Looking Ahead Blog Hop

05 June 2015
For years, I have admired and studied a revered philosopher and yogi who once said, 
"If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up someplace else."

Wise words from Yogi Berra.

Through his influence, I've come up with this: 
"Looking ahead is the same as looking back...except it is forward."

Powerful, right? Thank you.

Plan Now, Enjoy Later

I am a planner. During the summer, I find that it's imperative for me to look ahead and spend a little time making plans for the next school year. That's the only way I can sit on the beach with an umbrella drink and truly relax. There are a couple of things I do in order for that delicious relaxation to happen.

First, I expand my classroom library. My students read 8-9 independent selections during the school year, and 2-3 class novels. Many read much more, and it is directly related to the wide selection of books available in my classroom library. Most of the books were acquired because I stop in every thrift store I come across during my summer travels. Thrift stores have wonderful middle grade and young adult books. I always tell the clerk that the books are for my classroom, and they will often throw in a few extra books for free. 

I admit that thrift stores have some garbage too. I always pass up the books that smell like the crazy cat lady's house. And when I bought the books on the right, the sweet little clerk wanted to throw in a National Geographic vhs about woodpeckers, insisting my students would love it.

I was totally honest with her. I said, Darn. I already have that video! I used a similar excuse when she tried to give me some World Book Encyclopedias circa 1972.

But look at the bargains I got! The total came to $4.70, and she told me to just give her $4.00.

I just love little ladies with blue hair and cardigans. I plan on being one myself one day. Maybe I'll be a crazy cat lady with blue hair and cardigans. A girl has to keep her options open.

Second, I sneak into school to make copies of everything I need for the first week of school. I pick a day right after school ends- because NO ONE wants to be there right away- and I usually end up having the machine to myself. My go-to resource to copy is this close reading unit. 

This resource is #1 in my teaching bag of tricks. My content area teammates also count on it, so I know I am setting my students up for success in ALL of their classes by teaching them what to look for in fiction and nonfiction. Once they practice how to read closely and annotate, we can move forward to tackle challenging texts.

It's important for kids to have a plan when they read. It's important for them to know where they are going with a text...so that they don't end up someplace else.

Now go and have an umbrella drink. It's on me. After all, I've saved all that money at the thrift store.


  1. I love checking out thrift stores for my classroom library. It's so fun to go and dig through all of the books. It's like a treasure hunt.

    1. I'd rather "hunt" for books than just about anything else!

  2. I agree! Love nothing more than an old thrift store. Have fun and plan ahead...all at the same time. Love your blog and your ideas!

    1. Thanks, Gina! I hate to shop. Ugh. But shopping in a thrift store doesn't count. Just like cookie crumbs don't count as calories. ;)

  3. Thanks so much for the tip and the umbrella drink! I will make good use of both ;)

  4. Darlene,
    Even better than buying books for cheap at thrift stores is getting them for free! See if your local librarian will set aside YA donations for you. Just tell him/her you are a teacher ;)
    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

  5. I am the same way - I can't relax until I have all my thoughts down on paper. I better get crackin' on that because I am due to be at the beach on Monday! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  6. You're spot on about using the summer to build up the classroom library! My public library sometimes sells extra books very cheaply as well! :)

    1. I'll check out the library as well. Thanks!

  7. I definitely have purchased many of my classroom library novels from my local thrift stores. Thanks for the reminder to buy more books this summer.

  8. I love, love, love shopping thrift stores and used book stores for YA books for the classroom library! If you're ever in my neck of the woods, I'll take you on the thrift-store circuit . . . then we'll stop for umbrella drinks!

    Literary Sherri

  9. Wow! I'm so impressed that your students read that many books. I try to do 4-5 per semester with mine, and I know even that number is a challenge. Having your classroom library stocked with great books must really help!

  10. I am in LOVE with that picture of you holding all those books :) I am a garage sale girl myself. I also go to the dollar store about once a week to pick up books I think students would like. I wrap them and when a student had a birthday they get a book, card and pencil from me to them!

    1. Carissa, that is so sweet of you to do for your students! I'm going to keep that in mind for next year.
      I'm a garage sale lover also. So much so that before I got married I actually bought my bedroom furniture at a garage sale. It was in pretty rough shape- my husband thought I'd lost my mind- which is nothing unusual, actually! It took months for me to refinish, but it's a lovely art deco set now.