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Friday, January 31, 2014

Loving Literacy Blog Hop - Stop #17

Welcome to...

Valentine's Day is fast approaching!  So sorry if I was the first one to tell you that, but it's true!  So The Reading Crew got together again and decided to share that lovey-dovey stuff with our followers.  Each specialist has picked a book that is either their one of their favorites, or may be a wonderful timely book for this time of year.  In addition, they are sharing with you, our readers, some 

I have always been a reader.  I frequently tell the students I see, "So many books, so little time."  I have favorite authors, books, genres, and I always know what I am going to read next after I have finished a book.  Funny thing about me:  I can stay up until 2:00 in the morning reading a book, once a finish it, I have to read at least 10 pages into another book before I can go to sleep.  I think it is because I must always be reading something.  Heaven forbid, I be between books!  GASP!

I love making lists of my favorite authors and what books they have written.  I have a notebook that I keep all of that in.  I would take a picture of it, but I am afraid you would lose respect and think I was too geeky to continue following my blog.  I love buying books.  I love going to the library and checking out books (I absolutely love the smell that ALL library books seem to have)!  However, I am not a very fast reader.  And especially when it comes to non-fiction, I really have to slow down.  My friends seem to breeze through books at a rate that leaves me breathless.  I continue to plod along at my slow pace.  I don't have a slow reading rate or anything, I just take a long time digesting what I read.

Enter student teaching.  I loved all the prep classes in reading in my undergrad from good ole' Western Illinois University (when I went every elementary education major graduated with 18 hours of reading), but the idea of teaching reading scared the bologna out of me.  I am a math-minded person.  There is right, there is wrong, show your work.  That's easy!  Reading is so loosey-goosey, too much gray area, yuck!  Someone up there (thank you) heard my cries and felt my trepidation, because they gave me about the best cooperating teacher for reading (and pretty much every thing else) a beginning teacher could have.  It was clear that teaching reading was her passion, and the students quickly saw that and became passionate about reading too.  She was getting her Reading Specialist degree at the time I student taught.  I remember thinking, "I could never do that, or even want to do that."  I got a job teaching third grade the very next year, and two years after that, I went back to school for my Reading Specialist certificate.

I've always had a love for literacy and reading, but I feel like my student teaching experience gave me the love for teaching literacy!

Enough about me, onto the book I chose.  I grabbed this book off of the rack at a Scholastic Book Fair sale the one year I was a school librarian.  I picked it up for our school, but I stashed one away to buy for my oldest daughter.

It's a cute story about a young child going to bed, and the monster that is usually under their bed went fishing for the night.  The child realizes that they can't fall asleep without the monster, so other monsters try to substitute for missing monster.  It was wonderful illustrations with a vocabulary that would be best for a read aloud from grades 2-5.

The book is fantastic for teaching the reading strategy of visualizing.  Normally, I show the pictures to the students as I read to them.  For this book, I do not.  I purposely wait until we have talked about the monsters and what we think they should look like, and what clues the author put there to help us with those mental pictures.

The lesson starts with a 2 page Interactive Read Aloud Lesson Plan.  The lesson plan tells you where to stop in the story and what to talk about with the students.

The next part of the product has the students creating their own monster.  Then they have to write a piece about their monster describing what it looks like.  When the students are done, it is so fun trying to match up each writing piece to the correct monster.  You can even make it a game.  Some students are very straight-forward in their writing.  They describe the physical traits of their monster.  Some try to make their piece a little trickier by not stating outright, but using clues that the reader must figure out.  All in all, when the students are done, they have had a monstrous good time (pun intended)!

I hope you enjoy the freebie and leave feedback, especially after you have tried it with your students.  You can also spread the love by following me on Bloglovin'.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

This item was free only for the Loving Literacy Blog Hop Weekend.  It is now a paid item in my store.  Thanks again for stopping by!

You are now ready to.......

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upcoming Blog Hop

So, my New Year's guidelines about blogging at least once a week went south real quick didn't it?!  That is why I call them guidelines and not resolutions.  I have been able to follow some of my other New Year's Guidelines, but blogging once a week is soooo tricky!

However, I do have a couple of big things coming up.  February is my birthday month.  My actual birthday is on the 9th.  I believe with my whole heart that you should celebrate your birthday for an entire month, and not just one day.  I plan to celebrate with my blogging friends and followers, so look for some fun and freebies early in February.

Secondly, I am fortunate enough to participate in another blog hop starting tomorrow!  Here are all the details.

Each blogger will share why they love literacy so much and share a favorite book of theirs with a freebie.  You can start your hop at:

From there, you get to hop from one blog to the next collecting great teaching techniques and some fabulous freebies.

See you all soon!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trading Spaces

Hello there!  It is Jessica from Hanging Out in First here and I have come to hang out with you today!

A few of us have gathered together for Trading Spaces Tuesday.  That means that we have all swapped places for the day!  I want to thank Amy for having me. It is an exciting opportunity to be a guest blogger and to get the opportunity to "meet" all of you!

I wanted to share a little about guided reading and goal setting with you today.  Guided reading is something that I have done with my firsties for quite some time, but goal setting is a completely different story!

Are you required to have students track their own progress and learning?  Set goals for themselves?  This is a newer thing in our school that they are requiring of everyone.  Our upper level teachers have kinda always done it through learning portfolios and graphing and what not.  But my challenge this year has been to figure out how to get my firsties to track their own learning and to understand how to set reasonable goals.  Seems like a very difficult task!!  Firsties are still learning that they have control over their learning and that they need to be responsible for it.  To have them responsible for tracking it is yet another difficult skill to teach them! is what I came up with.  This guided reading student goal setting chart has all of the levels A-Z listed.  I simply have students color in the space that they are starting on (at the beginning of first grade, most of my kids start around level C or D).  Then in my reading conferences with my students, we discuss where that student should be within the next month or two (we do it each advisory).  This becomes the student's goal.  The next advisory, they color where they are and see if they have met their goal. Then we set a new goal!  I have been using this all year and it seems to be working.  My students have an easy visual of where they are and they can see if they have met their goal. If they meet their goal, they get an award during that advisory's assembly!

You can grab it for free here!

This is also a great tracking device for myself.  I am able to better track where my students are in their guided reading so that I can pull appropriate materials for them.  And I can share it with my students' parents so that they can see their child's progress!

I hope that you can find ways to use it too!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Blog and Freebies!

Hello all!  I know that I am stunning you with how much I have been on blogging land lately, but today it is really important!

Some of my reading and literacy blogging buddies have started a new collaborative blog about literacy. Today is the launch! This is a great group of ladies, not to mention excellent literacy experts.  Take a jump over there to check them out!

They are offering up a bunch of freebies this week for the launch.  I for one am going to take advantage!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


It is 9:30 here in the Midwest, and the eternal question on every school-age child (and teacher alike) is:  Will there be school on Monday due to the extreme, seriously cold temperature coming that day.  The high will be -13 degrees!  I know that somewhere in the world it is colder, but man!

I am linking up with Farley for this month's Currently.

I must comment on the first one.  Listening.  My little one listened to the Frozen soundtrack ALL DAY TODAY.  The whole time she was practicing a performance that she lured her older sister into, and then performed for the hubs and I later in the evening.  The songs are so catchy, and I have been a fan of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel for a long time.

Have a great rest of your Saturday and keep your fingers crossed for me and others for a Cold Day on Monday!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five For Friday

If you have read my past few posts, and especially my November Currently, then you know we were thinking about getting a dog.  Then I read my friend's post about losing his dog, and it was equally touching and funny.  I think that sealed the deal with me making up my mind, and I started looking at Pet Finder to find a dog.  We were looking at Golden Retriever dogs because that is what we had before.  So, today, my Five For Friday is going to be 5 things about the newest member of our family.

So upon looking at Pet Finder, I was amazed and saddened by some of the stories about the dogs and their past.  We were not looking for a puppy.  It just wouldn't be fair to it with the hubs and I both working full time.  I didn't look at any more dog profiles once I saw this one.  Meet LILAH, the most crazy Golden Retriever, Chow mix you will ever know!

We called about her and were lucky that the foster parents lived nearby.  Within 2 days, she was on her way to meet us.  The foster parents had no concerns about our home and left her with us that day!  It also happened to be my youngest's 7th birthday (her golden birthday, pun intended)!

We definitely have had some adjusting to do.  She doesn't like it when her humans leave and tends to get a little panicky.  Something we found out the hard way when we came home and our home was destroyed!  She even chewed on our stairs!  We never used baby gates with our children, but have installed 2 since we got Lilah!  She can also open the gates we had installed.  We took her to the vet and then brought her home to run errands, and this is what we came home to!

We had to go back to the vet that same day because she had gotten into the chocolate cookies (you know the ones with the Kisses on top).  They kept her for a few hours so they could make her throw it all up.  Needless to say, we are looking into getting her "crate trained." for her protection, and to avoid any future destruction.  

We also found out the hard way, that she is not spayed like the rescue said that she was.  We are going to get it taken care of, but can't right now because she is in heat!  It is a big pain in the butt.  Thankfully, she keeps the doggie diapers on.  And honestly, she looks really cute in them!

So, in a nutshell, it is much more work than I remembered with our other dog (over 7 years ago).  But what my family is getting back from this naughty, yet truly lovable companion, is so much more!  I don't think I realized how much she had gotten into my heart until I picked her up from the vet after her chocolate incident.  She put both of her front paws on my chest and thoroughly licked my face.  The people working at our vet commented on how much she is already attached to us.  That made me feel wonderful!  She is so sweet, but vicious to her stuffed toys (I've seen the massacre).  She is a great napping buddy, and I look forward to the morning wake up call she gives me every morning by jumping up in bed and not so gently nudging me out of my spot (not to let her out, but she wants my spot in the bed)!

We are very lucky that this wonderful, nutty dog has come into our lives!

Happy Friday everyone!

Resolution Time

I love the new year.  I love a fresh start, a clean slate.  However, I am realistic about resolutions.  I feel like the pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean, they are really more like guidelines.  I usually also try not to make more than 3 every year.

So, here it is time once again, to think about what you want for yourself in 2014.  I am linking up with
First Grade Nest.  She has a great New Year's resolution linky!

Okay, here we go!

Our district has so many new things going on, that teachers are finding it hard to keep up with everything.  I would love to ease that burden if I could.  I would love to hold a weekly brown bag professional development lunch.  If I say weekly, then I am sure that I could keep up with a monthly one.

I would like to read 4 professional books this year.  I have started a couple, but need to finish them.

In the past two years, I have consistently lost about 20 pounds.  I would like to lose the last 10 pounds this year.  These are going to be the hard ones.  I haven't done anything drastic, just always keeping it in the back of my mind.

Stay more organized.  I hate it when I miss deadlines or miss out on something because of my disorganization.  It drives it me crazy.  I know that staying organized is all about routine, routine, routine.

I really, really want to see Walt Disney World during the holidays.  I have heard it is just magical (even more than usual)!

I have never had sushi.  I always eat the cooked kind.  I believe that is cheating!  I need to go with someone who knows what they are doing.  I am going to have to ease in.

I would love to learn how to do Yoga.  I don't even know if it is something you can learn, or you just have to do, but I'm intrigued!  You may not know this about me, but I don't handle stress well!  I feel like this would be a great way for me stay grounded and handle the everyday stresses better.

I would love to give up my awesome ability to procrastinate!  Anyone have a pill for that?

READ!  I recently have taken time to more reading for pleasure, but that is usually at the cost of something else (laundry).  My goal is to read 52 books this year.  For you math experts that is right:  one a week!

Don't shoot me, but I have never read the book To Kill a Mockingbird or seen the movie It's a Wonderful Life.  I would love to do both this year.

Whew!  That is a lot to take on!  Okay, who is going to have the linky in June (halfway through the year) to see how we are all doing with our resolutions?