#012: How to Effectively Teach Reading and Writing Skills in an Online or Blended Classroom Model

reading teaching Jun 18, 2020
Do you feel like you're fully prepared to teach reading and writing skills in an online or blended classroom model?

While teaching at a workshop this last weekend, I realized what a disservice is being done to teachers who still don't know what kind of teaching they'll be doing in the fall. The uncertainty of not knowing what the school model will be is stressful and exhausting. Teachers are planners. We want to be prepared. However, it feels impossible to be prepared when we don't know what we are preparing for.

Well, I'm here to tell you being prepared is something you can start to do now even if you don't know what the fall will look like. We simply have to have a plan for what to change for each teaching model. So here goes...

New Normal

I believe teaching online or in a blended school model will be the new normal for a large amount of schools around the country. We can't wait around for things to go back "to normal' because they simply won't. So, how do you make...

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#011: Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids and Families with Michelle Dunham

books reading teaching Jun 11, 2020
My guest today is Michelle Dunham from Ruby Reads. She's a mom of 3, a book aficionado, an educator and the creator of Ruby Reads where she supports families and kids by instilling a love for books and reading.

As you know, I'm a book lover and passionate about literacy and teaching students to love books and reading. I first found Michelle and Ruby Reads on Instagram @rubyreadsbooks. If you don't follow her account, do it now! You won't regret it!

We talk about how to simply create a culture of readers and book lovers in your classroom by what you read, how you pair books and the conversations you start with your students. The steps are truly simple. Like anything new, it's not always easy at first, but the more you prep and practice the easier it becomes. It all starts with a love of books, a few paired books and the heart of a teacher. 

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here's a peek at what's inside this episode:

  • Who is Ruby and the history of that cute little red...
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#010: Using Your Classroom Library to Combat Racism and Create a Positive Classroom Culture

We simply can't let racism go on. People of color should not have to live in fear, worry for their own safety or their loved ones when they are simply going about normal life. 

Eliminating racism is a daunting task. No big, important goal is achieved in a day. While we can't eliminate racism today, we can start or restart our efforts. If we all make a simple 1% change each month in what we do, think, say or in supporting organizations that work to end racism, it will add up to big wins.

Figuring out where to start can be overwhelming, but as teachers, we have an easy place to start - our classroom libraries. 

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here's a peek at what's inside this episode:

  • Why your classroom library matters.
  • How to make a 1% change that is both powerful and appropriate for our students' age levels.
  • How to begin evaluating what you have in your library already.
  • What types of texts are needed for a well rounded classroom library.
  • Why you need...
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#009: How to Get Your Students from Knowing HOW to Read to Becoming READERS

reading teaching May 29, 2020

Helping students become committed readers is a daunting task, at best. And while there isn't a straight path for each student to follow, there is a method that actually works. Now's the time to start planning changes to your program for the coming year to keep the reading and learning going no matter what school looks like next year.

There are important things we can do as educators that set students up to be come successful readers and committed book lovers. While we don't know exactly which combination of things will be the trigger, we do know what to do to provide the right classroom culture for it to happen.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Over the years, I've found there are certain things we should be doing to create a culture of readers and certain things we often do that inhibit the process and even have to opposite effect. 

Here's a peek at what's inside this episode:

  • What you should not be doing.
  • How to easily infuse reading and books...
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#007: Your New Back-to-School Plan

organization teaching May 14, 2020

As hard as it is to start thinking about next school year, now’s the time that important conversations are being had in your school and district about what the new normal will look like.

In order to have a voice in those conversations and truly come out better in the fall, you need to start thinking about what next year, ideally, would look like in various situations.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

When your entire school year or even just a good part of it becomes up in the air before school even starts, stress and overwhelm can take over. 

If you truly understand what the new options for school are and have a grasp on what that means in real time for you and your students, you'll be better prepared to be part of the conversation and to plan for whatever model you end up with in your school.

Here's a peek at what else is inside this episode:

  • 3 Possible Teaching Scenarios for next year:

    • Online School
    • Regular Classroom [Modified]
    • Hybrid Model
  • How to prepare to...
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#005: Teaching in Surprising Ways with VIPKid Teacher Loren Deitrich

teaching Apr 30, 2020
Are you looking for a way to make a little extra income? Maybe you'd like to be home with your own kids but still want to do some teaching. Well, this episode is for you!

Teaching gets harder and more complicated every year, so I'm all about having options as a teacher. And once you become a mom, you're faced with all kinds of new challenges. Will you still teach or will you stay home with your kids for a bit? There can be pressure on every side. Everyone's got an opinion on that!  Whether you want to have more time with your kids or you just need more income but teaching isn't something you want to completely give up, there's a flexible option for you.

My guest today is Loren Deitrich, a VIPKid Teacher. She's here to share her journey on how she successfully went from elementary classroom teacher to SAHM [stay at home mom] and teaching English to kids online.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Our journey as teachers can take some surprising turns and my guest today is no...

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#004 Your New Normal: Balancing Virtual Teaching, Mom Life and Self-Care

So let’s chat today about your new normal. Balancing virtual teaching, self care and, for some of us, mom life.

As we work from home in these trying times, we have to continue to keep up with our work while still managing our own families and home life while figuring out all of the details of this new way of teaching [and taking care of ourselves]. 

Here's a few tips to help you apply what we know about organization, routines and habits to this new life you're living.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

First off, you need and deserve a break. If you aren't giving yourself a mental and physical break every day and week, you are going to wear yourself out and make yourself sick. And that means… you’ll be unable to help anyone else. I know that's not a newsflash, but it needs to be said. We all need to admit it. Working all the time is not sustainable, and working all the time when you're in a stressful situation, is even worse. I know it can feel like...

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FREE Virtual Resources for You and Your Students

As more kitchen tables become classrooms, the need for resources and realistic, educational things to do at home becomes even greater. We can help our students and families supplement and enrich while keeping kids busy after their lessons are done. 


Free online resources for you and your students with [a few] ideas for extending offline. 
Authors, Books, Art, Illustrators + Literacy

Draw LIVE online with Mo Willems daily HERE

- When you're done, extend your drawing with more characters or a setting and write a story to go with your drawing.

Hear Peter Reynolds read aloud LIVE daily at 12:00pm EST on his Facebook page. HERE

- Draw a picture of one character from the story. 

- Hear a story read by a celebrity. Storyline Online  or search for the book you want read aloud on YouTube. It's probably there.

Check out your favorite author's pages online. Here's a few: Dan Gutman   Jan Brett    Dave Pilkey    Rick Riordan...

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16 Simple Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Day

reading teaching Feb 27, 2020
Read Across America is coming! Get ready with these fun bookmarks. 

Making reading fun is worth giving up a little time for. Why? Once students love reading, becoming a lifelong reader becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. On that note...

Here's some fun things you can do for Read Across America Day.
  • Make fun bookmarks. [See video]
  • Read with finger lights.
  • Have a Pajama Party - Wear your pJs and bring a pillow to make reading more relaxing all day.
  • Dress up as your favorite book characters.
  • Choose picture books to read aloud for every subject all day.
  • Have older students choose books that have a character that they are like or would want to be like. Share the book and tell why or write about it.
  • Make green eggs and ham.
  • Have a book tasting in your class.
  • Read with flashlights.
  • Have a Read-a-Thon to raise money for books in your school or classroom or to raise money to give books to students in a needy school in your area.
  • Try talking in rhyming words all day.
  • Read Red Fish Blue...
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How Do You Create a Culture of Readers?

reading teaching Feb 20, 2020


Creating a reading culture in your school can be as simple as re-evaluating how you promote and talk about reading. Here's an incentive program that helps promote a culture of readers. It can be done as a class or as a school but is most effective when done school-wide. [I wish I'd thought of it, but I didn't.]

The Million Words Club 

At the elementary school my kids went to, students can read any books they choose to get to a million words read in a year. When they get there, the art teacher does a cartoon drawing of them reading and it hangs framed in the hallway until they graduate and take it home (my daughter is in college and still has hers). You could easily do a photo booth session with lots of books or something fun related to reading instead of the cartoon drawing. Students can earn ribbons to add to their framed photo for each additional year they read a million words.

The school started this program 12 years ago and it’s still going strong. The kids...

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