Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


Slice of Life Tuesday: Why I Write

Welcome to 2015’s National Day on Writing! Follow the writing celebration at #WhyIWrite and #DayonWriting on Twitter. Thank you to TWT Blog for supporting writers of all ages. We appreciate you!

Slice of Life Small Logo10 Reasons: Why I Write

I write to record my thinking

I write to note interesting research.

I write to show love.

I write to remember.

I write to pack away memories for later.

I write to organize myself, my belongings, my world.

I write to communicate with my peers, my students, my friends, my family.

I write to tell my stories.

I write to direct others.

I write to add enjoyment to my life.


Slice of Life Tuesdays: Reading Environments

Slice of Life Small LogoReading Environments

School is not a good place to read, or enjoy reading. To concentrate on reading, a student should block out the sounds of the neighbor sitting next to her, the drone of the lunchroom crowd, and the teacher interrupting every 15 – 20 minutes to give instructions or move members of a group to another spot. If I was a student in a classroom in 2015, I’d be in big trouble in reading class. Location, location, location, they say. Well, a classroom is not a workable environment for any type of reading, practice or pleasure.

The considerations surrounding environment inside a classroom mostly circle around the cost of creating a comfortable space. Yes, I know, you can buy remnant carpets and reuse old book boxes economically. I hunt and peck through yard sales, and ask people to give their former furniture pieces. I shop the sales. However, school is still just NOT home. Not comfortable. Not peaceful for reading.

Some say “it’s not about the furnishings and decorations.” They are right. It’s not. I have plenty of books. Thousands, even. I’m still unpacking boxes this year, and students love to discover the new titles on the shelves. But where can they sit to enjoy reading those books? How is a student supposed to stay engaged in the reading when the environment is not an engaging place?

Just wondering…those 5 Lenses of Powerful Instruction are on my mind this evening.



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Moving, the Moon, and Mars

Slice of Life Small LogoMoving, the Moon, and Mars

I had a very busy weekend. Helping my daughter move into her first house was exciting and exhausting! I had such a great time just looking around, admiring the previous owners’ care of the place: the paint colors that do not have to be changed, the hardwood floors, the door knobs that all match throughout the house. It was clean and ready to move into, and the family members came to work! Furniture is so heavy, so big, so…Arg! Can’t turn the corner from the dining room to the basement entry — too tight! I watched while others measured, loaded the dolly, and carefully handled the large items. Trip after trip from the cars and U-Haul truck into the house — boxes, toys, appliances, and keepsakes. What a weekend! I noted that next time I move, I want a furnished condo.

Sunday night, those still living with me prepared for the observation of the year. The full moon. The lunar eclipse. The “blood” moon. I went to bed a little early (I was so exhausted!), but told my daughter to wake me up at 10:30 so we could go outside and watch the moon. Arg! Stupid cloud cover! We could see light where the moon was supposed to be, but we couldn’t take part in the grand celebration. The rest of the country was posting pics on Facebook and my husband kept telling me to “Look!” during the baseball game in Detroit. What a sight! And we missed it! Oh, well. Next time, right? (When will that happen again?)

Life on Mars? We don’t know…yet! (My “YET” friends will understand! :)) But there is H2O! “Flowing Water on Mars.” How exciting! All these years of wondering, and now it’s confirmed. Seems like just yesterday we were the only planet that could sustain life. Wonders will never cease.



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Reasons I Will Read Picture Books in My Middle School Classroom

Slice of Life Small LogoPicture Books in My Middle School Classroom

I spend time in class reading aloud, and the most enjoyable moments come from sharing picture books. My current classes gather in the meeting area and students listen intently, sometimes even applauding at the end. Why do I do this? I cannot possibly list all the reasons here in this brief post (there are so many!). Using picture books in middle school and upper grade classrooms has recently been a feature topic in many research and education articles. I add my two cents here:

  1. Picture Books are short and teach lessons within a tight time frame. No need to expand on this one —  I have 45 minutes in a class period. The more I can cram in, the better. Why not cram in the good stuff — the stuff that teaches and engages students at the same time?
  2. Picture Books are fun! Students enjoy listening and responding. Teachers enjoy sharing the love of reading in this simple manner. Baby books? Not anymore!
  3. Picture Books teach the standards, in overlapping, spiraling, content lessons that teachers can revisit many times during the school year. These mentor texts help students to identify, connect, discuss, comprehend, and respond to curriculum goals in all subject areas:

Perspective/Fitting In: Gaston (DiPucchio), I Don’t Want to Be a Frog (Petty).  “Living Your Dreams/Finding What You Want in Life” is our current theme for our reading workshop assigned textbook.


Perspective/The World Around You (Science): Look Closely Inside the Garden, Look Closely in the Rainforest (series by Serafini)


Problems/Solutions: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Barnett), 14 Cows for America (Deedy)






Using Figurative Language/Personification/Perspective: The Day the Crayons Quit (Daywalt), Voices in the Park (Browne), The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (Scieszka)




PBArtTheme/Discussion: Fox (Wild)

Art Appreciation/Analyzing Visuals: 14 Cows for America, Fox







Historical Events (Social Studies): Blizzard (Rocco)

PBBiographyBiography/People/History (Social Studies): When Marian Sang (Ryan), More Than Anything Else (Bradby)





As you can see, picture books can be used in classrooms to create awesome opportunities for learning and loving reading. Have fun sharing your favorites!




Slice of Life Tuesday: Impromptu Visit

Slice of Life Small LogoImpromptu Visit

My daughter called just to say,

“Hey, Mom. How was your day?”

It was nice to hear her voice,

then I got the better choice…

A surprise, a visit, she came over!

I looked outside for the four-leaf clover!

We ate and talked and shared our day;

she listened to me read the way…

I will tomorrow during read aloud time.

She gave me a compliment about story, rhyme,

and voice.

If I had a choice…

She’d still be here.

But I know that’s not true, because I see,

she’s turning into the woman I wished her to be.

I let her go, then wrote this post and said,

“Goodnight” to the rest of the family. Time for bed!








Slice of Life Tuesdays: Thanking the Authors

Slice of Life Small LogoThank You to the authors! You made my first days of school the most exciting in years! Jeff Anderson, the shirt did the trick — just what I wanted for my mystery book talk. I’m so happy that I was persistent in asking for the T. I’m even happier that you shared with us! “Who is Zack Delacruz?” Come to room 138 to find out! Even the assistant principal and social worker stopped by to see what we were reading. I had a waitlist right away (I only had two copies at first) and the reviews coming in are “two thumbs up.”


After Mr. Anderson’s generosity, I sent a message begging for the little pins for the debate: #teamladypancake or #teamsirfrenchtoast? The kids were buzzing the hallways, asking their neighbors, “Which side are you on?” and “I hear Mrs. Sniadecki likes pancakes better.” Thank you, Josh Funk! We DID receive pins, and trading cards, and a note from the author himself. Autograph score! Mr. Funk even wrote response emails to two of my students who wrote to him after our visit to the computer lab to see the book trailer/song.



Last but not least, I wrapped up another fabulous gift for the class — from Raina Telgemeier — thank you so much! We so enjoyed the black and white version of The Babysitter’s Club graphic novel. Another autographed book! Yes! That book was in the hands of a student 20 seconds after the book talk.















I’m having such a fabulous time in reading class this year. We are so lucky to have sharing, generous, and funny (!) authors to help students, in middle school, no less, find the time to read. This post is dedicated to you.








Slice of Life Tuesday: Today I…

Slice of Life Small LogoToday I…

This post comes from inspiration from another Slicer today. I thought I was too busy to post, but writers need to write, so I’m writing.

Today I…taught reading, writing, and social studies geography to 2 groups of awesome 6th graders.

Today I…graded papers before I left school, to save myself the trouble of bringing a bag of work home.

Today I…mowed the front lawn. It needed it!

Today I…vacuumed the upstairs of the house. It needed it!

Today I…took the clean dishes out of the dishwasher (that have been there for 2 days).

Today I…loaded the dishwasher with another pile of dirty ware and turned the knob to “on.”

Today I…read blog posts, and WROTE THIS!

Tonight I…feel much better.


Slice of Life Tuesdays: Back to Work/Back to School

Slice of Life Small LogoBack to Work/Back to School

Yes, I’m back to work — back to school! Monday was the first “teacher day” and today I welcomed my 20th group of homeroom students into Room 138. Where does the time go? One of the first questions I ask students on the first day of school is, “Who likes to read?” Today, I saw a bunch of hands shoot straight up, excitedly reporting the data. Yes! We like to read! I’m so happy to start the year with people with whom I can share my passion. Passion is Powerful! (That’s Lucy Calkins’ phrase that I carry with me everywhere.)


After introducing myself I gave a quick tour of the fairly empty room. My OLW, LEAN, works at school, too. I cleaned the clutter and the room is squeaky clean and quite bare at this time. Over the course of the next few days, my students and I will unpack boxes and discover the joys of new and old titles, of new and worn books. The magazine subscriptions will start coming in the mailbox. The charts and student work will hang on the bulletin boards. This is the most exciting time of the year — the discovery days that will move us forward.

In our meeting area on the rug, I read aloud BIG PLANS by Bob Shea and Lane Smith. Those two authors crack me up! The students listened intently as I shared my big plans with them. Reading! Writing! Learning! “I have BIG PLANS, Big Plans, I say!”

After reading, we wrote “about the tiger.” My school’s mascot is the Tigers, so I chose the large stuffed animal in the room to help me — allowing students to show me their writing style. I said, “Write about the tiger.” I will learn about their writing style, conventions knowledge, and stamina for writing time. I am happy with the work that students did today. We had a great day.

I apparently did not reveal enough details about my BIG PLANS, however. When I asked if there were any questions I could answer, a young inquiring mind from each class section asked me, “When do we go to the library?”

I love this group!