Thinking Maps and the Black Book!!

I have a few things to share:)  Neither of these were original ideas but ideas I got from others that inspired me to use in my classroom.  The first is an idea I just saw a few days ago on Tales of a Teacherista's blog (super cute blog, btw....check it out if you haven't) and she was inspired by A Place Called Kindergarten.  As soon as I saw this on Tales of a Teacherista, I pinned it:)  She read the book "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" and then did a circle map of all the places kids read.  I so loved this idea and thought it would go great with the whole Book Whisperer theme (learning to love to read again).  So we did pretty much the same mini lesson.  I read the story "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut"

Ok, side note....have never even heard of this book!!!  Loved it.  I love all Dr. Seuss books!!  So do my 4th graders.  I love to read a page and leave out the rhyming word and they fill it in.  They love this too. 
Next we did our Circle Map.  (Our district loves using Thinking Maps.)  Each student shared a place where they love to read.  They really shared some neat places.

Then they each drew a picture of where they read and we added it to our Circle Map.  (a few kiddos didn't finish today)  So it was a fun little lesson to continue promoting love of reading:)  On Thursday, we have Book Buddies, a cute group of kinders.  I am going to read this story again, letting my kiddos fill in the rhyming words and then my kid's book buddies are going to draw a picture of where they like to read and I will add their pics to our circle map.
And now.......dun, dun, dun, duuuuuuun (that's supposed to be scary music) THE HOMEWORK BLACK BOOK!!!!   Just kidding.  Before I share I want to say I know teachers have all different kinds of opinions on the subject of homework.....I get it....but my kiddos do have homework.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and tracked it back to Alycia Zimmerman who writes for Scholastic.  It is called the Homework Black Book and is an organized way to keep track of who and who hasn't turned in their homework.  Each child gets a tab in a black binder.  Behind each tab is a form (you can get the form at her link).  Every time a student doesn't do their homework they have to enter the date, assignment, and reason for not having their homework done.  Now I do money (play) as our classroom reward system, so for every entry the student has in the Black Book they lose $10.  I also explained to them that the Black Book will be pulled out and shared during conferences.

I have to say, this is working.  I talked this up last week telling them all that it was coming to the classroom soon.  Then yesterday, their first night of homework this week, I reminded them that "the Black Book would be in the classroom tomorrow."  This morning as students were coming up to my table to turn in homework one boy walked up, there were 2 piles, one for Active Reading Notebooks and the other for their math page.  He had his Active Reading Notebook but couldn't find his one point he put down his backpack and I heard him say to himself "this isn't happening".   I cracked up. He found his paper but was worried because the Black Book was there.  I do have to add that out of 22 students there are only about 4 that tend to "forget" their homework, so hopefully this will be a way to get them back in the homework ballgame:)


  1. Thanks for linking back to my blog. I'm so glad this lesson worked for your class! I really liked it too! :)

  2. I am using this idea! Thank you so much for sharing. And I love LOVE your blog.

    From one fellow 4th grade teacher to another,

    Mrs. Alaniz

  3. Love me some thinking maps! Just took some pictures today of my anchor charts and Thinking maps made throughout the last 4 weeks. Looking forward to posting soon. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I saw the I Can Read With My Eyes Shut activity on a few blogs and then finally decided to do it today! I had seen the book before but never read it, and the kids loved it! They also liked drawing their pictures and they begged me to hang the finished anchor chart in the hallway instead of in our room like I'd originally planned!! :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  5. I just did a thinking map on how to treat a book. We ae all expected to use them in our district.

    I just got the Funky cross portfolio from your give away. Thanks so much again for your generosity. Love your blog. I will definitely keep stalking it!!!

    Third Grade's a Charm

  6. I have nominated your blog for the versatile blogger award. Stop by Vintage Teacher to learn more.

    ❤Vintage Teacher
    Vintage Teacher

  7. Thanks for the info! Have you heard of Brain Bubbles? I saw a post on Teaching in Flipflop's blog, then did more research on pro teacher, and found another great Daily 5 choice the kids can do!

  8. I've never even heard of that book but I am definitely going to look for it! I love that idea!!

    We do homework as well and I have several who "forget" their homework....aahhh, drives me crazy!

    That's so funny that little boy said "This isn't happening". Bless him!!

  9. I love the Homework Black Book idea! I will do this next year for sure!
    I would like to use thinking maps more often in my class room. I was trained in it 6-7 years ago and haven't continued to use it like I should! This post may just be the inspiration I needed to get back in gear.
    Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

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