Hey all! Trying to get back in the swing of things here. Joining up with Doodle Bugs for her famous

Here's what's been going on in my neck of the woods:
There is an assessment frenzy happening here. We got rid of one test and now a greater monster approaches...the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment). More than before it seems the pressure is on yet no one really knows what to expect...not even the top dogs! My district also implemented running records for all 3rd grade students. I am using the DRA2 (anyone familiar with that one?). It is quite involved and it takes so long to administer per student. I hate taking so much instructional time away from the class. I'm happy to have Daily 5 going strong. At least I know the kids are engaged in meaningful work. I would love to hear your advice or experience with administering running records.
Open House came and went and I never got a chance to share. (I was thrilled to see that my BFF, Denise, over at Sunny Days in Second Grade used one of my ideas. Check out her post HERE.)
For this activity, students complete the "Welcome to My Class" form. Here are some from my class:

 After the kids leave, I put out the "Good Morning" form for parents to complete during Open House. The kids are so excited to see these on their desks in the morning. I had some pretty creative parents fill these out this year:
 I also have parents decorate the back of a bookmark their child decorated earlier in the day. I laminate and tie the ribbon on when I get home so this is what the kids see in the morning. They just love to use these special bookmarks all year long.

 You can check out this product HERE at my TpT store.
 Over the summer, I worked on these:

 My students have a had blast acting out their reading! They make a fun brain break, too!

The fiction set can be found HERE and the nonfiction set is HERE.
Fall is my favorite season! The colors. The holidays. The (somewhat) cooler weather. Here are some books I like to share with my students even though our leaves aren't changing:

Margaret Wise Brown's The Little Scarecrow Boy is an old favorite. The scarecrow boy wants to learn to scare the crows like his father, but his father tells him he has to stay home, grow, and practice his fierce faces. I love how the boy makes his father proud at the end. This makes a nice read aloud and is perfect for story elements. Students can practice their own "fierce faces".

Look at these illustrations! The colors are so beautiful!

Another scarecrow favorite is The Scarecrow's Dance by Jane Yolen. 

In this story, a scarecrow decides to dance away the night. He finds himself at a house where he watches a boy saying prayers for the fall harvest. He decides to return to his post and do what he was meant to. I LOVE LOVE the illustrations. (The artist also illustrated the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane...one of my all time favorites!!) Use this story as mentor text for word choice and similes.

My first Five for Friday of the new school year and I'm a day late!
I've been so busy this week settling into the routine of school that I neglected to take pictures of what we have been working on to share with you. So I thought I would give you a glimpse at the mentor texts that has been guiding our reading and writing lessons. We start the year learning about story elements in reading and in writing, the students are generating ideas and starting personal narratives. These are some books I can not live without at the start of the school year.

Saturdays and Tea Cakes by Lester Laminack is a sweet story about a boy who visits his grandmother every Saturday. They work in the yard together, eat lunch, and bake teacakes. For writing, this book is the perfect text for generating ideas. Use it as a springboard to discuss people and places that matter. Students write lists of people that matter and small moments with those people. Do the same with places, but students can sketch a map of the place marking where the stories took place. 

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is a story that I think I will use as long as I'm a teacher. There isn't a book that works more perfectly to open up the discussion of memories. Memories can make you laugh or cry. Memories can be warm or from long ago. Students keep a list of these in their notebooks to draw on when they need something to write about.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is a true story of the author's Great-Aunt-Alice. She has dreams of seeing the world, but also of making the world a more beautiful place. Another book to open up a discussion of people in our lives that matter and just a wonderful story.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is just so fun and simple. It's the story of a family who drives from Virginia to visit their relatives. They hug and eat and spend time together.

Use this story to introduce great leads, too. I love the start of this book. 

Amos &Boris by William Steig is a story I use to teach story elements. Characters, setting, plot, and theme and vocabulary can all be explicitly taught through this story. If I plan on using a picture book like this, or others listed here, I read the book one day as the class read aloud. We just enjoy the story. The following days I can refer back to the book to show characters or discuss lessons or themes. I always plan ahead to be sure I mark pages or passages I want to use. I have a class set of this book and students use sticky notes to mark text. They love this book!

(I had to add in a sixth book to my list of 5)

Nothing Ever Happens On 90th Street by Roni Schotter is PERFECT for introducing your writer's workshop. The story is about  Eva who is given an assignment to write in her notebook, but she is stuck for a story. As she meets up with different neighbors on her street, they give her suggestions of what she can write. One tells her to observe the details. One says to see the poetry in her writing. As we work on generating ideas in our notebooks,  I give a homework assignment to observe what is happening on their street. They title the page "Nothing Ever Happens on ____________". I encourage them to see if they can notice something on their own street they haven't before. They are always surprised that they DO find something they had noticed before.

Hope you found a new book here or maybe you were reminded of an old favorite! There is no better way to teach reading and writing then from the experts!
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