I asked, YOU answered :: Favorite Guided Reading Resources

Guided Reading.  I posted a question on Facebook this week thinking I’d be flooded with great GR resources.  To my surprise, many people didn’t have a favorite. What?! I started some research and {{ Wow, folks!}}  : slim pickings on GR goodies.  There are some great overall reading resources but nothing specific to GR.   That got me thinking about this post.

Starting this week, I will have a new series of “I asked, YOU answered” posts.  Super excited about putting together all of our favorites.  Today, I’m sharing some of our favorite Guided Reading resources.  Not general reading strategy resources but specific to Guided Reading.

Favorite Guided Reading Resources www.amodernteacher.com


The foundational resource:  Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children     by Fontas and Pinnell

The queens of guided reading, probably the founders of the term “guided reading”.  This book was written by two professors who, with a ton of research to support their theories, wrote and coined the inside and outs of GUIDED READING.  If you are a new teacher, this is a must-have.  Hands down.

The Ultimate Guided Reading How-To Book: Building Literacy Through Small-Group Instructionby Gail Saunders-Smith

In this book, Ms. Saunders-Smith goes through foundations, techniques, and putting those together.  I would say that this is a shorter overview of the process and background.

Daily 5, The (Second Edition): Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades     by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

This gives real-implement-now ways to make Guided Reading effective.  It goes through what the other kids are doing while you are meeting in small groups. EXATLY what you need to maintain a smooth running GR time.

The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary Assessment and Instruction, also by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Practical, practical, practical language, tips, and keys to making this time super effective.

Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Workby Debbie Diller

Another great resource for ideas on what the other kids are doing while you meet.  Includes management ideas.

When I posted on Facebook, one teacher shared her management folder of how she works through GR groups.  She got the idea from this book.  Take a look:

Adriana says:

“My fav thing is not exactly a resource but is. from Debbie Diller…..make a “flexible small groups folder” of sorts where you can track your students and see them all at once. The parts that show you where your kids are are awesome bc they help with different strategies to use with them to improve.”

Favorite Guided Reading Resources www.amodernteacher.com

A good friend and amazing teacher of mine recommends: Small-Group Reading Instruction: A Differentiated Teaching Model for Beginning and Struggling Readers by Beverly Tyner

And now for implementing these resources….

Reading A-Z , a website where you can download leveled books.  If your school doesn’t have this yet, ask to subscribe.  Ask anyone you know to contribute. Even check out Donors Choose to help you bring these awesome resources.

One of my favorites: Guided Reading Made Easy: A Complete Resource by Kristen Smith   Good stuff here!  I can’t say enough about the quality of Kristen’s resources.  Good, good stuff!

One teacher suggested Tara West’s Guided Reading Bundle.  I have not seen this so I don’t have first hand knowledge but it looks awesome!

Your turn!  Do you have a favorite GR resource?

Have a great weekend and happy planning y’all! ~April


Classroom Crashers! {and how you don’t have to break the bank}

Between the Back-to-School Nights, making lunches, and getting the new routine in motion, this house has been pretty busy.  A good busy.  How about you?  Did you survive the ‘back-to-school time’?

Well, I have a fun Classroom Crasher to share with you today!  This room comes from Hillary, a 7th grade Social Studies teacher in Western Massachusetts.

She says: “I love to have an organized, welcoming classroom for my students and most of my decorations and organizational supplies come from places like the Dollar Store, Target, Walmart and local secondhand shops. You don’t have to break the bank to make a cozy classroom!”

Isn’t that the truth?  You don’t have to break the bank!  It can add up yes, but making it cozy can be fun and inexpensive.  Keep reading to see what she adds.

By the way, Hillary doesn’t have a blog.  So, if you are interested in sharing your classroom with other teachers, you don’t have to have a blog.  Send a few pictures my way and I’ll post them here to share.  If you are a blogger, send me 3 pictures, and I’ll link back to your specific classroom post or your blog.  It is a fun way to share:) If you are like me, you love peeking into teacher’s classrooms. It is so inspiring…no matter what time of the year.

First, the BEFORE

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

Here she added a plant, fun signs, and this fun question mark marquee.  Students feel welcomed as soon as they walk in the door.  Even in 7th Grade!

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

Maps of any kind are a great way to cozy up a room.  The added bonus is they take up some space on the dreary white walls.  Quotes are always inspiring and fun.  Yes, you are going to fill up the walls with charts, kids’ learning, and other valuable tools but it is nice to have some pieces that create a warm inviting environment.


Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

Lamps are essential for that soft lighting.  Containers in the same color are another way to create warmth.  Even if you have different containers.  As long as you paint them the same colors, you create that unified look.  Creating a unified look allows our brain to process faster.  When we see something we are familiar with, our brain quickly identifies the containers and moves on….allowing for more important processing like… objectives for the day.

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

Black bulletin boards allow for the charts to stand out.  Our brain immediately processes what is standing out.  I just love how she creates the unified TEAM feeling of “WE are…”.  Especially at this age, kids are searching to belong to something.

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

Love the personal pictures.  Frames don’t have to cost much!

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com


And there you have it!  I hope you are feeling a bit more inspired. Hillary did such a great job!!!!  Thank you Hillary for sharing your pictures with everyone.   I know we all appreciate your willingness to share!

Have a great week y’all!  ~April

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com


Menu Planning for Modern Teachers {September}

I love this picture:

Easy menu planning for modern teachers

Some times this is exactly how I feel.  Do we HAVE to eat again?  HA!  Seriously though, I love food.  I usually plan my day around food events…whether I am cooking or we are going to a restaurant or  I am celebrating someone’s special event.  I’m always thinking about what I’m going to be eating (oink, oink).  However, in reality, dinner can be tough. Especially if you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When I asked readers to complete the survey a few weeks ago, many of you said that you need some easy recipe and life organization ideas.  Recipes that are super simple to make.  So, you asked, and I answered!  Starting this month (the next one will come out before the month starts–I promise), I’ll be sharing a post with some simple simple recipe ideas.  But before that…a little history….

A couple of years ago, my family adopted an easy dinner planning of sorts.  I know this is not rocket-science.  My schedule is not new, I’m sure of it…my mom did something like this while growing up.  However, I thought I’d share and expand.  In our family, dinner is based on the seasons, and what is fresh then we set a routine for dinners.  It’s not boring, I promise.  It can be if you want it to be, but it doesn’t have to be.  This rotation can be super healthy, or super not-healthy.  Just depends on what your family needs/wants.

To start the menu planning, I first thought about what my family really loves and then I set a routine/rotation.  Basically each night has a different theme.  You could do this with types of food like Italian, Mexican, etc. We do it just a little bit more specific.  For September, the routine looks like this:

Dinner #1: Crockpot Recipes

Dinner #2: Taco Recipes

Dinner #3: Homemade Pizza Recipes

Dinner #4: Sandwich Recipes (I know–sandwiches for dinner??  We LOVE a warm sandwich!  There are so many types and then pair it with some veggies…yuumo!)  Sandwiches can be healthy too.  All depends on what you put in them, what kind of bread you use, and if you use bread at all.

Dinner #5: Family Favorite Recipes (varies every week)

(I don’t plan dinners 6 and 7– we are just too unpredictable on the weekends.)

Again, each of these dinner recipes can be healthy or not.  Your choice.  For example, tacos can be filled with tons of fatty, not-good-for-you stuff OR it can be all fresh ingredients…even organic or gluten-free tortillas.  Each one of these can go to either ends of the spectrum.  That is what I love about our rotation.

For each month, I’ll share 16 easy recipes I plan on making gathered from some fabulous foodie blogs.  This month will have 4 crockpot recipes, 4 taco recipes, 4 different pizza recipes, and 4 sandwiches.  Family favorites are my go-to dinners like spaghetti.  My kids LOVE spaghetti and truth is…so do I.

I hope you can find some recipes your family might like.  If you leave this blog post with at least one recipe, I’m happy.  I’m going to try my hardest to find healthy recipes.  When it doubt, you can always cut your portion size and add fresh veggies or a salad.

Meal Planning for Teachers

Crockpot Ideas:

1. Slow Cooker Root Vegetables

2. Turkey Lasagna

3. BBQ Chicken Dinner

4. Orange Chicken


Meal Planning for Teachers

Taco Recipes:

1. Fish Tacos

2. Beef Tacos

3. Pulled Pork Tacos

4. Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos


Meal Planning for Teachers

Pizza Recipes:

1. Southwest Ranch Chicken Pizza

2. Sausage Pizza

3. Pizza Cups

4. Cold Veggie Pizza


Meal Planning for Teachers

Sandwich Recipes:

1. Shrimp Po Boy

2. Teriyaki Chicken Sandwiches (we’ll be substituting chicken for the shrimp)

3. BLT Sliders (substituting regular bacon with turkey bacon and I don’t think I’ll be able to handmake the dough–just sayin’)

4. Philly Cheesesteak (I’ve made this recipe before and we love it!)

And there you have it!  Do one of these recipes look good to you?  Let’s try some.   And I will say one caveat—I don’t fancy these recipes up quite like the images or these bloggers.  I keep everything as simple and often times messy. Grab some links and go!

Here’s to easier planning,



Literacy Love :: Grandparent’s Day Freebie

Last year I started a blog series called “Book Love”.  Well, I love alliteration so I’ve changed it to “Literacy Love”. (you know us teachers!)  Just some quick posts about some of our favorite book finds.  This weekend we celebrate Grandparent’s Day.  How fun!  My favorite place to be is at my grandmother’s house.  As my kids are getting older, I appreciate the time they have to spend with their grandparents.  Life is just too short.  I hope they are able to create long friendships and memories with my parents and my in-laws.  I think grandparents have the best job.  They get to love on the kids tons and tons and then leave when they get tired.  HA!

These two books are super super cute.

41 Uses for a Grandma and 40 Uses for a Grandpa by Harriet Ziefert

They go through 4o and 41 different ways to interact with a grandpa and a grandma.  The illustrations are simple, colorful, and just precious.  As a way to celebrate and make text-to-self connections, kids can draw (and/or write about) what they do with their grandpa or grandma.  How do they “use” their grandparents?  What do they love to do with them?



The freebie includes a printable for both a grandma and a grandpa.  Just click HERE or the image. Just a fun little freebie!

Have a great weekend!!



Writer’s Notebook {Quick Freebie}

Writing time can be magical or it can be…well, let’s just say, challenging…for both the student and the teacher.  I absolutely LOVE writing and teaching writing but I know some years were harder than others.  In my experience, sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to get them motivated to write.  Not only is this one way to over come some of the anxiety of writing but it is also something all writers have…a Writer’s Notebook.  I’m sure you have heard about a Writer’s Notebook.  To this day, I use a writer’s notebook in my personal life which is more like a “blogger’s notebook”  HA!  This little gem is a place to store all of our writing ideas. With the students, I always used a black composition notebook but I’ve seen so many different options.  You could use a spiral.  You could use a composition book cut in half.  You could use a mini-composition book.  Even just blank printer paper with construction paper as the covers would work.

If you aren’t familiar with a Writer’s Notebook…these 2 are my favorite resources:

A Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher (this one is my favorite)

ANYTHING by Ralph Fletcher is what you need:)

Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner and Ralph Fletcher is great!

(fyi–no affiliate links-ha!  no time to add those)

One of the important pieces of a “Writer’s Notebook” is ownership.  The student has to take lots of pride in the notebook and value what is inside it.  I love having the kids decorate their covers.  They could add their own personal items at home but if they are 3-D type pieces, they tend to fall off in a short period of time.  I think it is a great idea to add real pictures though.  As long as they are laminated or taped on pretty well, they hang on for awhile.  Here is a cover for them to decorate.  They could complete this with magazine collages, illustrations, pictures from home, etc.  I have formatted the pdf to fit with a composition book or spiral nicely.  If you choose to add it to something else and want it bigger, you’ll have to go into print setup and increase it to the desired size.

Click on the image or click HERE for your freebie.

Do you use Writer’s Notebooks?  I would love to know in the comments below.



You can laminate the cover and put clear packaging tape to secure or just use the packaging tape.

I included both boys and girls in the download.  They can decorate it to make it their own.  Hope you can use this….in any grade level!! ~April



Sarah Koves - Super cute..I might have some secondary takers.

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Oh good!!! :)


Teacher Style 2014 Winner!

Hey y’all!!!  This is just a quick post about….drum roll please….the winner of the Teacher Style 2014 Giveaway is Jennifer W.!!!! Jennifer, thanks for entering.  I sent you an email!!

Thank you soooo much to everyone for entering.  Your support means so much to us. Really!  It fuels us to help make your teaching life easier.  Happy shopping!!!

Teacher Style Giveaway 2014


Thank you and have a wonderful day!!



Classroom Crashers!

Classroom Crashers is baaaaack!  Two years ago, I featured some fun, amazing classrooms around the www AND non-blogger classrooms.  It was a way to share some inspiration from teachers all over the world.  Well, after some requests, it’s coming back!!!  Super SUPER excited to share with you more ideas and inspirations.  Maybe you don’t have a blog but have a great idea you are dying to share. Send pictures my way and I’ll put them up, share a bit about you, and which state you teach in (if you want to share).  If you have a blog, send me 3 pictures.  I’ll share then link back to you.  Fun-right?  My email is amodernteacher@gmail.com

Here are a few past Classroom Crashers.  Looking forward to sharing more rooms throughout the year because sometimes you need more ideas…no matter what time of the year.

Classroom Crashers www.amodernteacher.com

This was the first ever “Classroom Crasher”.  I crashed a friend of mine’s 2nd Grade Classroom.  Here she was sharing some ideas on Inquiry-Based Learning.

An AMAZING classroom from Connecticut:


I even had the queen featured…that is Queen of the First Grade Jungle. My blogger friend Katie shared pictures of her fun purple and black classroom.

BUT WAIT…there are more classrooms!  Take a look HERE to see more.

I’ll be sharing more throughout the year.  Don’t be shy if you are not a blogger.  2 featured here are not bloggers.  Got something fun to share in your room, send it my way!  Those of you getting your room ready this week:  GOOD LUCK!!  And those that started this week: GOOD LUCK!  You got this!!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway HERE.

xoxo, April

Melissa - I just love your blog and think this is such a great idea!!! I can’t wait to share pictures of my classroom. I updated a few things this year and am just so proud of it and love it so much. I can remember when I started teaching I would scour the internet for hours looking for amazing rooms! I can’t wait to see some on your super blog!!
Keep Calm and Love First Grade

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Thanks so much Melissa! If you want, I can send some love your way. Just send me a link and 3 pictures and I’ll post them. Have a great week! April (amodernteacher@gmail.com)

vicky moore - April – what a great idea this is…I will keep it in mind for the future. Hope your Monday was great!
Teaching and Much Moore

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Thanks so much Vicky!! You are the best! Hope your Monday was great too :) And send me some pics! I’d love to share. xoxo


Balloons and Rounding

I gotta fun math tip for you today!  It’s a BRIGHT IDEA!  Do you use balloons in your class?  I know, I know, balloons can be crazy pants.  Can bring all kinds of excitement.  But that’s good–right?  I think so.  Now, I’m not suggesting you do this everyday but you gotta engage, don’t you think?  Here’s one way.

balloons and rounding

If you teach rounding in the elementary grades, this is for you.  As you know, rounding can be difficult.  Sometimes we need a little fun to remember tricky concepts.  Now, there are all kinds of rounding tricks.  I’ve seen the “rounding hill”, the “rounding rollercoaster”, and of course, using the number line is awesome.  They are all awesome.  In fact, I’ve had to teach all of these to see which one sticks.  Each kid is different so what works with one, might not work with another.  But I’m preaching to the choir on that.  So, this tip is super easy and fun.

First of all, I am referring to ’rounding to the nearest ten’.  Basic, basic rounding.  I always taught (according to my districts:) that if the number ends in 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 you round down.  If the number ends in 5,6,7,8,9 you round up.

To teach this: bring in a couple of balloons.

balloons and rounding

Demonstrate: Hold balloons in one hand.  At this point you have ZERO fingers out….just holding it in a fist. This is your ZERO…the number stays at the lower ‘ten’.  (rounds down) Example : 20 (ending in 0) rounds to 20

Let 1 finger ‘go’ or ‘off’…balloons haven’t moved…the number stays at the lower ‘ten’.  Example: 21  rounds down to 20

Let 2 fingers ‘go’ or ‘off’….balloons haven’t moved…the number stays at the lower ‘ten’.  Example: 22 rounds down to 20

Let 3 fingers go…same thing  Example: 23 rounds down to 20

balloons and rounding

Let 4 fingers go…same thing  Example: 24 rounds down to 20

Now, let 5 fingers go…the balloons will lift up; they will ’round’ to the higher number.  Example: 25 rounds up to 30

balloons and rounding

That’s it!  For 26, 27, 28, 29 you obviously round up, which aren’t typically hard numbers to round for some reason (numbers ending in 6, 7, 8, 9).  4 and 5 always seems to trip up the kids though.  This is just another way to try to reach those who aren’t getting it.

What do you think?  Easy to do? Hope it helps. I’m joining some amazing teacher-bloggers in a BRIGHT IDEA Blog Hop.  I hope you hop around and grab some easy to use, fun ideas.  Check it out below!



vicky moore - Super cute idea April…I think I need to try this one and I’m teaching rounding ( review this week )!
Teaching and Much Moore

Jennifer - I love using balloons to teach in kindergarten. They are like instant engagement. This tip will be perfect for my 2nd grade son who has some learning differences – everything needs to be multi sensory and this definitely is that! Thanks so much!

Jennifer from Simply Kinder

Diane - I like this idea…very clever way to remind them on whether to go up or down to the next 10.

Nicole from Teaching With Style - This is such a cute idea! I love it!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Thanks Nicole! Hope you can use it!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Thanks so much Diane!! Hope you can use it!!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - YAY! Glad you can use it!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Oohh–perfect timing then! Thanks so much Vicky! Good luck this week :)

Mikaela - Wow! What a simple, cute, and memorable idea. I might use it tomorrow with a student I’m tutoring. Thanks so much!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Thanks so much Mikaela! Hope it helps with your student!


Last Chance!

This weekend is the big weekend for the Pink and Blue Teacher Personal Planner.  I only have a few left and they need to get in your hands!  All of the other planners are SOLD OUT.  {Wow, just writing that brings tears.}  YAY!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support!

I am offering them at a 30% discount.  BIG BIG discount!

Check out the posts HERE and HERE if you have any questions.  If you’ve had your eye on them, now is the time to say yes!  I won’t be offering them again for the 2014-2015 school year so it’s now or never.  Check out a few images below but click here if you’re ready!  {You can also click up top on ‘SHOP’.}







Pink and Blue Teacher Life Map


Have a wonderful weekend y’all!!!!


Teacher Style Giveaway 2014!!!!

Head Back to School in STYLE!  I am incredibly excited to team up with Melanie, Adrianne, and Maria for the third year of fun, fun, fun!  It is time to treat yourself just a little bit-right?!  RIGHT!  We are having a contest right here, starting today, for some amazing prizes.

What is one of your favorite stores?  Target, you say?  How about Ann Taylor Loft?  You know Loft offers a teacher’s discount-right?  Gotta take advantage of that.  Loft LOVES teachers!  Can you spoil yourself just a little with Kate Spade?  Why, yes, yes you can.  You’re a teacher after all!  Let the spoiling begin!

To top it all off, we have some surprises from chic boutiques.

Ooh Baby Designs

Lisa Leonard Designs

Cents of Style

Enter this fun giveaway today!  But hurry, contest ends next Tuesday, August 19, 2014.  Good luck!  Hope you are the lucky teacher!

Teacher Style Giveaway 2014

Enter through Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for entering!  We hope you enjoy this giveaway! ~April

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Kelly Kelley - Pick me!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - :) Thanks for entering!!!! If it was up to me, I’d send everybody these goodies. Sort of like Oprah!!! Can you here me yell ‘Everyone gets one!!!!”? :)

Heather Slapack - I hope I win

Laura Mann Critchley - That bag is pretty sweet! Fingers crossed.

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Good luck!

amodernteacher@gmail.com - Good luck!