Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mini Gallery of Random Photos from Home and School

Everyone looks forward to our Annual Literacy Week Book Fair!

Bees in pinks in my garden...

Bulletin Board Speaks.....

Recyled bags with "I love to read!" messages made by kids
during Literacy Week one year

Repurposed recycled, shredded snowman lives on....

My daughter and I enjoying some time together...
This barn has seen better days...We had our wedding photo here...and after 30 years, the old catalpa tree still blooms right on our anniversary!


Another favorite barn ten miles away ...Still beautiful even though condos have popped up in back of it. A reminder of a much quieter life, once a working farm when I was growing up.

Paint Fearlessly

When I'm not teaching, I try to find time to get out my paints. But I don't do it as often as I'd like. Painting over the summer gives me a chance to free my brain, rejuvenating me for the school year. When I don't have time to paint, I still try to keep up with ideas, so I subscribe to Lillian Kennedy's website. Her lessons remind me to just paint whenever and wherever ... and to do it fearlessly. I think all teachers should get out and paint.
Weekly Art Lesson

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing Templates

Writing templates are not really cheats for kids. Some teachers feel templates hold back their students from writing in their own words. But...I have found that they do more good than harm, as long as they are not overused. After all, they do help the hesitant writers. They are simply tools to help expose them to vocabulary, text structure, as well as faciliate their reading. Once they've finished their story using a template, students are surprised to find that they can read the story or passage more fluently. The extra exposure makes them feel successful. Then soon enough, they'll want to write some more!

Check out this excellent website for teachers who are looking for resources at Also, I have some reading freebies at

Literacy Week Book Poster Contest

Schoolwide Literacy Week Book Covers

One of my favorite schoolwide literacy week activities was when every student created a book cover or book poster for their favorite book. It wasn't really a contest.  But making it a contest, made it just a little more interesting to our older students. Middle schoolers in a K-8 school are sometimes hesitant to get involved in the same literacy activities. This particular literacy week, they jumped in to create some interesting posters. Every class had at least two "winners", earning a certificate for their choice of a new book from the PTA school book fair. Shown are just a few examples. Posters are simple and fun for kids to make. It is surprising how many kids start talking about books, too. We don't do this every year, but when we do, it still turns out to be a very worthwhile event.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October...A month for fun literacy activities

October's such a busy month for my reading groups. So far, we've done loads of poetry reading, writing and all kinds of fun stuff to do with witches, bats and pumpkins (none of that gets too old for me).  We created acrostic spider poems to put inside a spider web booklet. My students loved all of it. Writing is fun for even those who may struggle, especially when it's something they want to write about.  A good reason to have holidays! I always forget how every child's work turns out as a unique creation. I only wish I had remembered to take pictures....