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January 11, 2019 Stand Next to Me

We consider ways teachers can reset routines and expectations early in the new year in this week’s Big Fresh.

The Importance of Correct Examples

Melanie Meehan explains why it is important to mentor students who are struggling with correct examples, and why she cautions writing teachers to avoid “find the mistakes” exercises.

Practical Advice for Dealing with Messy Handwriting

Do struggles with handwriting matter? They do when a student can’t even decipher his own words. Katherine Sokolowski confers with fifth grader Sauvi to help him find solutions to the problem.

The Magic That Might Go Down

Christy Rush-Levine decides to slow down in her classroom and engage more fully with a student who is a wiseacre and resistant reader. What happens next can only be described as magic.

January 4, 2019 Reset

We consider ways teachers can reset routines and expectations early in the new year in this week’s Big Fresh.

Building Habits with Short-Term Goals

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why short-term writing goals can help students reset expectations for their writing on a daily basis, and how they make these goals an integral part of their writing workshops.

Beyond Plot: Conferring with Ian

Andrea Smith confers with fourth grader Ian, who is plowing through a book series. She helps him look at the bigger picture of characters, themes, and how the series might end.

Reset

Christy Rush-Levine finds her students sometimes need to stop and be challenged to think in more positive ways about their reading abilities. She describes how she designs minilessons for impromptu resets in her middle school classroom.

December 28, 2018 Celebrations

We consider how literacy celebrations might be woven in the fabric of classroom and school life.

When Students Set Intentions

When students set intentions, reflection and celebration go hand in hand. Melanie Meehan explains how teachers can help students become more explicit about intentions with practical cues from bulletin boards and index cards.

First-Grade Writing Conference: Celebrations to Suggestions

Katrina Edwards begins her conference with first grader Allen by celebrating all he is doing well in his writing. She highlights his language and details in writing, before moving on to new strategies to try.

Sharing Writing in a Class Celebration

Do celebrations matter? If you know Ruth Ayres, you know her answer is always a resounding YES. Here are her best tips for sharing writing in a class celebration.

November 17, 2018 Heat Maps

Writing poetry is the focus of this week’s Big Fresh.

Past Midnight

Shirl McPhillips shares a poem she’s written about her grandmother Eva, and the fragments of memory that inspired it.

Poetry Connections

Poetry writing always has the potential to spark some magic in students. Christy Rush-Levine finds this magic requires a few conditions to be in place first in her middle school classroom.

The Power of Similes

If you want stronger poetry from students, a good starting point might be to explore how to write a powerful simile. Gretchen Schroeder explains how she helps her high school students play with and create better similes.

The Big Fresh November 10, 2018 Just Keep Pedaling

Reading poetry is the focus of this week's Big Fresh.

The Big Fresh November 3, 2018 The Second Choice

We look at how teachers can use their writing to influence student writing in this week’s Big Fresh.

The Third (or More) Time Is the Charm

Gretchen Schroeder finds helping her students see the value in rereading poems is all about helping them pay close attention to imagery.

Being a Teacher Writer Is More Than Being a Teacher Who Writes

Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops.

Hidden Treasures

Matt Renwick describes the process of paying attention to telling details, and gives practical advice for teaching this skill to young writers.

Pick a Poem

David Pittman delights in a student’s enthusiasm for poetry, leading him to reflect on how teachers often need to overcome their own negative history with poems to spark student love of the genre.

Reading The Crossover: Fourth-Grade Reading Group

Gigi McAllister leads a group of boys who are just starting the novel in verse The Crossover in her fourth-grade classroom.

First-Grade Conference: Finding Seeds in Writing

Katrina Edwards confers with a first-grade writer and helps him unpack a narrative to use as seed writing.

The Big Fresh October 27, 2018 Stretching

We look at what constitutes evidence of learning in this week’s Big Fresh.

Evidence Claims in a Middle School Small Group

Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.

Readers’ Guides: Helping Students Think About Informational Text

Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.

Hunting for Textual Evidence

Gretchen Schroeder finds just telling her high school class to include textual evidence when making points and arming them with sticky notes leaves many students bewildered. She regroups and comes up with activities to scaffold their understanding of what makes for valid evidence.

The Big Fresh October 20, 2018 Crayons

We look at ways to make classrooms more comforting to students in this week’s Big Fresh.

Reading Minilesson: A Good Partner

Katrina Edwards helps her first graders early in the year transition to more thoughtful reading partnerships through a minilesson at the start of the morning workshop.

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