What small change have you made that yielded smoother, better, more efficient results? Let’s learn from one another.





Margaret Robertson

I have set up my classroom library using the Sisters method and it is amazing! It took a lot of time to set it up at first but now it is the very heart of my classroom. It also makes it fairly easy to cull old, damaged or out of date books and add new ones. Best system ever


I was Joan’s school librarian when I taught her how to organize her library, so your comment really made my day! Thanks for sharing!

Margaret Robertson

Yes, I need to thank you so much, Lori!! Greatest system ever. I also love reading your contributions to the weekly newsletter. You have great tips and reflections for teachers. Keep up the great and valuable work you do

Dianna McTavish

I use the whole grade reading strategy daily with mentor texts to start my daily reading focus. I expected each student to follow with their eyes as I modelled oral reading. Several students refused to track the text with their eyes so I introduced popcorn reading. Now everyone tracks the text and as a result there is greater participation in my associated lesson.

Michelle Jenkins

The summer is such an incredible time for reflection, healing, and then starting a new. As I approach weeks and then days and then hours away from the beginning of a new school year in first grade, there are a few little changes I would like to make and try this year:

  1. Have a non-verbal signal for getting a drink of water in addition to a signal for using the bathroom. This year, students coming to me to ask to get a drink of water during reading time created a bit of a sense of frustration, so a non-verbal sign may help. I also would like to buy water bottles with their names on them so the students have them right then and there instead of always having to use the water fountain and wait in line.
  2. I would like to experiment with lamp placement around the room, such as in the reading area to make the space more “at home”.
  3. Not giving specific homework on Fridays. While I will still include to read and write a lot over the weekend, I have changed my weekly homework sheet to not include work to do at home to turn back in on Monday. I think that this will help make the weekends more restful for all, and this will give students the freedom to read and write in their own.
  4. I would like to include more visual art into my daily schedule and lessons on a more regular basis. Similar to “Math Talks”, this would be a time to talk about the visual art presented and to reflect on it and connect it to other learning. I would like to show famous and not so famous art images (paintings, sketches, photography, etc) so students can view, think and reflect, and then discuss the visual art on a regular basis so they can become more aware of different kinds of art and develop critical thinking and discussion skills at the same time while making connections to other learning and life outside of school. I have “The Daily Art App” and select pieces from here should help.

These are just a few things I would like to try this new school year!


jenkinsm1–I love using art and music connections when I can, and I often refer to two books to help me select pieces. They are both by Tanny McGregor (yes, Tanny) called Comprehension Connections and Genre Connections. Each idea she presents includes ideas for art–either paintings or photography-- and music that sensually supports the reading strategies she’s presenting. Those visual/auditory connections often help the ideas stick!


These all sound great. How did they work out?


My almost continual goal, which gets renewed every summer, is to get myself more organized, so that my students will be more organized, and I won’t waste any of their precious time with me. I am a reading specialist who has pull-out groups, so it’s important that I’ve all their tools at hand and easily put away. Since I have several groups throughout the day grades 1-5, I need to be mindful of the differences in kids’ ability to be responsible for as much of that as possible.
Last year, I found some plastic portfolios at the amazing Target $1 spot which really helped me and the kids. They all held up pretty well, so I intend to use them again. My goal for this summer is to find a better way to house them in a small area.
Knowing exactly where everything is helps the kids know what to do as they enter my room, so we can get on to the important part of it all–reading and writing!!

Debbie Waskiewich

I began a notebook like the one Joan uses titled “Reflections/Intentions”. I love how it keeps my on track regarding my classroom as well as my teaching! What a great idea!


This made me think of an article by Allison Behne, about reflection she took away from a workshop: https://www.thedailycafe.com/articles/ascd-2014-reflections-and-realizations. Lots of good things to ponder before the new year begins.

Janice Hastie

I had the same dilemma as Lori Sabo when it came to ringing the chimes to signal the end of a round and to meet at our gathering spot. Sometimes walking across the room to the chimes was disruptive or inconvenient. Since I use the online Pensieve on my iPad, I downloaded a free wind chimes app to use as an alternative to my actual chimes. The last student that I confer with, gets the privilege of opening the app and “ringing the chimes” for me! The students know the sound of both the real chimes and the online chimes and repond to either the same.
Also, I’ve grouped together apps and links I frequently use for Daily 5 on the home page of my iPad. This makes them handy and easy to find. These include:

  • The CC Pensieve
  • The Daily Cafe
  • I-Pick Books video
  • Chimes
  • Brain Breaks
  • Dictionary
  • AR Book Finder
  • Sock Puppets (fun way to summarized reading and share)
  • Recorder (helps when teaching fluency)

Wow! I love the idea of a chime on your ipad! Going to look for one right now!

Marsha wolfel

Such a great idea! I’m creating a folder right now. Can you tell me about the brain breaks you have? Thanks!

Janice Hastie

The link I have for brain break ideas is http://brainbreaks.blogspot.com. I also sometimes use www.gonoodle.com. However, my favorite go-to brain break is simply singing a few songs that require movement.


I love this idea so much!!! Thanks for sharing.


Brilliant! I am adding wind chimes to my iPad, too!

Lori Poliska

This year I decided to expand my class library into four different areas around the room. I felt that too many books were crowded into one space. In one corner of the room, I displayed non-fiction science themed books and categorized them for easy access. In another area next to the WORD WORK activities, I set up all poetry books. Students can use rhyming words with spelling, vocabulary, and phonics. In another area, I set up a book shelf with historical fiction, biographies, maps, and historical events. My main library area, “The Den,” holds the remaining genres. The DEN is still reserved for quiet independent reading area housing a sofa and a couple of leather chairs.
I am hoping to support my students in accessing resources for a clear purpose. Last year, too many students were spending more time browsing through books than actually reading them.


I appreciate those kind words so much! We hope our words are timely and resonate with teachers. We rarely get the privilege of knowing how they are received once the are sent into cyberspace. Thanks for sharing your words of encouragement.

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