Did you know that I’m a 4th Grade Teacher turned Instructional Coach? I am lucky enough to help hundreds of teachers make an impact in their classrooms, whether it’s through the literacy/vocabulary lessons they teach, the books they read aloud, or the digital tools they implement. My favorite part of being an Instructional Coach is that I get to visit all different types of schools: public, private and charter. Right now, I mostly coach NYC teachers, however in my previous coaching role, I worked with teachers all over the country and even some internationally.
Through my school visits, I find myself listening in to classroom lessons, wandering the halls to peek at student art, and of course scanning book shelves and bins to find read aloud inspiration to share with YOU 😁!
After a long year of coaching remotely, I was FINALLY back on the ground in my schools this spring. I am so excited to share some noteworthy finds with you. I plan to make these school visit finds a series on both the blog and on my Instagram page ( 📸 @vocabulicious.readalouds).
I hope you find some inspiration to bring back to your own classroom ✨!
Read Aloud Inspiration
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña
Written and illustrated by the same team who brought us Last Stop on Market Street, this is another fantastic title! This book is thought-provoking and teaches social justice and awareness. Main character Milo and his older sister often take a long subway ride to visit their mother who is currently in jail. To pass the time, Milo studies the people around him on the subway and draws pictures of what he thinks their lives are like.
One day he sees a boy around the same age as him who is wearing a suit and nice white sneakers. Milo imagines that this boy is very wealthy and arrives home to a castle each day after school. However, when Milo and his sister are about to get off the subway at the stop near the prison, he notices that this boy is getting off too. The boy walks the same path that they walk, and ends up also visiting his incarcerated parent that afternoon. Milo realizes that you really can’t judge someone by what they look like. He teaches us that no matter how someone presents themself to the outside world, you truly can’t get to know them by just observing. Milo realized that he needs to expand his ideas of who people might be in the future.
💛 Corresponding Character Trait Vocabulary Word: Perceptive
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham
This is a gorgeous picture book that addresses life during the pandemic, specifically the early days of COVID when we realized that the best way to stay safe was to quarantine in our homes. The author does a really nice job of capturing big emotions while giving us a glimpse into the lives of every day people. Although we may have felt alone during this uncertain time, this book reminds us how we are all connected and that there are ways to protect each other through our everyday actions. The characters are inspired by real people – from news stories, the author’s friends and family – and lot of diversity is shown through each illustration.
The text in this story is simple and written in a prose type of format with short lines that flow together from one page to the next. The illustrations add so much detail and feature multiple vignettes of a variety of families from the city, country and everywhere in between. Each vignette brings you back to the mix of emotions from the past year, while choosing an ending that gives the reader hope. This is a great book to help students process all that has happened in these past 15 months and to spark conversation in your classroom about the anxiety we all felt during the pandemic.
💛 Corresponding Character Trait Vocabulary Word: Hopeful
Spread Your Wings & Fly Bulletin Board
I love this bulletin board for so many reasons. First of all, every student at this school designed a feather and was able to add a personal touch to the wall in the main hallway. This art piece was at least 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It was a center point of their school and impossible to miss. Next, it reminds us that together we can accomplish great things. It celebrates working together to spread our wings and step outside of our comfort zone. To reach our goals each of us must do our part to support our school community. It truly does take a village!
Lastly, the way the feathers are all laid out by color is not only eye catching, but it supports a theme of celebrating the diversity of learners found under one roof. A great extension activity would be to have students write something new they may try this year to “spread their wings” and how they plan to support others to do the same.
Nelson Mandela Inspired Hallway Mural
This hallway mural was on the wall facing the front door of this school. The second you opened the door to enter the building, this was the very first thing you saw. I stopped for several minutes to really soak in everything going on here. Each time I inspect this mural again I notice something different. Not only does it share an inspiration quote, but it reminds us of the longevity of the school itself. If only the walls could talk, right?
I love how the clothing of the students in the black and white section accurately represents what students wore to school back in the day. I love how diversity is not only shown by skin color, but also by gender and choice of clothing. I admire how not every student has a bright eyed smile on their face because that isn’t reality. Even the body language of each child tells its own story. In a world full of deadly weapons it reminds us of the importance of the weapon of education. This is something that is earned and can never be taken away from you. Education changes people, communities, entire nations and the future of humanity. If taken seriously, education can provide you with the tools you need to be successful right now and in the future!
I am so grateful that you’re here for my school visit journeys this year. I invite you to share any great read aloud recommendations or bulletin board inspiration from your school in the comments below!
Stay tuned for more school visit finds fall! Until then, make today meaningful, friends 💕.
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