A New School Year Resolution

As August winds down, I find myself waking up earlier and earlier.  I head out to my porch with a cup of coffee, the computer and pages of notes.  You see these days my mind is buzzing with ideas for the start of school. I have designed and redesigned the first week’s activities. My blackboard site has a new look and I am planning a twitter future for my classes!

Summer is the perfect time to refresh and revitalize oneself.  But, as I approach a new school year I am mindful that busy days are ahead.  Before I meet my new students I am making a pledge to find the time each day to reflect on my daily teaching practices. What did the students learn? Is there a better way to share the information? How is the class community growing?

As I set up my classroom I will make room for a very short list of reflective questions next to my chair.  Additionally, I will set aside time to answer these questions each day.  Planning lessons ahead is wise but adhering to plans without taking into account the interaction of students is foolhardy.  I can’t wait to see how my focus on reflection changes my teaching.

I am so thankful for the quiet days of summer. I hope to find moments of summer at the end of each teaching day.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?



Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for wonderful Monday book sharing!  Please visit these blogs to join the conversation.

This week I traveled a bit to visit family.  I took a stack of books with me and happy to say I read some wonderful texts. For the last few weeks I have been spoiled with lots of time to read on my back screen porch. Travel cut down my reading volume but it was fun to curl up with a good book at my sister’s house.  Added bonus, book shopping in New York!

Here is my list from this week:

notice and note At TCRWP’s Reading Institute last summer Kylene Beers was the keynote speaker.  She shared the principles of Notice & Note and I loved the thinking. Throughout the year, I have flirted around the edges of this book and finally sat down to dig deeper into these strategies.  I look forward to implement the signposts in my classroom this year. I recommend the book to any teacher running reading workshop…so practical. 4 out of 5 stars.

savvy I love the Beaumont family Ingrid Law created in Savvy.  At some point most kids dream about the magic power they would possess if only such things existed.  Well in this lovely story, the Beaumont children each discover their magic or savvy on the thirteenth birthday.  The reader rides along on the big pink bus in this adventure as Mibs Beaumont discovers her savvy.  My students will love this one! 4 out of 5 stars.


The Troublemaker Lauren Castillo draws gorgeous pictures. I would love to cover the walls of my family room with her color saturated drawings.  The Troublemaker gives the reader clues on every page…who is the real troublemaker in this lovely picture book? Read it and decide. 4 out of 5 stars.


the reader So I went on a mini-binge with Lauren Castillo this week.  I think The Reader will be one of my first read alouds with my 6th grade students during workshop this year.  Amy Hest does a masterful job of creating a perfect reading spot — even in the midst of a winter snow. I can’t wait to hear my students share about their ideal reading spot. 5 out of 5 stars.


Legend-of-Zita   The-Return-of-Zita-The-Space-Girl-444x630

If you have not met Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl yet, you should. Hatke has created a graphic novel trilogy that marries adventure, fantasy and compelling writing.  I am always looking for strong graphic novels and I know my students will love the whole series. 5 out of 5 stars.


west-of-the-moon This is an unusual book. Written in the tone of a folktale, West of the Moon tells the story of two sisters who are left with uncaring relatives after their mother dies.  The girls desperately want to join their father in America. The book is a bit hard to follow in the early going but by the end of the book, the reader has no trouble following and rooting for the sisters. I will be curious to see how my 6th grade readers react to the book. 3 out of 5 stars.

Have a great reading week!