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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to School 2016!!

Well, we are not officially back to school. Teachers report on Thursday and Friday for in-service and kids arrive on Tuesday... so we still have a few days!

But, I have been in my room for the past week working like mad trying to get ready! I'm using a lot of the same stuff I used last year, but did make some new additions.


 These are all back up from last year:


 Photo Display

Article of the Week (you can read about that here).

My "While You Were Out" board (read about that here).

Daily Agenda

My Objectives Wall (read about that here).

And here are some new displays:


 I freshened up the library with some inspirational signs and fun marquee lights!


 I am in LOVE with my Growth Mindset Posters! I could not get a great picture with decent lighting and no glare! But, trust me, they look amazeballs!!


Here is where I'll keep the kids posted on what I'm reading. 

And this is where I'll keep track of all the books we do a Book Talk about!

Well, that's about it for now... I'm exhausted and I know the next month will be crazy!! But, I've got a ton of great blog posts on tap for the 2016-2017 school year. Last year, I spent a lot of time talking about writing and this year I plan to focus on reading... teaching novels & short stories, working with nonfiction, developing reading comprehension, implementing guided reading (yes, even middle schoolers need it!), and reading workshop... so stay tuned!!

Hope everyone is have a great back-to-school season!

Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School 2016!

Are you back to school yet? Here in NJ, we have about two more weeks, but on Wednesday our district opens the doors to teachers so we can start getting our rooms in order.

I'm excited for this year! If you remember, last year I moved to a new grade level in a new building. It was an awesome change for me, but nerve-wracking to say the least. Anytime you make a big change like that, even if it's for the better, it's stressful!

Anyway, I had the BEST year last year and now I feel so much more confident in my new spot. I'm so excited and ready to begin this school year!


Back-to-school prep has been in full-swing in my house for the last week. Last year, I put most of my focus on my writing lesson plans.

I was able to get my writing plans together last year (available here) and over the summer, I Brooke Brown-ed my curriculum.


This is what a full year of organized writing instruction looks like!


Each case is labeled and full of beautiful pink and turquoise file folders that contains each day's lesson and materials. (Laminated anchor posters included!!)


Swoon!!!!!!!!!


(Here is one of my cute little helpers :)

So, now that writing is all ready to go, my focus this year will be on reading.

This year, I'm beginning by introducing nonfiction with Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies (Beers and Probst). This will lead us into Article of the Week, which is a big part of my program (and the only homework I give). 


My hope is that after working with nonfiction and the Notice and Note signposts for NF, the kids will get a lot more out of the AoW.

Next, I'll spend most of October introducing Reader's Workshop and the Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. This will set the kids up for the rest of the year in Reader's Workshop (which constitutes a little less than half of my reading period).

Then, come the end of October, I'll be ready to dive into my reading lessons :) 

I'm excited to work on my reading program this year! We teach with great short stories, poems, literary nonfiction, and novels, and now I'll be able to give them my proper attention.

So... that's enough from me! Are you back to school yet? How is it going? Or are you prepping at your kitchen table like I am because you've still got a few more weeks? I'd love to hear from you!

And by the way...


This is happening tomorrow!! So many great deals for one day ONLY!!

Happy Teaching!!

(In reading this post back to myself, I can't get over how many times I used the word "year." Annoying, right?!? But how else can you say it, lol!!)


Friday, August 12, 2016

I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow - Writing with Mentor Texts series

Hey everyone! So, this is the LAST of my writing with mentor texts lessons. I hope you've enjoyed them as much I enjoyed making and using them this summer with my 7th graders. If you try any of the lessons, drop me a line and let me know how they went. I'd love to hear from you!

This lesson is great because it's such a fun way to get your students' feet wet with argument writing. The kids get a kick out of it and don't even realize how much it helps them get a jump start on the tricky genre.

Lesson Nine: I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow


(Clicking on the above image should allow you to print!)

(Graphic Organizer for Brainstorming)

All right everyone! In just a few short weeks, it will be THAT time of year again, so stay tuned for lots of back-to-school posts in the near future.

Happy Teaching!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher - Writing with Mentor Texts series

If you're a reader of my blog, you know that I big puffy heart Ralph Fletcher. His memoir, Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid is a staple mentor text in my classroom. Every chapter is just a short, little snippet and rich with teachable moments.



This lesson uses a chapter titled "Friends." Though the chapter is short, students will get a lot out of it and will likely need two or more days to finish their final piece.

Lesson Eight: Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid ("Friends") by Ralph Fletcher.

(Clicking on the above image should allow you to print!)

Thanks for reading!

Happy Teaching!!

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Get a Girlfriend by the Kindergarten Students of Zagreb, Croatia - Writing with Mentor Text series

My students absolutely LOVED this book! It's adorable. And they loved writing a "how-to" piece in this format. They said it was a lot more fun that writing a "how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich" essay :)



Lesson Seven: How to Get a Girlfriend


(Clicking on the above image should allow you to print!)

For those of you getting ready to go back to school, best of luck to you on a smooth start to your year. Keep me posted if you try out any of these lessons.

Happy Teaching!!


Monday, August 1, 2016

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka - Writing with Mentor Texts series

Everyone's read this book lots of times, right? And for good reason - it's one of the best picture books out there!

Your middle schoolers are going to love this lesson. In fact, they will probably love it so much and be so into it, that you'll need to extend it over a few days (I have two days written on the lesson plan, but please give your students as much time as they need).

Lesson Six: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs



(Clicking on the above image should allow you to print the lesson plan!)

(Twisted Tale graphic organizer)

Thanks so much for reading! Hope you are enjoying these lessons :)

Happy Teaching!!