Snowpocalypse in Florida: A Chance to Delve Into Notice and Note

Snow in Florida!  That was the forecast for last night’s weather, unfortunately we only ended up with ice pellets that look like a sprinkling of snow. Baffle   However, we did get a snow day, my first ever in 20 years of teaching!


Not quite the fluffy mounds of snow I imagined.

Breakfast in an old pot.

Breakfast in an old pot.


Not planning on leaving their bed all day.

Go outside with all those ice pellets? No thank you!

I have taken advantage of the day to catch up on school related work and some serious independent PD by taking a first good look at a book I have been crazy about reading since I ordered it off Amazon in August.  Yes August!  So many school and life related events have kept me from sitting down to read and reflect on a book that I feel will energize my teaching. Baffle  Even though I have several “not so happy faces” on this post, I am ecstatic that I have had time to digest the first few chapters of Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  You can find the book on Amazon by following the link below.

This book addresses  Common Core  close reading strategies among school aged children.  However, the authors approach this strategy through the literature component, rather than informational text.  Yes, fiction is in the driver’s seat, and and I am definitely a willing passenger.

It is no secret among my colleagues that I have an uneasy feeling many teachers will largely ignore fiction in the quest to teach to the new Common Core Standards.  These standards heavily promote teaching students to read informational text, pushing literature into the backseat, particularly in advanced grades.  Don’t get me wrong. Sure I want my kids to understand informational text so they can repair their own lawn mower,  fill out a job application, and  increase their knowledge on subjects they find interesting and relevant.  I want them to  understand their college text books and  find their way to visit the Grand Canyon using a road map.  But I strongly feel that literature should continue to play a major role in the educational arena.

The authors elaborate on narrative thinking by pointing out that listening to and telling stories is the way most of us, young and old alike learn to make sense of our world.  Fictional works do more than entertain, they “sustain us.”  Themes, character development, fictional events help us think about the humanness of emotions and experiences.  A direct quote from Kylene, “Nonfiction lets us learn more; fiction lets us be more.”

The authors draw on Keith Oatley’s studies related to fictional reading.  The studies strongly indicate that fictional reading facilitates empathy, the development of social skills, and has the power to change the reader’s personality. Wow!  How powerful is that!  Instead of canned social skills programs, think of the ways literature can guide today’s students in a positive direction through  shared reading experiences.  Rosenblatt’s transactional strategies and classroom dialogue, along with quality literature  open a gateway to a more peaceful classroom and a better world.

In addition, fiction will reach more students because of the universal themes they share.  Informational text generally appeals to a smaller audience who have direct interest in that subject.  For example, the authors point out that a student may dream of becoming a surgeon, but have no interest in reading about military history.  Another student may enjoy the history text, but have no interest in reading about brain research.  However, most students will care about love, loneliness, friendship, and so on that are present in literary themes.

Think about your reading habits.  I know informational text plays an important role in my life, but it is generally aimed at providing information I need and want to know.  

So what role does fiction and nonfiction play in your life?  In your classroom?  How do we as teachers find a suitable balance that meets the reading needs of all of our students?

Just got word we have a second snow day in Florida!  Whoop Whoop!  I hope to spend more time with my nose in this informational text! Hoping to get insights on assisting my kids in actually interacting with the text, rather than simply finishing a book.  Just an advance warning, you might be hearing more about this wonderful book.

Stay warm,


Can Common Core be Fun?

Just finished the first week back after Christmas break.  What a whirlwind it was! Florida had a whole three days of winter this year, sorry northern friends.  Since it was unusually cold for us Floridians, children were excused from school and  many took advantage of the extended break.  The rest of us who came to school were bundled up with layers, coats, hats, and mittens.  Just had to share this photo from!

FLorida's 2 Day Winter

Courtesy of WFLA News

Kindergarten had a blast with foundational skills in Common Core this week.  Yes, Common Core can be fun!   We practiced the sound of short a and rhyming.  Afterwards we made cute rhyming word cats.  This is a photo of one I made and is a craftivity featured in my newest  product on TpT, AHHH! A Fish Out of Water.

-at the Cat

My intervention students aren’t ready for cvc words yet, so we used the same activity to create a version with words that rhyme with cat.  They cut out the pieces, assisted me in putting the cat together, sorted the words that rhyme with at, then colored and glued the pictures on their cats.  They chatted away and had lots of fun while learning, and that is what it is all about!

Almost Complete

Assembled cat with his Dr. Seuss themed owner.

Here are all the kids together!   Group Photo of At the Cat

This activity is included along with a game “Ahhh! Fish Out of Water” which provides engaging practice reading cvc words.  It is differentiated for 3 levels of learning; cvc words, scrambled cvc words, and words with beginning blends.

Ahhh! A Fish Out of Water

TpT Cover

Click image to visit my TpT Store.

When we are all done, I just put everything into baggies.  I love baggies for this purpose.  How do you organize and store the game pieces for your games?

game in bag


January Currently

January 01, 2014

Wow, another year has flown by! I guess it’s true what they say, the older you get the faster time flies…or is it more likely “time flies when you are having fun!”

Psychology Today author Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., has an interesting take on this phenomena.  He states that time goes by more slowly when you are young because you are experiencing so many things for the first time, and creating deep memories.  As we age, there are less “firsts” and fewer memories.  In other words we need to take time to smell the roses!

In honor of the New Year I am linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy 4th Grade

Currently January

It’s a pretty cold and dreary day for us down in normally sunny Florida.  So my hubby has taken over the TV with all of his favorite shows.  Since it makes him happy and I rarely watch it, it’s okay with me.  It is nice to have a change from the whispering they do on all of the hunting shows.

As much as I LOVE my job, I am LOVING even more this refreshing break that gives me time to relax, enjoy my family, and the opportunity to catch up on some of the things I don’t seem to have the time for during the normal work week.

This year has been rough for myself and others I know, but through it all I have fully enjoyed God’s blessing on us.  It is sometimes easy to overlook all of the good things in life, but focusing on the positive is more productive and leads to greater happiness.

Along with all of my blessings, and time off from work, comes more work around the house….I wonder how long the dishes can sit in the sink! Laughing

Super excited for our Florida Literacy Week that takes place one week after we get back from school.  Working as the Reading PLC Leader at our school,  I really NEED to get busy  finalizing plans.  We have a lot of  FUN planned for our students in anticipation of  building and sharing our love for literacy.

Our family members live out of town and we are sure to call each other for every major holiday.  Staying in touch and sharing our love for each other is an important part of our lives.  With that in mind here’s my long distance shout out to all of you…. Happy New Year!

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