The Best Year Ever.

During the 2003-2004 school year I was blessed to co-teach 3rd grade with the most wonderful teacher I could imagine.  Co-teaching in the past had never worked at our school so parents were nervous.  To ease parental concerns we held a meeting with many of my 2nd grade parents who would have the option to loop up to 3rd grade with me and continue our learning journey together.  At this meeting I remember my colleague comparing our new union to a marriage.  Like in marriage we made no guarantees that we would be successful but promised to do all we could for each other and their children — and we did.  Our union only lasted a year but it was the best year ever.

Yesterday I had the honor of chatting with my former teammate on the phone.  She reminded me of several things that I had implemented in our classroom that I had forgotten about.  Here are 3 things:

  1. Library – After our students returned to the classroom from library they were given time at their seats to begin reading their chosen books.  This time was typically 15 minutes.  Then after this DEAR time we would gather in a circle to chat about the library books before putting them in their backpacks to take home and finish reading.
  2. Read Alouds – All read aloud books were placed in a separate basket and students were encouraged to reread these texts during independent reading time.  Many of the books I chose to read aloud might have been considered “below third grade level” by book levelers but this didn’t matter to me if it accomplished the learning goal.  Reading these books aloud sent a message to our students that it is the author’s message that is what is important not the amount of text.  Our students got this message.
  3. Student Work – I used student work in my minilessons to move the class forward in their literacy progression.  Back in those days I had to copy the text onto an overhead projector and gather students around the projector that I sat on the floor.  Students LOVED when they were the stars of the day and we could look at THEIR writing or reading responses.

I write these three ideas down for myself…but also for you if they help.  Everyone is very busy these days and if we don’t stop for reflection then our learning comes and goes.  This is what has inspired me to start STOP and JOT.  It is something I have asked my readers in my classrooms to do for a while now and it is time I start practicing what I preach.

I hope you will follow me on this journey.  Feel free to STOP and JOT as well!  This is how we will all grow and learn.


You may be wondering why my co-teaching marriage only lasted one year if it was so great.  Well, I had a beautiful baby girl at the end of the year and switch from full-time teaching to half-time. 

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6 thoughts on “The Best Year Ever.

  1. Kelly Hilliard says:

    DEAR time is so underrated! My 2013-2014 class BEGGED for it almost daily, so it became a pretty regular part of our day. If only my new, triple switching schedule allowed for it! :/ Maybe if we “vote” on it, it can take place of morning meeting? Read one day, talk the next?

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    • Yes, your triple switching schedule makes DEAR time hard! Do you take your students to library? If so, just 10 minutes afterwards is a great way to squeeze it in once a week. It can really hook students into actually reading the books they checked out while they are excited about them. So often they just check them and forget them 😦

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  2. Leigh says:

    I also co-taught third grade! I use independent reading time as part of my language arts/center rotation during small group reading group. I liked your piece about using student work….it is what guided my poetry instruction and helps serve as celebration of effort and growth. The kids become so brave and want feedback from their peers. A favorite part is sharing their work…also so much information on where to take instruction, what they use/misuse and how to take the next level of learning.

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  3. jenniferthepixchick says:

    Okay, I need more detail on the “student work” piece with the then-projector… what exactly did this look like? I’m envisioning something that is very likely not accurate! Do you have pictures/pinterest explanations/other places I can SEE this thing happening?

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    • Student work on the projector is very old school…circa 1999 🙂 Now a days teachers use their computers or doc cameras. In your setting you would be more interested learning how to conduct student conferences in reading and writing.

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