In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Reader’s Wheels

Earlier in the school year, my children’s third grade reading teacher sent home a Reader’s Wheel that would encourage students to explore different genres of books, while still giving them freedom of choice within each genre. I was (and still am) in love! I hunted down a copy from her, and I was so lucky that she had an entire set for grades K-5.


Here are some ideas on using them with your students…

– Send home a copy for at home reading guidance.

– Make sure to do a library orientation with your students. Because they are listed by Dewey Decimal numbers, it’s important that your students understand where and how to find the books. It’s great to make sure your librarian has a copy of the reading wheels, too.

– Don’t be afraid to mix up what you hand out to your class. You can delete the grade levels listed, and just choose reading wheels that are appropriate for your individual students.

– Make a bulletin board that holds all of your students’ wheels. They can color in a piece when you have decided that they met the criteria for successfully reading the genre (doing a reading response form, taking an AR test, or whatever).

– Paste the Reader’s Wheel into the students Journal. As they finish a book, they can record which title they read and some form of response to the book.

– Highlight one genre from the wheel in your class each week.

– Organize your classroom library with the pieces of the wheels so that students can easily find book bins that correlate.


Find the full set HERE.

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Screen Free Time

My students are always amazed at what a mean mother I am. I tell them horror stories of how David and Tyler have to finish their homework right after school and before they can go outside. I terrify them with the idea that the twins have chores to do… every day! They are amazed that my nine year olds do not have cell phones and their tv and video game time is limited. So, imagine their horror when I described how the boys have “unplugged time” every day all summer. The television goes off. The video games get put away, and they have to go outside or read or play board games or create something. Today, I ran across this great site of ideas for kids and parents to have “screen free” time and some activities to try during these times. I will definitely have to check them out with the twins!


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Books I Love : The Watson’s Go to Birmingham – 1963

As I was studying the new Essential Standards for Social Studies in NC, I was heart broken to see that the US History that we cover in fifth grade now only goes through the period of Reconstruction. While I found it totally overwhelming to try to cover everything about the United States through the ages in one year, I did always look forward to teaching a Civil Rights unit and tying in the Newberry Medal book, The Watson’s Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This book is a compelling, historically relevant, and relatable look at a family living in Flint, Michigan in the 1960’s. They have 3 children – Byron, the juvenile delinquent; Kenny, the socially awkward middle child; and Joetta, the youngest, sweet young lady of the family. The story chronicles their lives together and their journey to Birmingham, Alabama, in the summer of 1963.

Here are some resources to consider if you do read The Watson’s Go to Birmingham – 1963 :

Scholastic Reading Guide to The Watson’s Go to Birmingham – 1963

Excellent teacher’s guide with activities, vocabulary and background

Newspapers in Education Teachers’ Guide

Book Talk and Web Activity

Related Power Points

Enrichment Guide

Google Lit Trip


Math Vocabulary

As most of my tweeting and posts have reflected lately, I have been working on finding resources for the transition from the NC Standard Course of Study to the new Common Core Standards in Math. I have always been a fan of Spelling City, but I feel even deeper in love when I realized that they had already created math vocabulary lists to go along with the math standards. They are sorted by grade level, topic, strand and objective. Love, love, love! Click on the image below for a direct link to the math vocabulary resources.


More CCSS Math

I am almost done with all of the resources I’m collecting to go along with the Common Core Standards for 5th Grade Math. I will also post the pacing guide so that it has the other things that go along with the Livebinder. Here is the shelf for all of my 5th grade math Common Core Livebinders, organized by standard and objective.

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CCSS Math Resources

I am currently working on a pacing guide for 5th grade math based on the Common Core Standards. While I am setting up pacing for the year, I am also aggregating resources to use with each strand. I have posted about Livebinders before, and I decided to use one for this. I am creating a Livebinder for each strand, so tonight I tackled 5.OA, which is 5th Grade Operations and Algebraic Thinking. Check it out!


CCSS Math 5.OA
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