Category Archives: Professional Development

The Book Whisperer Read Along-Student Surveys

Hey ya’ll! I am hosting the “Whisper” about student surveys in Donalyn Miller’s book-The Book Whisperer. Isn’t this book a true motivator to make us step back, look at our teaching practice for reading, reflect, and MAKE CHANGES???? 🙂

Last year was my 1st year teaching 6th grade reading/language arts, and I did not give my 6th graders a survey about their reading-however, I did give them one at the end of their 5th grade year when I found out I was going to be teaching 6th grade. I read them, and read them again, to find out about my upcoming students. BUT, I didn’t do much more with them after that. THIS WILL CHANGE!!!

After reading Donalyn’s book, my plans on using student surveys will be more aligned with what she does. It seems like the best way to find out LOTS of information in about 15 minutes for EACH child!

I have not had the time to create my own student survey to use in my classroom (I will not be home from Chicago until July 7th), but I hope to post one on my blog for viewing by this Friday! 🙂 Do you have a favorite survey that you have created that you want to share? Please post a comment about it with a link to your blog so that we can all learn from each other!

I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s thoughts! 🙂




Workshop Part 2-Phonics Strategies

There are a couple of things I forgot to mention in my last post about the phonics strategies workshop that I went to. Heather also talked about actively engaging the students. We watched a video clip of Dr. Anita Archer (who is a guru on this). One of her biggest points was that you do NOT need to call on individual students who raise their hands to answer questions-instead elicit choral responses from the whole class. Her reasoning behind this is: ” You are teaching the best and leaving the rest.”

She also emphasized having enough wait time for students to think.

Here are some active engagement strategy ideas: (You can google them to learn and read more about them)


Turn and talk/choral responses/asking questions/graphic organizers/think-pair-share/KWL/reciprocal teaching


Underline the text/highlight the text/code the text/quick write/white board/post-its/KWL/graphic organizers/Exit slips/3-2-1/ABC brainstorm/anticipation guide/jigsaw

Heather’s book recommendation is:

Locating and Correcting Reading Difficulties


Workshop Part 1-Phonics Strategies

This will be the 1st of 4 posts about the reading workshops that I went to in Anniston-presenter was Heather Wible with the State Dept. and Alabama Reading Initiative. She was awesome and so were her presentations!

I FORGOT to take pictures of the visuals/activities for this workshop, but I did remember for the other ones.

She started each workshop out by having us read a few quotes and then highlighting our favorite one:

1. Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.-Anonymous

2. The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.-Mary M. Bethune

3. The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.-Robert Hutchins

4. The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.-Author Unknown

In each workshop we talked about what skillful readers do.

The words that I highlighted in my notes about phonics instruction were: blending, segmenting, manipulating tasks, and letter-sound correspondences. Even though we don’t usually teach “phonics” in the upper grades, we still have students that need that instruction because they missed it along the way. One way to assess the phonics background that students have (to see if any are in need of remediation) is to give a nonsense word fluency test. (Yes, I said the dreaded words-nonsense word fluency test) 🙂 But, this is given at the beginning of the year to determine the reading ability of a child-which SHOULD DRIVE OUR INSTRUCTION! This is what the assessment may look like for the uppergrades (and you could make your own):

fim               yain          snitting

sep              bire           bathtail

lat               nool           inteakness

dob             pote          overtodded

huz             jeek          rebenderable

See? It would tell you so much about a student and what their strengths/weaknesses are in decoding! 🙂

One biggie, biggie, biggie thing that she told us is: If you use DIBELS as an assessment you have GOT TO LOOK PAST THE SCORE!!!!!! 2 students may have around the same range in test scores and need totally different instruction!!!!! For example:

Jane-80 words per minute-Left endings off words, reversed letters/sounds, called out words incorrectly, had lots of phonics gaps BUT either skipped words or waited on that 3 second rule

John Doe-80 words per minute-only missed 3 words but took the time to figure out the words-however, read in phrases and not fluently

SO: if you ONLY group your students according to DIBELS scores, they would be in the same group yet they need 2 different types of instruction.

Heather said to try out this website: for LOTS of activities on all 5 big ideas-phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency

One activity that she did for multi-syllabic words was: wrote a large word on a sentence strip-she folded parts of the word back so you could only see 1 part. You have the child read that part, then unfold another part and read, then unfold another part and read-you get the picture! 🙂

Another cool idea was to use a chalkboard eraser to hold letter cards in a making words activity-this was way cute!

This workshop was great-hope you learned something from this little snippet that you can use in your classroom to make every child a great reader! 🙂

Stay tuned for more workshop tips!


Workshops about strategies

I have been to 4 FABULOUS workshops this week:

Phonics strategies/Fluency strategies/Vocabulary Strategies/Reading comprehension strategies

I am going to post what I learned and the many wonderful ideas from these workshops over the next week so stay tuned for some great information! 🙂

Heather Wible, who is with the Alabama Reading Initiative and AL State Dept.) was the presenter for all 4 workshops. She was incredible! She trains, presents, and coaches in the Montgomery, AL areas. I could listen to her present everyday, never get bored, and walk away with a plethora of great, practical information.

I will do a series of posts (probably about 4) for each workshop because there is so much information that I want to share with you. I will begin with the phonics workshop (which I forgot to take pictures of) and continue from there.

Happy reading! 🙂

Awesome workshops today

I went to 2 fabulous workshops today in Anniston, AL:

Fluency Strategies

Phonics Strategies and Active Student Engagement

They were geared to 3rd-5th grade, but I knew I could ge something out of them for 6th grade-and I was right! Heather Wible with the Alabama Reading Initiative (AL State Department) was the presenter, and she did an awesome job!!! 🙂

Stay tuned-later this week I will be posting some of her wonderful strategies for phonics and fluency!!!