Friday, November 28, 2014

black friday giveaway!

Hello friends! Happy Black Friday! I am not a fan of waking up in the middle of the night to go shopping, and honestly, it really bothers me that stores are opening up on Thanksgiving to make money. Can't we just have one whole day for family and friends?

I'm here because I'd like to give away a few copies of my new product on TpT! My most recent product on TpT are my Writing Process Posters. I love teaching the wring process to kids and have great ideas to share with you in this product!

So what you get in this product are the posters above for each of the six stages of writing: rehearsal, writing, receive the piece, revision, editing, and publishing. I've also included one page for each of the six stages that explains the stage and gives some suggestions for teaching it.

For example, on the sheet that goes with Rehearsal, I give a few tips for teaching at this stage: writing from literature, heart mapping, writing from a list, and the neighborhood map. Let me share even a bit more on writing from literature...

This is the easiest strategy to get kids to write "seeds" in their writer's notebooks. You read a picture book to students and then have them write from ideas that were built on that story. One book I always use is Fireflies by Brinkloe. I begin my workshop each year with this book - a book about the summertime tradition of catching fireflies. After I read the story to kids, I ask them, "So who catches fireflies in the summer? What other summer activities do you do?" We create a shared list, and then kids can write about any of the ideas from the list (or any other idea they would like to, as long as everyone writes in the genre assigned).

Some other books I use when doing memoir rehearsal with students:

Julius the Baby of the World - Students share stories of their siblings after hearing this story.

Amos and Boris - and stories of friendship with this one!

The Relatives Came - Students share stories of extended family after this story.

Courage - Times of great courage will be written about after this one

Owl Moon - and stories of special traditions will come from Owl Moon

If you're interested in any of these activities to teach the Writing Process, jump in my giveaway - I will select three winners to receive a copy of this product! To enter, you simply need follow me on Facebook - find all those details in the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's all for me today! Enjoy your time off with family and friends!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

thankful thursday, one last time

As November comes to a close, there's one more chance to celebrate with Miss Lifesaver for her Thankful Thursday posts!

There's been many things to be thankful for, and here's my last list!

Thankful for my Chicago friends!

We had our first friendsgiving this year - but it's was Kristy's (right) second-annual baconsgiving. Kristy hosted and we all brought dishes. Only requirement? Everything had to have bacon. There was bacon guacamole, bacon-wrapped jalepeño poppers, stuffing (with bacon), Mac and Cheese (with bacon), Bacon Butter to go on the bread, and chocolate chip cookies (with bacon). The cookies? So good! Time with friends? Even better! :-)

Thankful for my bffs!

I don't know if you know, but I love cards. I love to send them and I love to get them, and I love my bffs. Here they all are: Anita, Heather, Jamie, Holly, Liz, and Katie. We live all over the place: Southern California, Kentucky, Washington State, and Phoenix, and of course Chicago....but we keep in touch enough to make the times we're away from one another more bearable. I wouldn't be who I am without these six - and I'm so thankful for each of them!

Thankful for this blog!

I had no idea how much I'd love blogging when I started this blog in July of 2013. Not only that, but I've made new friends, have networked with other reading specialists and literacy coaches, have lived the "writerly life," and have had an outlet for creativity that I had never imagined. I really get so much from blogging - so much more than it actually takes to sit down and write, and for that, I'm forever thankful.

What are you thankful for? Write up your post and link it up with Miss Lifesaver!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

sunday letters

Join me every other Sunday to share your letters.
Write to people or inanimate objects and then link up below.
Don't forget to leave some love for the other Letters Bloggers!

Dear KS and LG,
Thanks for the nice notes. They really made me feel much better on Monday!
With Gratitude, Your union rep

Dear CN,
Thanks for the inspiration for our blog hop and for meeting me this week to plan for iEngage. Love collaborating with you!
Hugs, Bloggy Buddy

Dear bff,
You totally get me and I love you! Thanks for making me laugh this week...right when I needed it.
Love, bff

Dear self,
Slow down, especially on the stairs, especially when you have on new shoes. Your knee has paid for it all week!
Sincerely, Clumsy Teah

Dear Self,
You can totally be your own boss and consult. Figure out how to start making it happen!
Love, Motivated Teach

Dear Chicago Sun Times,
Thank you for publishing this story.
People need to know how excessive standardized testing is and exactly how much it really does interrupt learning!
Love, Passionate Teach

Dear Readers,
Thank you for following my blog! I hope you'll link up with Sunday Letters today (or tomorrow...or later this week!)
Grateful Blogger

That's all for me this week. Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you enjoy your holiday with family and friends!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

gift of reading blog hop: text structures

Hello there and welcome to BigTime Literacy! I'm Michelle - a Literacy Coach in a suburb just west of Chicago. Love teaching, love reading and writing, LOVE blogging! Many thanks to Wendy from Read with Me ABC and Andrea from Reading Towards the Stars for organizing this amazing blog hop!

One of my responsibilities as a literacy coach involves working with the five other coaches on a district wide curriculum for our K-5 teachers. Given my experience as a middle school teacher for 10 years prior to coaching, I opted to work with the fifth grade teachers on their curriculum map.

This past month the coaches met with a small group of classroom teachers to plan for our upcoming Nonfiction unit. In our district, we use Lucy Calkin's Reading Workshop curriculum materials. If you know this curriculum at all, you know that it is highly lacking in the Nonfiction department, so we have added in a unit on text structures, using this book as a resource:

So to all of my readers, I share the gift of text structures with you! If you are a fifth grade or middle school teacher, you should be using these structures with your students on a routine basis. When I was a middle school teacher, I taught my students these text structures and then our science teacher began using them. The kids said to him, "But Mr. Teach! This is not Lit Studies class!" I loved that!

Text structures are sometimes confused with text features. Text features include headings, captions, and diagrams, where text structures involve students reading a passage and then using a graphic organizer to....well... organize the information. Text structures serve as a scaffold for students so they can think about the information they are learning and begin to organize as they think about it.

When I was teaching middle school, I developed my Nonfiction reading unit around the work of this book. I spent one week teaching each structure and having students read various articles within each structure. As the structures unfolded, this is kind of how I planned for my students:

Each week, students are reading passages and completing text structure organizers. In the beginning, when they are just learning the structure, I give them an article and *tell* them what the structure is. Then, at the end of week 2, when they know two structures, they get an article and have to figure out what structure it is.

As time rolls on and they learn more structures, they will get articles that have more than one structure within it. If you look at any Scholastic News, you will notice various structures within each article and once students know them all, they can use multiple structures --

with the main goal of....

Of course, the purpose for all this work is for kids to be effective readers who learn new things from their Nonfiction books.

So readers, I have a gift for you! I created a great product based on the work of the book above and for this weekend only (Nov 21-23, 2014) you can get it for free from my TpT shop! Click here to head on over and download your copy!

I am also holding an amazing raffle! Are you familiar with the pencil sharpeners from Classroom Friendly Supplies? If not, check out my review of them first. And then, if you like what you see, I'll be raffling one off to one lucky winner!

Use the rafflecopter below to win this amazing prize...I mean, look how happy it makes some of our kiddos:

Alright well that's all for me here - now you're ready to hop on over to Sweet Integrations and see what gift Sandy has for you!

Happiest of Holidays to you and hope you come back to BigTime Literacy soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

guided writing #totesamazeballs

Do you use guided writing in your guided reading groups with kinder-second grade students? If you don't, this is an activity I believe you should implement...yesterday :-)

I just learned about guided writing this school year as I was investigating Jan Richardson's Guided Reading components. Currently, I am working with some second graders who are reading around a H-I level. The lesson plan for these kiddos is a two day plan, and guided writing falls into the second day of the lesson plan.

Guided writing involves me dictating a sentence to students for writing practice. We spend two days on the same book, and then towards the end of the second day, I will give students a sentence I have composed for them to write. When I am composing these sentences, I make them about the book we've read, and I craft the sentence very strategically. For example, I try and use the sight words that have been taught recently. I also pick words that students can write, but might have to stretch to get to the correct spelling. I might also be curious about their knowledge of a phonics rule - so in this case, I would choose a word that followed that pattern to use as an assessment of their phonics knowledge. These are some of the things I take into consideration as I craft the sentences.

Guided Writing is also a great time to coach on correct letter formation. My kiddos write on primary lined paper that I have stapled into little books - so they can learn correct formation of letters. So, when they are writing the sentences, I am able to watch them form letters and then coach them to better writing. I might notice they are forming letters in the wrong way or that they are using capital letters inappropriately. No matter what, it's a time to coach for improved writing!

We also talk about what goes at the beginning and end of the sentences - so children are constantly being reminded of capital letters and ending punctuation.

Have I sold you on Guided Writing yet?

Well, if I have, then you'll want to make sure you do one more thing before you have kids write your sentence - rehearsal. The kiddos have to practice the sentence orally before they write or they will forget it. So, what I do is ask them to set their pencils down, and then listen to my sentence.

The first time, I say it naturally. Kids listen. Then they say it with me a few times. Finally, I have them say it again, counting the words in the sentence. Then they are ready to write.

I didn't expect this activity to carry over into other areas, but last Thursday I watched it do so. The kids were working on determining the major and minor characters, what the character wants, and how characters respond to events in their stories. I did the first cycle with them on our first book, and then they finished. 

What I noticed when they went to the rug to work together was that they were developing their sentences orally, "Annie wants..." and then they were able to write their sentences on their matrix. I didn't even tell them to write in complete sentences: they just did! It was awesome to hear them rehearsing for what they were going to write!

So, guided writing is a worthwhile task to use in your guided reading lessons! For more information, check out Jan Richardson's book:

Are you following my blog? If not, make sure to do so! Coming next weekend, I'm participating in a great blog hop with some amazing Reading Specialists and Literacy Coaches. There will be lots of freebies and some giveaways, too!

Happy Sunday! Hope your football team isn't annoying you as much as mine are!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

thankful thursday

Another November Thursday and another chance to link up with Miss Lifesaver for Thankful Thursday! Here's a few random things that I'm thankful for this week!

I'm thankful for my ASU friends!

Each week I get to meet up with my friends to watch the Sun Devils do their thing and it's so much fun. Even the getting ready...consider this text message exchange:

No big deal, just the girls figuring out what to wear. So fun to meet up with these friends and even better when we win over a ranked team...we're ranked 6th in the nation now! :-)

I'm thankful for funny Internet memes!

I know I mentioned them on Sunday Letters, but Internet memes make me lol like nobody's business. Take for example:

hahhahaaaa. #trudat

I'm thankful for Fiverr!

Okay just learned about this site last weekend - have you heard of it? At first I thought it was pronounced like 'fever,' but it's actually like the number - fiverr. It's because it's a marketplace for independent people to offer services - services like graphic design - and everything costs $5! I finally found a cheap way to get graphics made for my TpT products. My first set of graphics are for my Writing Process Posters - be on the lookout for that soon! They look awesome!

I'm thankful that I work in a *public* school.

I can't say it more beautifully than one of my fave bloggers, Peter Greene. Read his blog, which was picked up by the Huff Post, here.

I'm thankful for my funny lunch!

I eat lunch with the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, Christine our Reading Specialist, and our Speech and Language teacher, Maria. Every day it's something new that has us laughing like crazy and having fun. Today it was Dawson's Creek and how one teacher loves Dawson, while most of the rest of us loved Pacey. And then I made this - you know, since I love funny memes :-)

There's something to be said for going to lunch in the teacher's lounge and getting away from your work for a half hour or 40 minutes. Every day we have so much fun - and it's always been that way for me in 12 years of teaching. Teachers are better teachers when they can exhale and have a little fun!

So....Thanks to Erin at Miss Lifesaver for hosting. What are you most thankful for? Write a blog and post it on Erin's page!

Tomorrow's Friday! Thankful for that, too!
Hope yours is great!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

sight words

I've been doing a Tier 3 intervention with a kiddo for months....we worked together last year for about two months, and now this whole school year. I've been using Intensive Phonics with him, so he's learned tons of phonics rules! 42 sounds, silent e, adjacent vowels, R-controlled vowels, Pig-Pen sounds (oi/oy, au/aw, etc) and more that are slipping my mind right now.

We finally got to sight words and I've learned something new that I thought I should share with you!

But before I get to that... how do you all keep anecdotals on sight words? I gave him a quick spelling test today, keeping track of what he spelled correctly and noting his errors - that way I will know what I need to teach. Then tomorrow, I'm going to quiz him on the words he learned today, and then just keep track on a chart. Here's what mine looks like so far (I've only kept info on it for two days...)

Okay so back to what I learned today:

This program teaches kids to look for what is *right* about the sight words. Take for example, the word come...

There are three sounds in this word: /c/ /o/ /m/.

The initial consonant follows the rule - it's a hard c, like usual.
The silent e on the end is following the silent e rule - well, part of it (it doesn't make the o long...).
Which means the ending sound, /m/, is also correct.

So then, the reason we have to teach this as a sight word is because the o says short u, when it should say long o.

Today, my kiddo and I looked carefully at two words: do and has. We talked about what is right about them (do=initial sound; has= initial sound, short vowel). Then I taught them that there are irregularities with these words, which is why we have to memorize them and learn them by sight.

We then used Jan Richardson's four routines for sight words:

1. What's missing
2. Mix and Fix
3. Table Writing
4. Notebook Writing

Finally, I began a bag of word cards for him to take and practice.

I'm hoping all of this helps! He's gotten so much better about writing words he doesn't think he knows, and it's in large part to Intensive Phonics. This is a great Tier 3 Intervention...and I think you can see more about it here. (One of my former principals shared it with me...I'm pretty sure this is the same!)

What tricks do you have for sight words? I'd love to enhance my instruction even more, so leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

sunday letters

Join me every other Sunday to share your letters.
Write to people or inanimate objects and then link up below.
Don't forget to leave some love for the other Letters Bloggers!

Dear Readers,
Sorry my letters are so late today! It was a rough night and morning! Feeling a little uneasy about sharing one of these letters today - so go easy on me and let me know if I'm not alone!

Dear ASU,
I'm so excited about your win over Notre Dame and I can't wait to see what our ranking is this week! Super fun game and so proud to be an alum!
#1 fan

Dear Dad,
Sorry you lost that bet! I know you love Notre Dame but it just wasn't in the cards for them yesterday. So...would you like a maroon or gold ASU shirt with my double saw winnings?

your daughter

Dear Internet,
One of my favorite things about you are the memes that are so funny, like this one that a friend posted yesterday:

Every time I look at it, I just lol so much! Whoever comes up with this stuff is genius!
A highly entertained blogger

Dear Tiger Bloggers,
I'm so excited that your blogs are up and running! (Check them out along the left hand side of this blog!) I've only showed you how to post blogs, but some of you have figured out how to change your layouts and you're leaving each other comments! That makes me so happy! I knew you'd love to blog as much as I do!
proud Teach

Dear D100 friend who listened this week,
Thanks for hearing me out earlier this week as I expressed concerns about standardized testing. I wish I had more courage and could ask my questions to the big group, but I also know that it's kind of a tricky situation - I don't want to come across as negative or complaining. (Even writing about this on my blog gives me pause, but hey, it's what in my heart.) For this week, anyways, I'm proud that I brought questions to at least one person. I know it's kind of hard to make this comparison, but I sometimes think about how no one spoke up during the Holocaust, and a terrible result ensued. In some ways, I see the ridiculous amount of standardized testing in the same way. I'm all for accountability - please don't misinterpret. But, do we need this much testing to be accountable? I the only one who feels like this?
concerned Teach

Dear CN,
So excited to present about blogging at the end of this year! We will make a great team!

My apologies again for the late letters - but hope you can still share yours, too! We'll be back again in two weeks for the next set of Sunday sure to follow and write along!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

thankful thursday

While every day is a day for expressing gratitude, November is always an extra special time to bring all the beautiful things in our lives to light. I'm thankful for my new friend, Erin, from Miss Lifesaver, for hosting Thankful Thursday!

Here are just a few of the many blessings in my life!

I'm so thankful for a great career. I seriously love what I do. Every day I get to go to work and like all the little things I do: teach guided reading, mentor awesome new teachers, read research on the best practices for literacy, meet with talented literacy coaches, reading specialists, and classroom teachers, spend the school's money on things like poetry collections and student book bags. And how could I forget the amazing kids - they are the highlight of each day! One of my former kiddos from my first year (he's 24 now!) emailed me last awesome. Anyways, the list goes on an on and I can't imagine not teaching :-)

and in searching for this, I fond the following:

Yep, lol-ing!

I'm thankful for such a great boyfriend. He really is one of my best friends - we get along so well, we have fun, he is super witty with his jokes (last weekend, at breakfast, he was 'waffling' over whether or not to eat his waffles, which got cold). Hektor makes me happy and everything is better when he is around :-)

I'm thankful for ASU's awesome record this year! They are winning all the time and that makes football season even more fun! Next up is Notre Dame - cheering extra loud for that one to send some great vibes out to the desert!

The Man Who Shall Not Be Named is the new governor of Illinois. That's bad for teachers and students and public education. I'm thankful though, that his assembly - house of representatives and senate? however you call his people - well, they're still majority Democratic, so that's good. (Well, I'm pretty sure that's a fact.) Gotta make lemonade from lemons, I guess...

Finally, I'm thankful for my new friend, Miss Lifesaver! Erin and I met in real life (IRL) for the first time this week and she's totes amazeballs! We had a great three hours talking and getting to know each other and I know we'll be friends IRL for a long time to come!

That's all for tonight...go check out Erin's blog and link up with her! Then, come back and link up with me on Sunday for my Letters Linky!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

currently my birthday!

Hi blogging friends! So happy to end my day today (my birthday!) writing a blog...can't think of anything I'd rather be doing! So thankful to Farley for having her Currently Parties each month....always look forward to writing this blog!

Listening to...T Swizzle
I'm so bubble gum, and I don't even care. Got the new Taylor Swift album and it's great! Love lots of the songs on it. The bf is ticked that she sold out and jumped on the pop scene (he now calls her TSwizzle), but it sounds good and works for her. Some of my faves from the album are Style, Wildest Dreams, and This Love. You should definitely check it out!

Loving...Birthday 2014
I've had the best day today! First, tons of people took a moment to send sweet texts, write notes on facebook, give me a call, or, in my dad and Annie's case, sing happy birthday and send it via email. Love that all of my favorite people got in touch with me today!

Then, the boyfriend did such a good job - we woke up and he made me breakfast, we watched the Gators (they won!), and then had an awesome dinner at this Italian place Zia's Lago Vista right around the corner. He got me some great presents, too - including a super pretty rose gold watch. Plus, he's just been the best all day, so I feel pretty lucky to have him!

Thinking about joining Crossfit...
I need to get on the ball with exercising. Like, seriously. Windy City Crossfit is like two steps from Hektor's house, so that would be super easy. It's expensive, but if I actually go and work out, I'm find spending a lot of money on that. I just need a workout buddy. Any takers? :-)
Wanting...a foam fork
Watching the ASU game now and saw a bunch of people in the crowd with foam forks, and yeah, I want one.

Needing...a lazy Sunday
It's on the docket for tomorrow. We've been super busy - went to Vegas two weekends ago, was busy last weekend doing stuff, and so I just want to sleep in (extra hour tonight!) and then be lazy in the morning. It would be nice to go for a walk tomorrow, but I just want to take it easy!
Reading...The Husband's Secret
Well, I'm not going to tell you what his secret is, but it's a good one and this is a great book! I'm about halfway through - will report back with more when I finish!

Well that's all for me tonight. If you are interested in a new linky party, I hold a letters blog every other Sunday. I will be posting that link up next Sunday, so please join! You can check out the letters blog here.

Have a great November...get excited for the holidays!
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