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Day 3… What The Rigorous Owl Did In Their Interactive Reader’s Notebook Today!

 Welcome to Day 3 of our series! If you are just joining us, please see Day 1 Interactive Reader’s Notebook & Day 2 blog post for more details. If you’re following along, welcome back! We hope you can get some good ideas today!
 Here is Day 3’s assignments. Wednesdays are all about Craft & Structure and Integration of Knowledge & Ideas. We merged these two domains into one, so in each unit, we are teaching one or the other… not both.
As you know, we start the morning off with students copying down their sentence frames. We always review yesterday’s lesson and briefly introduce the new lesson for today. We modeled with our class book, Rise of the Guardians, in the first row. Students then read 20-30 min independently during Reader’s Workshop to practice with the second row. The third row is for Homework… I usually put C C H, but it looks like I forgot today! I’m shocked that I wasn’t “reminded!”
After reading, we always do a quick JOT about yesterday’s lesson. This morning, we reviewed Conjunctions and discussed how conjunction “bridge” together two complete sentences. This anchor chart was awesome for students to visualize what happens when you use a conjunction. 
Next, we moved into our focus. In this unit, we are studying Themes Across Cultures. Last year, we had some money to spend on books, so we decided that we would get about 30 different Cinderella stories, each from a different culture. Students will be reading one Cinderella story each day. We started by reading our traditional Cinderella story so that they all have a common text to compare their Cinderella story to. They are LOVING it! We have also studied Native American legends and Greek Mythology this year, so we had a discussion why two very different cultures would both make up stories about how things came to be. We discussed how there is a common human need to know this! We had a great discussion! It is time like this that I am so glad that we have read one traditional literature book each month! For more details on what I mean by this, please see our  
In order to cover the standard of Poetry, Drama, and Prose, we made a form for each genre. We spiral them in our Reading Contracts. In this Reading Contract, we are focusing on Poetry. We always try to find a poem that relates to either our season or the story that we are reading in class. This time, we hit two birds with one stone! We found a poem on Jack Frost! This is just the front of the form. Students practice interpreting, connecting, evaluating and visualizing! Stay tuned next Wednesday for the back of the form!
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog post and we welcome any comments/ feedback/ questions you may have!
*All notes/ practice pages you see were made by us, and for the most part, are available in our store…

DAY 2… What The Rigorous Owl Did Today in Their Reader’s Notebook

DAY 2!!!
  If you are following along with us, thanks for joining again! If you are just joining this post, please check out “Day 1 Interactive Reader’s Notebook” for more details!!!
 Here is our cover sheet from Day 2. Each student has a copy of this on the front of their Reader’s Contract and as we complete each assignment, we highlight it. This serves as a checklist to me and a reminder in case we fall behind. It is a great study habit for students to start also!
Tuesdays are our Language days. On Tuesdays, we teach our Language focus and review our Vocabulary focus. We started our Language Arts block out by having students copy down their sentence frames for the day. Notice that the sentence frames are purposeful! We reviewed prefixes and taught a very quick mini-lesson on our concept for the day… Compound Sentences. While students do this, we take roll/ lunch count/ etc… Then, we start by reading our class book, Rise of the Guardians, and modeling the sentence frames. Students then log in for 20-30 min to read their own Fantasy book and practice using the sentence frames with their books during Reader’s Workshop.
 After reading, we always review what we learned the day before with a quick JOT. Again, JOTs are a way to show the concept visually, and it also helps to make it fun for our artistic students! Our JOTs are like a mini anchor chart for students to refer back to. Today, we reviewed prefixes by choosing a prefix to write in the train and then attached different root words to make new words.
Since today is Tuesday, we spent the majority of our time on our Language focus, which is Conjunctions and Compound Sentences. We taught the mnemonic FANBOYS to help students memorize the Conjunctions. We filled in our notes and then practiced. Another activity that we did that is not shown here is we created examples and non-examples on our whiteboards. Students often think that just because the word “and” is in a sentence that it is a compound sentence. We made compound subject sentences and compound predicate sentences as non-examples. Students underlined the nouns once and the verbs twice to prove their answers. Because our Sentence Frames were on Compound Sentences this morning, we looked back at our Sentence Frames from our reading and decided if they were truly Compound Sentences. They worked in groups by passing their sentence frames to each other and having discussions about them. We had a lot of students changing them because they were either compound subjects or compound predicates. As you know, students often learn more from their mistakes! Because this is a new concept, it helps lower the affective filter, making it okay to make mistakes! After all of this, we did a fun “Conjunction Anchors Aweigh” practice page as independent practice. Students loved cutting out the anchors and gluing them into the correct sentences! 
Well, that sums up Day 2! Stay tuned to our blog tomorrow for Day 3! We would love to hear any comments you may have or questions! Thanks!
*All notes/ practice pages you see were made by us, and for the most part, are available in our store…

DAY 1… What The Rigorous Owl Did Today in Their Reader’s Notebook

Are you READY???? We are! We are really excited to start blogging on a daily basis to show you what we do in our classrooms on a daily basis! Since we are new to blogging, we want to get in the habit of sharing with you regularly, and we hope that you can get some great ideas to use in your classroom!

This is our cover sheet that we use on our “Reading Contracts.” WE LOVE OUR COVER SHEET! The best part is that I have my lesson plans for the entire MONTH! If a student is absent, they know exactly what we did! Our cover sheets keep us organized and on track!
Because this is December, there are only three weeks listed, but normally, we have four. Each cover sheet is a UNIT, and our units are monthly. For each unit, we feature a genre. Have I overwhelmed you yet? I’m just getting started!!!
Our cover sheets follow a formula… Mondays are Vocabulary, Tuesdays are Language, Wednesdays are Craft & Structure/Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, Thursdays are Key Ideas & Details, and Fridays are Journal, etc…
If you look at the first two weeks, this is where our Focuses are. For the unit we are in right now, our focuses are:
Vocabulary: Prefixes
Language: Conjunctions
Integration of Knowledge: Themes Across Cultures
Key Ideas & Details: Character Change
So, we introduce each focus on its day and then spiral it the next day with a mini-lesson. We repeat the following week. This way, each focus is hit a minimum of 4 times with purpose. We end up hitting them daily, but I will explain that later.
To begin a unit, we always teach the genre elements. In our classes, we have our students read 4 books each month for our 40 Book Challenge. They read a genre book (Fantasy in this unit), Traditional Literature (Fairy Tales in this unit), Nonfiction (Magnets in this unit) and a Free Choice Chapter Book. Please see our “Challenge Your Students to Read” post for more details on this.
So as you can see in the picture above, we went over the elements of Fantasy and Fairy Tales.
For our Reader’s Workshop, each student checked out a Fantasy Chapter Book at their level. We also have a class Fantasy book called Rise of the Guardians. Throughout the unit, we model with our class book and the students apply the concepts using their books in their Interactive Reader’s Notebooks. We start off each unit creating a prediction for our books. We look at pictures, the title, and read a few sentences before creating our predictions. We like to put our illustrations in an object symbolizing the genre we are featuring (Time Machine for Historical Fiction, Plant for Science Fiction…). We also set up a Word Collector for our books. Our Word Collector is for our word work. Word Collector entries are words that the students either don’t know the meaning to or don’t fully understand how to use it. They collect a minimum of one word each day.
Each day, students also fill in Sentence Frames while they are reading. We do not want to “punish” students for reading (thank you Donalyn Miller). We want them to ENJOY reading!!! Each time students log in to read, we only have them fill in their frames. If you look at the picture, you can see each day has a “C” “C” “H.” They stand for Class, Class, Home. The first “C” is our Class Book… in this case, Rise of the Guardians. We model how to fill in the frames with our class book. Then, students are given 30 min of reading time!!! During their reading time for their genre book, they practice with their sentence frames. We give them 2 sentence frames and the 3rd one is a free choice comment from the student. The 2 sentence frames that we give, are directly related to what we are teaching. This is how we teach the concepts daily. The “H” row is what students fill out for Homework. Each night, students read for 20-30 min and fill in their 3 sentence frames.
Today, we launched our new Spelling Rule (on the left) and Vocabulary Words (on the right). Our spelling rule is the soft c for this unit. Instead of focusing on specific words, we focus on a specific spelling rule. We have students discover the spelling patterns and collect more throughout the week. We have a Spelling Word Collector in our class and we categorize the words based off of their spelling patterns. The spelling page you see here is glued into the students’ Interactive Reader’s Notebook. 
On the right, you see our Vocabulary Words. We use Got to Teach’s “Get to the Root of It.A complete resource for teaching vocabulary using Greek and Latin roots.” WE LOVE IT!!! This is how we embed roots all year long! The units have super cute titles and the practice is awesome! We created the graphic organizer that you see in the picture. Students write the word, the definition, use it in a sentence, create and example and a non-example. This graphic organizer is in our students’ Reading Contracts.
The last activity in our Language Arts block today was our Vocabulary focus: Prefixes. This is where we spent the majority of our time this morning. We had students fill in notes (top left) that teaches what a prefix is. Then students went in depth for the top 20 prefixes found in 4th grade books. They wrote the meaning of each and found examples. We highlighted the prefix so that students could test if it was a prefix or if the word just started with those letters. For example: postage v. postscript. Students struggled at first, but started to get the hang of it. Students then chose a prefix, made bubble letters, and filled the bubble letters with examples. This is what we call a JOT. JOTs are a way that we make the concepts we are teaching visual… not to mention, FUN! I usually grab a couple of the JOTs to display on my focus wall, otherwise, students glue them into their Interactive Reader’s Notebook.
Well, that sums up our day! I hope I have not completely confused you! If you have ANY questions, please ask! We would love to clarify anything that was confusing and to help you out in any way we can!
*All notes/ practice pages you see were made by us, and for the most part, are available in our store… See Grammar Interactive Notebook Bundle or Vocabulary Interactive Notebook Bundle.


We are so excited, and frankly a bit terrified, to announce an upcoming series starting next Monday!!! We will give you an in depth look at what we do on a daily basis. You will get to see our Reader’s Notebook, pacing schedule and activities!!!! Can’t wait!!! See you on Monday!

Exciting Santa Sighting Writing Event!

We had an amazing time today getting into the Holiday Spirit! We just posted a fun and engaging product to our TPT store that we had a blast with! All the writing materials and bulletin board clipart/ lettering are included!
 The students got so creative and loved coming up with a new
Hideout for Santa!!
We discovered that the Paparazzi found Santa’s Workshop and published all about the location in their latest tabloid! Poor Santa had so many sightseers that he had to relocate!
Because we are studying setting, this writing prompt was perfect!

Students were able to discover just how important setting is!

At first, students kept wanting to draw the traditional Santa scene. They wanted elves, reindeer, etc… It took a while to get them to notice that all of those props are dependent on the North Pole’s setting! They were finally able to come up with a wetsuit for Santa, a submarine pulled by seahorses for his transportation, a sandcastle for his workshop, and fish for his helpers! You should have heard the discussions!

What holiday traditions do you have in your room? This is sure to be repeated year after year in ours!

Teach EVERY Standard EVERY Year!

Year Long Plans… CHECK!


If you are a teacher that wants to teach EVERY standard EVERY year, you have hit the jackpot!

Our year long plans are done for the YEAR and we can say without a doubt that we will teach every standard every year with this formula! Yes, you heard that right! The YEAR and EVERY STANDARD! We would like to share the process with you to hopefully give you some tips that can make your year sail as smoothly as ours will! Everyone has requirements from districts of standards that MUST be taught… but how do you know you are really hitting every standard to mastery?

Learn how to Make Year Long Plans with our Free Sample!

How Do We Plan?

We have decided that the best way to break down the standards is into 7 domains. The seven domains that work for us are: Genre (RL 10), Key Ideas and Details (RL1-3), Craft and Structure AND Integration of Knowledge and Ideas merged  (RL 4-9), Language (L1-3), Vocabulary (L4-6), Nonfiction (RI 1-9) and Writing.

We start by filling in what our district requires us to teach with each unit of study. Then, we look to the supporting standards and other concepts that we think would deepen our students’ understanding of the priority standards. As you can see, our district’s requirements are in red. Everything in black is a “supporting standard.” Look at how much our students would have missed if we just followed our pacing guide! It’s crazy, right?!!!!!!!

Check out our Year Long Plans!

Also, when we plug in each standard, we look at what combinations would be best for each book. For example, when we are doing our mystery unit with Bunnicula, we know that James Howe does an amazing job with quotes and speech tags in dialogue. Character Traits are perfect for Chester, Bunnicula and Harold. Context Clues are perfect for “investigating” in mysteries. Each year, we perfect our order a bit more and tailor them to each book when possible!

We Teach EVERY Standard EVERY Year!

Find out how we teache every standard every year!!!!

We can guarantee that we teach EVERY standard every year! It is an amazing feeling to have. We can say WITH CONFIDENCE that we are doing what we need to do in order to cover our standards!!!!

We would also LOVE to hear your feedback and give any tips you have for your year long plans!!!!


Every year, we update our plan and perfect it. Check out our latest plan below!

Teach Every Standard Every Year with our Year Long Plan!


As you can see, not much has changed. We’ve added some new books and changed the order of some standards. We can definitely say that once you have made your year long plan for one year, every year after is that much easier!

Challenging Your Students to Read!!!!!

Trying to get students to read can be difficult and trying to get students to LOVE reading can be even more difficult. We all know that the number one way for students to improve in all areas is through READING!


  My fourth grade partner teacher and I came up with a strategy that we LOVE and better yet… our students LOVE it!
  Our goal is to have every student read 40 books independently over the course of the year. Since there are 10 months of school, we have them read 4 books each month. Each month, they read a genre book, a nonfiction book, a traditional literature book and a free choice chapter book. Each book is at the child’s
reading level… their “Just Right Book.”
  At the same time, we also set a goal for our classroom read aloud books. We read 40 books aloud to our students over the course of the year. That’s 80 books in one year! (And you will be surprised how many read MUCH MORE than that!)


So here’s the break down….



Books- We feature one genre each month. The genres we use are: General Fiction
(usually 4th grade related at the beginning of the
year), Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Historical
Fiction, Biography and Mystery. But wait! That’s only 8 genres! We all have our
favorites and my teaching partner and I both live in the world of Fantasy, so
we tend to repeat it often. The whole goal of this is to teach your students
the elements of the genre by reading it aloud to your students. At the same
time, they are reading their genre book (the same genre as you) and pulling out
the same elements from their book. This genre book is also what we teach
through! So let’s say that my unit requires me to teach character traits,
relative pronouns, and similes. As we are reading the book aloud, we pull these
things out of our book. We model through the read aloud and students practice
through their own book. Genre books , often around 200 pages, usually take
students 5-8 days to complete.



Books- The nonfiction books are not necessarily chapter books. We love using the Eyewitness books. Again, we read one aloud while the students read one independently. Let’s say that we are learning about Rocks and Minerals and are required to teach nonfiction text features. We model how to distinguish one text feature from the next, while they practice independently in their own book. Nonfiction books usually take students 4 days to complete.



Literature Books- The traditional literature books are not necessarily chapter books either. We teach one genre of traditional literature each month. We teach: Trickster Tales,  Folktales, Tall Tales, Legends, Fairy Tales, Fables and Myths. Again, that is only 7, so repeat where you feel fit! We love Myths because we do an intense study of
Mythological Allusions! Traditional Literature books usually take students  3 days to complete.



Choice Chapter Books- This is exactly what it sounds like! Students will choose a chapter book of their choice at their own level… you will be surprised how many choose the second book of the series that you read for your read aloud!!!! We can never keep these books on our shelf! Free choice chapter books usually take  5-8 days to complete.

  With all of this said, how in the world do we fit it all into the month and how do we make sure each child completes their books? Right!?  Every month, we give students our students a “Golden Packet” to complete. In this “Golden Packet” is one page for each book… a total of 4 pages. It is a simple graphic organizer that works on the skill we are teaching. For example, if I am teaching character traits, theme, and nonfiction
text features. I could pull the character traits graphic organizer for my genre book, nonfiction text features for my nonfiction book,  a theme graphic organizer for my traditional literature book and a generic graphic organizer or critics corner page for the free choice book! Students complete the graphic organizer as they read their
book. Because we use Interactive Readers’ Notebooks, we can tell who is reading through their responses! With
the breakdown of days above, you can see that most students finish their 4 books in just 23 days. That leaves plenty of time for slower readers and allows more time for advanced readers to read more books of their choice, which we call Extra Credit Books! We have created 41 graphic organizers… one for each standard with several generic graphic organizers for teachers to use throughout the year for their Golden Packets. Each golden packet is customizable to EXACTLY what you are teaching!

So what makes students want to read 40 books over the course of the year? I’m glad you asked! We have developed an incentive program that motivates students with many short term goals and rewards that MOST IMPORTANTLY doesn’t cost the teacher a penny! We have developed a game board that is in a lap book format.
Each child has a file folder with a game board inside where they track how many books they have read. At the end of each month, students who have proved that they have read their 4 books (by turning in the Golden Packet), get the chance to compete against other students who have also met their goal for a reward coupon. Students who complete their books are given a reward certificate. With this certificate, they get to compete in a different game, such as Battleship, each month. All game rules and materials are included! The winner of the game gets to choose from 20 reward coupons, such as “Teacher Answers One Problem on an Assignment.” These coupons have  been included! Below is a picture of the reward coupons. We store them in baseball/trading card pages and hang them on our walls. Students love to look at them and choose which coupon they want to work toward earning!

  But what about the student who was 3 days late in completing their book or just never did???? There is an incentive program for them too! If students complete their books late, they are given a “Slow but Steady Also Wins the Race” reward coupon! They turn these certificates into a raffle jar and you can choose when to draw names for reward coupons as often as you would like!


  Also included in this product is a bulletin board! The bulletin board is made up of a small bookshelf for each child. When students hit one of the goals, such as 8 books, they get to cut out the “8 Book Goal” book, color it and glue it onto their bookshelf. This provides you with a bulletin board that lasts you ALL YEAR LONG and best of all requires NO WORK FROM YOU to maintain! The bulletin board is also another incentive to have students want to reach their goal!


  The new reading incentive program that we have implemented at our school this upcoming school year is 30 books for 3rd, 40 books for 4th and 50 books for 5th.  Our entire upper grade has taken on this reading challenge! There are variations to the game board from what is mentioned above.  The genre book is taken out for 3rd and Poetry is added in for 5th. If that doesn’t suit you, a blank game board is also included so that you can use any combination of books you would like!


  To wrap it all up, students are reading 80 books in one year, they get to play games, they earn rewards that don’t cost you a thing, and you are provided with an amazing bulletin boardthat lasts you all year long. What’s not to love… besides reading?!!