Budding Bloggers Showcase {Courtney from Ramona Recommends}

Today, I'd like for you to meet my friend, Courtney.  She loves picture books.  Enough said.  You want to be her friend now, too.  I just know it!  What teacher doesn't love picture books?  Courtney has taken this love to a new level over on her blog.  I've found several new amazing books for my classroom through her.  Read on to get to know Courtney and then hop over to her blog to say HELLO...and discover a few new picture books. :)

Hi Everyone- I'm Courtney from Ramona Recommends. What a pleasure to be featured in Budding Bloggers. I started blogging in November of this year and have loved EVERY second of this journey. My blog started because of my love for children's literature. The main focus at Ramona Recommends is to provide teachers and parents with book recommendations for their classroom or home library. In fact, I just got home from Vegas for the TpT event. WOW! Can I tell you something? There are so many WONDERFUL teachers in the world. It just makes me so happy! I created everlasting friendships this weekend.

All About Courtney:
I am a 30 year old gal who lives in Orange County, California where the sun shines and the beach waves crash. I have lived in California since I was 4, and hope to never have to leave again! Yes, I went to the University of Arizona for my B.A. and then lived in Tucson after college for 2 years where I taught 4th grade. I LOVE Tucson, but California will ALWAYS be home! Along with B.A., I also have my M.S. in Education with an emphasis in Reading Instruction. If you are considering getting your masters, I strongly encourage the California State University, Fullerton program. Most rewarding two years of my life. #theyhaveafullonlineprogram. Along with my masters, came wonderful opportunities of earning my reading specialist credential and speaking at two reading conferences. I LOVE READING! :)
 The original 5! I love my family. We are so close and just complete each other. Since the original 5, both sisters have gotten married and my sister on the left has an ADORABLE ADORABLE little boy. I am one lucky aunt! Below is a little peak at my book collection. That was a big step letting my nephew by my books. #veryprotectiveofmybooks:)

Calling Scholastic for me! :)

Fun Facts About Courtney:
#My name is not Ramona. Want to know the reason behind the name Ramona Recommends, come read this!?
# I own over 1,500 children's literature books.
#When I travel, I always pick up a book from each desentiation. Do you? Come link up for my summer series, "Travel with Ramona Recommends" each Tuesday.

#I am left handed
#My favorite picture book is A Bad Case of Stripes and my favorite Chapter book is Esperanza Rising.
# I HEART Kg Fonts, Hello Fonts, Melonheadz, and Creative Clips.

 Want to see real life? Here is my MESS of a home library. This summer, I plan to (will do) organize my Ramona Recommends library. KEEP ME ACCOUNTABLE, friends! :)

Grade You Teach: Funny Question! When I first finished college, I taught 4th grade for two years in Tucson, Arizona. Then the economy had different plans for me. So! For the last few years, I have worked as a 5th grade instructional aide, long term sub, and reading and math intervention/assistant teacher. Hopefully THIS year, will be my year to get back into the classroom. THIS is what I am meant to do. This is my life passion. I find so much reward in helping children and creating engaging lessons. #bornteacher.

What is your favorite subject to teach?

Let's be honest! We all have subjects we prefer to teach. My ALL time favorite subject to teach is Reading. To be more specific.... I love teaching READING COMPREHENSION! Having in-depth conservations with students about connections, inferences, and predictions makes my day! There is nothing better in a classroom than hearing students connecting literature to their current lives.

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced?
I love this question! Last year, one of my end of the year gifts was a wonderful book of student memories. Take a look at 3 of the memories....

Clearly, you will see some dancing and singing in my classroom. You will also see a teacher who loves her students, engaging activities, evidence finding, read alouds (LOTS OF THEM), task cards, work stations, colorful bulletin boards full of student work, motivational posters, laughter, love, smiles, and most of all a community of learners.

What gets you through one of “those” days?

Last night, I was chatting with my friend Ashley from Schroeder's Shenanigans in 2nd and she shared with me something that Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard said during the TpT panel. We ALL have THOSE days. Our blogs sometimes paint the most glorious life while in real time, your #23 just disrupted your lesson, you have parents emails up the zahoo, your amazing lesson you planned last night flopped and it flopped HARD or you just dont feel like "it" today. So! Guess what! I've had THOSE days. They are hard, they hurt, they make you feel defeated, they crush hearts, and they just plain stink.

When THOSE days happen- you can find me talking to my family and friends, singing at the top of my lungs either, "Jesus Take the Wheel" or "Let It Go". Both of those songs really help me. Don't worry, I won't share my demo with you. ;) I work out, I craft, I read blogs, and sometimes all the time I stop at Yogurtland. Sorry for that long answer, but I feel it is important to share with my blog readers that we ALL have THOSE days. If you are having one of the THOSE days, email me and I will make you smile! :)

What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?
A picture book. The end. Pictures books can make a lesson come to life. Picture books open the magic and reel students in. They are the peanut butter to my jelly lesson. In my summer school class last week, I read about 14 books. I taught figurative language using only picture books. Students can connect to the books to make abstract ideas come to life. If you are wondering what books we read, I have starting creating free lists. Check on this tab on my blog.Some of my favorite picture books to use in grades 3-5 are below. Yes, YOU CAN USE PICTURE BOOKS for UPPER ELEMENTARY!!! :) I, Ramona Recommends give you permission :)

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.
In Miss Hinshaw's classroom, my favorite activity you could see is my simile self portrait craftivity. The students create a "Simile Me". The students have only use colors and markers, but one year I want the students create their "Simile Me" using actual resources found around their life. Examples could be mini soccer balls for eyes, grass for hair to describe a daydreamer. I read the book My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Sock by Hanvoch Piven. Then the students create their own self-portrait. It's a favorite! For example: My hair is as blonde as sunflowers. I created sunflower hair. Hadar, if you are reading this- I know my background on this activity is horrible ;) I would say based on this lesson my teaching style is productive, but fun!

What is one of your blogging goals for this year?
My blogging goal for this year is....drum rolll.... 
Go more in depth with my book posts. I want to take them to the next level. I am not sure what that looks like yet, but I will. I am a list maker! :) I also want to do a few small goals too like watermarked pictures. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Don't forget to, "Open the Magic!" 
Love, Courtney 

Come Open the Magic!


  1. Fabulous post and blog. I am new to First Grade and loooove picture books too but do not always know where to look (other than searching "apples"). I am looking forward to sipping a red adult wine tonight and reading Ramona Recommends from start to finish for some great ideas!

  2. You are correct - teachers love picture books so much and this is especially true for those who teach preschoolers. Certainly, thesebooks make teaching fun, effective and easy! Thanks for sharing this interesting post!

  3. You have the best book collection! You sound like me with my books. I love getting new ones for my class, but I have a terrible time putting them in my library. I know they will never be new again :)

    Chelsey at The Wild West


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