Christy Rush-Levine has been a middle school language arts teacher since 2000, a Choice Literacy contributor since 2014, and a college instructor since 2017. She lives and works in a suburb of Chicago. Christy blogs at interstice: not the lines; the spaces between. She can be found on Twitter (@CRushLevine) and Instagram (@rushreads and @rushcl).
Christy Rush-Levine uses one-page reading responses as a simple culminating activity to provide closure for book clubs. However, the data they offer about readers is far from simple.
Christy Rush-Levine offers a booklist of anthologies to diversify middle school reading instruction. In this robust list, everyone will find a new addition to use as a whole-class text.
Christy Rush-Levine connects students to support each other as they write their literary analysis essays.
Christy Rush-Levine guides us to make reading recommendations based on what students enjoy most about a book they recently read. Christy used to make recommendations based on the genre or topic, but she has learned to listen to students to discover the reason they loved a recent read and use this information for recommendations.
The Choice Literacy Book Club discusses Apple and Magnolia.
Christy Rush-Levine circulates for quick conferences as students complete their literary analysis essays.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Erica about her reading response to 13th Reality. She helps Erica consider character motivation.
Christy Rush-Levine shares her system for streamlining passing papers and offering a place for private feedback.
Christy Rush-Levine reminds us that text selection affects students. By shaping a unit of study to contain texts of varying formats and representing a wide variety of characters, students are empowered to develop their own ideas even while reading a whole-class text. Download a diverse text list to deepen a discussion of how family shapes identity.
Christy Rush-Levine pairs Brenna Thummler’s books Sheets and Delicates in a book talk for her sixth-grade class.
Christy Rush-Levine reminds us that it requires presence to sit alongside young readers and writers. In two examples, we find resilience for meeting students at their points of need and then teaching them as readers and writers.
Christy Rush-Levine shares her simple system for organizing her massive classroom library.
Christy Rush-Levine makes a case for the robust nature of reading graphic novels. Included are two downloads: a classroom library permission slip and an initial reader’s notebook entry form.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Logan over his reading response to Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders and Noggin 13th Reality. She helps him think about the plausibility of the story and what constitutes a worthy problem in literature.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Carson about his connections to sports in his reading.
Christy Rush-Levine offers a close look into the needs of readers by considering engagement, enrichment, and nourishment. She offers three examples of reading conferences with students.
Christy Rush-Levine faces the challenge of helping her students see summary writing not as drudgery, but as a way to build more sophisticated thinking around texts.
Christy Rush-Levine discusses meaningful conversations on the podcast.
Christy Rush-Levine wraps meaningful conversations about race into her curriculum instead of making it “one more thing” to squeeze into the school day.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Adriana over her response to Pretty Little Liars, considering differences between the television show and book.
Christy Rush-Levine considers how to communicate to all students that their presence and their identities are valued and appreciated.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Brendan about his literary analysis and how to match evidence and claims. She has him talk through his understanding of the text, using the oral rehearsal to plan his writing.
What makes choice authentic in literacy workshops? Christy Rush-Levine grapples with this tough question that leads to changes in her instruction.
Christy Rush-Levine discovers that a move to digital feedback reveals many important truths about her middle school students, including insights about the effect of grades on how learners view response to their work.
Christy Rush-Levine lowers the tension level in her class over management issues by moving from irritation to curiosity, using her “inner chimpanzee” voice.
What’s the difference between a lesson and a minilesson? Christy Rush-Levine finds that flexibility is just as important as length in making minilessons work well.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Griffin over his reading responses. They consider the differences between dystopian literature and realistic fiction, as well as what motivates characters.
Christy Rush-Levine helps Alyssa draft her literary analysis essay.
Christy Rush-Levine shares the strategies she uses to help her middle school students take ownership of their literary analysis essays.
In this conference in Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth-grade classroom, Jaden is reading a book that mixes math with basketball, an activity he enjoys at home.
Christy Rush-Levine ponders what it means to create a safe space for all of her middle school students, and then makes some changes.
Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students need more support and scaffolds to understand authors’ craft in graphic novels.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Nia over the graphic novel she is reading. They discuss the choices characters make.
Christy Rush-Levine scaffolds her middle-school students’ understanding of craft moves by moving from short stories to novels when studying specific authors.
Christy Rush-Levine uses book covers to help her middle-school students explore their histories (or “lineages”) as readers.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Bridget, coaxing her to compare and contrast the reading experience and plot twists in books.
Christy Rush-Levine considers some of the “underground” ways in which she converses about books at conferences and on social media, and decides to set up a back channel for similar conversations about read alouds in her classroom.
Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth graders lead their classmates in a “voices” mantra. This shared chant created together starts each class with a sense of community and strength.
An enthusiastic student response to an author visit inspires Christy Rush Levine to revamp her upcoming unit on craft moves to foster more student ownership.
Christy Rush-Levine realized she had to help her students find a different “why” for their time in her classroom and school beyond test scores and standards dictates.
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.
Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.
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.
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.
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.
Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Olivia about the principle of cause and effect in the novel she is reading.
Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol—reflection that leads to action for her students. Download the Reflaction (reflection + action) Form to use with students.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Omar, who is reading The Rock and the River. The book is a fictional account of a tumultuous time in civil rights history, considering protests through a child’s eyes.
Christy Ruth-Levine confers with Edith, who is tracking character changes in the novel Room.
Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.
Christy Rush-Levine writes about the push and pull of wanting to put books into students’ hands, and needing at the same time to give them room to explore the classroom library.
Christy Rush-Levine has to figure out how to engage a class of students that is compliant and dutiful, but shows little passion for reading and writing.
Christy Rush-Levine moves from emphasizing theme to teaching strategies for understanding text, and finds it’s a much better way to get her eighth graders to grapple with theme in natural, organic ways.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Jadev about how the title of a book often gives clues to its theme.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Cam, an eighth grader who seeks to understand the complexity of war through the experiences of main characters in novels.
Christy Rush-Levine shows a group of three students how they can use a storyboard to help track thinking while reading.
“Eat my shorts!” Christy Rush-Levine overhears a student comment in a literature group, and begins a quest to teach her students strategies for more appropriate and thoughtful conversations around texts.
Christy Rush-Levine meets with eighth grader Jaden, who talks through his struggles in writing a conclusion to his literary analysis, and how his peers helped him improve the writing.
Christy Rush-Levine finds that administrators are questioning the value of read alouds, especially with older students. She shares how she uses the picture book Love in her middle school classroom to launch challenging discussions about timely themes.
Christy Rush-Levine uses a vivid anecdote from her youth to teach her middle school students about the importance of context in literary analysis.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Tori about her reading response to Why We Broke Up. She encourages Tori to make connections between the characters in her current book and her previous reading by paying close attention to surprising action.
We’ve all had that student — the one who blurts out a misreading of a text, only to have classmates agree with the analysis. Christy Rush-Levine explains how she uses “first-, second-, and third-draft readings” to help her middle school students develop stronger comprehension skills.
The dark days of winter may be the best time to plan for spring step-up events to introduce students to next year's teachers. Christy Rush-Levine has a new goal of using the day to promote summer reading.
Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills.
Christy Rush-Levine helps eighth grader Katherine sort through tools and strategies for writing a strong conclusion to her literary analysis essay.
Christy Rush-Levine considers how her rubrics do not acknowledge different levels of support some students need to accomplish tasks. She rethinks her rubric design to include support, and in the process fosters more independence and reflection in students. Download the assessment rubric.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Julian about his strengths as an empathetic reader.
Christy Rush-Levine discovers it’s important to “push pause” to deal with failure in the midst of teaching.
Christy Rush-Levine finds a community of new teachers bonds over a text highlighting addiction struggles. The experience leads her to think through what elements are essential for whole-class texts in her middle school classroom.
Christy Rush-Levine uses a quick assessment during writing workshop conferences to connect expert students with peers who might need assistance. She includes a video example of the practice.
Christy Rush-Levine shares how to help student writers understand and develop a scholarly tone. The feature includes a video example of small-group instruction.
Christy Rush-Levine shares how to present counterclaims, as well as a video example of a small group exploring counterclaims.
Christy Rush-Levine uses the mentor text If I Stay to model literary analysis, building on her middle school students’ interest in the recent movie.
Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. The piece includes a video excerpt from the group discussion.
Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. In this second installment of the video series, students discuss the articles they have read.
Christy Rush-Levine piques interest in Boy21 through a book talk to her middle school students.
Christy Rush-Levine leads her middle school students in a choral reading and analysis of “Old Age Sticks” by E. E. Cummings. This is the first installment in a two-part series.
Christy Rush-Levine explains why she stocks some books in her middle school classroom library that can provoke concerns from families, and how she deals with conflicts.
Christy Rush-Levine and some struggling eighth-grade readers consider misogyny in a popular children’s book.
Christy Rush-Levine explains how she gradually stocked her middle school classroom library, as well as how she uses student librarians to ensure books aren’t lost.
Christy Rush-Levine helps her eighth-grade students launch the work period with a reflective question that sets a tone for productivity, and then returns to it throughout the morning during transition times.
Christy Rush-Levine breaks her routine of responding to student writing, and instead calls on students to guide and support peers. She shares some surprising results.
Christy Rush-Levine piques the interest of her eighth graders in When We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.
Christy Rush-Levine explains her formula for successful book talks in middle school that grab students' attention. We've also included a sample book talk.
Christy Rush-Levine shows the power of using picture books with young adolescents to model close reading and deepen comprehension of sophisticated texts.
Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO).
Christy Rush-Levine finds the best way to help her middle school students learn to read closely for literary analysis is through student writing. They begin with analyzing student exemplars from the Common Core, and then move to shared texts as they hone their skills.
Christy Rush-Levine makes links between standards, video clips, and close reading.
What information is gathered by a teacher sitting in a rocking chair quietly watching her students? Christy Rush-Levine discovers it is plenty.
Christy Rush-Levine challenges the notion that there is anything easy or natural about getting young teens to select and read books independently in classrooms.
What do you do on day one? Christy Rush-Levine describes the routines in her middle school classroom.
Christy Rush-Levine finds she has to rethink learning targets for her middle school students if she wants students to pursue complex and lifelong reading goals.
Some of our students lead such hard lives. Christy Rush-Levine explores how teachers can keep from being dragged into the undertow of the most difficult situations children face.
Christy Rush-Levine uses striking texts that inspire multiple readings by her middle school students.
Christy Rush-Levine introduces her middle school students to the complexity of reading on the first day of school.
Christy Rush-Levine shares a few special shelves in her classroom library.
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