Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I apologize for neglecting my blog! I feel so bad! It's been a crazy start to the school year, with lots of scheduling changes, and moving kids around.  I feel like we're a quarter in and just now getting started.  Parent-teacher conferences will be in 2 weeks and grade cards are due then, too!  Holy cow!  What happened to the school year??

I have been reading up on some reading strategies.  Right now, we have a 60 minute reading block, and are including our 30 minutes of social studies as reading to make it a 90 minute reading block.  But, we switch classes, so I have one class of 5th graders for science and social studies while the others are at math.  So, social studies is social studies (and not just reading), but we incorporate a lot of non-fiction reading and reading strategies into social studies...which works well with interactive notebooking!

I've been reading a book that was recommended to me by a friend and fellow 5th grade teacher in my district.  You've probably heard/read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, but if you haven't here's your first introduction to it! If you know me, you know that I have NEVER read an instructional book EVER, not even in college!  They don't interest me and I find them boring.  I would much rather read a blog written by a teacher who is experiencing the idea right now.  So much more appealing to me!

So I was more than hesitant to pay for another book to sit on my "teacher shelf" in my classroom.  But I did fork over the dough and buy the book.  BEST TEACHING INVESTMENT EVER!  I was hooked after the first sentence.  This book is written by a teacher for teachers, and it's really like reading a blog.  It seems personal and interactive.  And there are so many "duh!" moments where you think, "Gosh, I know that..."  What I really enjoyed is that here is a published book that's all the rage and AGREES with many of my ideas for reading education!

The premise of the book is to get kids excited about reading.  For a 2nd year teacher, I have a pretty huge library (thank you, St. Louis Book Fair and garage sales!).  I love to read and I want to pass that love on to my students.  This book tells me how to do it.  It's really pretty simple-- give them access to books and time to read those books.  I started to use this with my kids last week and can already see/hear the results!  When I say it is time for "Free Choice Reading," I hear kids make joyous exclamations!  I've had several students finish 2 or 3 books already!  Amazing!

On top of The Book Whisperer, I've been reading Laura Candler's Power Reading Workshop, which is absolutely PERFECT for my short, 1 hour reading block.  It's exactly what I wanted to do, but wasn't sure how to fit it in.

My students come back from math/social studies at 10:10.  I have 4 students gone to Read 180 until 11:00, but we have a 30 minute RTI time that happens first.  So 10:10-10:40 is RTI.  Then, I needed something to do for 20 minutes that the Read 180 kids could miss, but would be beneficial for the kids still in the classroom.  Enter Power Reading Workshop!  Now, here is our new schedule:

10:10-10:40- RTI (free choice reading/study hall for students not in RTI group)
10:40-11:00- Read Aloud and Mini-lesson
11:00-11:30- Reading Workshop (free choice reading while working on a skill from the mini-lesson)
11:30-11:40- Reading Response
11:40 Lunch

Whew!  Makes me tired just reading it!  This makes reading fly by (for me and the kids...teaching reading used to be my least favorite part of teaching, but not anymore!).  I can't wait to see the results of the Power Reading Workshop! 


  1. I don't teach reading this year, but I do have both of those books-they are fantastic!! Unfortunately at our school we have a basal reading program so nobody does reading workshop or even really teaches the joy of reading. Sigh. I was NOT sad to give up teaching reading this year! :)

    I teach American History to 5/6 graders. For the 1st time. And love it!

    Do you have any grand ideas/things that you do in history?


  2. I read The Book Whisperer this summer too and LOVED it!!!! I was a little anxious about trying the 40 book challenge but my students are really motivated to achieve the goal. How are you managing checking in on all those read books?

    Melissa O'Bryan