Celebrating the Seasons in the Elementary Classroom: Autumn Ideas

It wasn’t until I started teaching first grade that I began to see the seasonal changes in our world through the eyes of a child. Their awe at the trees changing colors, the plentiful bouquets of colorful leaves they delivered with eager hands and sparkling eyes, and their appreciation of the colorful changes made to the classroom environment made each… READ MORE

First Grade Journals

At the moment the first-grade journal period is filled with stories of train “drivers,” swinging with friends, playing doll, fishing, and kayaking. Today one student was putting out a fire. Another one was playing with his dog while his younger brother sold apples and apple cider at a stand and his sister made apple jam to sell. Many of their… READ MORE

School Has Started!

“How was your second day of school?” I asked a new teacher. “Not so good,” she replied. “I’m finding more things I need to learn and figure out.” She wondered how my day was. I noted that it was going well, but I was very tired. She agreed and wondered how long that lasts. I told her it was usually… READ MORE

Teaching Fluency through Choral Reading

One of my memories as a seven, eight, and nine-year-old involves reading to my little sister for hours at a time. Naomi was five years younger than I and must have been a remarkably patient listener. I remember reading many of the Thornton Burgess and Laura Ingalls Wilder books to her. Apparently, I’ve forgotten all the other books I read… READ MORE


During the summer the 25-mph speed limit sign was moved up the hill a few hundred yards. This morning on my way to school I realized that, once again, I cruised through it at a higher speed, only slowing down as I approached the bridge that had previously marked the lowered speed zone. A habit formed from thirty years of… READ MORE

Preschool Preview

When four- and five-year-old children think about school, what do they imagine? Do the smatterings they hear from older siblings, cousins, and friends give them a fun picture or a bleak one? I was curious to find out, so I asked. This is what they said. What do you think school will be like? It feels like rest time, I… READ MORE

Attitude Adjustment

Bop! “I need an attitude adjustment,” Loren announced, as he hit himself on the head to give the adjustment. “I smell your attitude, and it’s stinky!” Rachel informed her older sister. Today I had a serious chat with my student, Calvin, regarding his work.  He has been performing very poorly, is very messy, and getting many answers incorrect.  His head… READ MORE

Recommended Reading Lists

During my childhood, my mother had a habit of regularly visiting the local library and bringing home stacks of books. When we finished reading these stacks, we turned to our bookshelves, because my mother was also an astute thrift store book shopper, filling our home with many classics and not-so-classics. The authors of books on our shelves offered a wide… READ MORE

Hope Emerging

One day, a squirmy thing full of legs and brown stripes was carried into my classroom. It was a caterpillar, but an unusual one. Shades of brown and tan patterned its body, giving it a snake-like appearance. The children were awed at the strand protruding from its end. Was it a hair? Or maybe a tail? Our new pet nestled… READ MORE

Dear Second-Year Teacher

Dear Second-Year Teacher, Welcome back for another year in the classroom! It’s good to see that you stuck around, that you were brave enough to try it again. It would be a shame to let all the learning you did last year be wasted. The second year is supposed to be easier. What makes it that way? Whether you consider… READ MORE