Author Archives: Ms Victor Reads

About Ms Victor Reads

I am a third grade teacher who LOVES reading! For most of my career I have been teaching internationally. I am a big believer in the workshop model of learning and enjoy integrating technology. You can find me on Twitter @ErikaMVictor

Starting with Play


#sol19- August 20, 2019

“There are square tiles on your table,” I said, “I’d like you to spend ten minutes playing with them.”

With that, we started math the other day. Sure, we went on to do something else with the tiles, but it started with time to play. When it was time to look at making various rectangles the students were ready to focus on that.

“I really like it at this school,” one of the new students commented today. “At my old school, we only seemed to do fun things when the parents were there.”

“Math was so fun today, but it was hard!” another student added.

“Math was fun AND it was hard because you were growing your brain. Your brain wouldn’t be growing if it was always easy,” I smiled.

These early days are so fun- lots of time spent on community development and growing confidence. My hope is that love of learning (and fun) lasts all year long!


Teamwork Is Fun!


#sol19- August 13, 2019

Our first unit is PERFECT for the start of the year as it focuses on “How We Organize Ourselves”, specifically, the central idea is: The decisions we make together impact how we cooperate and organize ourselves. The lines of inquiry include: The impact of our decisions on others. (connection), our responsibilities as citizens. (responsibility) and strategies for effective teams. (function). So when I saw a suggestion on our list of “things we should do in the first week of school” my wheels started to spin. One suggestion was slime, but I thought that maybe they might be satisfied with oobleck, but only if I approached it correctly.

So, today, on day six of our new school year we embarked on a series of team challenges. For the second one of the afternoon, we headed to our “learning kitchen”. I have to admit the learning kitchen is not my favorite spot in school- the acoustics are terrible and I knew the excitement level would be high, but…

I approached it as a bit of a mystery. “This concoction has just two ingredients,” I began. The energy level ratcheted up. ”

You need three scoops of this powder and then two scoops of water.” Immediately there was a buzz in the room. I drew sticks to determine teams and we were off!

After some time to experiment we set out to clean up- it was quite a mess to clean up, but teamwork won the day!

After posting to Seesaw we reflected on the day- several named making oobleck as a highlight of the day because it was fun, but another added: “I saw that teamwork made it even more fun.”




Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 8.23.53 PM

August 10, 2019

This summer I was lucky enough to attend two great literacy events- ALA in Washington, DC, and nErDcampMI and as a result, I had the chance to meet many authors and illustrators. As an avid kid lit reader it was a great excuse to read more, but it presented me with quite a dilemma- what would be the first books I shared in the new school year- “old” favorites or new? When I made my list of the books I wanted to share in the first week there were more than 25! We have had four days of school and I have shared five already, but I have plotted out the next five- so here it is- the first ten picture books of third grade!

  1.   36959643._SX318_.jpgI teach in an international school- this year the students in our class hail from twelve countries- this book is important for day one!
  2. 36341954._SX318_.jpgEverybody needs lots of laughs on the first day- I made sure to squeeze in a second book on day one.
  3. 13588082.jpgKindness is something to emphasize from the start- this book that does not end “happily ever after” always provokes big conversations.
  4. 35160619._SX318_.jpgIt is important to recognize that we are all different and need to be patient with each other.
  5. 37506301._SX318_.jpgSo many connections for my students as they work to be seen.
  6. 38371226._SX318_.jpgI know that students will appreciate these underdogs.
  7. 42350073.jpgAs we begin reader workshop I want to reinforce that real reading is fun!
  8. 37119048._SX318_.jpgThis is a hard question in our class- some have never lived in their “home” country. We are spending lots of time on identity as we build community.
  9. 39983611._SX318_.jpgMy refrain at the start of the year is, “This is not my class, it is our class.” I want the students to know that their voice matters.
  10. 31625795._SX318_.jpgOur first writing unit focuses on small moments and sometimes scary moments are the ones students can write so strongly.

Trust me when I say it is so hard for me to choose books to start the year- this year’s picks will start us off right! Growth mindset is woven into many of the books. Growing community is the work of these first days. I don’t promise I will not read more than this in the first nine days!


Step by Step- How Do You Build a Community?


#sol19- August 6, 2019


My recipe today for the start of building our community:

  • Wake up too early (but after sleeping through the night I will take that as a win)
  • Be out the door on time
  • Do not take it as an omen when the water is not working on arrival

Once at school, take it slowly- I knew I was “ready”

  • After breakfast and checking emails set up for a “soft start” (drawing, Lego, reading, math games, a microscope and hand lenses, and more were available)
  • Write a morning message
  • Review notes- this day was going to be student led- the focus was on inquiring into who we are as individuals and a collective so that we could begin to develop community
  • Make sure the books are ready (All Are Welcome and We Don’t Eat Our Classmates)
  • Relax and greet the students as they enter

It was a full-on day- no “specials”, so lots of time together, but upon reflection, the day sped by and it felt like a great start. Now I have to take on their suggestions to look at tomorrow. The challenge is how…IMG_3877IMG_3878

A New Start!


#sol19- July 30, 2019

The new school year always feels like a fresh start and I love that. This year that feeling is compounded because I was moving apartments. I arrived back in town late Tuesday (hence my lack of slice last week) and bright and early Friday I was set to move. Thursday afternoon I got to pick up the keys and did a quick walkthrough with the manager. I was so excited! I knew when I moved into my previous apartment that I would probably only stay there for a year, but I felt I really lucked out in the new one. Here are pictures from before the move in.

Of course, moving day was a flurry of activity, but that night I looked out over my neighborhood and was filled with positive energy. Five days later here are my top five favorite things about the new place:

  • I am so close to so much (I love cities, particularly this one and I love being able to access things easily).
  • The apartment is so quiet- the windows actually keep out almost all sound- in the previous apartment I was plagued by barking dogs outside and loud KTV music (karaoke) from places blocks away.
  • The air conditioner works so well- it is quick and cool!
  • There is a lovely pool and a gym (and am determined to use them both.
  • The management is so good- they are eager to help.

My number one positive is that it really feels like home already- it is so comfortable (and because it is smaller than the last apartment it has forced me to purge a bit-always a bonus!). It is a great start to a new year!


A former student slicing.




#cyberpd Week 3- Chapters 8-10

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Chapter 8- Small-Group Instruction-this is definitely an area I have lots of scope to improve- I tend to focus on individual conferences and I know I can get more done if I use small groups more purposefully and one way is via planning a short course of study- a goal for the first semester!

Chapter 9- Share Sessions- I loved thinking about sharing as falling into one of their four categories: craft, process, progress, or reflection. I had never considered it that clearly. I also appreciated the stems on p. 145.

Chapter 10- Strategic Instruction in Grammar, Conventions, and Spelling- This is something I have tried to include more in recent years (although last year my spelling instruction was poor, so I appreciated the spelling strategies on page 155 and the self-assessment on page 157. This chapter is one I feel my current school could spend some time on to build some more cohesion.

Friends in France


#sol19- July 16, 2019

Friday night I began the last part of my summer travels- I will spare you that saga but focus today on one of the perks of being in France- the morning trek to the bakery. We are staying in a very large, very old, country home in Central France, 15 kilometers from the “city” of Chateau Chinon. At the moment there are ten of us here, with many more to come on Friday. Four of us are sleeping in the library and it is very nearly perfect. We stay up too late laughing and one by one wake up. Usually, I stay in bed reading(I say that after having only two other mornings here), but today, when L. got up she asked if I wanted to walk to the bakery, so I leaped up!

Our walk to the bakery started with a steep hill and I huffed and puffed, but luckily it wasn’t all uphill. We stopped at the bakery, made our choices for others(neither of us would be eating the treats) and walked a complete circle back to the house. The views are so bucolic. Life is good here!

Later in the day, we will be entertained by all the sheep and cows grazing nearby, but for now, it is breakfast time and I am enjoying the quiet time here.



A former student keeps slicing.