I hope you find this post while you are sipping hot chocolate as you bask in the glory of no school today! As many of you know Scholastic is one of my favorite companies because of their mission to spread the joy of reading. A few months ago, I was contacted by Scholastic to share how I use their Storyworks magazine in my 5th grade classroom. Without hesitation I wrote back, "Yes, please!". My students love this magazine because there are many different genres and topics covered in one magazine. Now I check off,"In partnership with Scholastic" off of my bucket list. :)

If you are not familiar with Scholastic Storyworks, each issue features narrative, information nonfiction, drama, paired texts, fiction, and many other common core genres. All of the articles are engaging texts to support our common goal of deeper level thinking. If you have the subscription, there is also an online component with videos and activities to engage your students. Storyworks is geared towards grades 4-6th. My fifth graders thought it was the perfect mesh of all genres. I had a student tell me, "It's like pizza there is a slice for every person".

Below I would like to share with you a #smartteachingtip on how to get your students to love ANNOTATING text using Storyworks. 

Before starting my READ like a Pirate lesson, I found a great activity on Teachers Pay Teachers by  Sally Buttons where students created their own pirate name. 
Remember it is all about how you set the scene! Get your students EXCITED about learning! 
My Pirate name is: Hook Blonde Boot

In 5th grade, many students have not mastered digging deep to gain knowledge as they read their Science or Social Studies textbooks. I have taught my students how to annotate fiction stories during RTI (reading instruction), which they have have become experts, but when I  told them to annotate their Social Studies books many blank stares filled my classroom. This got me thinking! 
I want them here, but before I can do this......

I had to create a mini unit on annotating Non Fiction text using a non-fiction based source. What perfect timing for Scholastic Storyworks articles. 

 Find the fun in reading non fiction text is important! I pride myself on the ability to make "boring" lessons FUN! My students and I embarked one afternoon on a pirate journey to find treasure! 

There are three parts to reading BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER! Today, I will be focusing on the during. In Room 20, we learned how to golden annotate using our pirate treasures (thinking marks). Before we dove in, we discussed what annotate and mega-cognition meant by inferring through pictures. 

My students had already been introduced to my Talking with The Text thinking marks, but I reworked them to give them a little PIRATE flair. 

Want a FREE copy of my Talk Like a Pirate Annotating pamphlet? Click here!

 We read The Search for Pirate Gold from StoryWorks Scholastic Magazine and annotated our thoughts through the entire article. The kids were pirates looking for treasure aka Talking with the Text thinking marks. 

When the students were finished annotating their text, they were able to read other articles and discuss with different partners about their favorite part or about something they learned. Storyworks brings a wide variety of engaging reading topics to reach all different interests. My favorite article from this edition was....

Some Pirate Treasures from my Readers:
Printables – 30 Day Free Trial

Lessons and activities on other websites can be unreliable and inaccurate. Only Scholastic Printables has a team of education experts to ensure you're getting the highest-quality, most up-to-date resources available for grades PreK-6! Start your free 30 days now!
Scholastic #SmartTeachingTips Contest! 
We love #SmartTeachingTips. Share yours for how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips.

Three winners will be chosen based on outstanding creativity. Each winner will receive a $200 gift card to the Scholastic Teacher store. We’re excited to see your ideas! Follow Scholastic Teachers on social media to learn more.

How do you engage your readers to find reading treasures?

I love teaching fifth grade, but the thought of teaching fifth grade during an election year is THE BEST. It is important to teach students about the process of  how our nation elects a leader. I work in a school district where many students are new to our country. Even when students are from here I am 99.9999% sure if you asked an average fifth grade what the Electoral College is, they would say I am not sure where that college is located. I find the election process quite interesting and I think it is vital that students have some knowledge of the process and how are leader is elected. Below I am going to share my favorite picture books to teach your students about the presidential election. No matter what your beliefs are, I think it a MUST to spend a few days or weeks studying this democratic process. I always tell my students it's not about the product it's about the process. I bring it back to their thinking. It is important to know the WHY and the HOW! It makes you a more intelligent person. 

 The books above give students a glimpse of the process, the office, and the branches in our democracy. How you use these books is up to you! You can display in your classroom and let the students research topics that interest them or you can do different lessons with each of the books. Ramona Recommends (I) held housed a voting poll for 5 minutes in her (my) office this weekend to select her (my) four favorites to share how she (I) use them in my classroom. Yep, I was the only voter. :)

 Before I open my bag of election books, I show my students BrainPop's How to be President Video. If you do not have BrainPop at your school, I highly suggest it. The videos are created at an elementary content level to engage all student learners. In the search feature, type in Presidential Election for this video. 


Before I start reading, I ask my students how many votes for the presidential race does our state (California) receive? This gives me an idea if any of the students have been learning about the race at home or have prior knowledge from previous grades. Most kids have no clue.  I share that our state (California) has 55 votes. Want a list of the each states electoral college numbers, Stephanie from Falling Into First has a great handout. Then we talk about how in order to win a candidate must have 270 votes. By know, the kids are raising their hands with a million questions. What do I do? Of course, I reach into my picture book bag and "presidentially" pull out Grace for President. Before that I read up on the electoral college because lets be real it is sometimes confusing. Want to read about it, click here?

After reading Grace for President, I have the students write in their own words what the electoral college is and how it affects the people.

How do we Vote? Amelia Bedelia shares how!

I found this book while I was sitting in Barnes and Noble one afternoon just browsing books. So You Want to Be President? is a Caldecott Medal winner. The story begins with the author sharing the good and bad of being POTUS (President of the United States) One of my favorite parts of the story is when they discuss about living in The White House. Now that George H. W. Bush is the President he never has to eat broccoli again! It discusses the jobs of the President and how they must take an oath to protect our country.

After reading this story, I have my students research more about the role of the President. We make a thinking map (Tree Map) to help categorize our ideas. We also use this handout about the roles of the president to guide our instruction. They take the information they have learned create a final masterpiece from the following choices: Create a song about the roles of the president, Create a powerpoint that is engaging to teach younger students, or create a game show about the roles president.


I love knowing random facts about the presidents and
Hanoch Piven author of My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, creates an artistic representation biography of each president.  What Presidents are made of is an ALL TIME favorite of mine! I have not done the following art project, but I think this would be fun. Have each student pick a president and have them create their own president selfie using materials from their desk, classroom, or home. Include an informational 1 page paper to go with.
Click on the picture to get a FREE copy of this list. Send home for parents or share with teachers at your school. :)

If all you have time for is reading these books and then moving back into scheduled content that is STILL AMAZING. Picture Books TEACH!

Ready to Buy Now: Here is a handy dandy list of all the books with links included.

The Process
Grace For President
Amelia Bedelia’sFor
Today on Election Day!
I Dissent 

 All of the books linked in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for helping support my love for picture books. :)
Since I am going to be teaching all about the Election in my own classroom, I went searching on TpT to find resources. There were a lot that grabbed my interest. I tried thinking of my students and they way they learn. Below are some of the ones I am thinking of purchasing. 

The Election Process

Running a Classroom Election

Reading Comprehension ELECTION DAY!

Letter to Parents About Election Classroom Instruction (freebie)

All About The White House

Election Vocabulary Posters

Comparing and Contrasting Candidates

Click here for a free copy! I also have provided a copy that reads "All Students" and does not say STORM bucks.

How do you teach about such an important event in our history? Do you use picture books? Share below!

Tonight is a raw post. I am literally writing my thoughts and checking my grammar and clicking PUBLISH!  #reallife
I find it interesting that many teachers including myself struggle with perfection. We want to have a pinterest classroom, a perfect lesson, no problems, high achieving students, and no bad days. BUT! That is not reality. As I was driving home tonight after putting in almost a 12 hour school day, I was thinking about my dad and my students. I love my students. I truly love each one of them. Teaching is my passion. It is who I am. It is what makes me feel like a superhero. Sometimes even though I love my job I do not feel like a superhero. Some days or even weeks are HARD! As I was having an inter dialogue with myself about my day, the song "I'm only one Call Away" came on.

Teachers are SUPERHEROES. We are! Superman doesn't have anything on us. But! We need each other to help. We need the kids to help and the parents. We are not in this alone. Guess what, it is ok to have a bad day and ask for help.

Shelly Becker and I want you to know EVEN SUPERHEROES Have Bad Days! I found this book at Barnes and Nobel this weekend. It was screaming my name. It reminded me that sometimes you just need to have a bad day, eat ice cream, not finishing grading, sit on the couch, and then go to bed. IT IS OK! You're OKAY!

You might be wondering what I am trying to get at? Let me tell you. Kids are human just like us. They have bad days too. How can we help support them to know they are not alone? Well, as you might have predicted I think picture books can solve most problems. Even Superheros Have Bad Days delicately teaches kids and adults how to hand "bad days". The story shares when superheroes have bad days they could.... "use super-powers to crush wooden crates and bend metal gates" or "use laser eyes to ignite forest fires", BUT instead they use their powers to chase wanted bad guys with super-charged zings or taking them to jail. I like how the book acknowledges bad choices and demonstrates how to channel frustration, bad days, and more. The superheros find sunshine in their cloud.

Lets be each other's superhero because Even SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS. It's ok to be sad, overwhelmed, or mad. Howyou handle the situation determines your grit level. How high is GRIT meter? We all can be perfect in our own superhero way. (affiliate link was used)

Hi Friends,

Last night on facebook live, I shared two chapter books that I am considering reading when I start in just 2.5 weeks. Crazy how summer flies. I am excited to get back into the swing of things though. I have realized the older I get the more scheduled I like my life. #atype

I thought I would share my favorite 5th grade books recommendations list with my readers. I am going to giving this list to all the parents at Back to School Night. If you teach 4th or 6th grade, these books would also work for your classes. FYI-Some of the choices are geared more toward fifth grade.

Just click on the picture, download, print on colorful paper, and send home with students. For your convenience I have also linked books mentioned in list below.

Pax-Global Read Aloud 
BFG-Global Read Aloud

 What books do your students love?

Amazon Affiliate links were you used in this post to help my picture book obsession. :)

I love when authors reach out on instagram or email to share their newest prized book. It makes me feel well... kinda awesome. Sharing the same passion along side mine is like eating a whole jar of guacamole with scoop chips - nothing better.

Lisa Winkler, author of Amanda at Bat, wrote this picture book to help young people develop strategies to problem solve.

Meet Amanda who loves playing softball, but is too short, has end of the alphabet last name, and is born in December. Amanda at Bat came out at the perfect time of the buzz word GRIT. I think as a society we give up too easily. If something is hard we quit. Amanda At Bat helps kids see with perseverance anything is possible.

I highly recommend getting this book as a part of your #picturebookaday series. I plan to read this the first week of school. Get those kids to think outside of the box. This year in 5th grade, I am going to focus on student centered problem solving. Wish me luck. While you are wishing, go put AAB in your amazon cart. You can thank me later when you have problem solving superstars in your classroom.


What books do you use to help students with problem solving?

You know that special stack of books behind your desk that the kids are not allowed to touch or you might go a little cra cra. Yep, we all have that stack. Well I might have that huge stack nicely organized in my home office. I bring my books to read to the kids, but then they go straight home and put back in their place. #truth- They go in a pile on my office floor until the next day off and then I file them.

This week I did a meet and greet on my instagram page to reintroduce myself to new followers. #summerpd 
I was so grateful learn that many 5th grader teachers following me on my instagram (ramonarecommends)
because I truly feel that picture books are essential in upper grade classrooms. 

This year I plan to read even more picture books because:
1. They invite students into a positive learning environment
2. They teach hard to explain skills #directobject
3. They show students how to bring words alive on a page
4. They are awesome
5. Kids love being read to
6. Miss H loves them 

Below are my TOP BOOKSHELF favorites. They teach a variety of lessons. I will be honest I use picture books mostly in
Character Edition, Language Arts and Reading 

Now even though I have selected these books for 5th grade ANY upper grade teacher could you them. #promise 

The Incredible Book Eating Boy is one of my new favorites because of the message each page shares. This book cheers students who love to dive into books and encourage reluctant readers. I plan to read this book on the first day to promote #picturebookaday

What is the number one concept we learned in student teaching? RELATE to your students. Well heck if these two books do not relate well then I don't know what will. Selfies are all the rage and students speak in .com 
Sometimes my picture books have no real lesson but more of a fun treat. #thereisalwayslessonineverybook

When I first saw Lifetime I didn't love it, but then I opened it and started reading. Oh my! 5th grade teachers it is a GOOD one. It gives fun facts about different animals. Did you know a seahorse has 1,000 babies. Yes you read that correctly: ONE THOUSAND BABIES. 

Oh! Ya'll I CAN NOT wait to teach all about voting and election for this coming November. I am a very proud American and I find the whole election process intriguing. I plan to do a whole unit on presidents and the voting process. #willneedtofindtime
Stay tuned for a election picture book ideas. Coming to an instagram post near your iphone.
Amelia Bedila's First Vote explains the voting process in student friendly words. Enough said, right.

Here are some fun titles other fellow 5th grade teacher said I should share with you:
Both books are by Patricia Polacco so you know the kids will be learning tons! 

What are your go to picture books?

*I love all of these books and if you decide to purchase them through the links above I received a little something in return. Thank you!
Hi Reading Friends,

I am super excited to be back with you! Last school year, was AMAZING but was a whirlwind of combo crazy! For the next few weeks, I will be sharing what books I plan to use as part of my #picturebookaday

I am not sure if every upper grade is on my boat for picture books in the classroom, but I share hope one day you will join the party. Picture books are such a great resource to engage students and to teach life lessons. The first few weeks of school I like digging into my character education stack to teach and revisit important behaviors of a responsible 5th grader. The following books teach a different lesson that is vital for students to learn how to build relationships with their teacher and peers.

How I invision #picturebookaday working in my classroom....
 Honestly, it really depends on the day. If you have followed me in the past you know I always try to find different ways to bring in picture books during my content lessons.

One of my favorite rules Mr. Ron Clark shared during my time at RCA was the 3 second rule. If he gave a student something (anything) and the child did not say THANK YOU within 3 seconds he would retrieve the something back no questions asked. I think it is so important for students or humans for that matter to always show appreciation for whatever they receive. This book Please, Mr. Panda shares the power of the word PLEASE in the world of #iwantwhatiwant.

 The Secret Olivia Told Me shares a life lesson about secret telling. I intertwine this story into my rule lessons over the first couple days of school. We talk about the pros and cons of secret telling. Even in 5th grade, the kids need a good reminder of the power of secret. We know how kids can sometimes take a secret which turns into a lie...then a rumor. annnd then well sriracha sauce craziness!

Can I tell you? This book is one of my absolute FAVORITES.  Nerdy Birdy is my GO TO for the beginning of the year. This gem teaches students the power of acceptance and how to be a birdy in your own flock. I plan to read this story and then have each student write down an acceptance goal for the year. This goal can be a self or school goal.
I love the word kindness like A LOT. Teaching students the importance of kindness is key the first week of school. Holding the title of new kid more than once growing up, I understand what it feels like to move into new situations and dreading the awkward feeling of being the new kid. The Potato Chip Champ helps students discovery why kindness counts and why its important to always be kind. Here is how I teach kindness in my classroom. (contest over)

What books do you use to teach character education? I am always looking for great books! #youcanneverhaveenoughbooks
Amazon Affiliate links where used in this post.
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