Disruptive Thinking Book Study: Intro/Part I

1:37 PM
It's time to begin our book study on Disruptive Thinking by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst! Now, like I posted on Instagram and Facebook last night, a lot of people haven't been able to get their reading of the intro/part I/ chapter 1 done because the book sold out on Amazon, so lots of y'all got your copy later. Because of that, I changed the posting schedule up a bit (you can find the revised version at the end of this post) and today we are discussing the intro and part 1. We will discuss chapter one next week. :)

Let's get started on today's discussion!

Now, I gotta admit, when this was the book that was chosen, I was a little concerned. I was afraid this book would be full of theories and research and not actual useful information. Boy was I wrong! I am LOVING this book and we are only on the introduction! 

Here's what I took away from this week's reading.

Right off the bat we are given a story about a little girl with mismatched socks. I loved this story!  I highlighted the part about how the company, LittleMissMatched, was founded and I wrote "out of the box thinking"....then I turned the page and saw this:


Oops! Ha! At least I was on the right track. I think it's so important to focus on disrupting our thinking because when we do that, it opens up so many possibilities. 

I also highlighted from the last paragraph on p. 7: 
We as teachers have to start thinking this way, right? If it isn't working, it's time to disrupt the system and figure out a better way! 


The most important take away I had from this section was from the part from Bob's article that he wrote after September 11th in which he discussed how students would (or wouldn't!) learn from reading difficult texts. He said that students wouldn't learn to read difficult texts by "taking quizzes or preparing for them, or by collecting points and prizes for numbers of books read, but by engaging stories and poems that touch them, reading them in the company of other students and committed teachers who will help them make connections, explore responses, and raise and answer questions."
This might just be my favorite part of this week's reading. I am so saddened when kids talk about how many AR points they have or ask to read an "easy book" because they need so many points to meet their goal. Ugh. 


Did y'all agree with the teachers' response to the author's question about what they wanted most from their students in terms of deep learning? The teachers said "apathy," that students are "just going through the motions, getting good grades even, but nothing is sinking in."

 I SO agree with that! So many of our students are not interested or concerned with enjoying the story or looking for meaning in the story or connecting with characters from stories. They just want to read the text, answer questions about it, and then take a test. We have got to change this way of thinking and make kids passionate about reading! 

This brings me to the section about part one. I absolutely loved reading the snippets of conversations from the students that varied in age from first grade to college. Isn't it interesting to see how the students' opinions on reading changed as they grew older? I wrote "YIKES!" out beside the convo the author had with the 4th grader. I hate that the student only enjoyed reading on Fridays when they got to read whatever they wanted...but only if no one had misbehaved that week. Oh goodness gracious! How sad is it that. I felt for that kid.

We have to put our students in the right mindset and promote a love of reading. We need to strive to eliminate all the "fake reading," which is an art that so many of our students have mastered, right??

Okay, that's it for my thoughts. Now I want to hear YOURS!  If you want to comment here, that's great, but I will also post a picture on Instagram and Facebook tonight at 7pm CST if you want to comment and discuss there! Whatever works for you!

I'm super excited to read on to chapter one!

Here's the revised posting schedule if you need it.


Happy Book Studying! :)



Teacher Tidbit Tuesday-1st year of Teaching

3:30 AM


It's Teacher Tidbit Tuesday, friends! Today's topic is all about our first year of teaching. I'm about to enter my 10th year of teaching, which is just crazy to think. I feel like my first year of having my own classroom was yesterday! 

So let's take a walk down memory lane, all the way back to 2009. I was fresh out of college and trying to find a job during the worst economic time since the Great Depression. There were hardly any teaching jobs available in my area, so I was terrified that I wouldn't be hired anywhere. Thankfully a teacher went on educational leave for a year and they hired me to take her place. She ended up not coming back to teach, so the job became a permanent position!

Here I am with my very first group of 1st graders. Look at my young 22 year old self! 

I was lucky enough (and still am!) to teach at my first choice school, which was the school I attended from kindergarten through 12th grade. I was even allowed to do my student teaching there, which I was thrilled about! What's even neater is that my student teaching class was in kindergarten and then I was hired as a first grade teacher the following year, so I had many of my kids from my student teaching days. This made my first few days of having my own class a little easier since I was familiar with some of my kids already. :) 
***These kids were also my first group of 5th graders when I switched from 1st grade to 5th grade, so I always called them my guinea pig group!

My kindergarten student teaching class. I made a voting booth so we could all vote for the new president of the United States since the 2008 election was during the fall semester of my internship. 

Reading to my student teaching class on Johnny Appleseed day. Look at those fun pan hats!

Decorating pumpkins with my student teaching class. 

My first year of teaching is honestly a blur. I just remember feeling so overwhelmed and confused and unknowledgeable about everything. I hope I'm not alone in thinking that college didn't prepare me for my first year of teaching. I had some great teachers at my university and I learned a lot, but nothing compared to the knowledge I learned after my first year of teaching. I mean, you can discuss behavior plans in a college class all day long, but until you actually have your own group of students that you are responsible for, you aren't going to figure out what works for you and your students. 

If you're a first year teacher, I'm sure you are scared to death and beyond nervous, but don't be! Take it from me, who becomes stressed over the simplest things, it's all going to be fine and it's all going to work out. And the things that don't work out? That's fine too! Let me share a few things that were fails for me during my first year teaching:

This was taken on my very first day of being an official teacher. I chose to wear my hair in a ponytail (something I despise!) because I knew just how exhausting the day was going to be and I wanted to be prepared and ready! See that stuffed elephant and monkey? I had the best idea (stolen from a college professor that I LOVED) to have class mascots that we would send to different places so we could get letters back and learn about different areas of our country. Kinda like Flat Stanley. I even let the kids name them. I will never forget Bella the monkey and Edward the elephant. Remember, it's 2009...Twilight was killing it at the box office! ;)

We decided to send our class mascots to the state capital so they could have their picture taken with the governor. We wrote letters, drew pictures, kissed them goodbye, packaged them in a box with a disposable camera, and sent them off on their great adventure while we eagerly awaited their return to see what goodies they brought back to us from Montgomery, AL.

And guess what? They never returned. My silly little naive self didn't think to actually contact anyone at the state capital. I just shipped it off, thinking someone would receive it and have nothing better to do than take pictures with a stuffed elephant and monkey and take the time to ship it back to us and pay for postage (remember, it was 2009...financial times weren't the best and I'm sure government employees were a bit short handed!)

My kids eventually forgot about poor Edward and Bella, but I learned a valuable lesson: fun little projects are great, but communication is key! Case in point: later that year, during Dr. Seuss week, I email our district representative, Richard Lindsey, and he came to read to our class. 

Another piece of advice! When you have a guest reader come read to your class, pick out a book ahead of time. I decided to let the kids pick which Dr. Seuss book they wanted him to read and they picked The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. If you don't know that one off hand, trust me, it's looonnnngggg. I'm pretty sure he was sneaking peeks at his watch. LOL!

Another fail: 
For Johnny appleseed day, we were apple obsessed! I had planned so many fun apple related activities, which included an apple taste test where each student came up and tested out different types of apples to pick which kind they liked best. This activity was going SO WELL. I mean, look at this sweet kid's face! 

You know what went wrong? 

I didn't remember that we were having a scheduled fire drill. So when the bell started ringing right in the middle of our taste testing, we all had to evacuate the building and head the the baseball field on the other side of campus. By the time we returned to the classroom, our apples looked less than ideal. #fail. 

Fail #3:
During one of our reading stories, we learned about the Mexican culture, so I created a fiesta for our class. I brought the food to school and had even got brightly colored paper plates and napkins and a piƱata that the kids were SO excited about! As I started to pass out plates and drinks, I realized I had forgotten all about drinks and cups! I had to quickly scrambled to find a enough drinks for everyone because I hadn't thought about that small detail!                      
There are COUNTLESS other fails from my first year of teaching AND every other year. I know it may seem like everyone has everything figured out when you start looking at blogs and social media, but they don't. You're just seeing a highlight. Everyone scrambles at some point and every teacher has been a first year teacher at some point. You aren't alone. 

Thinking back to when I created my first classroom for my first year of teaching, here's a few points I feel you should concentrate on at the very beginning:

1)Your classroom rules. Post them and inform the kids of what you expect. 

2) Your behavior plan. Research what you want your behavior management strategy to be.

3) Your schedule. Think about it and then write it down and fill in what's going to occur in those time slots. How is your day to day going to be? What's your morning routine look like? After a few weeks in, don't be afraid to change what isn't working, but don't start off the year without some sort of routine. The kids will behave better if they know what their day will consist of, even if you end up changing it later on. 

4) Map out how you want your classroom to be designed. Think about the different areas in your classroom that you want to create like your classroom library, different places for centers, your small group meeting area, etc. I'm a firm believer in planning out your classroom design and then going back in and changing it a few weeks into the school year if something isn't working right. You will be amazed at how important the flow of the classroom is! 

5) Communication to parents. If you're lower elementary, think about how you are going to do a send home folder every afternoon. For upper elementary, how are you going to communicate to parents what is happening in your classroom? (I use remind.com and it's wonderful!)


Okay veteran teachers, what advice do you have for those new teachers out there! Share away! And if you're a new teacher, let us know what grade you will be teaching. :) 

That's it for today's Teacher Tidbit Tuesday post. Here's what topics are coming up. 


All About Your First Year of Teaching (this post)

Top 10 Favorite Picture Books

Your Teaching History

Your Summer Rountine

Favorite Instagrammers

Classroom Design Plan

Top 10 Favorite Movies

Favorite Phone Apps

Happy List

Fictional Character Role Models

Workspace Must Haves

What's in Your Teacher Bag?




Disruptive Thinking Professional Development Summer Book Study

6:46 AM


Okay y'all, today's post is all about our summer book study that will take place this summer. I'm also excited that everyone picked Disruptive Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. If you want to join, here's the info you need:

1) You will, of course, need the book! You can find it here if your local bookstore doesn't have it in stock.
2) Here's the posting schedule. 
As you can see, the first post is next Thursday. This means we will be discussing the introduction, part I, and Chapter one in one week. I will be writing a blog post about my thoughts, so you can comment here on these weekly blog posts, or you can also comment on my blog's Facebook page. If Instagram is more your thing, I will also post there (@lifeinfifthgrade) each week so you can comment your thoughts there. This way everyone can use their preferred social media AND you also have three different platforms to read everyone's discussions! If you don't get the book in time to read the first section by next Thursday, don't worry! I'll post on next Thursday, but you can always add your thoughts when you finish. :) 

I'm really excited to dive into this book with y'all. Summer is the perfect time to get to all those professional development books that will inspire and motivate you for the next school year. Check out my favorite PD books in yesterday's blog post here

If you have any questions, let me know! 



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Professional Development Books for Summer Reading

7:51 AM
Happy Wednesday, friends!

I asked for some new professional development book recommendations on Instagram last week and y'all did not disappoint! I promised I would share what everyone suggested and then show you what I picked up for myself to read this summer. 

I had never heard of this one until several of y'all suggested it to me and then I started researching it. When I saw that Donalyn Miller, the author of one of my absolute favorite PD books, had written the forward, I knew I had to check it out. 

I'm starting this one first because I am so excited about it. I really want to focus on making the most of my classroom library this coming year and I think this book will be a great read. And how cute is the cover??

This one is written by Hope and Wade King, so need I say more?? Hope is one of my teaching role models, and I cannot wait to read about how she "sets the stage to engage". If you don't know who Hope and Wade are, make sure to check them out on Instagram because you will be blown away at their creativity. So inspiring. 

I almost didn't pick this one up, but then I looked at the reviews and I just couldn't resist. I love a good guided reading professional development book and I have high hopes for this spiral bound text. 

This book was the #1 most recommended book when I asked y'all on Instagram. SO many of y'all told me to get this one, so I listened! 


Now that I've showed y'all the new books I'm planning to read this summer, I thought I would also share some of my holy grail, must have teaching books that I use every single year. 



Hands down the BEST professional development book you'll ever invest in. The book is FILLED with different reading strategies for comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and more! It's so user friendly and easy to read. I have so many sticky notes in this book. I'm even thinking of getting another copy to leave at school because I bring this book with me every day. I cannot recommend this one enough. So so good.

I read Reading Magic last summer and it really opened my eyes to the importance of reading aloud to children and how it can change both their outlook on reading and their reading ability itself. So eye opening. If you're on the fence about reading picture books to older kids, read this one. It will convince you that it's a must.

I read this one the summer I moved to fifth grade and I am so glad I did. It changed the way I thought about teaching reading and how I wanted to teach the subject in my classroom. I would recommend this one a thousand times. It is beyond enlightening. I have written countless notes in the margins of this book and highlighted so many parts. Donalyn Miller also wrote a follow up to this one called Reading in the Wild and it's equally as good. A Must read!

This one is a bit older and there's already an updated 3rd version, but I have this edition and I really love it. I would say it reads like The Reading Strategies Book and although I like that one better (it's easier to use), this one has some great strategies that I use all the time! It's a classic that is tried and true!

***I somehow forget to include Ron Clark's End of Molasses Classes, but it's definitely a must have. If you're looking to motivate yourself and spice up your classroom or just get inspired, you need to read this one. Ron Clark is like the Oprah of the teaching world and reading his book will definitely make you want to get back to the classroom (after a nice long summer break, of course!)

I'd love to hear your favorite professional development reads! Let us know so we can get even more ideas. I'm also going to be doing a book study on one of these PD reads this summer like I did with Word Nerds three summers ago, so if you want to join in, let me know!









Teacher Tidbit Tuesday

5:27 AM
Friends, I am so excited that it's finally summer! If you are still in school, I'm crossing my fingers that the next few days/weeks go by quickly for you and sllllooooowwwlllyyy for me! LOL

I love summer for so many reasons, but one thing I really enjoy is that it allows me more time to blog. Are blogs a thing of the past? Maybe so, but I still love reading about my favorite online people and I'm sure I'm not the only one!

In an effort to blog consistently, I have teamed up with some of my favorite teachers to start a weekly blog series called "Teacher Tidbit Tuesday." Each week, we will be chatting about certain topics and YOU can join too! 

Today's topic is an introduction for all of my new followers/visitors/friends or an update/refresher for all you oldies ;)


For those of y'all who are just finding this little space of the internet, I'm Leslie Ann and I'm a fifth grade teacher and the author of this blog. 


I have been teaching fifth grade for going on 6 years now. Before moving to fifth grade, I taught first grade for 4 years. I was SO nervous about switching to upper elementary because all throughout college, I focused on lower grades. Any time we had a project that we were able to pick the grade level, I always chose 1st or 2nd grade. But, after teaching first for four years, I needed a change, and so I jumped at the chance to switch to fifth grade. Let me tell y'all: it was the BEST decision! There are a few little things I miss about younger grades, but I am so happy with fifth grade. It's just the best!

Fun fact: My 1st first grade class was also my 1st fifth grade class. And those kids are about to be in the 10th grade. How is that even possible??? 

I'm a single (and independent!) 31 year old and I'm loving this point of my life. I know a lot of people wonder where my husband and kids are, but it's just me! And I'm perfectly okay with that. If a guy comes along, that's great. If he doesn't, that's fine too! I love my life and right now, I wouldn't change a thing. :)
My twenties were so fun and exciting and I definitely can't complain about the first two years of my thirties. I bought my first house almost four years ago and I'm currently building my new house, which I cannot even begin to tell y'all how excited I am. And stressed. And worried about every single detail of this incredibly slow process. But mostly excited. ;)

My first house! Please over look the flat, awful hair. It was late July and so extremely hot here in Alabama and my poor hair was suffering! LOL

This is the most stressful project ever, but I know it will be worth it in the end. My plans are currently with the architect and hopefully we begin the actual construction phrase by mid July. Fingers crossed!!!

I love teaching and creating educational resources for people to use in their classrooms. This started out as a hobby and has turned into a huge passion of mine. I could spend hours sitting at my desk working away, which is another reason why I love summer. There's just so much more time to do things! 


Another passion of mine is reading. If you follow me on Instagram, you know what a big reader I am. I've always been like that, but for the last 2-3 years, I've really stepped up my reading game. I love to read books for my classroom library so I can recommend them to the kids, but I REALLY love reading adult books like thrillers, romances, and just general fiction. If you're a reader too, you can follow along and check out what I'm reading on my Instagram for books. I also do monthly book reviews on my life+style blog that you can find here


Fashion is another favorite of mine and I always share what I'm wearing because for about 3 years, I let my job get to me and I developed a big problem with anxiety and stress. You can read more about that here. When I started focusing on what made me happy, I rediscovered my love for fashion and I made it a goal to not let anxiety get to me like it did. Sharing my outfits holds me accountable, so follow along if you want :) 


If you've been a long time follower of mine, you know all about my sweet little Maltese, Reese. Sadly, Reese passed away on January 1st this year from congestive heart failure. We discovered she had this in September, but I was hoping she would live longer than she did. I miss her so so much. She was just the best little dog.








I do have plans to get another dog, but I'm going to wait until the house is built so it isn't as much on a new little puppy with all the moving. For now, I have my mom's little yorkie to entertain me. Y'all, I LOVE this little dog. Libby LOVED Reese and while Reese started out HATING her, she grew to like her. Or at least tolerate her LOL



So that's a little bit about me. Be sure and check out the other hosts' posts to learn more about them. We would love to learn more about YOU! If you blog, use the hashtag #teachertidbittuesday on Instagram and Facebook so we can all find your posts and read along!


Here's what we'll be chatting about this summer. :)




Vocabulary Finds

1:31 PM

Hi friends! I posted this picture on Instagram this morning and I had a lot of requests for the graphic organizer I used (you can find it here), along with a few questions about the lesson, so I thought I'd just do a blog post. Every year, I feel like I lack in teaching vocabulary. I know it's SO important, but lots of times I feel like we simply memorize definitions and move on and that doesn't help anyone. Teaching vocabulary is so much more than just memorizing definitions. We did a vocabulary lesson Friday that I felt was so much more impactful.

We are currently right in the middle of our novel study on Tuck Everlasting and we are LOVING it! We are learning 7 new words (for the first part of the novel) that are from the text and most of these words are ones that the kids are very unfamiliar with. 

Here's how our lesson went down on Friday:

At the beginning of the lesson, I gave out copies of this graphic organizer. 

We looked at each word one at a time. First, I had the kids read the definition to themselves and then raise their hand if they could give me a meaning for the word in their own words, not the formal definition. This cleared up a lot of misconception and was the perfect transition into the first major part of the graphic organizer. After discussing what the word meant, we brainstormed parts of the story where that particular word could be found. 
Then it was time to search! I had tables compete against each other to find the word first. Whoever found the word first earned a point for their table and at the end of the lesson, that table earned a class cheer. 
Once we found the word in the text, we read the sentence out loud and wrote it down on the graphic organizer. Then we moved onto the next word and repeated the same process.
After completing each step for every vocabulary word, we broke into groups of 3. I gave each group a vocabulary word to work with. I also supplied the groups with a sentence strip card and a marker. Each group had to find their word in the text and explain what was happening in the plot when the author used that word. 
One class had a little extra time after the group work, so we did a snowball fight to review the meanings of the vocabulary words. 
I loved this little lesson and I know I'll be using it again in the future!  

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