Student Conferences in Reading Workshop

Tips and resources for conducting student conferences during reading workshop.

When I first started using the reading workshop approach with my students, my biggest worry was determining how I'd know students were understanding what they read. The answer to my worry was individual conferences with my students. Today I'd like to share some tips and resources for implementing student conferences.


Topic, Theme, & Prompt

Get more out of your teaching time by using children's literature to spark writing prompts.

One of the best ways to get more out of your teaching time is to incorporate reading and writing by using good children's literature to spark a writing prompt. Here's an example of how I did this to reinforce teaching about theme.

Teaching About Abstract Nouns

There's more to nouns than just people, places, and things. Learn how I teach about abstract nouns, incorporating a project to show off student learning.

Teaching grammar is not hard, but making sure students connect the lesson to their own writing is. I like to make sure that students create a project using the grammar concept we've learned to help cement the knowledge. Today I'd like to share how I teach about abstract nouns.

Teaching Students When to Start a New Paragraph

Teach your students when to start a new paragraph using an easy to remember rhyme.

I don't know about you, but my students had no idea about paragraphing. They just wrote a story or essay that was one long paragraph. That is, they did until I taught them this little rhyme.


Introducing the Writing Process

Following the writing process is a key component of teaching writing through the writer's workshop approach. Many of my students came to me without any knowledge of the writing process, so I made sure to expose them to it during the first week of school. An easy way to do that is with the One Sentence Writing Process.


A Tip for Packing Up Your Classroom

A Tip for Packing Up Your Classroom from

It's that time of year. School is almost out. All you can think of is being ready turn in your keys as quickly as you can after you wave goodbye to your kids that last day. Here's a tip for packing up your classroom that will make life easier when you return after summer break.


Vocabulary, Dialogue, and Context Clues - Triple Duty Resources

The biggest struggle in teaching is that there's never enough time for all you need to teach your students. With all the demands on your time with students, it's so important to, whenever possible, use resources that do double or triple duty.


Currently April

Gosh, I've been gone from the blog for a while. I'll explain in the Currently below!

  • I am listening to The Amazing Race. I love this show. I could never be a contestant because I would have no patience with my partner. Nor am I athletic enough, although I can swim and drive a stick shift.
  • I am loving the weather. Not too hot, which I just can't. 
  • I'm thinking about April Fool's Day when I was a teacher. I loved to prank my kids.  I'd deliberately swipe a green marker on my cheek. When my students told me about it, I said, "Sure, sure. You just want me to go look so you can say April Fool!" The ensuing begging and pleading to listen to them was too funny. I had trouble keeping a straight face. They tried to rope in other teachers - tell her she has marker on her face! I held firm. Tee hee!
  • I am wanting to win the lottery. I had surprise gall bladder surgery last month and then we had to replace the heating/air conditioning unit in our house. Ouch.
  • I am needing to get back on my exercise bike. 'Nuff said.
  • I love KG Fonts and it really hurts to use Comic Sans on this Currently, but I'm going with it!
Okay, it's your turn! Go on over to Farley's blog and check out some other posts!
Oh Boy It's Farley


Revising Fragments and Run-Ons

After talking with a former colleague yesterday about the upcoming STAAR Writing test for Texas fourth graders, I decided to take this idea and put it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

My students always struggled with the revision questions on the test, and it was because they had difficulty recognizing sentence fragments and run-on sentences. I came up with the idea of SOS. Students are given a set of three "sentences." They have to identify whether each one is a fragment, a run on, or a whole sentence. Then they have to fix the fragment, repair the run on, and spot the sentence.

We did this every Friday for several months before the test, and my students aced the revising questions. An added bonus was that I saw a lot fewer fragments and run ons in their essays.

Click on the picture above and it will take you to my TpT store.


Valentine's Empathy and Kindness

One of the lessons I always tried to teach my students was about having empathy and showing kindness towards others. Valentine's Day offered the perfect opportunity to do so.

This is one of my favorite books. (Clicking on the link will take you to Amazon, where you can purchase the book. Note - I get a very small commission when you use my link to purchase, but it doesn't cost you anything.)

I loved reading the book to my students. They could easily identify with Mr. Hatch since there were times when all of them had felt lonely. We talked about how he felt after he received the anonymous gift.

Then I talked about how wonderful it felt for us to get Valentines from our classmates and our friends, how that made us feel loved. I said I loved the Valentines I got from my class, but that not all the adults in the school had a homeroom class to give them Valentines. We brainstormed a list of everyone that might be in that position - custodians, people who worked in the front office, cafeteria workers, teachers who provide pull-out services. Then each student selected one of the people from the list and made a special Valentine for them. We decided to sign them with this closing - From Someone Who Loves You. We thought that might make them think of all the people in the school who truly cared about them, like Mr. Hatch did.

At the end of the day, I slipped the Valentines into the mailboxes of the people who were to receive them. I lingered in the area so that I could hear any comments made and relay them to the students. My class was so excited to hear that they had a hand in making some of our special employees feel the Valentine's love.

If you try this with your students, please let me know. It will make me feel loved.


Fish Bowl! A Party Game for the Classroom

This party game is totally adaptable to the classroom!

Fish Bowl! A fun game that can be adapted for the classroom.

We hosted some of our good friends for a game night a few weeks ago. We have played Taboo, Loaded Questions, Cards Against Humanity, and some other games in the past, so I wanted to try something new. I put my Google skills to work and located a game called Fish Bowl! It was a blast!

We started off the evening with food. We set up a make-your-own-chalupa bar and our guests brought an appetizer or a dessert. While we were eating and chatting, I told everyone to take 3 slips of paper I had cut in advance and write the name of a famous person everyone in the room should know on each slip. Then they folded them up and put them in a bowl.

When we were ready to play, we divided up into two teams. This game has three rounds.

Round 1: Taboo
Team A needs to select someone to go first, while Team B needs a volunteer to watch the timer (set at one minute). We used the timer on someone's phone. The person from Team A grabs a piece of paper from the container and tries to have his/her teammates guess the word on the paper using only words and sentences as hints, without using any motions, "sounds like..." hints, or spelling hints. The person tries to have their team guess as many words as they can in one minute. It's important for both teams to pay attention because you need to remember the guessed words/phrases for subsequent rounds.

If the team is unable to guess the word/phrase, the person has the option to "pass", put the word/phrase back into the container and continues with a new word/phrase. The person can only pass once during his/her one minute.

After one minute, Team A counts the number of successfully guessed words/phrases. Each guessed word/phrase counts as one point. Team B is next, and selects a volunteer from their team to start. A person from Team A will watch the timer, set at one minute. This alternating process continues until all of the words from the container have been used. When the words run out, place all the words/phrases back into the container for the second round.

Round 2: Password
Following the same process as the first round, the next team will select someone to go first, while the other team sets the timer for one minute. However, in this round, the person can use only one word as a hint for their team to guess. The team needs to recall the words/phrases in the previous round. Once all the words in the container run out, place all the words back into the container for the third round.

Round 3: Charades
In this final round, the person needs to act and use motions as hints for their team to guess the word/phrase. You are not allowed to speak or make sounds. When all the words run out, tally all the points. The team with the most points wins the game.

We had a blast playing the game. Some of the names in the bowl included Kim Kardashian, Hitler, Tim Duncan (plays for our local NBA team, the Spurs), our much-detested former school superintendent, and Albert Einstein.

After we finished the game (my team won!), we talked about ways this game could be played in classrooms. You could use vocabulary words for the words in the bowl. Wouldn't it be fun to play with the names of people you honored during Black History Month? What about science or math concepts? Spelling words? Let me know in the comments if you think of a great way to implement this!

I've made a freebie for you with the directions. You can download it here. Have fun!


Currently February

Can you believe January is over and it's time for another Currently? I didn't do very well with my resolution to blog more, did I. Sigh. Well, anyway, here is my contribution to the linky.

  • I am listening to reruns of The Big Bang Theory. It is probably my most favorite show. I always watch reruns of it if there isn't something new on that I am dying to see.
  • I am loving that the primaries have started. I have very strong opinions about politics. Don't worry, I won't share them here.
  • I'm thinking about the Krispy Kreme doughnut I just scarfed down. We went to a birthday dinner for a good friend, and the restaurant happened to be near a KK store. I am powerless to resist when the light is on. The struggle is real, y'all.
  • I am wanting to empty out the storage unit I am still paying rent on. I'm embarrassed to say that it's been half done for quite a while now. First it was too hot, then it was too cold. We have beautiful weather right now, so I need to be like Goldilocks and get it done.
  • I am needing a clean house. Again. Ugh. I just don't understand Why won't it stay clean after I get it done. We are having a few people over to watch the Super Bowl, so that is giving me motivation.
  • I'm swooning over all the new blog designs out there. I just took the plunge and asked Kristen from Chalk & Apples Design to give mine a makeover. I'm loving the sleek, modern approach.
Okay, it's your turn! Go on over to Farley's blog and check out some of the other folks who linked up!
Oh Boy It's Farley


January Currently

Oh, my goodness. Can you believe it is already the new year? It seems like 2015 just flew by!

Here is my contribution to Farley's Currently.

  • I am listening to football. I am not a football fan. If given the choice, I will change the channel. Today I don't have the choice.
  • I am loving the cooler weather that finally arrived. It feels more like winter. I don't like the terrible storms that damaged Texas north of me, though. Such destruction right after Christmas is unbelievably sad.
  • I'm thinking about the game night we are hosting tomorrow. We have a great group of friends who are coming over. We will serve a make your own chalupa bar and play a couple of new games. Maybe I'll post about it after it's over.
  • I am wanting nothing. I am truly lucky to be so content in my life. 
  • I am needing a clean house. See Game Night above.
  • One Little Word.....
I've been thinking a lot about what I want my One Little Word to be for the upcoming year. After much contemplation, I've decided that my One Little Word is more.

Not more things - I don't need more material possessions. No, this is about a change in frame of mind.

In 2016 I want.....

More blogging
More working on TpT
More collaboration
More gratitude
More patience
More kindness
More forgiveness

I am determined to follow through this year.

Now go visit Farley's blog and check out the other posts this month! Don't forget the Rule of Three.

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