I Teach 1st....THANK YOU!

Hello from sunny...and HOT!!!....Las Vegas!  

I'm here in the city that never sleeps.  Or is that New York??  Because it should DEFINITELY be Las Vegas if it's not :)  Even the kids running up and down our hallway ALL night...screaming!!!...think so, too ;)

I had a FABULOUS day full of fun at the I Teach 1st Conference!  SO many amazing teachers here!  Thanks to all of you who came to my sessions today.  I hope you were able to take away some new-to-you ideas and activities to implement into your classroom and I hope most of what you heard today just reaffirmed all the good you're doing in your classrooms every single day!!

 I loved meeting each and every one of you!!

Here's what we were up to today....

Reader's Workshop was my first session & this is one of my favorites.  This session is all about the framework of a successful Reader'sWorkshop.  We talked all about set-up (can you believe it's almost time to go back to school?!?!), ideas for book organization, managing your time, and a few mini-lessons, too :)  

Here are the books I referred to...

When we talked about organizing our classroom library books, I mentioned I would post the printables for the parent letter and survey (if you're interested).  You can grab the downloads HERE.

This is the bookmark I had in my Reader's Toolkit.  You can grab it for free HERE: Reader's Toolkit Reading Strategy Bookmarks

As part of my Reader's Workshop, I like to give my kids a "parking lot" to stick all of their questions/notes/comments about the text(s) they are reading independently.  They love contributing to this little space of our reading corner.  You can grab your Parking Lot Thinking Stickies HERE.

I mentioned Kim Adsit's Reader's Workshop Units of Study.  I can't recommend them enough!  If you haven't started Reader's Workshop in your classroom and you don't know where to begin, these are GREAT resources chock FULL of mini lessons and ideas!!!  I HIGHLY recommend!

My 2nd session of the day was all about Anchor Activities.  You might know these better as "Fast Finishers".  Whatever you call them, these are activities that kids are engaged in when they might not otherwise be engaged :)  This session is another favorite  I love the rapid fire ideas and how very easily the activities can be created.  I broke this session up into Math ideas/activities & Literacy ideas/activities.

One of the activities we talked about was Choice Trays.  This is a super simple template that has ENDLESS possibilities!  What I have here is a combo of 2 choice trays.  As you can see, one is filled with numbers and the other with word families.  I had my kids take two post-its and crumple them up to use as their "tossers" (that's what they affectionately called them...hahaha).  Kids toss one post it into the number tray and one into the word family tray.  Let's say they land on the number "4" and the "ap" word family (as pictured).   They might choose to make a list of FOUR -ap words OR draw FOUR -ap pictures OR write a sentence with FOUR -ap words ....the list goes on!  Here's a choice tray for you to print and copy for use in your own classroom.

Here are a few of the resources I mentioned in my session.  They are 20% OFF TODAY & TOMORROW ONLY! (7/6-7/7)

My last session of the day was all about Writing!

Getting our babies to feel empowered and take charge of their writing can be a real challenge.  We basically ask our kids to start writing from scratch and then come back and do the very same thing every.single.day.  For us that may not be such a hard task, but for our kids it can feel a lot like pulling teeth!  Bless their hearts! 

This session was all about the non-negotiables for writing instruction (modeled, shared, guided, & independent) and we chatted a bit about what that framework looks like in my classroom.  We also talked about independent writing activities and resources I feel have been instrumental in the success of helping my kids become independent writers who have lots of writing stamina!!  

First up, here are a couple of resources we talked about that I keep available to my kids during Writer's Workshop.  You can grab them here:  Writing Checklist & Visuals

I also showed you guys how I set-up my Writing Center.  This is a great set-up for kids and really helps to give them that sense of autonomy in the writing process.  It's on sale TODAY & TOMORROW ONLY for 20% off (7/6-7/7).

This is one of the books I referenced in my session when I was talking about adding detail.  I LOVED using this in my classroom!    Marvelous Mini-Lessons for Teaching Beginning Writing K-3

I also referenced these books.  Such GREAT reads!!!  Engaging Young Writers / In Pictures & In Words

Whew!!!  WHAT A DAY!!!

I'll be spending the rest of the week here in Vegas attending a few sessions and....well...having FUN!!!
I hope y'all enjoy the rest of your stay here in Vegas and if I didn't see you today, I hope to see you real soon!  Safe travels!!!


  1. Do you have a link to your birthday book letter? Also, are the word spinners from the anchor session in the interactive word wall packet, writing packet, or a different packet?

    Thanks! It was wonderful today! Amazing!

    1. Another couple quick questions about readers workshop as I start my planning (now that I've had a chance to digest information overload!!). I want to give my kiddos choice this but want read to self to be a daily mandatory activity. How do you know your kiddos all read to self during that block? Is it the first thing they do? Also, do your kids have choice of their activity and stay there an allotted time and change together or do they really just change when they finish? How do you prevent them from rushing through activities just to move/ wander around. Free choice means they don't have "station" or rotation groups, right? Is there a minimum or maximum amount of activities they can do in a day? Thanks so much for these amazing ideas of implementing readers workshop! I'm excited to plan to "let it go"...:-)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing how you conduct Readers Workshop. I really got quite a bit from your session and walked away knowing that I will be using this time before school starts back to plan how it will look in my room this coming year. I also went and bought the book Introducing Reader's Workshop. Can't wait to start reading and planning.
    Thank you again,
    Your session this morning was terrific.

  3. I am so disappointed that I couldn't be in Vegas this year. I so enjoyed your sessions last tear and learned many new ideas. I'm having trouble downloading the Parking Lot sheet-any help would be great! Have fun in Vegas! Mary M. mmteach774@yahoo.com

  4. Thank you for sharing!! I'm so sad to be missing Vegas, but I'm excited that you haven't forgotten those of us still at home.

    Have a great time!

  5. Wow, thanks Cara! These are all super helpful ideas! I was not able to be in Vegas this year, but your post certainly made me feel inspired. Thank you for the wonderful freebies as well! Have fun!


  6. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! I am new to blogging this Summer and love how you are sharing this with those of us who are just learning!
    Enjoy Vegas!


  7. I hope you had a great time in Vegas! Looks like you guys had a blast! Thank you for sharing these wonderful resources :)

    The Land of 2nd Grade

  8. Hello Cara,
    Thanks for this post! I'm going to be doing some reading on the Reading Workshop :) I'm looking forward to it! On another note I was wondering if you've used the Lucy Calkin's Writing Units of Study for Writer's Workshop and if so, what do you think about them.
    Thanks in advance!

  9. Where can we find your birthday book letter to send home to parents?

  10. Cara - I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your SDE presentations last week in Las Vegas. I attended two of your sessions and left with so many ideas to implement. Your sessions have helped me think through the implementation of reading and writing workshop in my classroom next year. I've used MANY of your TpT products as well so it is wonderful to now have a face to put to a name. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Can I just say now how much we love you! Your sessions were fantastic! Thanks for the follow up blog post!

  12. Hi Cara! I am so inspired by you and all your amazing ideas! I love how you use a lot of thematic units and I would love to see what themes you fit in each month. I think it would be a great guide and resource. Do you have a post with something like this already?

  13. Wow - great ideas. I would love to use your parking lot thinking sheet, but it will not download. Will be looking at several of your items for use this year.

  14. Hi,
    I was wondering where I can find the information about the next I Teach First Conference. Can you send me the link?