Thursday, March 31, 2011

Show and Share: Borrow Books

Several readers have emailed me recently, asking how I "do" take home books as a reading resource for my students and their families.  Moving from state to state and from school to school, I've collected my own favorite texts over the years, which frankly, have become a hodge-podge of books for my students to use.  I purchased many off of Ebay when teachers retired and listed their libraries and manipulatives for sale, and even found some at teacher outlet stores and garage and yard sales.  The reading curriculum kit used by my present district includes a lot of mini-reader blackline masters that can be copied, and we also have phonics workbooks that have cut/fold/staple pages to create take-home stories for phonics practice.  Many of my students still prefer the look and feel of texts with "real" covers.

Storage for the books is a rather simple wooden basket with additional plastic baskets and a clear tub:


The clear tub is a perfect fit width-wise for the books, and the two small white baskets store reading notes (to and from families) and reading incentive charts and stickers.  Students read with me in a small group or individually, and are then encouraged to take the book home as a "borrow book" and read it again with their families.  During the initial reading lesson, I take note of reading strategies introduced to or used by my students, and add information and reminders so that parents can help reinforce skills when reading with their child at home.  I have a small box at the end of the note where parents can respond back, letting me know how the reading experience was at home:



Students take home the book and note in laminated envelopes (there is an additional blurb on the front of the envelopes with an explanation of the books for parents), and return them to me the next day:


Students earn a sticker on their borrow book chart each time they read a book at home and return it.  After nine stickers (the number that fill the pre-made charts I purchased; you can certainly choose to require your students to read fewer books), the Stars may redeem their full sticker chart for a prize (I provide pencils or small toys):


My students love to fill up their sticker charts by reading books each night at home, and the extra communication with parents makes this system a *win-win* as my Stars develop their literacy skills and love of reading!

Do you use a take-home or check-out book system with your students?  If so, how does it work?


Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Star Bellied Sneetch is BACK

I haven't blogged in ~forever~, my apologies!

Being a teacher requires that I be a juggler of many things: responsibilities, planned activities and unplanned surprises, instruction, preparation and cleanup.  Sometimes that's a lot of beanbags up in the air at any given time.

Lesson plans, teaching, new students, documentation, student intervention meetings, math adoption, staff meetings, para and aide training, classroom visitors, germs, report cards, trashcan-strategically-carried-in-front-of-a-barfing-student's-face walks to the nurse's office, lounge duty, PLC, and winter-decor-down-to-welcome-spring swifto-change-os on the ol' bulletin boards...

It can be a manic doe-see-doe every few weeks, but never fear, I'm still here. Did you miss me?  I certainly missed sharing with you!

Better late than never (remember, you can file/bookmark this one for next year's Read Across America activities or Dr. Seuss celebrations), here's a quick and easy Star Bellied Sneetch Tee Tutorial.  Sneetch Shirt Numero Uno was lost in the flood, as green marabou (or "foo foo" as my Stars refer to it) silt, mud and flood water did NOT create a flattering fashion statement once everything was laundered and dried.

What you'll need (I purchased all of my materials from Hobby Lobby- make sure to sign up for their coupons because 40% off REALLY helps AND because they don't honor competitors' coupons at this point in time):


Oversized *bright* yellow shirt
Green fabric paint (I tried spray paint but followed up with regular fabric paint in green)
Star stencil (you can also free-hand a star OR create a fabric star and iron it on with fusible webbing)
Green marabou (though white would work well too)
Needle and thread
T-shirt "board" or brown paper bag/cardboard insert so paint doesn't bleed through to back of shirt
Napkins or protective paper

The green foo foo comes in a length long enough to trim the bottom edge of the shirt.  Though Seuss' illustrations show the feathers at the Sneetch's necks, I don't recommend sewing the marabou there because the stuff is VERY fluffy, feathery, and sheds!  Picking foo foo out of your lipgloss or hair all day long isn't fun, trust me on this one.

Use a needle and thread to hand-sew the marabou around the hem of your shirt.  Don't be too precise or picky as you'll have to cut the threads to remove the foo foo before laundering.

Have fun rockin' the teacher fashion!