One thing that I’m actually doing this year is teaching writing! Obviously I have always incorporated writing into my instruction, but I was never responsible for teaching standards for grammar and writing. That changed this year with my transition to fourth grade and to the Common Core State Standards.
While I’m obviously still working out the kinks in our schedule, one thing that I piloted last week was a mentor sentence routine. I saw the fourth grade writing teachers at my previous do this, and while I never had the time to fit it in when I taught fifth grade reading, I knew that I wanted to try it out in fourth. And y’all, I am OBSESSED! I love that this routine is going to spiral in skills in a really authentic way, and I have a feeling it will really broaden my students’ writing horizons!
Recently, I was shocked to read an article written by a middle school teacher listing reasons why she was getting rid of her classroom library. I can’t imagine my fourth grade classroom without our library! This space is sacred. It’s the heart and soul of our classroom, and I will defend its presence until the end of my days.
It’s Better to Lose a Book Than Lose a Reader*
Do I end the school year with all of my classroom library books intact? Absolutely not. Inevitably, some will get lost or forgotten at home. But others–and this is important–will be read so many times that the pages will fall out, the covers will disintegrate, and the book has to be retired. In my view, that’s the sign of a successful school year. I will never complain about replacing some of my more popular books and series each school year, because I know the reason I’m replacing them is that my students literally read them to pieces.
Also, if you establish a procedure for your students to check out and return your library books, you will have a general sense of where you books are. And at the end of the day, it’s better for a book to be in a kid’s backpack, locker, or bedroom than sitting on a dusty shelf, never allowed to be read or loved.
Anyone who knows me knows that I positively LOATHE standardized testing. I hate the pressure that it puts on students, teachers, and schools. I abhor how it’s used to judge academic achievement and punish schools that need the most additional resources. And most of all, I hate the expectation that teachers should put regular instruction to the side in order to prepare students for a test that is biased, unrealistic, and in the case of my home state of Texas, written two grade levels above a student’s reading level!
Hosting a March Madness Book Tournament in your classroom is an easy (and free!) way to get your students super excited about the books they have read. You may have seen pictures floating around Instagram or Pinterest and felt overwhelmed or intimidated by how much extra work this type of activity might mean for you. However, I’m here to tell you that it really doesn’t take a lot of effort for a book tournament to be an exciting activity for your students.
New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you love them or think they’re lame, you can’t deny that they’re here to stay. There’s just something about the calendar changing that makes us feel like we get a fresh start and a chance to improve.
While I have my own list of resolutions for my personal life, I wanted to share two of the resolutions that I’m taking with me into my classroom. I hope that by publishing them here, it will be easier for me to hold myself accountable and stick to these goals, even when the semester gets crazy.