Monday, November 28, 2011

Mrs. Meacham, My Inspiration....You Rock!

As I was awarded The Sunshine Award this month for sharing inspiring ideas....I couldn't let the award go by without giving a shout-out to my friend (now) and virtual colleague, Jessica Meacham, web author of her own AMAZING website, www.jmeacham.com


Before I had a web presence, it was Jessica Meacham that encouraged me to start a website and thus, www.hellofirstgrade.com was born.   Since then, Mrs. Meacham, has become a good friend of mine and a teacher with whom I admire and respect.  Not to mention she gives EVERYTHING away that she creates for  FREE!!! And, she creates a TON.  Her most impressive resources are her SMARTboard files, which can be found {HERE}. 

And these are just a FEW! Thanks Jessica, for all you do, and all you snap, upload and share!!! But, most of all, thanks for your inspiration and dedication to helping other teachers!

Happy Reading!


Apparently, I'm Spreading Sunshine!




I've been honored once again by Katie & Steve over at twocandoit.blogspot.com and Keri over at teachplaysmile.blogspot.com...for sharing inspiring ideas! That means a ton to me.  Although some may feel that blogging about best practices is "above and beyond" I consider it part of my job.  I quite enjoy it and wish I had time to blog more.

So, here are the rules for this award:
  • Thank the person(s) who gave this award and if you would like to, write a post about it.
  • Answer the following questions below.
  • Pass the award to 7-10 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them.
Jen's Answers:
  • Favorite Color: Pink
  • Favorite Animal: My Doxie's, Stanley & Lucy
  • Favorite Number: 3
  • Favorite Drink: Orange Juice
  • Favorite Gadget: My iPhone
  • Facebook or Twitter: Neither...Pinterest is my new Facebook
  • Your Passion: All Things Reading & Creating
  • Getting or Giving Presents: Giving
I follow so many incredible blogs and here are some who bring "sunshine"  into my life when I see their posts. If you're on the list and don't feel like posting about the award, it's totally fine! :-) 
Happy Reading!

Scholastic Warehouse Sales

It's that time of year again where Scholastic has their big warehouse sale....what a great deal on books, AND cheap! Click here to find a location near you!  The warehouse sale runs from December 7-17th.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Start a Home Reading Program


There is no doubt that reading at home is one of the best ways children can stay on track and even get ahead in on their learning path.  The "reading at home" research is well-documented, and where books are abundant in the home, this is not a problem.  Creating a Home Reading Program in your class, grade level, K-2 classes or even schoolwide, really levels the playing field and eliminates disparities about the number of books in the home. 

When I taught first grade at Swift Creek Elementary, I had been teaching about 15 years and I had acquired a lot of books over years....both children's book and little leveled readers.  Using websites like Scholastic Book Wizard, I was able to level most of the little readers and many of my children's book to create a Home Reading Book Cart.   I would then solicit parent volunteers to come in daily, usually I had a Monday parent, a Tuesday parent, etc. that would come in on a weekly basis, or bi-weekly basis, listen to kids read and trade out home reading books each day.  


You can do Home Reading INSIDE your classroom, with Moms....

with Dads.....

or right outside the classroom, in the hallway, where it's a little quieter.

Uponing opening Lake Myra, getting a Home Reading program started in every K-2 classroom was one of our first priorities.  For the books, we purchased several classroom licenses to www.readinga-z.com.  We printed and copied 15-20 single titles from the leveled books available on this site.


I purchased plastic totes/baskets from the Dollar Store..( 9 per cart/classroom), available in the store or online from www.dollartree.com.

I purchased 15 storage racks from www.amazon.com to be the Home Reading Cart.

Sturdy plastic envelopes were purchased from www.reallygoodstuff.com which last all year long.
The Kindergarten team opted not to use the plastic envelopes but used gallon size ziploc bags instead, and taped these labels to the inside of the bags.
Inside the folder is a letter explaining Home Reading to parents.


Here is letter soliciting parent volunteers to help with Home Reading.

You can also include a Reading Strategy card or bookmark for students.


In our second year, we added another feature to the Home Reading program, and this is Parent Read-Alouds.  In Kindergarten and 1st grade, in addition to a leveled book for students to read each night, students also take a Parent Read-Aloud book for parents to read to their child.  This book is typically one to two years above their reading level....at the child's listening comprehension level.   Each year in Wake County, our library has Friends of the Library Sale, however, the day before the sale opens to the public, they offer the books to Wake County teachers for free...as many as you want, or in my case, as many that could fit in my van.


Parent Read-Aloud labels were attached to each book in the Parent Read-Aloud bucket.


Now, when students take turns reading to parents  in the hall, they choose a new leveled book each night and a new book for their parents to read to them.



And on most Monday - Thursday mornings, this is what the first grade hallway looks like. :-)




Happy Reading! - Jennifer