she quickly became a mentor to me...even though we are not geographically close!

Gretchen and I quickly took our Twitter connection to the next level. Voxer is one of my favorite apps for taking control of my own professional development. It allows for quick, convenient connection with my PLN. I can throw out a quick question, ask for recommendations, participate in book studies, or just say hi. It is a great tool for #personalizedPD, which is my very favorite kind of PD (if you haven't heard me mention it already...).

Gretchen asked if I would be interested in being interviewed for her podcast, and at first I was confused. "Um, what would people want to hear me talk about?" And she said, "Just tell me what you're thinking." It fascinated me how talking to her in that format allowed me to reflect on ideas that have been swimming around in my mind for awhile. It was such a cool experience. If you'd like to hear the episode, you can listen here, or you can download her podcast in the iTunes store. If you like her style, please subscribe to her podcast and leave her some love in the review section.

Listening to a podcast is an easy way to grab some personalized professional development when it fits into your schedule. No matter what you are searching for, you are sure to find one that will give you insight, encouragement, and practical ideas for your teaching life. Here are a few of my favorites:

Always a Lesson

Cult of Pedagogy

Angela Watson

Jennifer Seravallo