Favorite Books to Take Your Mind off School

5:32 PM
Hi friends! I'm currently into my second week of the new school year and it's going great! I have such a sweet group of kids this year and we are busy learning how our class works and digging into new skills. Today I thought I'd do a little different post for y'all because I've been getting requests to start blogging about my favorite books more. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm a HUGE reader! I have my own insta account just for sharing what books I'm currently reading>>> @labookclub. 

As much as I LOVE teaching and discussing all things teaching related, if I didn't have a hobby that didn't involve teaching, I think I'd go crazy! I don't want to get burnt out and having another outlet is perfect. Reading is definitely my outlet!

Today I'm going to share some of my favorite summer reads that I loved this past season. Do you have any that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments so we can get more great recommendations!

My current favorite book of 2016 is Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman. I live in Alabama and my favorite kind of story is a good southern story (not an overly southern book that tries to hard to make everything about fried food and "bless her heart"). This one was the perfect southern read! 
It's about a woman whose mother dies the year before the story takes place. She goes to the town that her mother grew up in to scatter her ashes, but she ends up learning much more about her mom than she expected to. It was the perfect blend of mystery and fiction. I could not put it down! 

I discovered Alessandra Torre through GoodReads and fell in love with her contemporary romance books. I've read Hollywood Dirt, Love Chloe, and this one: Moonshot. I loved the first two so much, but this one is my favorite! It's a romance set in the baseball world and it was simply addicting! I read it in a day! 

I had All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda on my TBR list since back in March because it sounded so good. This one was about a girl who returns home after being gone for 10 years. She left after her best friend disappeared and now another girl has gone missing. This story was told backwards, so the book starts with Day 15 and ends with Day 1. It was confusing to begin with because nothing makes sense, but then you start to realize things and it gets really good! So if you can stick with this one, you're in for a good thriller!

Sarah Pekkanen was another author I discovered through GoodReads. I've only read two of her books, but I've enjoyed both of them. I read her newest release, The Perfect Neighbors in June and loved it. I love finding a new author than has written several books that you pretty much know you're gonna love! 

I was in a reading slump after I finished Cancel the Wedding. GoodReads recommended The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and I LOVED it! This one is definitely in my top five favorites from 2016. This one is about two people who work side by side and hate each other...until they realize they don't. I don't think there's ever been a book that I've smiled at or laughed out loud while reading it. Soooo good!

I discovered booktube back in the spring (search for it on Youtube. It's a bunch of Youtubers who post videos about books. So addicting and you will find SO MANY BOOKS to read!) Anyways, I watched many videos where people were talking about Sarah J. Maas and her high fantasy series. I've NEVER read this genre (besides Harry Potter, of course!) so I always just looked the other way when they mentioned this book. For some reason, I decided to try it out and I was shocked at how much I loved this book and it's sequel. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and involved faeries. I know, that sounds odd but seriously, it's so good! The sequel is even better and I cannot wait for the conclusion to this trilogy that comes out next year. 

So that's some of my favorite reads from summer 2016. What have you been reading loving? Follow me on GoodReads to see what I'm reading next! 

The First Week of Fifth Grade

7:58 AM

Hi friends! Today I'm talking about what I'm doing the first week of fifth grade! I go back to work next Thursday and the kids come back the following Wednesday (so we all know, school really starts back Wednesday!)
I LOVE starting back in the middle of the week. If you start back on a Monday, there's too much time to fill because it's too early to start a "real" week of learning. Even in fifth grade, the first week is all about procedures! When I transferred from first grade to fifth grade, I thought the kids wouldn't need to go over procedures...they're fifth grade. They should know what to do by now. 
Umm...no. I was dead wrong on that! Yes, they aren't six year olds anymore and they've been in school for 6 years by this point, but they haven't been in your class for 6 years. They need to be taught how YOUR classroom works! 
So for the first three days, we do "get to know you" activities and work on our classroom procedures. My biggest tip that I've discovered over the past three years of teaching fifth grade is to not OVER PLAN. This is a major difference in fifth grade and first grade. I always ran out of things to do on the first few days of first grade. When I needed to individually test students on letter recognition and sounds, I needed something for my other students to do. I always needed more! In fifth grade, I've found it's better to NOT over plan, especially if you are departmentalized. I only have each group of kids for an hour and 15 minutes, so if I over plan, they have to finish that work the next day and that can easily lead to getting off track. 

 Here's my first 3 day plans!
Syllabus: You can read about my last year's syllabus here. I'm changing a few things this year, so if you want to see an updated copy, let me know I'll blog about it! :)
I'm introducing myself with my 50 facts presentation
Let me know if you want to see my classroom rules and I'll post them.
You can find my student interest survey here, but this year I'm doing it through Google Drive using a Form. If I can figure out how to share this form, I will.

Model Beginning Class Procedures: Again, if you want to read about what I'm doing, let me know and I'll share. It involves my Guided Read Aloud! :)
Begin the Pineapple Project. This is my get to know you activity. I've done my Faces of Fifth Grade activity in the past (read more about it here), but my love of pineapples has replaced it this year!
We are selecting independent reading books on day two. I require all students to be reading a "chapter book" at all times and we won't visit the school library until the first full week, so a trip to the classroom library is a must! 
We are a 1:1 chrome book classroom, so we'll be going over technology procedures and getting logged into our accounts.

I have my kids write a letter to me each week about their current independent reading book. This idea is from The Book Whisperer, which if you haven't read, ORDER IT NOW! Life changing!) I like to spice up silent reading and writing time and Rain Reading is one way! Just search for 'rain sounds' on Youtube and turn off the lights to create a cozy setting. :)

Hope this helps! Again, if there's anything I didn't cover or if you have a question, let me know and I'll do my best to answer! :) 

I've Started a YouTube Channel!

12:11 PM
Hi friends! I wanted to pop in and tell y'all about my new YouTube channel! I plan on posting videos about my resource, fun little activities to use in the classroom, and all things teaching! Be sure and like my videos and subscribe! I've only uploaded three so far, but I'm filming my book bins tonight so look out for that video coming soon! :)




All About the VIP

7:45 PM
Today on the blog, it’s all about the VIP Area! This absolutely fabulous idea originated from the amazing Rachel  Lamb. When I saw her Instagram post about this behavior management system two years ago, I immediately knew that this idea needed to be in my classroom. You can read more about her amazing idea here. Here’s how I do VIP in my classroom and my tips and thoughts on the process J

When I first started VIP, it was in the middle of the year. I stayed after school one day and cleared out a corner of my classroom. I put up caution tape to generate excitement among my kids. It completely worked! The next day they came in and immediately began talking about what would go in the new area. I didn’t say anything and wouldn’t give them any hints. I left up the police tape for the next couple of days. I remember dragging my mom to my classroom on a Wednesday night and setting up the VIP Area. When they came into class the next morning, they were SOOOO excited! It's one of my favorite teaching memories. :)

The best way to make this a special, coveted privilege in your classroom is to make a special area that only VIPs are allowed in! In my classroom, when VIP's are chosen, they immediately move to the VIP table and everyone claps! Below are pictures from my first VIP area.

This is what makes becoming a VIP so special! VIP members get access to ALL the perks in our classroom! They get to decide if they want to work at the VIP table for the day or grab a clipboard and work around the room. They get first choice of seating when we read around the room. If a non VIP member is sitting in a trampoline chair, the VIP member gets to request the chair (in a polite way, of course!) VIP members also get to write in pens!

Maybe it's just me, but that box of 96 crayons?? #swoon
So of course, the VIP members get access to all the best supplies! They also get a candy bag when they earn VIP for the first time!

The main point of VIP is to honor those who are standing out and doing what they are suppose to. 
When I go over VIP at the beginning of the year, I tell the kids that not everyone is guaranteed a "turn". VIP is something that is earned, not passed around.

Create a special display in your classroom and post your students pictures when they earn VIP. This year, I'm doing a VIP Wall of Fame where I'll display pictures of my kids as they earn access into this special "club"! 

When do you pick new VIPs?
 I don't have a set time I pick new VIPs. I pick them when I see someone who is going above and beyond the average student. 

How do I announce new VIPs?
This is one of my favorite aspects of this system. Since my kids all have their own Chrome books and school email, I email the people who are chosen to be VIPs. I'll announce to the class that I've sent out VIP emails and everyone checks. It is SO FUN to see the kids who have earned it read their email. I'm so proud of them, I sometimes have to try very hard not to cry! They are so proud of themselves (and rightfully so!). When he or she reads their VIP email, it contains instructs to come get an All Access VIP Pass from me and then move their stuff to the VIP Area. Everyone claps and praise the new VIP(s)!

How do you earn VIP?
I created a little chart to use at the beginning of the year to go over this system with my kids

How long do VIP members stay in VIP?
It varies! Sometimes a week, sometimes two, sometimes half a week. It just depends on if other students have earned VIP and I need to change students out.

Can you get kicked out of VIP?

How many students are VIP at a time?
In my classroom I have 4 because that's how many chairs I have at the VIP area! :)

I think that's everything! If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I'll answer it! :)

In other news, I created a YouTube Channel today! Check out my first video and let me know if you have any video requests! :)


Home Office Tour

5:43 PM
Happy Sunday! Today's post is all about my home office. I had the worst time trying to take pictures for this post! My DSLR camera wouldn't cooperate with me, so I had to use my iPhone, which I do most of the time. But of course when I need it to work like it normally does, it starts to not focus! 

Anyways, I'm not completely happy with the pictures, but I've promised an office tour and I'm trying to cross off tasks on the to do list, so here it is! :)

The office (like every room in my house) is ever changing. I love to rearrange, so how it looks now almost definitely won't be how it looks a year or even 6 months from now! 

Here's my view for most every day. That chest and mirror was a find from a new little local place this summer. I bought it for my living room but it didn't look right in there. I know it really isn't meant for an office, but it holds my cameo and I like it! 

I hate having my printer on the pretty built ins, but it works best for me there. I can easily pick up copies that I print and it's easy to add paper. I've tried my computer there and it looks really good but I cannot work when it's there. I feel like I'm stuck in a corner. :)

Y'all know a love to read, so I love having my books on display. That flamingo is from Hobby Lobby. I just love it, but my mom hates it! :)

For all you book lovers out there, I included what books are currently on my shelves. Some I've read and some are on the TBR list.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Guided Read Alouds

2:34 PM
Happy Fri-yay friends! I'm talking about guided read alouds today. This is something new I'm going to try in my classroom this year and I'm really excited about it!

Okay, I know how important it is to read aloud to your kids everyday. I get it. I really do. But time is just SUCH an issue. I teach 3 classes a day and only have the kids for about an hour and 15 minutes. By the time we get in and unpacked, there's barely enough time to get in the lesson, much less a read aloud.

BUT, again, I know how important it is and how valuable read alouds are. I was determined to make this happen this school year, so I came up with "guided read alouds". Let me explain:

When I first read The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, I knew I needed every single one of my kids to read this book. 
This book is wonderful. I didn't want it to just sit on the shelf and have a few kids check it out. Every kid needs to read this book. I decided it would be perfect for our first read aloud. 

What makes this book perfect for read alouds? The chapters are super short, so it won't take very long to read each day. This is a BIG plus in my book because my problem is always TIME. Plus, it's got wonderful characters and tons of action. 

Now, I still want to make good use of this time so that the kids are enjoying the book AND learning! In other words, I can't just have them sitting there listening to me read (although I don't think this is a bad thing! There are MANY benefits to students listening to the teacher read. I just can't spend 15 minutes each class time doing JUST this.) This is where the "guided" part comes in. The kids will listen to me read the chapter(s) at the beginning of each class and then they will answer the central question. Central questions are wonderful because they provide a purpose for reading and they allow me to check for understanding! 
**If you're a 1:1 Chromebook classroom, I'm going to have the kids write their responses in a Google Doc and keep an online reading response journal in Drive! :)

I've developed a schedule for the read aloud and I based my central questions around this schedule. 
You can find my central questions here. I've included three different formats depending on your setup:

Click here to grab your copy!

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