Literacy Links – Volume 87

book list, literacy links, online learning, professional resources
*Optional* Choice Board for families and students.

One of the many (endless?) struggles of remote teaching has been how much of my students’ days do I fill with learning? I, of course, want to grow their brains, but I also don’t want them to be in front of a screen *all* day. Another aspect to consider is their families: Some families want more structure and other families want less. I have no clear answer to my problem, but in the meantime, I created an optional choice board that’s going to provide families with optional activities. I tried to create meaningful activities that can work in many contexts, sort of like a center I might have in my classroom in The Before. I hope it’s helpful to those who use it.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 82

literacy links, poetry, professional resources, reading
Next week’s theme is Special People in Our Lives!

Now that teachers are wrapping up their Writer’s Workshop launches, they are gearing up for their first standards-based units on personal narratives. This is exactly why next week’s theme is SPECIAL PEOPLE. I especially love the background knowledge resources: a special StoryCorps video and some of my favorite picture books. In fact, one of the books, You Hold Me Up, IS a poem, so I created a copycat template. My week at the Poetry Foundations Summer 2019 Institute is where I discovered the other poem, “Abuelito Who” by Sandra Cisneros, and the strategy of creating templates for poems. A very special poem, indeed.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 81

literacy links, online learning, poetry, professional resources, writing
Next week’s theme is autumn!

Since it is the most gorgeous time of year in New England right now, I decided that next week’s theme will be AUTUMN! To get students in the writing mood, I *highly* recommend taking them OUTSIDE for a nature observation walk. Check out the poems I selected and my resources and ideas for teaching them by clicking on the image or link above. Happy poem writing!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 80

literacy links, poetry, professional resources, writing
Conferring Notes portal for the second grade support team.

This year, I’m pumped to support the second grade team! I spend my days helping students at home with their remote learning, so I created digital conferring sheets to record their strengths and goals. After filling one out, I share it with the teacher for their records. I’m hoping it will provide some consistency and formative assessment info to help teachers make instructional decisions.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 79

book clubs, creating, literacy links, poetry, professional resources, writing

I just posted a new poetry collection on my door! This week’s theme is IDENTITY. I’d originally thought the next theme would be feelings, but I realized kids should share their selves before their feelings. 🙂 I’m hoping to change my poems every week this year. The single week of remote learning threw off my plan.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 78

book list, literacy links, professional resources, writing
Fiction Learning Progressions for 2nd Grade
Nonfiction Learning Progressions for 2nd Grade

As a literacy coach, I usually have to stretch across six grades, so it’s a treat to focus on a single grade level this year. I’m pumped to be assigned to second grade for hybrid support, but the coach in me can’t help not coaching. As such, I’ve decided to develop toolkits for reading and writing. I’m going to pull from lots of sources: The Literacy Continuum, the Units of Study, and more. First up? Creating a fiction learning progression and nonfiction learning progression (only available to LPS teachers since we have already purchased the Units of Study for our teachers) to help teachers choose focuses for units, conferences, or read alouds. This may just become one of my goals this year…

Here is the first official roundup of literacy links of the 2020-2021 school year if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

An Open Door to Teaching Poetry

coaching, poetry, professional resources, reading, writing
Walls that teach can be the doors that open our minds.

When I heard the adjustment counselors say that we all need outlets for discussion and expression in their hour-long summer PD, I *immediately* thought of poetry. Poetry is perfect for social-emotional work, and don’t we ALL need more of that? I agree.

So while I’m working with second grade this year (YAY!), I’m letting my office door do some passive coaching, and I’m going to focus on poetry this year. I’ve gathered some resources for teachers to peruse on their long, physically distanced treks through the Connector. The WHY, WHAT and HOW of teaching poetry is all there as well as some tips and tricks that I’ll continue collecting all year. I’m planning to share different mentor poems every few weeks. Right now, the poems are back-to-school themed: “Ready” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and “To a No. 2 Pencil on May 1, 2020” by Kimiko Hahn. Teachers can even snag copies of these poems by taking one from the plastic sleeve. Anything to make teachers’ jobs easier!

I can see embedding poetry into morning meeting, replacing one Reader’s or Writer’s Workshop lesson per week, or even some asynchronous work during students’ independent hybrid times with some poetry exploration. It’s truly a wonderful way to develop students’ literacy skills AND their sense of self. It does it all.

Happy reading and writing!

Literacy Links – Volume 75 (ANOTHER Bonus Summer Edition!)

literacy links, online learning, professional resources, writing

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 8.50.29 AMThe cover of my digital writer’s notebook. Click it!

Even though I love physical writer’s notebooks, I knew that, under these unprecedented circumstances, a digital writer’s notebook would be useful. I used this link from Slides Mania to make my digital writer’s notebook, and instead of using tabs, I created a table of contents with the sections I lean on the most as a writer and teacher of writers. I learned that even if you add slides to a section that the link in the table of contents stays with the right slide! Those Googlers are clever…

Here is another summer roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 74 *Bonus Summer Edition*

coaching, literacy links, professional resources, reading, summer, writing

Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 2.33.15 PM

Hyperlinked docs and choice boards have been a really useful tool during quaranteaching and quarancoaching. Over the summer, I’ve been developing this coaching choice board. Each colorful dot links to a page that focuses on that option with a video of me explaining what it looks like and links to the supporting documents I use. Not only will this hyperdoc share coaching opportunities that teachers might not have considered in the past, but it also helped me clarify my role.

Here is this summer’s roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

3 Steps to a School’s Successful Summer Reading Program

literacy, professional resources, reading, summer

Right before summer vacation begins every year, teachers urge their students to read, read, read. Not only do we want them to keep up the reading skills they’ve built up over the year, but we also want them to enjoy the freedom to choose and read whatever they want! I’m not a fan of incentive plans or book lists because I want students to build their own reading identities. But then, how do we promote summer reading for summer reading’s sake?

Although I participate in plenty of meetings with teams where we brainstorm ideas, my ideas often hit me much later, which is exactly what happened with my summer reading plan. But when that lightning bolt of inspiration struck in the middle of a sleepless, pandemic night, I knew it was “the one”. I hoped my three step plan would boost summer reading like never before.

Step One: Parents as Teammates!

The problem that inspired my three step plan was: Why don’t students DO summer reading? I had a few hunches. My first hunch was that parents didn’t realize how summer reading affected students. So the first step in my plan was to educate families. I created an eleven minute info session for families that covered the who, when, where, what, and WHY of summer reading using Loom:

As an incentive for watching the video, I did a reading swag bag raffle. They submitted their reader’s name(s), and then I used a random name picker to choose three winners. For the swag bag, I ordered a few things (sunglasses for summer reading, stickers for tracking their summer reading on a calendar, multicolored pen, and the coolest magnetic cardinal bookmark/pen) and made the rest (reading bracelet, reading stickers, and three stamped, reading-themed coloring page postcards).


I recruited my boys to help assemble the swag bags.


and even learned a new skill: How to make homemade stickers. This is totally going on my résumé.


I delivered the bags to the winners in the last week of school, and I got some great photos of them wearing their summer reading sunglasses or notebooks decorated with stickers!

Step Two: Build “Books to Read” Lists!

With parents covered, I tackled my other hunch: Students didn’t know *what* to read. How could I add to their “Books to Read” lists? I had several solutions, but this first one was, by far, my favorite.

Kid lit is my preferred genre. If you ever find me reading on vacation (ha! I have young kids, so I rarely read on vacation!), it’s almost always a middle grade novel. They’re my jam. And as a #classroombookaday ambassador and Ruth Culham devotee, I can never say no to a good picture book. It’s seriously a problem. This is all to say that I know a LOT of kids’ books! I decided to offer book recommendation consultations to families and their readers. They filled out a Google Form, and I scheduled a time for a quick Zoom to interview them and their readers. As an active seeker of joy and to make this Zoom special for kids, I decided to dress up as a fortune teller so that I could “see into their book-reading futures”! I used my Professor Trelawney costume from my Harry Potter Club stash, and I nearly bought a crystal ball. Seriously.


After getting to know the reader, I created a list of books that I thought the reader would love based on their reading interests. I shared a list with them and also a recording of me talking through the list so that they would have a brief summary of each book.

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 8.12.49 AM

I had GREAT feedback about this service! Parents and kids LOVED it. But I only reached forty-four kids. What about the 350 others? How could I get them ready for summer reading by arming them with a list of books that they want to read? My answer: create “Getting Ready for Summer Reading” units for grades K-5. I ended up making two units: one for K-1:

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 8.24.31 AM

and one for grades 2-5:

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 8.25.11 AM

For both units, students created a summer reading journal to record books they wanted to read, books they read, a summer reading goal, and summer reading progress monitoring. To kick off their “Books to Read” lists, I started with a book talk before the minilesson in both units. Towards the end of both units, students created a book talk on Flipgrid, and students were encouraged to watch as many as possible to build their “Books to Read” lists.

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 8.26.52 PM

I’m THRILLED that at the time of this posting  (July 16, 2020), the book talks have been viewed 2,798 times!! That is incredible! And some students have been adding book talks over the summer! I’m so, so proud!

On the last day of the unit, we celebrated by creating a book nook at home, decorating a summer reading book bin, hosting a digital book tasting, or creating a PSA about the importance of summer reading:

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 8.41.42 AM

Some students emailed me photos of their book bins, which I loved seeing (and I couldn’t resist recommending a couple books to them in my response to them!)! Making this unit was something that kept me sane in the last weeks of crisis teaching last year because it was full of joy and student-centered. I hope that it becomes a staple end-of-the-year routine for years to come!

Step 3: Maintain Reading Contact Over the Summer

To personalize motivation, I plan to send postcards to as many students as I can halfway through the summer. I’m going to DIY the postcards using empty packaging and glueing on a reading-themed coloring page. This artist has a collection of free reading-themed coloring pages (scroll down to “Words and Quotes Coloring Pages) that I’ll use for the postcards. I’ll inquire about books they’re reading, how they’re doing with their summer reading goal, and encourage them to keep adding and referring to book talks to the Flipgrid. I can’t wait to mail them soon!

When we return to school in September, whether it’s face-to-face, remote, or hybrid, I plan on conducting a survey of every first through fifth grader about their summer reading. Some questions might be: how many books did you read this summer, did you make a summer reading goal at the end of the previous year, did you meet your goal, how much did you enjoy reading this summer, etc. I can’t wait to hear what students say.

Happy reading, y’all.