Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently and Reading in the Wild!

Happy July, friends! Can you believe it's almost the fourth already??

Today I'm lucky enough to link up with two of my favorite bloggers, starting with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade for my July Currently! 

Listening: My summer project has been to clean all my teaching supplies and college things in the basement, and organize them so I'm ready for August. Something about John Mayer just relaxes me and is perfect for organizing.

Loving: I've had time to FINALLY read so many books that I've been wanting to read all year, both professional and personal. See below for details about my favorite read this summer!

Thinking: I feel like every teacher feels the same way when July 4th comes around...summer is going by too fast! I have so much more to do!

Wanting: I've been so out of the loop on TpT. I want to start creating more files, and I have lots of little projects that I've started but never finished. So keep a look out and I promise that I'll have some new lovely products coming your way! :) 

Needing: Organization is a MUST and I've been slacking. I have so many bins, and am currently putting all my library books into them to keep them organized. From what I've seen and heard from other teachers, this is the best way to maintain a classroom library that is organized. I'm labeling everything by genre so that my students can do my 40 book challenge again next year with my new Reader's Notebooks! You can check out my post HERE for more info!

4th Plans: My family is visiting from Virginia this weekend, and we're taking them to some hometown Pittsburgh favorites including cheering on the Bucco's for some fireworks on the 4th and a trip to Kennywood the next day! 

Now onto my other favorite blogger, Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher for the Summer Book Study! I know, I'm a little behind (only by a chapter!) 

I fell in love with Donalyn Miller after reading with her first book, The Book Whisperer. She gave me a whole new understanding of the meaning behind teaching literacy and how to foster lifelong readers in my classroom. I implemented her 40 Book Challenge this year, and saw tremendous improvements in the level of interest, vocabulary use, and writing of my students. 

Miller opens the first chapter by discussing the ways in which we need to make time to read for our students each day in school. I committed to a 15 minute quiet read time each day this year after recess. Students came in, and after the first week, knew the expectation was to grab a book and indulge in some quality reading time. What did I do during this time? Modeled my passion for reading, and read in a comfy spot, too. Sometimes, that even means on the floor! 

I know so many teachers who have asked how do I find the time for independent reading in my classroom? Well, my question is how do you not have time for independent reading? Students need choice! As we grow older, we lose our passion for reading as we are given requirements and books we have to read. Remember all those college textbooks you had to read? How many of them did you actually keep because you enjoyed reading? 

Students who spend their time reading, in school and out of school, are indefinitely more likely to achieve higher on standardized tests and develop a better vocabulary. Using time in school for students to read is an essential part of my instruction. As suggested by Miller, I use a reading/writing workshop in my classroom with use of mentor texts and mini-lessons to help make connections between what students are reading and what they are writing. 

Miller talks about how we can set aside time for independent reading in the classroom. She explains how we must be prepared for "reading emergencies" and always have a book. I've found this to be so beneficial for myself, especially with all the activities with which my family is involved. Getting oil in my car, waiting in line at the store, etc. are all great opportunities I've taken advantage of to get out my book and read. Teaching students about taking advantage of these spare moments is so important to foster a true love of reading. Even with the 40 book challenge my class did this year, as a first year teacher, I admit I never took advantage of these small opportunities we shared. All of those minutes truly add up and I look forward to challenging my students this year to take advantage of these "reading emergencies" in their life, both in and out of school. This could be waiting in line for special (gym, library, art, etc.), waiting for the bus, during transitional times, etc.

One of the ways I allowed for additional reading time in my classroom was doing the Lunch Bunch Book Club this year. Every Friday, students chose to come in and eat their lunch while discussing the book we were reading together. Spots were limited, so students would race to the sign up sheet each month to see the next book. I chose books from various genres to provide for different interests. This was something that my kiddos looked forward to! You can read more about this idea here.

I'm looking forward to seeing the other ways teachers foster independent reading in their classrooms! I love learning new things, and am always looking for ways to improve. I'd love to hear how you do this in your classroom!


  1. I also have a lot of reading, teachers pay teachering and organizing to do!!!!

    Fourth Grade Lemonade

  2. I want to read both of those books. I have other summer reading that I must do so I have not had the time to do it yet. July always hits hard for me because we start school inservice August 1. It always seems to fly by took quickly. Have a great summer!

  3. Those books sound great!!! I love the graphic on why reading is so important.. We've done that with the kids before as a beginning of the year activity. We use two sets of chain links one for student a and one for student b. Eventually student A will have more links and be long enough to touch the sides of the classroom and student B won't. We then leave them in the room somewhere for use to refer back to as the year goes on and we can say... who are you choosing to be??? Student A or Student B??? Happy July!
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love to organize too. I did a little during the last week of school and took some "free bags" to work. I read an article that said to get rid of ten things a week when trying to purge. I decided 5 was a good number. It suggested getting rid of things you haven't used in a year. I find this hard when the job market in my area is so tough.. I never know what to keep or get rid off in those teacher boxes.
    I loved the fact that you used Windex.... did it work? LOL

  5. I love Donalyn Miller's books! I just finished with Reading in the Wild and am excited to implement some new ideas for next year! Have fun at the Pirates game!


  6. I'm with ya on the "wanting" and "needing"! I swear my brain never turned off it's teaching mode. #teacherproblems

    Enjoy your 4th!

    Tasha Emmerson
    Confessions of a Tiny Teacher

  7. Hi Stephanie!
    I just stumbled upon your blog via Farley's Currently. I saw that you're a first year teacher. How exciting!! I just retired from teaching primarily 4th grade for the last 2/3 of my teaching career. I love seeing new teachers getting out there and blossoming into amazing teachers. Good luck on your new journey!! I hope you have great success and are inspired by your students every day. I look forward to seeing your posts as I am your newest follower!
    Mrs. Renz' Class