Work Hack: Wire Ties

I like to be as organized as I can and one thing that drives me crazy are computer cords. There can be so many… I’ve tried using rubber bands to keep them together but over time they break apart and the thin twist ties are not my favorite.

That’s why I love Elite Tech Gear Gear Ties. They are very easy to use

Wire Ties

and faster to tie and untie than the typical twist ties. I use these everywhere at home now, too.

I purchase them on Amazon:

EliteTechGear Twist Ties For Organizing Your Gear 8-Pack 3 Inch (Multicolored) 


I love them!! They make my work station seem much cleaner and gives me greater sanity.


Forced Reading Assignments – A No!

I’m taking a SPOT class this summer. One of our assignments is to read five trade books for our grade level and an eight square reading reflection on each book.

So far, out of the four books I have finished reading, I have enjoyed only one of them. The other four, I really did not enjoy. Quarter to mid-way, I realized how much I don’t prefer reading these specific books  (the characters, the tone, the themes, the plot, etc.) On my own accord, I would abandon them but since reading five of these books is required for the class, I pludge right on through finishing them. Page by page trying to finish these books, my distaste grows and grows.

Having just finished another one of these books I did not enjoy, I am beginning to not enjoy reading!!!!!!!!!!

This is what it must feel like for students having to read assigned chapter books. It’s laborious and makes me want to run away from books! Don’t do this to your students!!

  • Note: The SPOT class offers a wide variety of trade books to choose from. My co-worker and I are sharing them and she was kind enough to keep the supplies in her room closet. I randomly chose five to bring home for the summer. If I had access, I would have gladly traded out the books but don’t currently have that option.

5th Year: Parent Volunteers

Big Hit: Novel Groups!

This past school year, I had parent volunteers continue with listening to students read and asking comprehension questions, practice math fact fluency, and prepare the Friday Folders.

I also did something new where I had the parents lead novel groups (resources used by Laura Candler). This was a big hit! The students loved these novel groups. They felt ownership of their books and the assignments given. I also like it because these groups are heterogeneous, based off their own interest, and they created in-depth discussions and connections. I also love these novel groups because I think it is natural and similar to how adults participate with book clubs.

Donalyn Miller from Reading in the Wild writes, “When students read together every day, they forge strong bonds through shared reading experiences that help them define themselves as members of a reading tribe,” (Miller, 2014, p. 9).

Love anything that promotes more reading!

5th Year: Gifted Students

This past school year, I feel like I did a lot better with having students that finished early, “gifted” or not, working independently on projects. They would write me a letter note in my mailbox requesting a conference when they felt they were done. I would usually have one or more quick conferences through the child’s process. After a final conference, they got to present their project to the class, (which they loved!)

I still have concerns with accountability and structure:

This article from Dr. Elissa Brown states what not to do. I need to work on number 4:

“4. Isolate them to work independently without oversight.

While independent research projects based on student interest may provide depth in an area, teachers assume that a gifted student is self-regulated and can work independently on a project without any guidance, oversight, or accountability. Sending them unsupervised to the computer lab, library, or back of the room to work independently may not produce the desired result.”

This school year, I want to do a better job highlighting project options (providing motivation) and meet purposefully with my SIGNET/gifted students (providing direction) so that they will meet the goal of completing a project they can be proud of and be stimulating for them.

Online Homework Reading Responses

I have always had students turn in reading responses weekly to promote “thinking about reading” and accountability.

This past year, I gave students the option of turning in their reading responses online instead of in their composition notebooks.

Initially, the class (and I) were very excited about the idea. The technology! The convenience!

By the end of the year though, less then a handful of students continued completing their reading responses online. Since fourth graders have not mastered typing, the novelty of it dwindled and typing the responses online became difficult and more tedious for them.

This was so convenient, not having to lug composition books home and hand write (I prefer typing) responses back but I have to think whether to continue this option. My husband says that even though typing is difficult for elementary students, the more encounter and familiarity with technology will in the long run benefit them because the use of technology in our careers and lives is only increasing…


5th Year: Overall Instruction

Overall Instruction

  • Whole Brain/Power Teaching: I sprinkled these strategies last year and it worked well. I would like to do more this upcoming school year.
    • It looks like these strategies would encourage students to be active and engaged as opposed to passive or daydreaming.
    • I have read a few of the critiques for these strategies but there are a great amount of concepts that do require memorization. These strategies are great to use just as a quick review of concepts or understanding of directions.
  • More Anchor Charts: Worked well; will continue
  • Academic Language with Sentence Frames: Worked well; will continue!
    • I’m inspired by Maria Arguelles to promote academic language. Baby-talking is a disservice when considering what students are capable of. According to the information Arguelles shared from her class:
      • “I am absolutely oppose. My boss discriminations me all the time at Macy’s. She salaries me lower than other people and prejudices at me sometimes,” (Kinsella, 2005)
      • By sixth grade, 80% of school reading tasks are expository (Venezky, 2007)
      • Vocabulary knowledge is strongly linked to academic success (Becker, 1997; Anderson & Nagy, 1991)
      • Vocabulary knowledge is the best predictor of reading comprehension. Grade 4 vocabulary predicts grade 12 reading (Snow et al., 1991)
  • Interactive Notebooks: I would like to incorporate this with all subjects!
    • To be used as a part of direct instruction that may allow for more engagement and ownership of material.
    • This can be also used as a study guide.