Top 5 Favorite Picture Books from the 2018-2019 School Year

11:12 AM
Hi friends! I'm so excited to share with you my top 5 favorite picture books from this past school year. We read SO many great books as part of #classroombookaday, but I narrowed the list down to my top five most favorites. If you don't know about #classroombookaday, check out Jillian's site. I absolutely LOVED sharing picture books with my fifth graders and I know my new second graders will love this part of our class too. If you want to hear more about how I incorporate #classroombookaday into my 5th grade reading class routine, you can watch my Youtube video from last year:


Now, let's get into my top 5 favorites from last year:

My favorite holiday themed picture book was:

My favorite nonfiction picture book was:

My kids' favorite was:

My favorite humorous fiction book was:

and my #1 most favorite book was

To hear more about why I loved these favorite books so much, check out my Youtube video here. I'm also giving away all of these books to one lucky teacher! To win, head over to my Youtube channel and enter here. :) Giveaway ends in one week (7/24/19)

Guided Picture Book Read Alouds

7:08 AM
Hi friends! I asked on Instagram yesterday if y'all wanted me to explain my seasonal bundle of guided read alouds in a blog post or Youtube video, and the poll ended at 50% video/50% blog post! I'll share in this blog post, and then talk about it in a vlog so everyone can enjoy their preferred method :)

Before we talk about the bundle, let's first talk about what my Guided Picture Book Read Aloud resources are. I currently have 6 available in my TpT store:

These are all available in the seasonal bundle as well. 

These Guided Picture Book Read Aloud resources are best suited for upper elementary, specifically grades 4-6,  although they could be modified for third grade.

The thing I love most about this resource is that EVERY book is available FREE on Epic! If you don't use Epic in your classroom, you need it-especially if you're a 1:1 device classroom. It's the PERFECT way to get a copy of the book in the hands of every single student. I LOVE it!

These guided picture book read alouds can be used in a multitude of different ways. They can be used to extend a read aloud and provide extra practice. They can be used as morning work, or at a literacy center. Even whole group, small group, or independent work. Whatever works best in your classroom!

Here are the books that are included in this seasonal bundle. Please note: The picture books are NOT included in this unit. This is merely a guide to show what picture book each monthly guided read aloud will be themed around.  Again, all of these books are available on Epic!

So, now let's talk about what is included in each Guided Picture Book Read Aloud resource:

Vocabulary Words:
Each set comes with 7-15 vocabulary words and several different format options:

*Full Size Posters

*Word Wall Cards

*1/2 size cards

Vocabulary Activities like Frayer Models:

And a vocabulary quiz:

Every resource also contains a variety of graphic organizers:

Each unit has a Check of Understanding comprehension question sheet with answer key: These can also be used as a comprehension quiz:

Also included are constructed response question stems (like the ones in my Comp Files units) and an evidence bookmark:

(Answer key also included)

The ABC books (S is for S'mores, P is for Pilgrim, etc) also include a main idea ABC book that the kids can create and determine the main idea for each section and then provide details. This would be a longer project as it is time consuming! 

The ABC book can be seen here:

The following units are currently available in the seasonal bundle and also individually in my store:

The other units will be added according to the schedule below:

If you purchase the growing bundle in June, you'll save $25. After June the price increases to $75-which is still $20 off the price if each unit is purchased individually!

You can grab your copy here:

Top Ten Favorite Professional Development Books

1:16 PM
Hi friends! It's officially summer break for me and I cannot begin to describe my level of excitement! I always love to have the summer to recuperate from the previous school year and plan for the next one! I also love to catch up on some professional development books as a way to motivate myself. I thought I would share my top ten favorite professional development books today. Be sure and stick around to the end because there just might be a giveaway! 

The Megabook of Fluency by Timothy V. Rasinski and Melissa Cheesman Smith 

I discovered The Megabook of Fluency last summer and fell in love. This is my FAVORITE reference tool for fluency. It's full of passages that you can use in your classroom to have your kids practice fluency. It also contains strategies to use and ready to print fluency examples. It's amazing. 

This one is an oldie, but I LOVE Strategies that Work. It's one of those books that you can just pick up and use because its filled with strategies. It's especially good for nonfiction strategies-which y'all know I struggle with! :)

Two summers ago I read Reading Magic, which changed the way I viewed read alouds. If you are an upper grade teacher (or even lower elementary) and you're worried that you're wasting valuable instructional time by reading aloud to your kids, read this and you'll never doubt yourself again. It teaches you the benefits to reading aloud to students. It is a classic that everyone should read. 

Last summer I did a book study on Disrupting thinking. You can read the posts here. I ended up stopping with the blog posts halfway through because everything got so busy with building my house, but I did finish the book and I LOVED it! It talks about how important it is to really analyze how our students are learning and how to change your teaching when something isn't working. 

I read The End of Molasses Classes right after my first year of teaching and I remember thinking how much I wished I had read it before I started teaching. If you're in a rut and feeling defeated or uninspired, this book will motivate you and make you want to be the best teacher ever. It's absolutely amazing. 

This book I read every single summer. This book will change the way you teach reading and make you strive to create a reader in every single one of your students. It's amazing and brilliant and inspiring and motivating. If you pick up one PD book to read this summer, let it be this one. 

Another oldie, but Comprehension Connections contains some classic lessons like the handbag drawing conclusions lesson. You will find some great ideas to use in this one. I promise! 

Debbie Miller is my go to for lower elementary specific PD books. Reading with Meaning has so many great ideas for literacy stations. I can't wait to reread it and get some new ideas since I'm moving to second grade next year :)

Another great one from Debbie Miller. This one has sections specifically for different important elements of a successful classroom like creating a sense of family, or making good use of your class time. 

My number one favorite PD book of all time is The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. This book is FULL of simple strategies that you can use in your classroom. It's one of those books that isn't packed with research and other info that, while important, gets in the way of what you want to know and use in your classroom. I have a copy for home AND one that I leave at school because I was carrying my one copy back and forth so many times. It's that good. There's also one for writing strategies that fabulous too!

And that brings us to our giveaway! I am SO excited to work with Scholastic Professional again and share about this new PD book that shares tips and strategies from 50 expert teachers. I love how this one is broken down and how each strategy/activity is divided into sections (what, where, why, how) because it makes it very easy to follow and understand. Plus it has tons of pictures, which always helps me! The giveaway is happening over on my Instagram, but you get a bonus entry if you go to my newest Youtube video and leave a comment :) 

Happy Tuesday, friends! :)

*All links are affiliate links

National Endangered Species Day

1:38 PM

Did y'all know last Friday (5/17) was National Endangered Species Day? It's not too late to celebrate, and I have the perfect picture book for the occasion:

This new book from Chelsea Clinton contains 12 animals from all over the world that are endangered. Some of the species that are endangered really surprised me! The book talks about:

-blue whales
-giant pandas
-whale sharks
-polar bears
-sea otters

I especially love that each section gives the level of endangerment and the reason. 

This one is a great nonfiction picture book that gives a ton of info in an easy to read and understand way. You can grab your copy here

You're Missing It! Screen Free Week Blog Tour

1:32 PM
Happy Thursday, friends! I'm super excited to share a brand new book with y'all today that is not only gorgeously illustrated, but also contains such a relevant and important message. I'm talking about Brady Smith and Tiffani Thiessan's (yep, Kelly Kapowski!) new book, You're Missing It!

This book tells the story of a little boy who goes to the park with his dad. The only problem is the dad is too busy on his phone to pay attention to everything around him. Throughout the book, the little boy sees amazing things and tries to share his discoveries with his dad, but the dad is too busy. This is such a great story for theme. 

You may not have known, but this week is actually Screen Free Week- yep the irony isn't lost on me LOL. This book is the perfect way to talk with kids about being present and actually living life. 
Our schedule is jam packed every day, but we sometimes have days (especially here at the end of school) where we have a school event or some kids have a field trip with clubs and we don't have a regular class setting that day. On those days we usually have some free time and I hate to just let my students sit and "play" on their Chromebook. 

I've created a short list of ways to disconnect from the screen if this is a problem in your classroom. I know it is in mine at times. A few years ago, whenever we had free time, my kids would always beg to play interactive class games or draw or have "Storytime." But now, they just want to "play on the Chromebook" which is a term I loathe! I always like doing something as a class because it allows for myself AND the kids to be in more of a relaxed setting and develop a sense of family. 

Here's a few ways I have found to get kids to put down their screens and be present whenever we have a little free time in class:

* Go on a nature walk* 
Our science teacher does this and has the kids walk around the campus and simply observe their surroundings. Then they come back and do ABC's where they recall something they saw/smelled/felt that started with an "A" or a "B" or so on.

 This incorporates teamwork as well as speaking and listening standards. A huge plus in my book! If you google charades for kids, you can find examples for the kids to do. 

 Another highly requested favorite

Start off a story by saying something along the lines of "Once upon a time" or "One day, a boy named _______ went to ______" Then pick a student to continue your story. They will say a few lines, and then call on another student to add to the story.  

*Reverse Read Alouds*
 I build time into our schedule each day for a read aloud, but that doesn't mean if we have some free time we can't read another! Switch it up and have the kids be the teacher. Have a student pick a favorite book and read it to the class just like the teacher would. 

* Directed Drawings*
 We LOVE doing directed drawings and they often times result in some funny conversations and drawings LOL You can find tons of directed drawings online and you can even tie it back into whatever topic y'all are learning about at that time. 

What else can you think of to do during free time in your classroom to promote being present and screen free? Leave a comment below so we can all get ideas!

Thanks so much for my copy of the book, Penguin Random House Children's Books.

Teaching Figurative Language: Part 2

4:04 PM

I'm back with the long overdue part 2 of my teaching figurative language blog post. We finished up our unit on figurative language about two weeks ago. You can read about our first week here. During the second week, I taught hyperbole, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, and allusion. In this blog post, I also shared a few activities we did to review for the unit test the following week. I usually spent three weeks on figurative language and then incorporate it into weekly lessons. I LOVE using these figurative language stories as a way to provide a spiral review and keep it fresh and current with the kids. 

To introduce and practice identifying and understanding examples of hyperbole, we did a snowball fight. I added a game aspect to this fight and I LOVED how this upped the activity. I did 4 versions of the same hyperbole sentence. For example, I wrote on 4 different slips of blue paper "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." I did this for 5 different examples of hyperbole. The kids threw the "snowballs" and found one to unwrap and write. If it was a statement that they hadn't written down, they recorded under the "HITS" column on their paper. If they got a snowball that they had already written down-because remember, there are four of the same sentences for 5 different examples- they wrote it down under the "MISS" section. The first student who got all five examples won the snowball fight. They- and I- LOVED this! 

For onomatopoeia, I did this really fun lesson that I taught several years ago. You can't not use the old batman when teaching sound words, right? :)


For allusion, I had the kids do a "sticky stroll" (you can read about how I do these here). They had a recording sheet where they had to write the sentence, identify the allusion, and explain what it meant.

To introduce oxymorons, I showed these two videos from Youtube. For the first one, I have the kids get out a piece of paper (or Google Doc!) and I tell them to put their pencil under their seat. I have them watch the video and then write down as many oxymorons as they can remember and we see who can come up with the greatest number. Then we practice recognizing more oxymorons with the sheet from this resource.



Wrap Up

To wrap everything up and prepare for our unit test on figurative language, we did Table Wars and filled out these review charts:

I divided the kids into 5 teams of four each. Each round, we focused on a different type of figurative language. They worked together to fill out one sticky note per group (sticky notes were color coded). Each round, the teams had to define the type of figurative language using student friendly terms AND give an example of each. I awarded one point for:

*the best definition
*the best examples
*the best teamwork

All three points in a round could go to the same team or different teams just depending on the answers and collaboration. This is a GREAT way to review that makes it fun and engaging for the kids. Plus, you can do it for lots of content, not just figurative language! 

We also did these figurative language drawings as a way to study and review all the types of figurative language. The requirements were to draw a picture or a pattern however you want. You just had to include the title of "Figurative Language," list all nine types of figurative language that we learned about, and give an example of each. 

And we finished out Google Presentations, which evolved to SHMAAPOIO :)
For each slide, the kids had to tell the definition of the element of figurative language and then give an example.

It was a BUSY unit, but one of my very favorites to teach! Hope you enjoyed and found something to try out in your own classroom :) Happy Teaching!

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