My #1 Secret for Effective Literature Circles

When I started teaching 5th grade, I was very excited to start my first round of literature circle groups. I divided my students into groups based on their reading levels, selected exciting titles for each group, and assigned jobs to each student. 

As soon as we got started, I realized that my students were not as excited about these groups as I was. I gathered a reading group around my table, but I noticed that so many students at other groups around my room were not on task. They weren't reading along and their eyes were not following along in their books either.

What went wrong?

My students were not engaged. And the reason they weren't engaged was because they were only paying attention when it was their turn to read or their turn to do their job. I started brainstorming how I could help these students focus better on their books and on their groups, and I came up with this Literature Circle Booklet. Instead of one person having a different job, all of a sudden they all had the same jobs and they could work together, and they needed to listen and pay attention to each part of the story.

Immediately, after implementing these booklets, I saw the engagement in my classroom turn around! My students were enjoying their groups, getting into the story, having fun filling out each page in their booklets. And at the end, they have a beautiful piece of work filled with the important parts of their literature circle books! 

The transformation in my classroom and in my students was amazing! 

So, here is my  
 Literature Circle Reading and Comprehension Activity Booklet. This is one of my very best sellers in my TPT store and hundreds of other teachers have given me kind feedback about this product telling me how much they love it and how much it has improved the literature circles in their classrooms!

If you don't own it, but would like to see more: Please click <<HERE>> to read more about it in my store. This is a literature circle life saver because it helps keeps students on task and keeps them accountable for their learning and participation in their groups!

Are Your Students Superheroes?

We've been really trying to work on having a close school-community.  I just want my students to be good people.  Yes...I care about teaching them their math facts, phonics skills, remembering to put a period at the end of their sentence, etc. etc. etc.  BUT, I really want my students to be kind to one another and to always go out of their way to do the right thing.  So... here's what we did. We compared ourselves to superheroes.

Naturally. ;)

We brainstormed characteristics of our favorite superheroes.  Then, we compared them to how we can be.  How can we be strong? Kind? Helpful?

Then, my students wrote how they can be everyday superheroes!
Oh my word... do you LOVE the magnetic strips that are framing out our writing page?
I also ADORE these direction pictures from A Cupcake For the Teacher!

I had to hang this writing up because my students BLEW me away! Luckily, I had the cutest superhero-themed bulletin board from Teacher Created Resources.

I know... I know... you have border envy, right? This cute chevron/stripe/polka dot border is from Teacher Created Resources, too (I heart them)!

I'm also loving that clipart from Creative Clips!

{Click the picture to download}

I'm loving Teacher Created Resources' new Chalkboard and Superhero themes!  

Speaking of superheroes... are you shopping the SALE!?!?!?  Don't forget to use the code: HEROES when checking out to get up to 28% off of our TpT Stores!

SALE! SALE! SALE! Teachers ARE Heroes!

I just LOVE the theme of this TeachersPayTeachers SALE starting on February 25th!  Teacher ARE Heroes.  Every.Single.Day. we enter those classrooms with a job to inspire young minds, teach them, love them, and sometimes provide the only real safety net they have. We really are amazing. :) Let celebrate with a SALE!  You can save up to 28% if you use the promo code HEROES at checkout.  

Check out our stores by clicking on each of the purple buttons:

Here are some of our favorite products in our stores (click each picture)!

Book Study: Work-sheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, Starting February 28th!

Get Ready to do some on-line professional learning with some of your favorite bloggers! After visiting the Ron Clark Academy, so many of us are so inspired to find ways to reach our learners in fun and exciting ways! Starting February 28th, we are going to be hosting a linky party each Tuesday and Saturday with chapters from this book: Worksheets Don't Build Dendrites.

Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 and 2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 and 10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 and 15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments or on our social media outlets.
Follow us on Instagram (@whattheteacherwants)

 We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research-based best practice.
We hope you will join! Here is a YouTube video where you can hear a little more about what the book is about.

What's a Floppy Disk?

Hey, friends! Natalie here and I have a true story about what happened today in my computer lab...

I don't know why this shocked me or why I thought this was so funny, but it never occurred to me that my students didn't know what a floppy disk was. I've been telling them all year that they can either save their documents by clicking "file" and "save" or use the shortcut by just clicking on the floppy disk icon.

Today a sixth grade boy finally asked, "Mrs. C, what's a floppy disk?" And some other kids in the class said, "Yeah, what's a floppy disk?"

Needless to say, it's time for some computer history lessons!
(If the sixth graders don't know, I'm sure my younger students don't know either.)

Have you seen this Youtube video? It's called Kids React to Old Computers and it is quite hilarious! 

Do you have any other great resources or videos you've used to teach your students about technology? If so, please pass them my way!

Do you have any similar stories?
Have you ever been surprised by something 
your students didn't know about?

Valentine's Clip Art: Fundraiser Reminder

A little less than a month ago, I posted about a fundraiser we are hosting for a friend. This fundraiser will be ending at the end of this week, and we are still trying to raise money for this very deserving family. Please read below for more information!

Thanks so much,

*  *  *  *  *

What the Teacher Wants is hosting a fundraiser for a very deserving local family here in Utah. Some of the biggest names in the TPT clip art world have all come together to help raise money for a sweet little "Heart Warrior" named Ryder. 

Ryder's mom, Jessie, and I used to teach together at my old school. We worked together for 6 years before she and I both changed schools and began teaching in different places. She is one of my dearest friends and I loved every second of working with her. She is full of life, hilarious, and one of the best teachers you'll ever meet.

Fast forward a little bit, and I have a heartbreaking story to tell you about my friend Jessie. After going through a relatively easy pregnancy with her 4th child, Little Ryder Cannon was born on December 2nd, 2014 and was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect. He spent over 180 days in the ICU while doctors tried everything they could to fix his heart. 

During his life, he underwent three open heart surgeries, one of which was an experimental surgery to replace his heart valve; he was the first baby at Primary Children's Hospital to ever have it done. That surgery was a success and earned him the nickname of "Heart Warrior." However, the doctors were never able to completely fix his broken heart. Ryder spent 30 days on the heart transplant list, but unfortunately the new heart never came. 

Little Ryder passed away in August of 2014 at only 8 and a half month old.

{Photography by: Crystal Spencer Photography}

During his short time in the world, Ryder blessed the lives of many. This little Heart Warrior leaves behind a mom, dad, two sisters and a brother who miss him every single day. The financial burden of it all leaves a huge stress on the family. The medical bills are still coming in and Little Ryder still needs a headstone for his grave.

{To read more of Ryder's story, click here.}

{Photography by: Michelle Ashworth Photography}

For this reason, I have put together a fundraiser on Ryder's behalf. 

All donations collected through this "Hearts for a Heart Warrior" fundraiser will go to help the Cannon family with Ryder's medical bills and will also help purchase a headstone for Ryder's grave. 

For your $25 donation, you will receive "The Ultimate Valentine's Day HEART and LOVE Inspired Graphics Mega Bundle" There are over 300 graphics included in this amazing pack!

(These are both exclusive graphic sets and are not available anywhere else.
These are custom designed for this special fundraiser!)

Melonheadz: Exclusive Heart Warrior Bundle

Natalie Kay: Valentine's Day Pennant Banner

This fundraiser starts right now and will run until Valentine's Day. I know that Ryder's family will be very appreciative for any and all donations they receive! Thank you!!

Also, a giant thank you to all who donated products to this fundraiser. Please check out each of these awesome blogs!

 The Creative Chalkboard Frog Spot Blog
  Teaching in the Tongass

  The Creative Classroom


Also, thank you to my sweet teacher friends, Christie & Crystal, for their help!
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