Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Storyworks in Our Classroom: Online Resources

Welcome to the first post in a three post series on Storyworks in Our Classroom!
 This first post is all about the online resources Storyworks has to offer and how we use them in our fourth grade classroom. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources on the website. These are just some of our favorites!

If you have been looking for a way to supplement your curriculum, add to your Intervention/Enrichment tools, and include more Nonfiction in your room, I would highly recommend thinking about a subscription to Storyworks.
(I am not affiliated with Scholastic. I just love this resource & think
more people should know about it!)

What are your favorite online Storyworks resources? Is there something awesome on the site that I am missing? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to check back for the second post which will be on how I use Storyworks for our Intervention & Enrichment period.

Monday, January 18, 2016

One week ago...

One Week Ago
By Stacey Riedmiller

One week ago, my teacher heart changed. 

One week ago, I felt the excitement of Christmas morning.

One week ago, my phone had a constant buzz with Voxer excitement from book friends.

One week ago, nothing else mattered but our love for books we have shared.

One week ago, something crept in and pushed itself up against the walls and made my heart bigger.

One week ago, I watched a child who hated reading jump from his seat with excitement for books.

One week ago, a reader interrupted my Principal to say we were going to miss the Awards.

One week ago, our reading community was materialized.

One week ago, I felt electricity move through my body as my readers championed books.

One week ago, a book that we had all shared won the Newbery Medal.
One week ago, a book that we had all shared won the Caldecott Medal.

One week ago, in our tiny Ohio classroom, we were a part of a bigger reading community.
One week ago, we all belonged somewhere, and that somewhere was together in our classroom, reading books.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scholastic Reading Club: A Guide For Teachers

You're a teacher... that's why you're here, right?
If you're a teacher then it is almost certain that you know about Scholastic Reading Club.

When I talk about the efforts I make to stock our classroom library Scholastic is mentioned every time. Using Reading Club in my classroom is the NUMBER ONE way I get books. Last year, we added over 100 FREE books to our classroom library by utilizing book orders.

This is the part where you turn into Negative Nancy. 
"My kids never order books."
"I teach in a Title 1 or low income district."
"Book orders are too much work."
"No one orders enough for it to be worth the work."

Well, don't be negative! I promise that I can give you some tried and true tips for making the most of your Scholastic Book Orders.

Things to do that you might NOT be doing

-Send home multiple flyers

Check with other teachers in your building. Not everyone uses Reading Club & sometimes you can snag their flyers! You can see which flyers you receive under My Account. If you are having trouble online, call Scholastic. They are so nice and helpful!

-Attach a letter or informational sheet to your multiple flyers

Your letter should include this information:
1. Your class online activation code (get this from the Teacher's Desk section online)
2. The due date
3. The website address
4. Payment method- send in checks or money orders, online orders can use credit cards. No cash!
5. A small blurb about why we do book orders (to get books into the hands of kids and to get bonus points for free books for your classroom library)
6. How many books? I have always included the amount of free books from the previous month's order. This helps parents see that their money supports the class in a big way! 
Plus, it's fun to see that number go up all year.
7. Monthly book suggestions- make some suggestions based on what your class is loving. Big Nate, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels and Dork Diaries are huge hits in my class. Sometimes parents just need some suggestions.
8. A wish list section for students to fill out when you pass out flyers.
9. Did I mention the due date?? :)
10. Did I mention not to send in cash?? :)

If you do not want to make your own forms, these can be found here.

-NEVER put orders in mailboxes, instead host a Book Club Frenzy
Hand out your flyer packets and give the kids time to look through them!

 Have students write their classroom wish list books on the board, in a notebook or somewhere that the teacher can see them before placing the order.

-Work together as a class to set a goal for the month
NEVER EVER EVER MISS OUT ON THEIR SEPTEMBER BACK TO SCHOOL 10,000 BONUS POINTS! If you go hard one month a year, make it September!

Don't be afraid to set high goals. You will be pleasantly surprised when you see how excited the kids get as the picture gets colored in. This visual works for us as a class. Do what works for your students. Keep in mind that I never include students names, we don't make a HUGE deal about the signs, I think the casualness helps students not feel badly if they don't order. We have a lot of conversations about how some months we can order books and some months we can't. This should be used as a fun visual and should not be tied to any rewards or punishments.

-Be intentional with orders and bonus points
Every year my kids eat up Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet Series. This year I got smart and ordered a complete SECOND set to satisfy the classroom demand. Free with bonus points!

Balance the books you order! Actually sit down and write out the books you plan on getting with your next order. I even label the genre sections so I can make sure that I'm not favoring (ahem... realistic fiction and graphic novels) any genres or formats.

-Have a book raffle when the order comes in!
This keeps the buzz going even longer! For more information on how I do book raffles, 
check out this post!

Good luck! Leave any questions below. 
I am happy to help anyone who is trying to grow readers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Making Plans as a Reading Community

One of the tell-tale signs of a Reading Community is that the readers in the community make plans.
Our school has TWO WEEKS off for Winter Break. That is a long amount of time to be away from my readers. The week before break we got together and decided on some concrete plans for break. 

Our goals were simple: make a plan, be prepared for that plan.

I think it's no mystery that I love the look of book spines. My door is adorned with our read books of the school year, our shelves house most of our books spine out and we do some fun book jacket designs throughout the school year. It was only natural that our Winter Break TBR included the chance for beautiful spines.

How to make it work:
-Make realistic and individualized goals
(I had some students reading ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan for Mock Newbery, there was no way they were finishing it over break, so be realistic. I also had some students who still haven't finished a book for the school year wanting to finish two over break, be real. Help your kids set achievable goals).

-Readers should jot down books they are currently reading & ones they want to read over break.

-Readers should shop the classroom library, school library and make plans to get the books they will need for break (this helps students avoid reading emergencies).

-Be sure to do a brief mini-lesson on "edge time reading," a quick anchor chart brainstorming WHERE and WHEN kids can read over break would be perfect.

-Readers should color in the spines as they finish their books.

-When you return- celebrate all reading! Share your successes or goals with the kids. Show them your TBR and talk about how it went.

-Don't attach rewards or punishments to this. I'll find you if you do.

So, if you are planning to make plans with your readers (and you SHOULD) then get this Winter Break Freebie here. If you know you love the design and want to be able to use it for all of your breaks, find the full set here.

Happy Reading!