Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is "Real Reading" the New "Summer Reading"?

How many of you have children of your own who moan and groan and roll their eyes at the simple mention their summer reading requirements? 100% of my offspring do this (2 of 2) - and a tiny little piece of my "love-to-read-a-good-book" heart dies! Every single time.

My oldest daughter, Cambria, will be reading When by Victoria Laurie this summer and completing a dialectical journal in the process. My younger daughter, Jordan, doesn't have any specific requirements, but she will be reading a book, too, sans dialectical journal.

The struggle is real, y'all, and this mama has decided to rethink summer reading. I realized that this "new" concept is something I always embraced with my students who weren't crazy about reading. 

When I was in the classroom, I encouraged parents celebrate when their kids picked up a magazine to read or when they read the directions to a new game or project, or (obviously) when they cooked or baked something because a.) Yum and b.) Reading. That was several years ago, and now kids (and their parents) have so many more options for "real reading" opportunities throughout the year.

In the last two weeks, my girls have collaborated to construct a rolling kitchen cart, a disassembled baker's rack/wine rack (don't judge), and a garden cart. Each project has taken at least an hour for them to complete. They're reading the instructions, rereading the instructions, and referring back to the text for clarification when needed. I get those "teacher mama" goose bumps when I overhear them saying, things like "No, that's not it...look at this step instead." Text evidence! Thinking! Applying! Creating!

Another thing they're really loving is Carson Daly's Buzz (which until right now I thought was Carson's Daily Buzz. Duh...silly me). I get the daily emails, and I share links with them if I think it's something they'll enjoy. It keeps them informed on things like the vlogger who applied 116 coats of nail polish to her nails or the guy who paid a speeding ticket with 22,000 pennies or the sweet 16 party for a search and rescue dog from Ground Zero or Matt Damon's commencement speech; and after they read, what they've learned generates conversation (and subsequent "research!"). I also like the screen reading aspect, and I feel like the articles are naturally chunked because of the pictures (and ads).

My girls love to bake, and I am more than happy to trade fifteen minutes of screen time with them (research!) for an unpredictable amount of time blending, baking, decorating, etc. Even better? When they realize we're missing a key ingredient and they Google "substitutes for xyz..." or want to know more about a certain technique (which requires...more reading and research!).

By no means am I saying that I am against summer reading programs, required reading for advanced classes, reading the classics, or reading a book sheerly for enjoyment; instead, I feel I've figured out a way to get my children reading and learning during the summer in a way that allows them to be willing participants instead of combative oppositional forces and in a way where I am not "demanding" they read...because I believe reading should be fun, and reading should never be a punishment.

An unexpected side-effect is that they're also using the 4 C's of 21st Century Learning:
-Critical Thinking

I mean, look at these plans they have for a Father's Day cake.

Maybe this isn't new or revolutionary, but I feel like I have turned over a new leaf for my family. I will continue reading my books to model the habit for them. I will read before I fall asleep, and they will know I read until I can't keep my eyes open anymore; and for now, I am truly excited about how I've found new ways to engage them in "real reading," critical thinking, applying what they've learned, and collaborating to figure things out on their own.

And if, at some point, they happen to pick up a book to read, I will not make a big deal about it because the second I compliment them will be exactly one second before they put their book down. :)

In the meantime, I can't wait to sink my teeth into this delicious cake!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sigh of Relief and Thank Yous

I finally have this blog almost exactly how I imagined it would be!

My absolutely amazing friend Kelly inspired me to start blogging in 2009 when she started Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (so many of those posts still make me sob!!), and she continues to inspire me with her beautiful photographs, her dedication to daily posts on Instagram with her adorable family, and her true-grit, tell-it-like-it–is-with-love-and-grace words. Everybody needs a "Kelly" in their lives, trust me.

For Literacy Creations, I have to thank Aileen Miracle, who I have never met, for providing guidance to me through this new process of blogging to teach instead of blogging to self-heal. :) Her starter kit for launching a TPT store is fabulous, too, and I wish I'd have had it handy two years ago when I launched my first product! Piggybacking {literally} off of Mrs. Miracle, I also have to thank Laugh Eat Learn Designs (three of my favorite things!) for oodles of ideas that started at point A and ended, after taking the frowned-upon shortcut that really isn't ever a shortcut, at point B.

What would be do without inspirational people in our lives?

I only have a few more things to do with this blog until I am 100% satisfied, and that will probably last for less than a week before I find even more tweaks and additions I want to make. Creativity is a process, and working toward an ever-growing goal is invigorating!

I just needed to get that off of my feels good to being "nearly done." Really, really good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sale for STAAR Scores!

In acknowledgment of the arrival of 5th and 8th grade STAAR scores, I'm throwing my first sale! 15% off, today through Friday only!

What a great chance to check out a product or two at a reduced rate! Click on "Shop" from the menu at the top to go to my store...please email me with feedback and suggestions. If you have a positive review, I'd love for you to share it on my TpT page!

Happy shopping, everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Poetry Analysis

Finally!! My newest product is up and going. Poetry Analysis - you should check it out!

Let's be honest - as teachers, we either love or hate poetry. There really isn't much in between.

We either love or hate to read it, and we either love or hate to teach it.

No matter our feelings, it's tested on the Reading STAAR in 3rd - 8th grades.

I used each of the three variations of this strategy with a 5th, 7th, and 8th grader, so the annotations included in this set are their original thoughts.

STAAR scores came in today for 5th and 8th graders. Although we don't have the breakdown by SE for a few more days, it can't hurt to help your students review the process of analyzing poetry. And if you're teaching 3rd, 4th, 6th, or 7th, this is a great review before your students take the test in a few weeks!

Here's the link to a preview and a purchase!

I'd love to know what you think...this approach helps students get inside the mind of the speaker and guides them to a deeper understanding of the poem's meaning. As I watched each of my three guinea pigs work through their poem, I really was amazed at the depth of thinking they exhibited.

I hope to have one more product up before the next round of STAAR testing to help with review or intervening with Figure 19D. I also have something brewing for writing, and maybe (just maybe), I'll have a fun product for Science by the end of the week!

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sneak Peek for {hopefully} Tomorrow!

I'm almost done with my next product about poetry analysis. I was completely inspired by some of the awesome teaching going on at my school, so I dove deeper into the research and various ways of presenting the strategy. What a fun learning experience for me!

Also, may I just say WHAT A WEEK!! I have two more product ideas swirling around in my mind, and I cannot wait to tackle those very very soon.

Any Jeff Anderson fans out there? Tuesday was my luckiest day! I not only got to meet him, but I was also able to hear him speak and get an autographed book! Cool day for me!

Hopefully I'll officially have a new product up tomorrow evening. I hope you have a wonderful evening and a fabulous Friday!