Miss Clark's Spoonful

My Top 2 Math Workshop Books Every Teacher Should Read

True story: As a child, I had terrible math anxiety. 

I didn't "get" math. There was a definite gap in my concrete and abstract understanding of concepts, and I had to work really hard to understand traditional algorithms.

As a high schooler, there was lots of extra help after school, and too many late nights around the dining room table shedding tears over my homework.

If I had lots of hands-on materials and visuals, I totally would have been better with my multiplication facts (and lots more!).

If you would have told the younger Erin that math would be one of her favorite parts about being a teacher, she would have laughed in your face. But here we are... it's true!


1. Math Workshop in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton

Here's a snapshot at the structure of math workshop, that Dr. Newton guides you through setting up!

Mini-Lessons are concise and engaging, providing a clear and direct introduction to the day’s learning objectives.

Independent Work involves students practicing the concepts and skills introduced, and working at their own pace.

Small Group Instruction allows teachers to provide targeted support to students in flexible groups.

Math Centers are stations set up around the classroom that are hands-on, and give students practice with a variety of math concepts.

Reflection and Sharing is a time when students come together to discuss their learning experiences and share their work.

Doesn't it sound MAGICAL?

Why Math Workshop in Action is Essential for Teachers

You'll learn how to set up and conduct your math workshop, + more.

1. Practical Strategies: Dr. Nicki Newton is A. MAZING. She provides a wealth of practical strategies that you can implement immediately! From setting up the classroom environment to managing small group instruction, the book offers step-by-step guidance to make the math workshop model work in any classroom.

2. Student Engagement: The workshop model is designed to engage students actively in their learning. By incorporating hands-on activities, games, and collaborative tasks, the magic of the workshop model is brought to math instruction! It's really exciting to read about how to create a dynamic and interactive math block where students are motivated and excited to learn.

3. Differentiated Instruction: One of the key strengths of a math workshop model is its ability to accommodate diverse learning needs! You'll learn strategies for differentiating instruction, ensuring that all students, from struggling learners to advanced students, receive the support and challenge they need.

4. Focus on Conceptual Understanding: Rather than relying solely on rote memorization and procedural skills (because, UGH), the math workshop model emphasizes deep conceptual understanding. Dr. Newton offers techniques to help students grasp underlying mathematical concepts, fostering a profound and lasting understanding of math!

My Top 2 Reading and Language Arts Books Every Teacher Should Read

Balanced Literacy?

Readers Workshop?

Guided Reading?

If you're anything like me, you feel like you've done it all.

Teaching reading is one of the most critical responsibilities teachers have. After all, it lays the foundation for all other learning - opening up a world of knowledge and possibilities for our kids (No pressure!). With the huge variety of approaches and methodologies available, finding the best ways to teach reading can be overwhelming.

Never fear! Integrating research-based strategies can make the complex task of reading instruction more effective and successful.

It's been so much fun sharing my top reads that stretch across the curriculum. Keep reading for books that will transform your literacy instruction!


1. The CAFE Book (Expanded 2nd Edition) by Gail Boushey and Allison Behne

Cover of The CAFE Book (Expanded 2nd Edition)

Once upon a time, I lived and breathed everything about CAFE & Daily 5 when it came to literacy instruction. The CAFE framework (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary) was THE system when it came to helping students set personalized goals and provide targeted instruction.

Don't get me wrong, it still is. Now, it's improved. Why? The Accuracy instruction better embraces the importance of phonics instruction and the Science of Reading. Instead of "Check the Picture," strategies like, "Map it," and "Look Carefully at Letters and Words" are being implemented. Hooray!!!

This book is one that you're going to want to get your highlighters and sticky notes out for (and I think you'll love it!).

The expanded second edition enriches the original CAFE framework with updated research, new strategies, and enhanced tools to better support teachers and students.

Why The CAFE Book is Essential for Teachers

You are taken through setting up "The CAFE menu," a visual tool that outlines the four key literacy goals: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Step-by-step, you'll also learn how to conduct individual conferences, create strategy groups, and track student progress. All of this with updated research and insights!

1. Personalized Learning: The CAFE framework emphasizes individualized instruction. It supports teachers in tailoring instruction to meet the specific needs of each student! This personalized approach is crucial for addressing diverse learning styles and abilities within the classroom.

2. Student Engagement: One of the core principles of The CAFE Book is engaging students in their own learning process. We all know that when students are involved in goal setting and self-assessment, it makes it a lot easier for you to foster motivation!

3. User-Friendly Tools: The book provides a ton of practical tools, including updated assessment forms, checklists, and record-keeping templates. These tools simplify the process of tracking student progress and planning instruction.

4. Support for Diverse Learners: Recognizing the diversity in student abilities and learning styles, the CAFE framework offers strategies for differentiating instruction. This ensures that all students, regardless of their starting point, receive the support they need to grow as readers.

My Top 2 Child Development Books Every Teacher Should Read

Hey there, and happy summer!

I stayed up way too late last night, all because I was invested in finishing the book Listen for the Lie. A story based on solving a murder with a true crime podcast in the mix? Perfection.

Along with a murder mystery that keeps me on the edge of my seat, I also love to peruse "teacher books:" curriculum, student behavior, classroom management... you name it!

Whether because I feel like I'm in a rut, or I'm just intrigued about current best practices, going to the experts to learn something new helps me to be the most effective teacher I can be for my students.

I thought I'd share with you my top reads that stretch across the curriculum.

Up today... Child Development & Social Emotional Learning!


Cover of the book Yardsticks by Chip Wood

As educators, we often find ourselves right at the intersection of pedagogy and developmental psychology. It's here that we're seeking to tailor our teaching methods to meet the unique needs of our students.

Yardsticks is an invaluable resource that brings both of these focuses into perfect harmony!

This book is as a comprehensive guide to understanding the developmental milestones and behaviors typical of children from preschool through early adolescence.

Why Yardsticks is Essential for Teachers

It is a tool that empowers teachers to create developmentally appropriate learning environments! Here are a few reasons why it should be a staple in every educator's library:

1. Developmental Benchmarks: The book provides clear and concise descriptions of what children typically can do, feel, and understand at each age. This includes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.

2. Behavioral Insights: Yardsticks offers insights into common behaviors and challenges at each age level. This understanding can help teachers respond empathetically and effectively to their students' needs. Example: knowing that a seven-year-old might typically struggle with sharing helps in creating strategies that encourage cooperative play.

3. Practical Strategies: The book is packed with practical advice on classroom management, ways to support students' growth, and instructional strategies that can be implemented immediately.

4. Holistic Approach: The whole child is the main focus. Yardsticks encourages teachers to think beyond academics, and incorporate social and emotional learning into their daily practices.