Top 10 Must Have Literacy Books — For The Love of Literacy

I love everything about reading. I love reading, I love teaching reading and I love reading about teaching reading. 🙂 Here are my top 10 books that I believe that every literacy leader should read. I have read most, and I have a couple that are on my summer reading list. 🙂 Teaching with Intention: […]

via Top 10 Must Have Literacy Books — For The Love of Literacy


Reading is Supposed to be Quiet, Right? Wrong! — Sweet Tea and a Live Oak Tree

In our classroom, I utilize a reading workshop model. A mini-lesson followed by independent reading and guided reading. I’ve always wondered how I could make independent reading more robust. I love the “why” of independent reading but there were always a few students who weren’t totally into it. Given that so much time is spent independent reading […]

via Reading is Supposed to be Quiet, Right? Wrong! — Sweet Tea and a Live Oak Tree

Guided Reading Self-Assessment: Test yourself!!

Imagem-blog-Geopi-CamilaΟ  I use an assessment to determine the levels of my students (Assessing Reading Progress: Setting Goals & Monitoring, The most important focus for guided reading success, )

Ο  I group my students based on their reading levels or needs (How to group students, How do I find out what my students need? The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)

Ο  My groups are made of less than 6 students (Teachers can respond to children’s reading more effectively. Amendum, et al., 2009)

Ο  I know the reading behaviors needed for my students to reach their next level (Guided Reading freebies!  The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)

Ο  I know the text characteristics for all the levels represented in my class (F & P Guided Reading Text Level Descriptions)

Ο  I select books based on appropriate text characteristics for each level (Find information for selecting appropriate texts here)

Ο  My students reread previous books for the first few minutes of the lesson (The Power of Rereading)

Îź   I use running records to assess my students’ growth or frustration once a week, per student (Running Records Resources, Running Records App)

Ο  I move students based on the results of the weekly running records (Assessing Reading Progress)

Ο  My book introduction allows students to access the text, but leaves them work to do (How to Craft Strong Book Intros for Guided Reading)

Ο  I take anecdotal notes while students are reading and note strengths and weaknesses (Observing and Noting Reading Behaviors)

Ο  I engage groups in conversations about the text

  • Literacy develops best through social interaction and dialogue with others (Dowhower, 1999)
  • Teachers should make a shift from asking predetermined questions designed to ensure that the students arrive at the “right” meaning to facilitating conversations that encourage students’ exploratory talk as they arrive at a deeper meaning (Gavelek and Raphael, 1996)


Ο  I have a variety of appropriate independent, shared, or project-based activities for the remainder of the class that keep them engaged while I am working with my groups (What does research say about literacy centers?,  Powerful resource for small group instruction)

Ο   There are no interruptions during my guided reading lessons from the remainder of my class (How do I organize my classroom for small group instruction?, 3 ways to ensure success at small group and center time, Powerful resource for small group instruction)

Ο  I make sure when my groups leave the table they are applying what we practiced during guided reading (Critical component for guided reading success)

How’d you do?


How to be a Teacher Reading Role Model!

I was taught in college that to be a teacher reading role model, I should read in front of my students; not just read aloud, but actually sit down and read in front of them so they could see how much reading meant to me. So when I embraced independent reading, I did just that; pulled my […]

via How to Be A Teacher Reading Role Model – Without Actually Reading In Front of Your Class —

Story for International Women’s Day: The House that Jane Built

The House that JAne Built

Click the book for ordering information!

Here’s a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month!  Show the video of actress Kierman Shipka read the story The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone.  

This is a true account of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her home as a community center.


Here is the video!! 

There is also a Teachers Guide AND a Family ActivityGuide!!

Click below to get a copy of either….or BOTH!!!!

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Teacher’s Guide

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Family Activity Guide

Absolute BEST Resource for Reading Strategies at ALL levels!!!

I have been delving into what I consider to be the best resource for finding easy to implement strategies for children at all reading levels!

imagesYou cannot go wrong with this book because there are even strategies for non-readers to interact with books in a meaningful way.  The layout of the book is a teachers dream because you don’t have to sift through excessive paragraphs to locate the information you need. Quickly see the level, strategy, visuals, and even prompts for you to use with students while learning and using the strategies each on one page.

Click the book cover for ordering information!






Here is a sample page from the book…






Click the picture below of the author to watch a video of a comprehensive walkthrough of the book.  Trust me, you will buy it…and you will love it!!


As of today, I am anxiously awaiting the release of her new book The Writing Strategies Book!!  Check back soon for more information!



Mastery Teaching! Start Where Your Students Are

If we want our students to succeed, we cannot afford to leave to chance what happens when they do not learn.

How to Support Struggling Students (Jackson & Lambert, 2010)

As a continuation of my post on The Seven Principles of Mastery Teaching, we will look more closely at the first principle, start where your students are.


When determining the competencies students bring with them to the classroom, we usually tend to focus on academic performance.  Beyond that, we also may explore their background and culture.  Although this information is valuable and necessary, there are some other noncognitive characteristics that can provide insight into student potential and possible success.

In the book, Beyond the Big Test by William Sedlacek (2004), eight attributes are defined as predictors of future success that may not be typically looked at when determining where students are.

1.  Positive self-concept: leads to the determination to succeed

2.  Realistic self-apprasial: accurate assessment of strengths and weaknesses

3.  Successful navigation of the system: accessing resources to achieve goals

4.  Preference for long-term goals:  setting and achieving goals and persevering in spite of obstacles

5.  Availability of a strong support person:  particularly in times of crisis

6.  Leadership experience:  ability to organize and influence others

7.  Community Involvement:  any type of a community (group)

8.  Knowledge acquired about a field:  a particular field of study (or subject)

Some of these competencies are more relevant as students progress through grade levels, but do allow us to notice, value, and build upon  characteristics that usually go unrecognized.   More importantly, being aware of these strengths and informing students of them can offer an open door to challenge students in areas in addition to academic performance.  For students who struggle academically, here are areas where they may be able to succeed, and that feeling of success and achievement could positively impact their academic performance in the long run!

Want to read more?  Here is Sedlacek’s book!


Food for thought,


Free Resource! Research Building Blocks for Teaching Students to Read

Great comprehensive resource for the skills needed to teach students to read!

Includes strategies for…

Phonemic Awareness Instruction

Phonics Instruction

Fluency Instruction

Vocabulary Instruction

Text Comprehension Instruction


Click the pic to get the PDF!



Assessing Reading Progress: Setting Goals and Monitoring Progress

Guided Reading instruction is critical in students’ reading progress.  Accurate levels, appropriate goals, and consistent monitoring will bolster that progress!

Guided Reading picture Cartoon

I consider Fountas and Pinnell to be the experts on guided reading and if you need to know why, check out my earlier posts which discuss their Continuum of Literacy and guided reading resources.

In order to get the most bang for your buck in guided reading, you must make sure your students are leveled appropriately and you are consistent in monitoring their progess towards an appropriate goal.  Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Assess your students’ instructional levels

  • Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System:  this assessment will most accurately align with guided reading levels.

assessClick pic for more info

  • DRA2 assessment is acceptable, however be aware this assessment is set up to find independent- not instructional level.  The manual does give instructions on finding instructional level so find that information before testing students!

untitledClick pic for more info

  • If you do not have access to an assessment product, you can still assess your students levels as long as you have leveled books and know how to conduct a running record.  Click here for info on taking and scoring running records.  A Google search is also full of running record information.  After taking he running record, the following information will help you determine whether the level is independent, instructional, or hard for the student.


To determine appropriate levels and set goals

  • First know the guided reading levels for your grade level. 


  • Compare their levels to the grade level expectations


This will inform you of how to proceed…students who are “Approaching Expectations” are your Tier 2 students and should be seen at least 2-3 times a week for guided reading…and those in “Does Not Meet Expectations” are your Tier 3 students who you need to see daily for guided reading.  The heading at the top will help you set goals for each group of students.

Monitor students monthly progress

  • Use this resource to track students’ monthly progress towards their guided reading goals


Keeping track of this information is critical to maximize your students’ growth during your guided reading lessons.  You MUST take constant running records to ensure students are in the correct group.  Be prepared to use the running record information to move students to higher- or lower level groups.  Need instructions on running records- click here.  Each student will move at their own pace and this is why groups need to be flexible.  Don’t impede students progress by having them in incorrect level groups.   This is about the only way you can really mess up guided reading!! 

So move ahead- but with appropriate knowledge of where your students are, and where you need them to be.


Now that I’ve Assessed, What’s Next?

Once you have data on the specific skills and/or strategies students are lacking, one good resource that offers ideas for intervening are If-Then menus.  These menus give you examples of areas in need and possible ideas for supporting instruction.

First up,

If Then Menu Pic

Get the PDF here…


Next up,

Based on the following book…which we may as well add to the Book Club!


Click the link below for the If-Then menu based on the book…