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March 22, 2019 Spring Break

We’re celebrating spring with our Annual Spring Break edition of the newsletter, featuring the 10 most popular articles published over the past year.

March 15, 2019 Impossible Negotiations

Argument and persuasion is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

March 8, 2019 With Students in Mind

We consider student identity and ownership in this week’s newsletter.

Opinion Proof Lesson

Christy Rush-Levine helps her students create an “opinion proof chart” in their notebooks. This exercise helps them build their skills in backing up opinions with evidence.

A Fresh Take on Persuasive Writing

Louise Wrobleski uses video clips, children’s literature, and newspaper articles to teach middle school students new ways to craft persuasive writing.

Reading That Changes Us

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills slow down the “Article of the Week” nonfiction reading activity, making space for more reflection and thoughtful discussion.

March 1, 2019 Joy and Ambition

This week we dive in to understanding scaffolds.

February 22, 2019 What’s Your Catchphrase?

This week we consider the ways mentor texts can be thoughtful “detours” for learning.

Student-Led Minilesson: Annotating Reading with Sticky Notes

Students can claim who they are as readers and writers by designing and presenting minilessons to their peers. In this week’s video, fifth grader Reagan from Franki Sibberson’s classroom presents a lesson on annotating reading with sticky notes.

Building Cultural Awareness

Stella Villalba explains how frustrations with the families of English language learners can come from misunderstandings of cultural norms, and gives some tips for building awareness.

Reading Bingo

Gretchen Schroeder has developed a fun version of Reading Bingo to help students explore their identity as readers. The activity includes clever social media inspired options like creating memes and “bookstagram” posts.

The Power of Paper

Melanie Meehan details how different paper options can be a powerful scaffold for students as they explore different writing genres. She includes many sample scaffolds to download for use in an opinion writing unit.

Scaffolding Revision with a Mentor Text

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills show how to break down mentor texts into brief excerpts for step-by-step scaffolding of writers in the intermediate grades.

Crafting the Basics: First-Grade Writing Conference

Bitsy Parks confers with Aubrey early in the year, using books from whole-class lessons as a scaffold for understanding key text elements like title, author, and illustrations.

Exploring Dystopian Literature: Fifth-Grade Reading Conference

Katherine Sokolowski confers with Ian about The Giver, broadening his understanding of the text to consider other dystopian literature.

Bringing Multiple Texts and Perspectives into Teaching Point of View

Katherine Sokolowski finds her students are struggling to understand point of view. She takes a detour over a week with mentor texts, quick assists from favorite writers on Twitter, and practice sessions retelling Little Red Riding Hood to teach the concept.

Detour Texts

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the concept of “detour texts”—picture books to use as mentor texts in the intermediate grades to illustrate complex literary elements. They also share three of their favorite new children’s books to use as detours.

February 15, 2019 Abandoned Canoes

This week we focus on revision minilessons in the intermediate grades.

Revising Literary Analysis Essays: Supporting Claims

Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.

Revising Dialogue in Narrative Writing

Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.

Practical Revision Strategies

If your students are equating revision with proofreading and final cleanups, Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have some practical revision strategies you might want to try.

February 8, 2019 The Community Potato

We share some creative takes on reading response in this week’s Big Fresh.

Thoughtful Read Aloud Structures

Franki Sibberson shares how she integrates student choice and collaboration into reading response during daily read alouds.

Linking Evidence to Reading Response in First Grade

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills are discouraged by the random and idiosyncratic responses to reading they are seeing among first graders. They implement a series of lessons to help students move to evidence-based reading responses.

Readers Want to Respond

Matt Renwick is surprised when his son completes a reading quiz that isn’t required, and finally realizes it’s all about reading response.

February 1, 2019 Pick a Lane

We explore literacy cures for the winter doldrums in this week’s Big Fresh.

5 Strategies for Engaging Boy Writers

Jennifer Allen has been fascinated with helping boys write for years, ever since her own son insisted on writing on the same topic over and over again. She shares her five favorite strategies for boosting interest in writing among boys.

Analyzing Voice: Conferring with Griffin

Gigi McAllister helps fourth grader Griffin re-engage with his writing by pointing out some of the unique qualities of voice and style his piece possesses.

Things That Can Fly Away—A Tribute to Mary Oliver

Shirl McPhillips honors the poet Mary Oliver upon her passing, reflecting on the power of favorite poems and poets to endure in the lives of writers.

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