I took a giant leap this year.  I ditched the reading logs.  Some may say I'm crazy, some may say it's a genius move.  There are a lot of opinions on this topic!  I want my kids to read, but I want them to enjoy reading.

Last year, my students (who would read all day long if I let them) told me that the book log was making them dislike reading.  It broke my heart!  They explained that they were so distracted by what they were going to write, that they couldn't focus on their book.  I knew that I needed to make a change.

Enter Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.  She starts her year off with a Status of the Class roll call.  The students record the date and title of the book they are reading and then complete the sentence "I am at the part where..."  She then has the students go around the room and share their book title and one sentence summary.

I did some research and came across a blog post by The Teacher Studio.  She has been doing Status of the Class for a few years now and shared her system with her readers.  I decided to give it a try!  I created a binder with a calendar for each student, where I would record the book they were reading each day and could add notes on the back.  I was super excited about it!


As it turns out, this system didn't quite work for me.  However, I loved hearing the students statuses, as did their peers so I wanted to keep this concept going.  After multiple tries, I designed a form that is working for me, for now.  I'm sure that I will change it up again at some point!

I created a weekly chart for each class.  I have the student name on the left and the days of the week going across the top.  As the students share their status, I jot down their book title and quick note about what they are reading.


If a student is still reading the same book, I simply draw an arrow so that I am not constantly re-writing the titles.  I also record if the students are absent or didn't read for homework {they are quite honest about this}.


I keep the chart on a clipboard so it is easy for me to access and record notes quickly.  If you are interested, you can grab my blank Status of the Class chart here or by clicking on the picture for free!


At the end of each week, the chart goes into a binder for each class.  {our class names are based on fictional settings, hence Oz!}  Included in this binder is a section for each student where I write down notes as I conference with them.

This system has been a huge game-changer in my classroom!  The students come into class and immediately write down their status of the class.  It then takes less than 8 minutes for 25 students to share.  They are enjoying reading and sharing reading with their classmates.  I had one student who finished reading a book but didn't want to spoil the ending for his friend who was still immersed in it, so he had him go stand in the hall while he read his status.  Made me laugh!  I am hearing a lot more conversations about books among my students than I ever have.

It's also a great system for me because I can quickly see if a student has been reading a book for a long time or if they are jumping from book to book.  As they share, I also comment on what they are reading or ask questions.  It's a super-quick interchange, but gives me a lot of information.
I wanted to start our year off on an exciting note and really get my students pumped up about reading. One concept that caught my eye came from Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.   Book raffles! 

Such a fun way to build reading excitement in the elementary classroom!  Organize a book raffle for students to be the first one to borrow the book from the classroom library.  Free book raffle ticket template included.


I used my Scholastic bonus points to order some new books for our classroom.  Before the students arrived in my classroom, I laid the books out on my table with raffle ticket bins behind them.  I let the curiosity build during class before I revealed what we were doing with them.



After they couldn't take the anticipation any longer, I explained that I was going to raffle off who was going to get to read each book first.  I did have to explain that they weren't going to get to keep the book {my reading teacher heart skipped a beat when they groaned at this}.  I read the titles and the back cover of the books that were available.

Each student received one raffle ticket.  They could fill it out and choose one bin to put it in or, if they weren't interested in any of the books, they didn't need to participate.  To my surprise, every student filled out a ticket!

Here are the tickets we used.  You can download them for free here or by clicking on the picture!


Then they brought their ticket up to place it in the bin of their choice.  Some books were more popular than others.  However, students also played the odds.  I overheard "there's not many tickets in this bin, so I have a better chance of winning this one."



At the end of the day {after both my reading classes}, I pulled names.  My homeroom kids really got into it!  They provided a drumroll and were eager to deliver the books to the winners.  I had students at the end of the day, hunting me down to see who won and congratulating each other.  The book raffle was a success!
Over the weekend I shared my classroom set-up and now I'm back to show you some of my favorite back to school activities!

One of the projects I like to do at the beginning of the year to spark conversations about classroom expectations is Six Questions.  To read more about these questions, check out this post.

We also colored our inspirational quotes before discussing how they applied to learning in our classroom this year.  The quotes are free from Doodle Art Alley.


The students had a great time getting to know each other with Michael Friermood's "Get to Know You" Fun and Fresh! activities.  These are pretty awesome!  They are a twist on traditional back to school activities.





Now we are really getting into the swing of the school year!
And I'm back to school!  Week one was a bit of a doozy.  There is definitely a learning curve to becoming a mom and a teacher at the same time {especially after not working for 7 months}.  Week two was awesome and I am absolutely loving my class!  

Before:

And after!

Not a lot of difference, but that's okay.  I went with a simple look this year and plan to fill the walls with student work as the year progresses.

Our classroom door.  Since I have multiple classes throughout the day, I make it easy for them to pick up missed work.  In this file chart, I keep extras of all the work we do during the week.  This is also helpful for students who may have misplaced their work.

Our classroom schedule!  Sometimes I need this area just as much as my students do!  The editable labels are from Ladybugs Teacher Files and I just filled in our subjects.


Here's a small piece of my classroom library.  This area is organized by author and series.


Here is my genre bulletin board with some awesome Subway Art Posters from The Brown Bag Teacher! I love the way this turned out!  It's simple, yet unique and is a great reference for students.

My students will be working a lot on the RI Children's Book Award Nominees.  I created a bulletin board to showcase the books on the list for my students.


This Exit Slip board was inspired by Brooke Walters pin {I wish she had a blog!}.  The numbers are actually folders that the students will put their exit slips in.

After reading The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, I was inspired to make some many changes in my reading classroom.  One concept that I pulled from her was having students really share their reading with their peers.  Every time a student completes a book, they will write a brief book review to hang on our READ board.  That way, other students can see what their classmates are reading and enjoying.  I can't wait to see this board filled up!

This area needs to be spruced up a bit, but here is where I will hang our anchor charts!  I got this awesome idea from Sam over at Fun with Firsties.  All you need is a curtain rod and two command hooks.  Easy peasy!

These are the student cubbies with another treasure from The Brown Bag Teacher.  I used her FREE Reading Strategies Bookmarks to create labels for the students.  They each have a small cubby to store their supplies, either below or above their backpack hooks.  Since we switch classes, the students don't keep anything in their desks.

Here's my "desk" area.  I got rid of my desk many years ago and now use a table to work on and meet with students.  Such a game changer!

I keep everything organized behind my desk in drawers, filing cabinets and letter trays.  These areas make it easy to keep my table clutter-free.  Copies that I make for the week go into the drawers with the days of the week and my originals get filed right away in the filing cabinet.  The trays are for student work and any projects that we are still working on.  All of my office supplies go in the toolbox.

I am super excited for all that this school year has to bring!  I'll be back soon to share all of the goings-on in our classroom!
Happy September!  It's been a super busy week, since I started school on Wednesday.  I hope to share photos of my classroom and our first week activities very soon!  In the meantime, I'm adding my Currently to Farley's linky.


Listening...
I'm pretty sure that this first week back at school has been the warmest we've had all summer.  The AC at home is cranking, but I only have fans at school.  It gets a lil toasty on the third floor!

Loving...
Despite the warm weather, I am absolutely loving being back at school!  I haven't been since February and it's good to be back!  My class is awesome and I'm looking forward to a great year with them.  {I do miss Baby Girl quite a bit while I am gone though}

Thinking...
I can't believe it's September already!  That is all.

Wanting...
The weather to cool down a little bit.  Just a little, though.  I'm not ready for a frost anytime soon.

Needing...
Baby Girl decided that Back to School week was a good time to stop sleeping through the night.  Remind me to thank her when she's 18.

3 Trips...
I've been pretty lucky in that I've traveled quite a bit so far in my life.  I've already checked Hawaii, Bahamas and San Francisco, to name a few, off of my traveling list.  Here are a few places that I would still like to visit:

1. Australia - I've never had a lot of desire to go to another country {mainly because I'm a picky eater and am nervous about eating foreign food} but Australia has always been a country that I've wanted to visit.
2. San Diego - my husband travels here for work and keeps telling me how much I would love this city, so it's on my to-do list.
3. The 50 States - when I retire, I want to travel in a camper to each of the 50 states.  How cool would that be??
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