Thursday, April 11, 2024

Celebrate National D.E.A.R. Day

D.E.A.R. Day, also known as Drop Everything and Read Day, is an annual celebration that takes place on April 12th. As the name suggests, this holiday is intended for everyone to dedicate a small or significant period during the day to reading. 

National D.E.A.R Day is also the birthday of the beloved author Beverly Cleary who created one of my all-time favorite childhood characters – Ramona Quimby.  On National D.E.A.R. Day, schools are encouraged to read together while promoting books as an integral part of daily life.

So how will you be celebrating D.E.A.R. Day?  Fun activities to do with family, friends, or an impassioned book club include making bookmarks, reading favorite passages, and acting out scenes.  Character charades, anyone?  While April 12th is official D.E.A.R. day, every day is a great day to Drop Everything and Read!  So take a literary timeout break today and get your read on!

Amazing Reading Facts:

1) Reading for six minutes a day reduces stress by 68%.   

2) According to many studies, regular reading is correlated with a longer lifespan.

3) Reading fiction can make you a better decision-maker.

4) The three books that have been read the most are: The Bible, Quotations From Chairman Mao Tes-Tung, and Harry Potter.

5) 'Bibliosma' is the word for loving the way books smell!

6) Adults who read for only 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to have greater life satisfaction.

7) 19% of readers say reading helps them feel less lonely.

Need some D.E.A.R. Classroom Goodies?  
Click HERE

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Embrace the Cosmic (Solar Eclipse) Dance With Poetry

Many of us stargazers are gearing up for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, April 8th!  What an amazing opportunity to integrate this sublime cosmic dance with verse.  (April is poetry month, after all)! 

In many spiritual traditions, the solar eclipse is seen as a time for introspection, reflection, and transformation. It is often associated with themes of endings, beginnings, and rebirth. Some people believe that a solar eclipse can actually evoke a spiritual awakening and heightened sense of awareness! 

In the same vein, the solar eclipse is a rare, wondrous event to reflect on our conscious and unconscious worlds, what we choose to shed light upon (and that which we keep hidden in the darkness) — and our relationship to the masculine and feminine forces in our lives.  Pretty deep, eh?  ...Cue the Milky Way Minstrels!  

Perfect poems to integrate into this celestial dance of light and dark/masculine and feminine energy are:   

"The Sun Rising" by John DonneThis poem personifies the sun and speaks to its power and omnipresence. Discussing this in the context of a solar eclipse can lead to interesting interpretations about the sun's temporary obscuration.

Haiku by Matsuo Bashō: Many of Bashō's haikus invoke nature and the changing seasons, capturing moments that can reflect the transient beauty of an eclipse. For a perfect example, read "A cicada shell; it sang itself utterly away..."

"Eclipse of the Sun" by William Wordsworth: Wordsworth, a central figure in the Romantic movement, often explored the profound impact of nature on the human spirit in his poetry. "Eclipse of the Sun" is no exception, capturing the awe and contemplation stirred by witnessing an eclipse. 

"At a Lunar Eclipse" by Thomas Hardy: Hardy's poem contemplates the vastness of time and space, and the human place within it, through the lens of a lunar eclipse. It can be interpreted as a meditation on the fleeting nature of human life and achievements against the backdrop of the eternal cosmos. 

"Do Not go Gentle into that Good Night" by Dylan Thomas: Although not directly about eclipses, this poem's exploration of darkness and light, and the fight against the dying of the light, can parallel the dramatic interplay of the sun and moon during an eclipse.

The integration of poetry into the experience of a rare solar eclipse serves as a reminder of the power of literature. It highlights poetry's ability to capture the ineffable and to connect us across time and space and the shared human experience. 

As the memory of the eclipse fades, the poems remain, ready to be revisited whenever we seek to reconnect with the wonder of that moment when day turned to night and the cosmos touched the earth.

Happy Solar Eclipse Day!  

Monday, April 1, 2024

April is National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world! 

Why should we devote an entire month to honor words written in verse?  Because poetry is the language of the soul.  When life drowns us with its dark moments, poetry throws us a raft – a verbal sanctuary of healing and beauty - especially during this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty.

So I urge you to release your inner poet and succumb to the sensory language, rhythm, flavor, call and response of poetry.  Feel the human spirit and universality of life's shared stories in a stanza.  Read or write a poem this month.  Restore your spirit.  Restore your soul.

April Challenge:  Write a Cinquain

A cinquain is five line poem that follows this lyrical pattern:

1) a word for the title

2) two adjectives

3) three verbs

4) a phrase

5) the title again – or synonym



Dark or milk

Smooth, silky, sweet

Best thing ever



Large, mysterious

Watching, rolling, blinking

Tell more than words



Short, sweet

Five, simple steps

Maybe not so easy…


Students need a brain break?  Try a Poem Pause!   

By projecting a short poem, such as "Dreams" by Langston Hughes, students can have a silent reflection period where they read and ponder the poem.  After five minutes, students can share their noticings and wonderings - if they choose.  

Poem Pauses are "Power Brain Breaks."  They build community, reenergize the room, and allow the students to share moments of the soul through verse. 

Next time your students need a Brain Break, do a Poem Pause instead.  Along with April being Poetry Month, you may just inspire a poet or two!    

For more Poem Pause Inspo, click HERE 
and for Poetry Instructional Goodies, click HERE 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Unveiling the Quiet Magic: The Allure of the Silent Book Club

"It’s just the most amazing thing to see the introvert revolution literally remaking the way we organize society — this time, the world of book clubs." - Susan Cain, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Shhhhh.  Have you heard the latest?  It’s the era of the Silent Book Club.  In a world that rewards “noise,” finding a serene space where one can indulge in the simple pleasure of reading can be a rare treasure. Enter the Silent Book Club, a global phenomenon that is redefining the traditional book club model by offering an appealing option for the quiet-ish reader.


Dubbed "Introvert Happy Hour," this unique concept blends the joy of losing oneself in a good book with the camaraderie of like-minded individuals, all in the cozy ambiance of a favorite local spot – or the virtual comfort of home.  Specifically, the Silent Book Club provides unique benefits that cater to a wide range of readers, including: 


Flexibility in Reading Choices: Unlike traditional book clubs that typically require all members to read the same book, Silent Book Clubs allow members voice and choice - to bring and read whatever they choose. 


No Pressure to Contribute to Discussions: Silent Book Clubs eliminate the pressure to speak up or sound insightful. Members can simply enjoy the act of reading without worrying about formulating opinions or engaging in discussions.


Inclusivity: Silent Book Clubs are welcoming to everyone, from voracious readers to those who might feel intimidated by the commitment of a traditional book club. Since there's no common book to finish or discuss, it's easier for people who read at a slower pace or have less time to dedicate to reading to participate.


Encourages Reading as a Habit: By dedicating specific times for silent reading, Silent Book Clubs can help members build and maintain a regular reading habit, especially for those struggling to find the time or motivation.  


Yes, Silent Book Clubs are having a moment, but be assured this is only a soft launch!  With over 70 chapters that currently dot the globe, Silent Book Clubs cater to those who love reading but without the pressures and formalities. Whether you're an introvert looking for a comfortable social setting or a book lover seeking new literary adventures, the Silent Book Club (tacitly) welcomes you! 



Monday, February 5, 2024

February Literacy Loot

Greetings, Lit Lovers - 

Happy February, Black History Month, and Valentine's Day!

Baby, it's cold outside, but you can still leverage literacy learning with these instructional goodies...

Celebrate the spirit and rich literature of African-Americans with the Black History Month Literature Bundle - full texts included.  

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Are your students acting mushy, gushy, and crushy? Check out my Valentine's Day Literary Bundle, Valentine's Day Haiku Bundle, and Sonnet Writing Bundle for super fun and engaging reading/writing activities.

Starting your Argumentative Writing Unit?  Check out this must-have Bundle for everything you need!  

Have an upcoming evaluation or learning walk? Let your scholars do the heavy lifting with best practice engagement activities like Socratic Seminars and Gallery Walks

Finally, it's a new year and a new you! Is one of your professional goals to become a teacher-leader in your building?  Impress your adminstrators and colleagues with the Teacher Leader Meeting PowerPoint Bundle that will showcase your leadership skills in no time!  

Happy teaching and learning!

With literacy love, 

Kimberly =)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Power of the Gallery Walk

Gallery Walks are a powerful strategy for creating an engaging and student-centered learning environment. By promoting active learning, collaboration, and critical thinking, Gallery Walks can elevate and foster a deeper understanding of the content. 

They are also great tool/strategy to use for a top-notch evaluation! 

Here are (7) Benefits to Incorporating Gallery Walks:

  • Active Engagement: Gallery walks encourage active learning and engagement as students move around the room to interact with the displayed materials as well as each other. 

  • Critical Thinking: Students are prompted to think critically and analyze the content they encounter during the gallery walk as they respond verbally and/or in writing. 

  • Multiple Perspectives: By examining various exhibits, students gain exposure to different perspectives, ideas, and interpretations of the topic through peer-to-peer learning.

  • Differentiated Learning: Gallery walks can be adapted to cater to different learning styles and abilities, making it an inclusive strategy for all students. 

  • Formative Assessment: Teachers can use gallery walks as a formative assessment tool to gauge student understanding and identify areas where additional instruction is needed before summative assessments. 

  • Literary Analysis: In literature or language arts classes, gallery walks can focus on analyzing and discussing literary elements, themes, and characters, helping students develop strong literary analysis skills.

  • Reflection and Metacognition: Gallery walks often include reflective components where students evaluate their own learning and thought processes, promoting metacognition and self-awareness.

I have made ready-to-go Gallery Walk Lessons for the following texts: 

The Raven Gallery Walk

The Odyssey Gallery Walk

The Diary of Anne Frank Gallery Walk

Thank You, M'am Gallery Walk 

The Tell-Tale Heart Gallery Walk 

Shakespeare's Sonnets Gallery Walk 

Romeo and Juliet Gallery Walk 

Macbeth Gallery Walk 

Lord of the Flies Gallery Walk 

I Have a Dream Speech Gallery Walk 

The House on Mango Street Gallery Walk 

Frankenstein Gallery Walk 

Annabel Lee Gallery Walk 

The Catcher in the Rye Gallery Walk 

Animal Farm Gallery Walk 

A Christmas Carol Gallery Walk 

Each lesson provides everything you need, including Gallery Walk Guidelines, eye-catching Gallery Walk Posters with significant quotations from the text, a Student Note Catcher, and a comprehensive answer key for a formative/summative assessment.

Time to level-up your instruction with an amazing Gallery Walk! 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Embracing the Hygge!

I'm obsessed with hygge- the Danish word referring to the quality of coziness and comfortable surroundings that invoke an inner sense of well-being.  If you're not familiar, think of the feeling you get sitting by a fireplace wrapped in a blanket on a cold winter’s day while sipping a barista-quality latte.  TBH, I think the hygge-loving Danes are onto something.  Their national obsession with all things cozy is why Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world's happiest countries, in spite of some pretty miserable winter months.  

Maybe it's because I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska or went to college at Valparaiso University in a place affectionately known to residents as Valpo-rain/snow, Windy-ana (Valparaiso, Indiana).  Either way, my Midwest nostalgia kicks in around mid-October and I start to chase winter.  This consists not of skiing, skating, or snow-boarding - but of collecting and poring over L.L. Bean catalogues looking for the coziest, warmest, shearling lined item I can find, which is a much safer activity for me - lest I find myself snowed in for months of frigid hibernation in Nashville, Tennessee.  Not likely for Music City, but one can hope.   

Call me crazy, but I love winter!  There's nothing as beautiful or peaceful as watching snow fall on a quiet street while you're inside having cozy thoughts and deep talks with those you love best.  Lewis Carroll captured it perfectly with this sentiment, “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

So bring it on, Old Man Winter!  Let the days get shorter, colder, and darker.  Because then I can embrace the evening of the seasons (guilt-free!) cocooned in my blanket and ridiculously warm socks with a gripping mystery novel, The Crown Season 6 binge, or perhaps just pen a Hygge Haiku....which is what I've been doing (when not engaged in the previous two activities) to really channel the magic of the winter solstice:

Gray clouds quilt the skies

Frozen tears creep down my face

I love wintertime! 

Hot bath, Hot cocoa

Makes bone-chilling cold worth it

Where are my wool socks?

Feverish and sick

Runny nose and frozen toes

Don’t I look pretty?  

Okay...kinda cringy, but hygge haikus are super fun to write!  They demand careful observation, crisp economic language, and perhaps a zany third line of sudden insight if you're the talented-in-verse type.  So, get in your winter snugglies and take pen to paper as you write a hygge haiku.  If nothing else, you'll feel wintery warm and super Danish.    

Click for more Hygge Haiku writing ideas and inspo!