Literacy Life

Reading, Writing and the pursuit of thinner thighs

1 Author talk and a stack of books later…

I had not decided what to blog about this week, but after my 2nd hour reading I knew what I had to share. 

Today’s lesson was “How do readers choose books?”. This isn’t an abnormal lesson by any means (I’m sure you’re all in the middle of your book shopping lessons now too). However, it was in the middle of this lesson that I happened upon a hot button with my second hour class. Before the hot button, a little background on the class. 

They are actually my first class of the day since first hour is my prep. It’s my largest class, boys are 3:1 girls and they are very chatty. I love them dearly but sometimes our lessons are a struggle. 

Now back to the lesson. I had several books chosen to show examples of the book shopping strategies. One was the Avi tub to show how having favorite authors can help  us choose books. I showed a couple of my favorite Avi books, showed a couple of his that would work in our 40 book challenge for historical fiction, and showed one that was on my to-read list. I continued the lesson, showing examples of other book shopping strategies. 

During independent work time, I looked up and had a line of kids at the iPad waiting to check out books. In fact, time ran out and I discovered a present on my desk.


I mean seriously, isn’t this the best little gift ever? A stack of books students want to check out! I had to snap a -quick, terrible lighting, on my phone- pic. It was precious. 

So my wise blogdum wisdom. Talk to your kids about books. Share your reader’s heart with them. They’re listening even when you think they’re not. Require them to read, but treat them like real readers. Don’t give them fake reading teaching, they deserve more. 

Note: I forgot to snag a picture of the book shopping flow chart, but will do that first thing in the morning and add it later.

Happy Hump Day!



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Reading Response Notebooks? Yes, we have them!

It is well into our second week of school and reading class is going strong. My kids ROCK when it comes to reading. Who would think 6th grade reading would be such a “cool” subject, but my kids do.

I decided to write about my reading response notebooks because I am very happy with the layout. It’s working for us and I think it could work for some of you. I posted about my thinking behind them last spring, but now I want to show student examples and a couple of additions.


The beginning of our notebook contains a basic outline in the form of a flip book for each component of the notebook. As students create their flip book, it’s a good opportunity for you to talk through what their notebooks are going to be. This year I decided to give each student a typed summary of what each component will do in their notebook.






The first page begins their logs. I can’t tell you how much I dislike reading logs (enter soapbox) that require students to write minutes or pages or something every time they read. When you read do you go right down each page and how much time you read? I doubt it. So why do we require students to do this? Oh I know the reasons teachers say they do, but do those reasons really back up the act? We have to get students to wrap their attitudes around reading in a way that will cause them to be lifelong readers. Not to be students who read. I beg of you to analyze your reading logs. Ask yourself why do you have a reading log. What is it’s purpose? If you’re purpose is to set students and parents up for they’re first fake reading assignment, then by all means keep doing it. However if you want to build readers who read for real. STOP LOGGING MINUTES READ (stepping off soapbox)

Ok so “How do you have your students log their reading” you ask…I will tell you. I just want to know what books they’re reading and how long it took them. Our logs take quite a bit of time to set up, but once set up…it’s easy peasy! All my students keep track of is a start date and end date, book/author, genre and rating. It requires very little time and effort from students but gives me a wealth of knowledge. That monthly information gives me everything I need to know for reading conferences. I mean really, like I’m going to sit down and add up pages and minutes? I don’t think so!






After our monthly reading log, is our mini lesson section. My students have begun to realize I like order. I like things organized. I like things that match. My reasoning to them? It takes less time for me to grade so I can get more reading accomplished. Honestly, I think that’s the only reason I need. You know that H. Wong book “The First Days of School” that says you must go slow in the beginning and make things right so you can go faster later? I think that is true with setting up notebooks. We go slow, get it right and then we’ll go faster later.



I love our notebooks. I value my students’ thinking and I feel this is the best way for them to share it with me. The last tab in our notebook is “independent thinking”. This section provides space for all of the writing about reading.

I hope this walk through our notebooks has provided you a little bit of help for setting up your notebook.

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Twas’ the night before school starts…

It seems as though the last few weeks have gone by in a flash. Where did all that prep time go? I’ve been working non-stop transforming my sterile white room into a comfortable soothing literacy lounge. I shared my planning and thinking about my room in the last post. I am extremely happy about the way it turned out. There are a few pieces that I haven’t been able to finish (family emergency…more about that later) but we can start school without them. Maybe it will even be fun for the kids to have some new pieces as the year goes on. So without further adieu, here are the pictures.



Since I took this picture, I have moved the UGLY cords hanging from the ceiling. They have been dropped and tucked behind the curtains. One of the pieces that didn’t get finished was the black space above the futon. I have black shelves to hang so I can display front facing books. I hope to get those finished this next weekend. Oh the curtains you say…I have to say I am so happy with this idea. Here is a better picture of them.



Here is our meeting area! Remember,  I have an inside room with no windows. So our projector/smartboard will serve as our window to the world. I took some pinterest ideas and turned book shelves on their sides to provide big kid seating. The U shape has a carpet in the middle for some floor seating. I think we’ll have lots of great mini lessons in this gathering space.  The chart frames hold entire tablets that allow me to build anchor charts. (I asked the custodians to put screws in the wall to hold the entire tablet)



I am a reading teacher. I didn’t want a reading nook in the classroom, I wanted the classroom to be the reading nook. I’ve tried my best to surround the classroom with books and cozy reading spaces. I had a goal of collecting 1,000 titles before school started and I came close with 740. I hope that over time, the library will grow and we’ll have way more than 1,000. Access to text drives my need to have a large classroom library, but I will save that idea for a post of its own.



My space is small and at the back of the room. The room is not mine, its for the students. Enough said.





This is one of my favorite walls. I used black duct tape to make the frames on the wall to keep our hanging charts neat and organized. The file cabinet is one of those pieces that I ran out of time to do, but will make for a fun addition later.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peak around my room. I’d love to hear your input.


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