Sailing into Summer Tips Blog Hop - Next Year's To Do List

Even though I'm not officially "Sailing into Summer" until June 16th, I'm going to celebrate with all you early birds by joining in on a summer blog hop sponsored by The Language Arts Classroom and Faulkner's Fast Five!

Each year as summer approaches I always start a list in the notes section of my phone titled "To do for next year."  This is where I write all of the things that:

  • I want to continue for next year
  • I wish I had gotten to this year
  • I want to do better at next year
  • I read about too late into this year
Making this list allows me to relax a bit more in July knowing that I already have a plan in place for making next year the best yet.  It also helps me plan and organize the new year a little quicker once I am ready to start getting everything set up in August.  Do you make a list like this too?  If not, you should try it out this year.  My list is pretty lengthy by the last day of school, I won't bore you with all of my (OCD) plans, changes, and reminders, but here's just a few of the things on my list already for 2015-16:

1.  Expose ALL students to greek/latin roots and affixes.  Even my struggling readers need exposure to this rigorous vocabulary instruction to increase their word knowledge.  For the past few years I've used a differentiated program that only exposed my highest achievers to these words, but this has put my average and below level students at a disadvantage when they are presented with complex text. This coming year I'm planning to make sure ALL my students receive this integral instruction and I will provide word work interventions for my lower students in addition to this instruction.

2.    Continue the 40 Book Challenge.  I work really hard to instill a love of reading in every student. The 40 Book Challenge (you can read more about it in Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer) is a challenge that I set for each student to read at least 40 books by the end of the school year.  This challenge provides a bit of competition (which most kids love), lots of choice (which all kids love), and an attainable goal that will hold my students accountable for reading as much as they can (which I love)!  I set basic genre requirements which you can look at HERE if you're interested and we keep track of our progress all year long.  I continually check in with the students to see where they're at with the challenge and I even participate in the challenge right along with them.  Here's a photo of my 40 Book Challenge door.

3.  Create a routine for teaching grammar.  Currently, I squeeze in grammar instruction (based on my grade level's Common Core expectations) whenever I can, but it's not enough.  I also constantly discuss grammar and model proper grammar during writing instruction, but grammar still continues to be a huge weakness for my students.  I feel like with a more organized, clear routine for instruction, that spirals back throughout the year, my students would leave with a clearer understanding of how grammar can improve their ability to elaborate and their writing in general. Any ideas or advice to help me accomplish this wish would be much appreciated!  Thank you!

So there's a sneak peek at my to do list for 2015-16.  The last thing I want to share with you is an organizational tip you may want to consider for next year.  If you have a classroom library of books that you let students borrow for reading, and you have to pack up all those books every summer so the custodian can lift up your book cases to wax your floors, than this tip is for you. I've learned that if you organize your books in bins by genre or author or series (you can buy clear plastic shoe box bins at Walmart or plastic baskets at Big Lots for $2) all you have to do at the end of the year is take out the bins (with the books still inside) and stack them up somewhere.  Then when you come back to set up in the fall, you just put the bins back inside the bookshelves and you're done.  No more unboxing and reorganizing books for days.  Plus an organized library is just so eye appealing.  Here's a pic of mine from August.  I could just stare at it all day long.  Of course it doesn't look quite so neat now in May, but it will stack up nicely when I'm ready to pack up - in less than 4 weeks!!!!!  I can't wait!!!!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found some useful tips.  Sail on over to the rest of the blogs in our hop for more fantastic summer ideas!


  1. I am definitely going to read the Book Whisperer this summer. Thanks for the motivation.

  2. Show appreciation you for posting this. I like how you have presented your information in outstanding detail.

    Professional Writers Online

  3. Your classroom is awesome! I wrote about my daily grammar program a couple of weeks ago... And I'm packaging it for Tpt this summer. You may want to check it out! Thanks for joining us!
    - Julie


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