How to Host a Book Tasting

Do you want to host a book tasting? It’s a great activity to introduce new books or genres to students, in which students spend a few minutes browsing an individual book to get a “taste” of it before deciding if they want to read it. To make the event even more appealing, I’ve created a BOOK TASTING KIT that you can borrow from me anytime! The kit comes in a picnic basket,


and it includes all of these supplies:


With these supplies, you can transform your room into a restaurant: tablecloths, placemats, fake flowers, “candle” light, jazzy music, chef or waiter costume, etc. And who doesn’t love a costume?! Actually, I know of plenty of people who don’t, so the costume part is entirely optional. đŸ™‚

Here’s a video that Ms. Fritz and I made to help you understand what a book tasting is:

After getting a taste of some books, students will hopefully have books that they want to read. They can record their favorites from the book tasting on a bookmark,




“Books to Read” list in your 2nd or 3rd grade Reader’s Notebook,


or your 4th or 5th grade Reader’s Notebook.


I’m hoping to have CSS film an actual book tasting to give you the real flavor of the event! In the meantime, borrow my Book Tasting Kit to host this event in your room soon!

Happy reading!


5th Grade WIN – Padlet

Click here to find the Padlet for our WIN group.

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I’ve posted before about Padlet, the digital interactive bulletin board, but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it authentically until now. For the next several weeks, I’m meeting with fifth graders to work on reading responses during WIN. In addition to using critical thinking skills, collaborating with other writers, and writing clear ideas, I also want students to use the computer for this work. Padlet seems like the perfect platform to accomplish these goals! I’ll provide an update after we’ve tinkered around a bit more!

Class Books: Let Them Read What They Write


It’s possible that my love for class books originated from the one I received from the class that I student taught on my very last day of teaching them. It was a simple production: letters on notebook paper, crayon/colored pencil/marker drawings, and their school pictures. The fanciest thing about it was the laminated pages and plastic binding. Of course, the simplicity of it is part of what makes it so precious to me. Their sincere letters and drawings alongside their school photos still touch my heart. Since then, it has been in my classroom library in my “Student-authored Books” bin. For years, I was surprised by how the students I’ve had since then have been drawn to it even though they didn’t know my first students at all. In fact, every year, nearly all of my students read the Thank you, Ms. Vigna book at some point during the year; sometimes revisiting it more than once. Without even knowing my very first students, my later students couldn’t resist reading the book they made!

A purposeful, authentic audience motivates writers. Fortunately, our classrooms have built in audiences: students! There is no shortage of content for class books: With the volume of writing students are producing in our classrooms, you could easily stock a classroom library shelf with student-authored books. In Writers’ Workshop alone, it’s possible that students have penned several pieces already.

It’s just a matter of putting the book together: Print out or copy all of their personal narratives, create a simple cover, and bind their work into a class book! Nothing elaborate–no need to ship them off to Blurb or Shutterfly. Just fold an 11×18 piece of construction paper in half and staple it down the side to bind it. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add some decorative duct or Washi tape to cover the staples.

Class books can be made outside of Writers’ Workshop, too. A Math Workshop station could have students write their own word problem for the concept being studied and a separate explanation of the answer. I’m imagining a class book made out of envelopes: the problem written on the envelope and the answer and explanation on an index card  inside the envelope. In science, students can create an alphabet book for the current topic or a timeline of a historical events for each time period studied in social studies.

Teaching students how to make books on their own would be empowering and motivating also. Look to Katie Wood Ray and her protege, Lisa Cleaveland, for inspiration, especially for our youngest writers in the primary grades.

Class books motivate students to READ! I have found that students love rereading their work and the work of their classmates in these class books so much that I often have to “discard” the totally worn out original copy and replace it with a “Second Edition” OR I end up making copies of especially powerful class books to GIVE to my students to keep. My authors have even gone around the room collecting each other’s autographs and asking for inscriptions like we would at a professional book signing.

Regardless of its form, class books are powerful and useful reading and writing tools. They are treasure-filled memories for all of the stakeholders and promote reading and writing in our youngest readers and writers.

The Year of the Reader

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The Year of the Reader is getting a jumpstart. See Ms. Vigna or Ms. Fritz if you have questions, comments, or moments of genius!

Magical Muggle Masterminds


Are you obsessed with Harry Potter? Do you love everything related to Harry Potter so much that you would be willing to stay at school past the bell? Is your Potter passion enough to read and write about Harry Potter’s world? Come meet fellow Lonmgeadow Potterheads to explore and create reading and writing magic together. We will use our five sessions to read and write in different genres and forms to reinforce literay skills and strategies students are learning in their classrooms. As Professor Dumbledore says, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Let’s make Dumbledore proud with our magical musings! Interested students should have read at least one of the books in the Harry Potter series prior to the start of this class.

Click here to register for this Longmeadow Enrichment Program club!

A Guided Reading Glog

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I’ve gone and glogged again! My latest glog is all about Fountas and Pinnell’s framework for guided reading for teachers from kindergarten to second grade, though the information is certainly transferrable to all the grades. I love making glogs because you can see all of the information and synthesize everything at once. The video that’s included isn’t my favorite exemplar of guided reading, but it’s enough to focus our discussion. My goal is to film a guided reading lesson at my school with which to replace it soon!

A Sea of Talk

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I have seen firsthand how turning and talking to a reader or writer next to you can energize students. Sometimes I’ll ask a class a question, and wait for a couple timid hands to slowly raise themselves. I’ll quickly follow-up with, “Turn and talk to the reader next to you about…” After a minute or so of discussion with a partner, the number of hands shoots up, often with nearly every student’s hand in the air! The benefits of giving students a chance to talk out their thinking are noticeable and necessary. When students talk before sharing out with the whole class, they get a chance to:

  • reassure themselves that they’re on the right track
  • rehearse verbalizing their thinking
  • deepen their understandings
  • take a risk with an audience of one rather than the whole class
  • have a peer explain in a kid-friendly terms
  • be heard
  • consider other perspectives
  • gain enough confidence to share out

Additionally, reading and writing are sometimes passive activities. How do we know what reading thinking is taking place if students only read silently? Discussing their reading and writing thinking energizes the learning and informs instruction. Engaging readers in a conversation about their predictions, confusions, wonderings, connections, or visualizations gives us a glimpse of what they’re doing well and where they can still grow as readers. A classroom of readers and writers hums with partners quietly sharing their thinking and responding to each other. In a classroom where rigorous conversation is expected and valued, readers and writers will do more than float on a sea of talk; they will soar.