Long time no write…

Wow! Can you believe it is already December? I’ve been MIA this school year, but for an awesome reason. I’m back in school working on a degree in educational technology so I’ve been blogging for coursework on a new platform. I currently brainstorming how to merge my new blog with my current blog to continue exploring, creating, and sharing with all of you. I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but if you are interested in staying connected with my teaching and learning, follow me on Twitter: @chrissy_chavez OR  Instagram: @teacherchavez

I spent the last semester learning about the MakerED movement, an awesome initiative that fosters creativity, discovery, and exploration of STEAM through the art of ‘making.’ Below is an infographic below of how and why educators should integrate maker ed in their classrooms that I created for my coursework. You can view the infographic here for a clearer image: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/18515362-how-why-transform-your-classroom-into-a-makerspace


Happy Making,




Happy Summer, Teacher Friends.

Every summer I always say that I’m going to blog more, but that never seems to happen. I start the school year off strong with a couple posts here and there, but this bad boy always gets neglected as the school year progresses.Thank goodness it is summer! Not only can I sip spirits and read for enjoyment in the fresh air, but I can have the much needed time to view your blogs, borrow ideas, and scan through Instagram accounts for motivation and inspiration from all you talented teachers. Yes, I’m talking about you and you and you too!

Year 2 of teaching ELA has been interesting. I need to tweak some things so I appreciate any suggestions and support on enhancing the flow of my middle school ELA classroom.






There are tons of other things I could work on as well…8th grade read alouds, independent reading (who would have thought the all my new 6th graders would have an obsession with sci-fi), rationing printer paper and copy code copies for three grade levels due to budget cuts… I’m a work in progress and appreciate you joining me on this journey.

Happy Summer!



On Friday, I started a new book during guided reading with some of my most reluctant and below level eighth grade readers. As we began to read and practice inferring character traits of characters in chapter 1 of the graphic novel, Smile, I couldn’t help but get excited by my students’ excitement while reading. Providing students with access to high interest, age appropriate, at level literature is essential to foster a love of reading. How do you foster a love of reading in your classroom?

Happy Reading,



Year 2 of teaching literacy is half way complete. Despite the change in content area, I’ve finally adjusted and can comfortably say that I’m an ELA teacher. I no longer have to avoid eye contact in PDs when presenters are name dropping Kelly Gallagher or Ralph Fletcher while simultaneously Googling to find who these literacy gurus are. Last year, my data looked pretty good. I had the highest attainment and growth percentage I’ve ever had as a teacher so that’s pretty cool. (Yes, I know my students are more than a number, but the reality is that our school and district care about these numbers, especially when your school is on probation due to historically low numbers.) I attribute these successes to the implementation balance literacy with fidelity, fostering a community of readers with diverse texts, using formative assessment data to plan small group instruction, and integrating scientific literacy into the classroom.  IMG_2883

My school has spent the last year and a half transitioning to a balanced literacy school. We’ve been using Dr. Policastro’s book, The New Balanced Literacy School, as our guide to aligning our instruction to the Common Core instructional shifts. I blogged about this book last year. It is a straight forward, easy read that provides  best practices for implementing balanced literacy school wide. Here’s what my balance literacy schedule looks like.

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Fostering a community of readers has been an essential part of my literacy classroom climate. In a study by Keith Stanovich, he shows the relationship between independent reading and student achievement. In a nutshell if we want students to show achievement, we need students to read!  How do we get kids motivated to read outside our classrooms?

  1. Use interactive reading logs: Last year, I created an interactive reading log to develop skills we were studying in class with independent reading books.

2. Schedule independent reading time daily: My students get participation points for independent reading time. My district provided us with a rubric for independent reading and I spend the first week of school modeling the appropriate behaviors of an independent reader. We created an anchor chart of what “reading to self” looked like and I circulate with my clipboard while observing and documenting what I see everyday. I may use this time to conference with students if I observe wandering eyes or students reading the wrong books based on lexile or guided reading level.


3. Keep the shelves filled with high interest texts by diverse authors: I found a local organization that supports literacy by providing teachers with free, high interest books at the beginning of the school year. Additionally, I’ve tapped in to the Donors Choose community for paperback books, guided reading sets, and audio books.



Knowing you students is key to planning small group instruction, especially when the range of readers is full spectrum (2nd grade to 10th grade). I use both NWEA data and formative assessment data  to group my students. When surveying through a plethora of teacher created resources on blogs, TpT, and in professional reads, I created anecdotal notes forms to fit my needs for documenting small group instruction.  I’ll do a deep dive for planning small group instruction later this month.



While working with my STEM  fellowship last year, I read and interviewed one of the authors of Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Hazen and Trefill. Essentially, the book provides readers with a comprehensive overview of scientific concepts that are necessary to understand public issues. Through my reading and interview with Trefill, I recognize  the importance of providing our students with the skills needed to critically examine the world around them.  Exposing students to “wonder” and ways in which to discover the answers to their wonders has added life to our ELA clasroom. Students are reading Science World Magazine daily courtesy of  Donors Choose in efforts to develop scientific literacy.

I’m still working out the kinks of my reading block, but look forward to sharing my teaching and learning during the second semester.




[Careful Reading]

I went to a PD last month that incorporated session about close reading. Yes, another close reading pd. I found it refreshing when the presenter refrained from calling the process close reading, but called it careful reading especially because there is always the jokester the shoves a book in his face when were are reading “closely.” The “careful reading” phrasing seems a bit more real and applicable to middle school students. I’m sharing some anchor charts that I created for my students to ensure we are practice habits of a careful reader. Hope you find them useful.


How to read poetry


How to read fiction carefully

I’m also including this years version of the annotations chart and talking about text. They are pretty much the same aside from the color scheme and sketch.


Annotations Anchor Chart


Conversation stems



Year 6.

11th week of school.

1 week until Thanksgiving.

4 weeks until testing and then winter break.

I’m pooped. Pooped like that awfully true “Phases of a First Year Teacher” graph. You know which one I’m talking about. 6 years in, I am still feeling a bit disillusioned. This quarter has been non-stop, filled with open house, conferences, data talks/analysis/problem solving/PARCC prep, but not test prep, after school math program (yup, me the former science teacher, current ELA teacher tackling common core math), and all the other joys of being a teacher.

I love being a teacher. I love my kids both present and past, but I need to find balance. Us teachers need to find balance. I’m being a cry baby and am probably finally feeling overwhelmed by my extremely busy, life changing summer vacation. I’m going to get it together though. Let’s use my school’s problem solving protocol to figure out how to survive until December.

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Okay, I’m not as pooped as I thought since I had the energy to fill out this form. I’m a fool because I literally laughed out loud by how bratty this post is. 🙂

Happy Thursday,



Can you believe it is October already? It has been a hot minute since I have blogged and I’m kind of bummed about that. Summer was jam packed with last minute wedding planning, classroom prep, honeymooning, and naturally September was filled with school supply shopping, lesson planning, revamping my teacher wardrobe, and all that jazz. For my first blog post back in the game, I’ve decided to highlight all of the exciting moments since my last blog post in the spring.

Created using Piktochart

Created using Piktochart


Teachable moment: This inforgraphic was made using the website Piktochart, a web based tool used to make vibrant, engaging visual presentations in the form of infographics. I was introduced to the tool while completing a project during my STEM fellowship and have been hooked ever since. My students have used the tool to create book reports, projects for math class, and I’ve used it for data presentations and even my wedding website. Piktochart has great premade templates, but it is also user friendly enough to design a template perfect for your personal inforgraphic needs. Below are some links of my other inforgraphics that can be used for inspiration when creating your own!




Happy October,



Greetings, teacher friends! Hope you are keeping warm if you are living in an east-coast or Midwestern state. This weather has just been outrageous. I figured the first of the month would be the perfect time link up with Oh’ Boy 4th Grade and share my March “currently” post.

Slide2Listening: I am multitasking right now-laminating new rubrics and menus, checking emails, entering grades online, and listening to episode 1 of season 3 of House of Cards. I totally tried watching it last night, but after bowling with the dinoman I was too exhausted to make it through the entire episode.

Loving: I created a new menu for digital book reports and I am totally in love with all of the innovative products my students have created! I’m am impressed by the quality of the work samples and the high student engagement. I even got awesome feedback from a student who emailed me her book report tonight. Her response is so mature! It is amazing how empowering “choice” of book report is for middle school students. Check out some of the awesome work samples below.

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Student email...Made my heart smile

Student email…Made my heart smile

Character text conversation for Money Hungry by Sharon Flake

Character text conversation for Money Hungry by Sharon Flake

Picture Collage of Money Hungry by Sharon Flake

Picture Collage of Money Hungry by Sharon Flake

Book Cover for A Blue So Dark

Book Cover for A Blue So Dark

Thinking: Lots of decision making in the upcoming months- House hunting is tough!

Wanting: I just wish I could wear a thinner winter coat… I’m looking forward to the day I can run my car through a car wash without it crusting with salt the next day! Is that too much to ask for?

Needing: Parent meeting is coming up to plan the 8th grade luncheon. I’m planning a wedding, buying a house, and working on my MSU fellowship. I need to squeeze in some luncheon planning time as well! Cross your fingers all goes well in the upcoming months.

Spring Break Plans: Mid-April. Too soon to think about. Jealous of those who have spring break in the upcoming weeks. Ugh.

Wishing you a fantastic week of teaching and learning,



I need to get better at this blogging thing. I’m not sure how all of these awesome teacher bloggers find balance between teaching, blogging, instagraming, tweeting, and enjoying non-teacher time (does that even exist?). Although I’ve been MIA some good, bad, and fuggly has been taking place in my classroom and I am excited to share!

So it seems like I've been eating out a whole lot instead of blogging. Dinoman and I spent the blizzard day in China Town. No wait at Lao Sze Chuan!

So it seems like I’ve been eating out a whole lot instead of blogging. Dinoman and I spent the blizzard day in China Town. No wait at Lao Sze Chuan!

photo 2

Then we overly indulged in BBQ…

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Followed by a half Lilly Q’s pulled pork and slaw pizza and half Antique Taco pizza with chilli, avocado crema, pickled onions and chives…

The Good

1. My Dream IT project with the MSU Urban STEM program has been awesome to watch evolve. The project objective states that students will be able to obtain, evaluate, and communicate environmental issues affecting their community while developing skills of an activist and global citizen. My students have spent the year exploring activism through reading, writing, and researching about themes such as power, social responsibility, societal improvement, and change and transformation. I am amazed by the high student engagement, excitement, and transformation from students to activists. I’ll dedicate a detailed blog post to share the awesomeness that relates to our project.

2. I have a love hate relationship with professional development. I love to attend, but it irks me when I am pulled away from the classroom for eight hours to be lectured at or to hear something I’ve learned from my blogging friends, my own professional reading, or a college course. I’m sure you thought this rant probably belonged in the fuggly section, but I totally am overjoyed by the learning, collaboration, and enlightenment I experienced at a literacy pd last week. Kudos to my district for sharing great resources presented by talented teachers!

3. The temperature has finally been regulated in my classroom! It has been three days since we have had to open windows and turn on fans in my classroom during the arctic winter temperatures. I’ve never been able to keep a cardigan on all day, let alone wear a shirt underneath my cardi with long sleeves.

4. My student’s mom sent me a little something something last week.

Yes, those are chorizo sticks and peppers.

Yes, those are chorizo sticks and peppers.


1. MOY. Enough said. My students are more than a number and it is heartbreaking to see students struggling with extreme test anxiety over some growth on a standardized assessment. (Good: Most of my students grew and I have the lowest standard deviation I’ve had in my five year teaching career, diverse learners included. What a double edged sword.)

2. iPads are an awesome tool, but when schools are paying for progress monitoring programs these tools transform from a device to redefine learning through the creation of  authentic products to a tool substituting the drill and kill that we see time and time again in the classroom. My students have a 90 minute quota a week on one program and 60 minutes a week on another. The data is valuable, but my kids need more time to analyze and talk about text as well a creating videos, infographics, and blogs about their learning.


1. My library is a hot mess. I have hundreds maybe even thousands of books that are mine from Donors choose, non-for-profits, and my own childhood collection. My new sixth graders are very hard on books and have yet to master the appropriate etiquette for the care, keeping, and returning these timeless gifts. I considered putting caution tape around my library until I can coach the six grade librarians into organizing, logging, and relabeling books. I am being extremely dramatic, forgive me. I’m thrilled that books are being checked out, read nightly, and returned with flaming hot stains (I like to read and snack too). I am experiencing withdrawal now that my superhuman student librarian is a freshman in high school. This gal spent any free minute in my library from 6th to 8th grade maintaining book baskets or snuggled up in a butterfly chair engulfed in a story.

2. I was re-gifted a rose today.

Student: “Here, Ms. G. This is for you.”

Me: “How sweet of you.”

Student: “Some people in this class just don’t know how to appreciate a rose when they get one.”

Me: “Hun, was this a mean spirited gift? It is hurtful to give something to someone and take it back and give it to someone else.”

Others: “He gave it to Jane*, but she didn’t want it because she is in a relationship.”

Student: “She said she had a boyfriend. I don’t want to send him the wrong message, so you can just have it.”

<Face Palm>

Happy Valentines Day,