I’m still here!

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Oh. My. Stars. Nine months, you guys. It’s been nine months since I updated my website. That is ridiculous, and while I completely understand that my excuses will help no one, I will offer a few updates on my life by way of explanation. First of all, there’s a technical hurdle. I build my site with iWeb, which has been dropped completely by Apple and is only accessible on my desktop computer, which rarely gets any love since I sprung for a MacBook. So updating often is a challenge because I just don’t spend much time at all on that computer. (Come on, who wants to be held down to one location by a desktop?!?) 😉

On a more personal note, 2013 was a trying year in a lot of ways, but some persistent medical issues forced everything else in my life to take a back seat. Honestly, to say that this blog was in the back seat is only really accurate if you imagine that I’m driving a school bus. I haven’t even logged on to look at stats, which was once a daily occurrence, in several months.

Many days, just doing my job was an act of survival, so this poor blog just didn’t make the cut. But still, you came. You looked at pictures, you downloaded anchor charts, you saved prompt cards, you pinned to Pinterest, you emailed me even when I couldn’t gather a response. You came because you too are trying to survive in a job that gets harder every day. I am so thankful for teachers like you (yes – you!) who are so committed to learning and refining the craft of teaching that you seek out inspiration from every corner of the internet. Whatever brought you to my little corner, thank you. Thank you for seeking out more information on your own free time, which I know is an absolutely precious commodity that is in too little supply in your life. Thank you for working your tail off every. single. day. If you’re heading back to work tomorrow like I am, know that I am wishing only the best for your classroom this year.

I am doing well from a medical perspective, so I am committed to posting more often. However, I am posting this from my MacBook, which doesn’t solve the iWeb problem. So for now, I’ll leave you with a big batch of unorganized anchor charts. I promise I will get them on the site in a more organized fashion some day!

What else have I promised you that fell through the cracks? What are you wishing you could find on this site? Let me know, and your wish might just come true!

In 2014, may you be blessed and be a blessing.

XOXO,
Julie




Mini-Update

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Technically, my summer has been over for two weeks now, but I’m still in a bit of denial. We have a JumpStart Summer School program at my school, and I absolutely love it.  It started a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a great way for the invited kids (and us teachers) to get back in the swing of things! The teachers are all bravely fighting the battle of the “summer slide”, and I know we’ll have great results.

I also taught six workshops in the last two weeks (whew!) on assesing readers with a notebook.  I taught sessions for teachers of Kindergarten through 5th grade.  On my campus, we are going to try notebooks at every grade level this year, so I was excited to begin processing this work with some teachers from around my district. I added just a few charts from those workshops – you can check them out here. (My apologies for the quality of the poorly-lit iPhone pictures.)

I found several scripted minilessons that I’d forgotten about on my iPad, so I will add those soon.

Hope you are having a fabulous summer! I’m headed back to New York City tomorrow for a training with Scholastic – stay tuned for more info on that! 🙂

Julie



Mail Call

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I have been getting lots of emails from fellow educators who’ve stumbled across my site.  I love getting these, and I try to answer them as soon as I can.  It’s common for me to get several e-mails with the same question, so it occurred to me that there may be more people with the same wonderings who just haven’t clicked the email button.  So, here are a few questions I’ve received, followed by my responses.

 

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 I love your readers notebook. I really want to try using them next year.  Can you help me explain how they organize it? Do they skip pages to make the different parts? I really love love love it!!!  Do you tab it?

–“Teacher”

I use a four-section reader’s notebook, and I do have the kids count the pages and tab it before we ever start using it.  The sections are as follows (page numbers are based on a 100-page composition notebook):

  • My Reading Life (~15 pages): Identity-building work is done here. (reading timelines, home-run books, identity ladders, last ten books I’ve read, etc.)
  • What I’m Learning (~20 pages): Notes or copies of key anchor charts (as they are retired from the wall) go here.
  • Read-Aloud (~30 pages): Post-its or writing long based on read-aloud with accountable talk go here.  This work is guided heavily.
  • Independent Reading (~35 pages): This section looks much like the read-aloud section, but it is not so guided, as the work is done during independent reading.
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I am curious how you would suggest organizing books for students in class.  I am a 3rd grade teacher and I have lots of picture books and chapter books in my classroom library.  Right now I have them separated (picture, chapter, non-fiction) in book buckets.  However, as I get more titles, the book buckets are filling up and I’m running out of space.  I just wondered if you had any other suggestions for organizing. Thanks for your input.

— Karen
This is a great question, and one I get often! I had my books in tubs, divided in a number of different ways. I had some bins by genre (poetry, biographies, historical fiction, space science, etc.) and some bins by level to help students who really struggled with choosing just-right books. (Note: almost all of my books were leveled, but they weren’t all sorted by level.) I also had bins for read-alouds and mentor texts.  These were empty when the year began, and we filled them throughout the year, as I read a book aloud or we used it as a mentor in writing.  Finally, I let my kids have some ownership over organization – this will change your life in terms of keeping the library organized – so I started every year with several empty, unlabeled bins as well. As we launched reader’s workshop, we talked a lot about how readers choose books. These discussions revealed some general preferences in my class, and by the end of that first unit, we had newly labeled buckets for ease of finding those preferred books.  Some of these bins earned labels like “If you like Mo Willems, you’ll love these books!” or “Books about Best Friends” or even “Books with Bullies”.  I will try to dig up my book bin labels and post them as a printable soon!
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Hey, Julie!  Thank you so much for sharing your charts.  I love them!  I just discovered your site on Pinterest.  I have a question…how do you store your charts?  I’m sure it’s very clever and would love to know!

Thanks so much for all you do!
Becky

I use the same storage bags that we use to store big books, and I made (well, I asked my very handy father to make) a small hanging rod for them that I mounted to the wall. I sort them by unit and label the bags accordingly.

Now that I’m using charts as models for other teachers, this preserves them better.  It’s also less time-consuming than the mount-to-a-coat-hanger method I used to use, although that method was definitely better for the time since my kids needed easy access to them.

Below is a picture of my stored charts. Hope this helps! 🙂

I absolutely love reading your emails! Keep them coming! 🙂

Happy Easter weekend!
Julie