My students have been working hard on their How-to writing.   I always enjoy reading students' how-to pieces.  Not only do I learn about the students as writers, but I gain more insight into their areas of expertise.  Sometimes, I am very surprised at the topics students choose. Today, I would like to share some tools my students used to organize their how-to writing.

This post shows you how my second graders get ready to write their how to books.

I introduced this unit with two great mentor texts.  I chose one fiction,  How to Babysit a Grandpa and one nonfiction, How to Swallow a Pig.  Both of these books were full of specific examples, providing students with models for their own writing.  When conferring with students about their how-to pieces, I like to keep these books on hand to refer to as needed.

Two great mentor texts for how-to writing.  These books are perfect to carry with you during writing conferences as students write their own how-to books.

How to Babysit a Grandpa makes for a very fun read aloud.  I love using it as a mentor text because it is full of specific details and examples.  Each page tells about an important aspect of babysitting a grandpa.  You can find opening sentences, transitions, and examples that are very specific to the topic. Here is one of my favorite pages.

How to Babysit a Grandpa - an excellent mentor text for writing how-to books.

I also like to use a nonfiction text for how-to writing.  How to Swallow a Pig is a great book for showing how different animals have unique knowledge in how to perform certain tasks.  This book is great for prompting students to find a unique skill that they can share details about with the class.  This page is a great example of step by step instructions for how a leaf cutter ant farms for its food.  I like how it provides an opening paragraph for each skill.

*Bonus - You can learn a LOT of cool facts about different animals in this book!

How to Swallow a Pig - an excellent mentor text for writing how-to books.

After reading these books to students, I modeled how to brainstorm topics for their own How-to writing. We completed the organizer below with our areas of expertise.   I prompted students to think of ideas that were unique to them whenever possible.  We also discussed being specific (How to Steal a Base instead of How to Play Baseball).  You can download this organizer by clicking here or on the picture below.

Students use this free form to brainstorm areas of expertise prior to beginning their how-to books.

The next day, students brought their expert brainstorming sheet to the carpet.  I modeled how to select a topic and narrow it if needed.  I originally had "Taking care of a dog" on my expert sheet.  I explained to students how that was too broad.  I narrowed it down to how to feed a dog.

After narrowing my topic, I modeled how to use this graphic organizer to plan my writing.  I included details like making sure my dogs sits, looks at me, and waits for my command that it is okay for her to eat.  You can download this organizer here or by clicking on the picture below.

Students use this free form to brainstorm their steps prior to beginning their how-to books.

After they saw me model the process, students highlighted the topic from their expert organizer that they thought would work best.  Then they got to work on planning their own How-to writing.

We are now in the final stages of this writing project.  The organizer has been a great help during writing conferences throughout the writing process.  In the beginning, it helped students make sure they could choose an appropriate topic and identify steps.  Later, we referred to the organizer to talk about transitions and going step by step.  Next year, I plan on doing a little more modeling and conferencing with students prior to beginning drafts.  I think that will save me some time in the long run, especially with students who originally chose a topic that was too broad.

This post shares two great mentor texts and two free brainstorming forms for students to create their own how-to book.

Thank you and have a great week!

I started a new professional book, and I can already tell it is going to become one of my favorites.  The Literacy Teacher's Playbook was recommended to me by a dear friend and colleague.  I'm only on page 9, and I already have to stop and put an idea into practice.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook takes the reader through various ways to assess your students.  Later, it talks about how to plan using the results of these assessments to best meet the needs of your students.  I can't wait to read about the instructional practices.  They look great at a glance.

This book is excellent professional reading for teachers.  Read this post for a free download of a reading engagement inventory inspired by this book.

In chapter one, Jennifer Serravallo talks about different lenses to use when assessing students' reading. The first lens she talks about is reading engagement.  She discusses using reading logs and interest inventories to help measure engagement.  These are tools that are very familiar to me, and I wholeheartedly agree with her suggestions on how to use them.   However, I was most excited to read about the idea of a Reading Engagement Inventory.  Here is a picture of the one from the book.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

Basically, you spend a block of reading time "kidwatching", paying close attention to the behaviors you notice during silent reading.  You code or make short notes about behaviors you notice.

In my version, a blank space will mean the student appears to be on task reading.  Here is my inventory I plan on using next year.  I will likely put it on my iPad and keep an electronic record as I am a huge fan of minimizing the amount of papers in my classroom. 

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

If you would like to try out this form, I put it on a Google Slide.  If you make a copy of the file, you should be able to edit it however you would like, including changing the codes to fit your needs.  (Just go to file and click "Make a copy.)  I used font size 10, and I can fit 25 names in the table.  You can change the font and/or cell size if you need to fit in more names.  You can either print it out or complete the form digitally.  To download, click on the pink button below.


(If you need assistance editing the table, you can click here for help.)

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you, and have a great week!

I can not believe that my summer is already about half over.  I have been trying very hard to balance my time between checking items off my to do list and spending quality time with my family and friends.  Of course, I won't get to either as much as I'd like to, but I'm going to keep enjoying my time.

One of the things I have been working on is updating my TPT products.  As I switch my products over from Fit to be Fourth to Elementary Engagement, I am looking them over carefully.  I have made many product updates, given many "makeovers", and completely overhauled some of my products.  Most recently, I have worked on my plural nouns resources.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

Before I get to the updates I made, I'd like to share a couple of free resources for plural nouns.  First up is a great website I found.  This site is called Grammar for Kids.  On the sidebar, there is a list of grammar topics.  Once you click on the link, you will find a wide variety of games that will give your students fun practice on the skill.  These games are great to assign on Google Classroom, post on your classroom website, and/or use as a word work option for the Daily 5/3.

Here is a screenshot with some of the plural noun games.  There are 16 games total.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I have updated my plural nouns products in my TPT store.  To thank you for following my blog, I have one of the new printables as a freebie.  Here is my plural noun word search.  You can download the word search and answer key by clicking on the pink button below.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post.  This fun plural noun word find is free!


As I added new printable resources to my Plural Nouns Bundle, I decided to offer the Interactive Notebook, worksheets, assessment and printable activities as a separate resource.  Here is a preview of the new resource.  It is currently marked 50% off in my store.  The price will stay there until the end of the day on Saturday, July 9.  You can click on any of the pictures below to see the product in my store.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I also have my other plural noun resources marked at 20% off until the end of the day on Saturday, July 9.  They have all received recent makeovers.  Click on the pictures below to view them in detail.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I hope you found something you can use when you teach plural nouns this year.

Thank you, and have a great weekend!


It's Monday, so that means I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for another edition of Monday Made It.


This week I have three projects to share.


My first Made It gave me a few challenges.  When I attended a professional development session for our new math program (Investigations) last week, the presenter shared a perfectly made large 10 frame that I just had to make.   

Mine did not come out nearly as neat, but I'm still excited about it.  (I tend to have some difficulty when it comes to making things straight.  The plastic was an added challenge.)  I am happy with how it turned out, and I'm sure it will be put to good use in my classroom.

The frame looks like this.

Make a mega-10 frame!

I got the plastic from Joanne's.  It was $3.00 a yard, and I only needed 2 feet.  The Duck Tape was a gift from one of my sweet students last year.

The next step was to get some counters.  I used plastic plates from Meijer.

Use plastic, Duck Tape, and paper plates to make a giant 10 frame!  This is great for tactile learners.

I love how students now have a large visual of a 10 frame.  This will be a great way to work with my tactile learners.


Several years ago, I remember reading about focus sticks.  I thought they would be really cute if I ever switched to a younger grade.  Well, now I am switching to second, so I had to make some.

First, I read this fabulous post from Hoots N' Hollers.  This post has a free download, so you can easily make your own focus sticks.  I just needed to buy craft sticks and Googly Eyes from Joann's.

These focus sticks are great to help with editing for conventions.

There is also a free download for a label on the same post.  However, I made my own label to match my classroom colors.  Finally, I put all the focus sticks in a can from the Target Dollar Spot.

Focus sticks serve as a great visual guide for students during the editing process.

I plan on using these focus sticks to assist my students with editing.  They will serve as reminders to edit for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and (my favorite) asking, "Does it sound right?"


My last Made It is an item for my TPT store.  I added another set of word wall letters using my new color scheme, "Fun Colors".  I love my blog colors so much that I just had to make some coordinating classroom decor.  

Five different color combinations for word wall letters!

You can check out the preview below.  Click on any of the pictures to view this product in my TPT store. These letters will be marked 20% off until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 28.

3.5 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

4.5 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

6 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

This post shows five different word wall options.

***In addition to having this product on sale, I have all my classroom decor marked 20% off.  You can click here to see all of my sale items.

Now I am off to see what everyone else has made.  Thank you, Tara for hosting this linky.  There are always so many great ideas linked up.

Have a great week!  

I hope everyone is enjoying the first official day of summer!  It's super hot here in Columbus, so it was the perfect afternoon to finish up a few projects.  Today, I am linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for her awesome linky, Monday Made It.


I have four "Made Its" to share with you today.


The first thing I made is a "Welcome Back!" banner for the beginning of the year.


This banner is a freebie on my Facebook page.  If you would like to purchase a full set of editable pennants, you can click here.


I'm really excited about some changes that I plan on making to my reading program next year.  I have completed quite a bit of reading about reading workshop in the primary grades.  There seems to be a recommendation that students always have 5-10 books readily available to provide choice in what they read/reread each day.  I really like the idea for students to take turns to go "book shopping".  That way, most of the class will always be reading, and students will always have a stash of books handy.  A structured schedule will also help me prepare for conferences with those students who need help selecting "just right" books.

In order to track my book shoppers, I created this system.  



I also used my new set of numbers to make a "Pick Me" can.  I was inspired this pin by Fifth in the Middle.  Diane attached two containers together so numbers could be moved as they are called and not repeated.  That way everyone gets equal turns.  

Use empty Crystal Light containers to create a name stick holder.:

I used 2 Viactiv containers to hold the numbers.  I hot glued them together and secured them with purple Duck Tape.  

Here is how it turned out. 



I also made a larger set of numbers.  I will use this set to track my daily helper.


I put all of the signs from this post on a Google Slide.  You can download them by clicking the pink button below.  


Click here if you are interested in purchasing the colorful pack of numbers (includes both types).

Now, I'm off to see what everyone else has created.  Thank you, Tara for hosting this linky!

Have a great week!
As I prepare to move to second grade, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I want my reading block to look like.   Our district is switching from the Daily 5 format to a workshop approach.  I definitely see positive aspects to both approaches, but I am open-minded to making changes, especially since I am switching grade levels.

One aspect of the literacy block that will need to change is the way I track the reading students complete at school.  I need something different than I used in fourth grade and different from the Daily 5 tracking sheets.

Suggestions on how to track students' reading at school

I do plan to continue tracking the reading stamina of my young readers.  I definitely see the benefit of tracking the amount of time students can fully attend to their reading.  It's great to have a visual so students can see their growth.  I like this cute form from Taming My Flock of Firsties.  I plan on using it next year.

Daily Five Building Stamina FREEBIE
This week I spent a lot of time reading Lucy Calkin's Guide to the Reading Workshop.  As you can see from all of the Post-its, there were lots of great suggestions here.  


One of the points she emphasized was for students to keep a record of what they read in class.  I got to work on developing a form for my students to track their reading.  One thing I definitely wanted to include was a goal section to help students set and maintain high expectations for themselves.  Here is the form I came up with.

This free reading log helps set and track reading goals.

Then I thought about the students who were not quite ready to read chapter books.  I know I will work together with the Intervention Specialist to help a few students who are below grade level.  I wanted to make a form that would be appropriate for them to use as well.  It is important to me to have the forms look similar forms so no one would feel different.  My second form looks like this.

This free reading log helps set and track reading goals.

I am hoping these forms will help students set goals and stay on track during reading time.  I will definitely monitor them closely and discuss reading through conferences and small group work as frequently as I can.

If you would like to download these forms, just click on the pink button below.


How do you track your students in-class reading?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

I am looking forward to sharing more about what I learned from my reading.  I have a lot to tackle, and I will share as much as I can.

Thank you, and have a great week!

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