Summer Professional Development Ideas

An effective teacher is always learning, even over the summer break. While you are on vacation, why not catch up on your professional readings? Here are a few suggestions. What did I miss? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments so we can all stay current on best practices in literacy!

Easy Gifts for Your Students - Give Books!

If you're in the US, school is almost over, and gifting is on the brain. Here's a simple gift idea. Investment of time... fifteen minutes. Added bonus? You are about to clear off a shelf (or a box, a sterilite drawer, or whatever!)


If you are like me, you collect childrens' books for classroom libraries, etc. Some books may be well loved, or ones that you ordered from your book club catalogs, but forgot to use, or they weren't books that were checked out from your classroom library very often. This makes your shelved cluttered. Today's tip: Let them go... to the students! Here's how it usually goes down for me: set out an old box of books. Say nothing about it, until a sweetheart asks about them. Then tell them to pick one book they are interested in, and see you for a label for their name, because they can keep the book. Forever and ever.


Seriously, no Pinterest involved. Grab some old labels and hand-write a little note. These were mine last year! I had 3 5th graders tell me they read the books over and over during the summer. Love it!

Are you out of school? Did you Pinterest the end of the year, or was it as harried and hectic as mine was? Do you even give student gifts?

Speaking and Writing in Sentences - For Readers Who Struggle

I notice many of my struggling readers in grades 3-5 have a language deficiency. Their teachers are beside themselves as they look at their writing, and come to me asking what do I do? Here's my answer: practice speaking in complete sentences.


I bring in photos from magazines or project an interesting picture, and ask students to describe what they see in complete sentences. A small group is a supportive environment for risk-taking, especially for your English Language Learners. I usually spend a couple of 20 minute small group lessons on describing the pictures using complete sentences. Model how to describe the pictures using complete sentences. If you expect elaboration and details from your students, be sure to model that as well.  From there, move on to...

Practice Writing Sentences

Those pictures you've been practicing talking about? Use them again, and this time have them write their thoughts in sentences. Remind them about the format of a sentence - it needs a noun/verb, a capital letter, etc. They can write anything that they said yesterday, someone else said yesterday, or their new thinking about the picture.

We use the familiar pictures to make it easier to think of what to write about when they are struggling to write complete sentences. It makes a *huge* impact in helping students meet and sometimes exceed the writing expectations. The best way to become a better writer is to write, write, and write some more. If you spend time on this, I know you will see huge gains in your students who were struggling.

Field Trip to Peru on March 16 ~ Mark Your Calendar

This post is sponsored by WeAreTeachers.com and The Nature Conservancy.

Field Trip to Peru

If your students are like mine, they haven’t seen much of the world outside their hometown. As a teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to integrate the curriculum goals from my state in a meaningful way while opening the world to my students. One exciting (and free) opportunity to explore biodiversity of a coastal ecosystem is an upcoming virtual field trip to Peru! Join www.NatureWorksEverywhere.org on March 16th at Noon EST for a Free Virtual Field Trip to Peru!
Click the image to learn more, see the resources, and register for this free event!

How I Teach: Written Response

We know reading and writing are linked, right? Many of our struggling readers need help with writing, too. Unfortunately, time is tight, and mClass assessments require written response! Here's a quick look at strategies that I use with my struggling second, third, and fourth grade readers to boost their written responses.

Boost Fluency, Accuracy, and Self-Esteem

It's a Bright Idea round-up. Enjoy this post from earlier this year! I work with struggling readers in grades 2-5, so I know it can be a challenge to keep these learners engaged and enthusiastic while practicing Fluency and Accuracy.



Today, I'm sharing my secret weapon: The Partner Game!



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