Test Prep

Tomorrow my sixth-grade readers take their state test in reading. In Virginia, the state tests are called SOLs. We have been preparing for tomorrow. The day before is always a tough day. The tension is palpable. I answered questions…and there were a lot of questions! I gave them a pep talk…another one and then class began. They had choices today.

  1. Make positive and motivational signs for test takers.
  2. Complete practice SOL questions.
  3. Read.
  4. Write in your notebook. 

Students were invited to do what they needed. I conferenced and checked in on their work and eavesdropped. I heard them whispering and planning their signs. I saw students reading silently and a few practicing for tomorrow with released test questions.  The class was relaxed and students were productive.  

Part of my pep talk asked them, What story are you telling yourself? I wondered aloud if they are telling themselves that they are dumb or going to fail or bad? If so, I reminded them to start telling themselves a new story. Their new story is this:

I am ready. I am prepared. I am a successful and accomplished reader. I can do this!

I reminded them that when they walk into that testing room tomorrow, they aren’t alone. I’m with them…not literally, but figuratively. I told them to imagine me sitting on their shoulder…I heard some giggles. I told them to envision me sitting on the top of the computer screen…now there are guffaws and someone blurts out, “You mean, like a floating head?!?!” I smiled and agreed. I told them to imagine whatever helps them.

These signs are hanging in the hall as they walk into our classroom. Here they are…


Behind the Scenes!

Karen Harrington is an amazing author! I have read and loved all of her books! Her newest book, Mayday, comes out this week. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy and many of my students have already read and LOVED it! Today on twitter, Karen Harrington announced a blog series about her new book called, 20 Days of Backstory. It’s a behind the scenes look at the creation of this powerful book. Here’s her first entry. I can’t wait to get a behind the scenes peek at this book. Thank you Karen!


IMWAYR…that stands for, It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Every Monday we will check in and share what we are reading. On the padlet below, put your name & the title of the book you’re reading in the title of your post and then write two sentences about your book. Can’t wait to see what everyone is reading! 

Reading Zone…MAYDAY!

First quarter ended. I love that we get opportunities to start fresh a few times each year. We end our nine weeks of hard work with a reading celebration called the Zone Day. 

We bring lots of books to read. We stretch out on desks and pillows. We settle in and read. It’s heavenly! We spent some time reading our read aloud book too. 

I read Karen Harrington’s new book, Mayday. It’s not released until May, but I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy. 

I gobbled it up in one day! It’s full of drama…about a boy named Wayne who is struggling to figure out who he is supposed to be. This is happening as he survives a plane crash and learns to deal with his family and friends. Wayne is such a likable character! Karen Harrington, the author, writes tragedy so well. She communicates the layers of life…everything isn’t all good or all bad, and she steers her characters through the messiness of life. I LOVE her books! I celebrate good authors and the chance to read their writing! Look for Mayday this spring! I shared my thoughts with the author. Here’s our conversation on Twitter…

She even left a comment on my other blog…

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Books that I Carry in My Heart #22

Reading Quote
Here is my  slice for the March Slice of Life Challenge on Two Writing Teachers.

I’ve read a few blog posts in the past week about favorite book lists. Katherine Sokolowski borrowed the idea from Brian Wyzlic who borrowed the idea from Colby Sharp. I’ve been thinking about this list. They are calling it the Six-Star Top Ten List. Hmmm…too many numbers. Too confusing for me. I’m going to call my list: Books I Carry in My Heart. 

I like the idea of keeping this list! These are the books that changed me. The books that I couldn’t stop thinking about when I finished. The books that helped make me the person that I am.

What kind of books? Middle school books? Picture books? Fiction? Nonfiction? Should I make a list for school and a separate list for me? Should it be one list? I do want an annotated list. Give a context to why your book is on the list. Tell the story. 

Here’s are some titles that I am considering for my list: 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Emily of New Moon, LM Montgomery
Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park
Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper

Final for now…the best thing about books is that they change as you change. I look forward to revisiting this list, as the years go on, and seeing which books stand the test of time.