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Owl Research: Getting Organized

Andrea Smith checks in on a group of boys who are doing research into owl habitat, helping them organize their work and plans.

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.

Compass Points and Empathy

Andrea Smith uses the “compass points” strategy to provoke better whole-class discussions and reflection during read alouds.

Flexible Seating: Mid-Year Tweaks with Book Nooks

Have you revisited your classroom design since September? Andrea Smith and her fourth graders get over the midwinter blahs by refreshing classroom seating together.

Color-Symbol-Image: A Thinking Routine for Read Alouds

Andrea Smith uses the Color-Symbol-Image thinking routine during read alouds to promote deeper reflection among students.

Building a Reflective Community

Andrea Smith builds reflection into whole-class discussions in her fourth-grade classroom by beginning an anchor chart with four different illustrations from the covers of a read-aloud.

Sentence Phrase Word: Student Independence for Word Learning

Andrea Smith uses the sentence-phrase-word thinking routine with her fourth graders to show how potent one word can be in understanding complex themes.

Reconsidering Reading Workshop Routines

Andrea Smith realizes her normal reading routine will not work within the constraints of this year’s schedule. She makes some radical changes to ensure she and her students can have enough time to find the joy in reading and building a literate community.

Free-Range Learning with Nonfiction Part 2: Infographics and Maps

Andrea Smith shares the final installment of her series on the value of free-range learning in helping students explore nonfiction.

Free Range Learning with Nonfiction (Part 1)

Andrea Smith's students explore nonfiction through free-range roaming. She explains how she sets up expectations and resources early in the year in this first installment of a two-part series.

Branding Blogs (Part 3)

Andrea Smith concludes her series on the power of branded student blogs in her fourth-grade classroom.

Branding Blogs (Part 2)

Andrea Smith continues her series on the power of "branding" for improving student blogs. In this installment, students examine mentor blogs and bloggers.

Branding Blogs (Part 1)

Andrea Smith finds "branding" is a way to improve student blogs. She shares her process of presenting the concept to students in the first installment of a three-part series.

Previewing a Book with Zoe

Andrea Smith uses a reading conference with fourth grader Zoe to preview a book.

Introducing the Classroom Library

Andrea Smith shares a sequence of lessons she uses to introduce the classroom library to her fourth-grade students.

A Place to Belong

Andrea Smith reflects on preparing to say goodbye to students and her teaching partner of many years. If you have a favorite colleague who is retiring, you may want to get a hankie ready before you read this one.

Owl Research Brainstorming: Partner Work

Andrea Smith’s fourth graders are working on an Owl Research project that integrates reading, writing, talking, listening, and content literacy.

Owl Research Notes Group

Andrea Smith helps a group of boys take notes during an owl research project.

Infographics and the Common Core: Resources and Standards

Andrea Smith explains why infographics are more useful than ever in the age of the Common Core, and provides many links to free infographic resources on the web.

Classroom Displays for Nonfiction Learning

Andrea Smith shares some of her favorite nonfiction classroom displays.

Explore: Time for Nonfiction

Andrea Smith uses Explore Time with her fourth graders to build interest in nonfiction.

Infusing Informational Texts into Morning Meetings: Fact of the Day and Daily News Routines

Andrea Smith explains two routines, Daily News and Fact of the Day, which are key components of her morning meetings.

Inviting Book Tub Titles: Nonfiction Library Redesign

Andrea Smith discovers the value of more creative nonfiction book tub titles after listening to ideas from her students.

Community Board: Invitations to Independence

Students transition between home and school with the Community Board in Andrea Smith’s classroom. It’s a lively bulletin board that is updated and discussed daily in her fourth-grade classroom.

Helping Allison Redesign Her Classroom Nonfiction Library

Andrea Smith shares her best advice for library design that celebrates nonfiction as much as fiction.

The Information Board: Celebrating Nonfiction Every Day

Andrea Smith builds interest in nonfiction in her fourth-grade classroom community through her constantly changing Information Board.

Owl Research Word Study

Andrea Smith leads a whole-class discussion of recording new content vocabulary in reading notebooks.

Whole Class Research Planning in 4th Grade

Andrea Smith’s fourth graders brainstorm next steps for their research project on owl habitats, which includes writing a research proposal.

Whole-Class Research Planning

Andrea Smith leads her fourth graders through brainstorming for their owl research project.

Owl Research: Whole Class Explanation of Marking Up Text

Students are given a nonfiction text to mark up during a close reading with a partner in this video from Andrea Smith’s fourth-grade classroom.

Frogs as Learning Ambassadors Part 1: Literary Nonfiction in 4th Grade

Andrea Smith gets creative in teaching literary nonfiction to her 4th graders in this video series.

Frogs as Learning Ambassadors Part 2: Literary Nonfiction in 4th Grade

Andrea Smith explains how the classroom environment influences instruction in the second installment of this video series.

Launching a Book Club in 4th Grade

In this video from Andrea Smith’s 4th grade classroom, students get organized for a small group author study of Andrew Clements.

Digging Into Literary Nonfiction

Andrea Smith and her 4th grade students use an article from National Geographic for Kids to chart literary nonfiction elements.

Image of the Week: Building a Classroom Community Through Visual Literacy

Teachers know visual learners are in every classroom and Andrea Smith is no exception. She uses an “image of the week” to get at high expectations, observations, publishing and of course, building community.

Fact of the Day

Do you have fact hunters in your room? Andrea Smith legitimizes and celebrates these collectors and brings a new level of nonfiction awareness to her classroom.

Wild Facts

Wild Facts is a terrific example of how Andrea Smith's intermediate students naturally connect web resources with content learning.

Classroom Changes and Birdhouse Gourds

Andrea Smith reworks a board that was successful in the past but is woefully empty now.

Strawberries, Fun, and Student Blogging

Andrea Smith evaluates the success of her new student blogging program.

Wonderopolis: Nonfiction, Technology, and Web-Based Independent Learning

Wonderopolis hits the sweet spot so many of us are looking for in web resources for students, delivering free, engaging, high-quality nonfiction text and video in small chunks that can easily be integrated into literacy and science workshops. Andrea Smith explains how she uses Wonderopolis daily with her students.

Digital Reading: Another Facet of a Classroom Library

The good news?  There are lots of free and low-cost digital books for young readers on the web.  The bad news?  The quality of many of them is mediocre at best. Andrea Smith highlights three web-based resources for digital books that are affordable and also high quality.

Tuesday Trades: A New Literacy Ritual in My Classroom

Tuesday Trades are a terrific way to increase peer book recommendations. Andrea Smith created this new weekly activity with her intermediate students, building on existing workshop routines.

Tuesday Trading Post: Involving the Whole School in a Book Exchange

Here's a terrific idea for building the home/school reading connection and involving parent groups in literacy.  Andrea Smith shares the nuts and bolts of the Tuesday Trading Post, a schoolwide book exchange.

Born Wonders: Tapping Student Interest in Animals, Babies, and Books

Cute Alert – what’s more adorable than babies or animals?  Perhaps baby animals!  Andrea Smith shares an addictive web resource that will instantly hook students of any age.  It’s zoo postings of newborn animals from around the world, with many literacy connections.

Letting Go After Holding on Tight: Reflecting on the Last Days of School

Andrea Smith writes about how our instincts as parents and teachers merge to make it so hard to say goodbye at the end of the school year.

Fireflies: Then and Now

Andrea Smith watches her young daughter capture fireflies in the twilight of a summer night.  The evening reminds her of what’s changed in connecting literacy and life experiences, and what endures for teachers and kids.

Refining the Weekly Class Newsletter

Andrea Smith uses the school-to-home communication tool to give her writers an authentic process and audience.

Organizing a Classroom Nonfiction Library with Students

Organizing nonfiction so that kids will gobble it up is an art. Andrea Smith knows how important it is to include students in this process.

Content Connections in Reading Workshop

In this four-minute video, Andrea Smith confers with a 4th grade student interested in immigration, helping her set up an independent reading and learning plan.

Unexpected Gifts: Technology and Community in the First Days of School

Andrea Smith is surprised and delighted at what technology adds to her classroom in the early days of school.

“What Will You Do with This Mess?”: Helping Students Learn to Collaborate

Sometimes classroom disruptions are rooted in different learning and work styles among children.  Andrea Smith finds her attempt to settle a dispute between students about project collaboration helps her face some truths about her own work style.

Infographics and Lists in Science Notebooks

Science notebooks are a wonderful tool for building outdoor observation and writing skills.  Andrea Smith explains how writing in the notebooks leads students to explore different nonfiction text features like infographics and lists.

The Power of Wonder Questions

Andrea Smith writes about how she uses wonder questions in her science curiculum.

Our Living Minute: Integrating Nonfiction Study into Morning Meetings

Teachers can accomplish plenty in a minute if they want to add more nonfiction to their day. Learn how from Andrea Smith.

Expedition Mondays: Launching the Week with Nonfiction

Expedition Mondays launch every week in Andrea Smith's classroom with a healthy dose of nonfiction.

Our Daily Question: Building a Community Through the Data We Collect

If you’re looking for routines that meld community building and learning essential skills, you might enjoy Andrea Smith’s “Our Daily Question” activity with her 3rd and 4th grade students.  Classmates share interests and build data gathering and analysis skills together.

Living Words: Integrating Word Study, Technology, and Content Literacy (Part 1)

Living Words is a quick routine from Andrea Smith that helps students see the power of rich vocabulary for describing the natural world around them.

Word Storms: Integrating Nonfiction, Word Study, and Technology

Word Storms help students see the power of rich vocabulary for describing the natural world around them.  While Andrea Smith is working with 4th graders, the activities can be adapted for older or younger students.

Writing Like a Scientist: Launching a Scientist’s Notebook

Andrea Smith explains how she launches a unit on science writing with logs, writing samples from scientists, and mentor texts.

Models, Coaches, Shepherds, or Rock Stars? Our Reading Roles in the First Few Weeks of School

Cheerleader? Shepherd? Rock Star? Coach? Andrea Smith considers her changing reading “roles” early in the school year as she tries to build a classroom community that shares her passion for literacy.

Animals as Ambassadors: Using Class Pets to Reach an English Language Learner

When a student is struggling, language barriers can make it even harder for teachers to connect. Andrea Smith finds webbing during conferring is an excellent strategy for assisting a young English language learner in her writer's workshop.

Wide Open Spaces: Learning from “Not-Just-Right” Books

When is it okay for a child to read a "not-just-right" book, especially one with themes that might be a bit sophisticated or of questionable taste? Andrea Smith confronts this issue as a parent, and thinks through what it might mean for her teaching.

Forming Teams to Help Struggling Readers:A Pilot Project (TEMPLATES)

Andrea Smith shares observation strategies used within a teaching team.    The article includes templates developed by the group.

Animals for Literacy: 4th Grade Room Tour

In this five-minute video room tour, 4th grade teacher Andrea Smith from Dublin, Ohio shows how she builds a classroom community and much of her literacy curriculum from the care and study of unusual pets.

Test-Taking Skills: Reading Strategies for Word Problems Part I

Question It – Know It – Show It  are the keys to test preparation in Andrea Smith's 4th grade classroom.

Conferring Close-Up: Test-Taking Strategies Part II

Andrea Smith confers with two 4th graders in her classroom as part of test preparation.

Test-Taking Strategies Part III: Whole Class Debrief

Andrea Smith’s 4th graders debrief together after a test preparation workshop.

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