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Setting and Using Classroom Norms

Class promises, rules, and norms—most teachers set them at the start of the year. But how can we make sure students live them? Dana Murphy shares some tips from her fifth-grade classroom.

A Homework-Free Classroom

Dana Murphy looks at homework from the twin perspectives of mom and teacher, and finds she hates it from both views.

Using a Strategy Notebook in Small-Group Instruction

So many needs for groups, and so little time. Dana Murphy finds that a strategy notebook is invaluable as a teaching aid in her fifth-grade small groups.

Student-Centered Notes

Dana Murphy discovers that what works for one student doesn’t work for another when it comes to note-taking. She provides options and then hosts a gallery walk so everyone can discover what works best for them.

Alternatives to Graphic Organizers

Dana Murphy is dismayed by the ways graphic organizers can sometimes limit student creativity. She uses writing notebooks and a few other strategies to begin to wean her fourth graders from depending too much on organizers.

Forming Groups Using a Planner

Dana Murphy explains how her small-group planner is an essential tool for organizing groups in her fourth-grade classroom.

Doing the Writing in a Unit

One way to keep your instruction fresh in a required writing unit is to take on the tasks and topics yourself. Dana Murphy finds completing the assignments herself is well worth her time, and gives her a treasure trove of notebook entries to use in her conferring.

And This Makes Me Think

Dana Murphy considers how teachers can make writing workshop routines more cozy and like writing at home.

Conferring Notes

When it comes to conferring notes, form needs to follow function. Dana Murphy quit looking for the perfect template, and started focusing on what kinds of notes are most helpful.

Authentic Reading in Kindergarten

Dana Murphy realizes the best way to introduce students to reading in kindergarten is to apply the principles that work at home with her own children.

Fresh Starts Through Community Building

Early January is a great time for relationship resets in classroom communities. Dana Murphy finds community building activities may be more helpful than just a review of classroom rules and norms.

Writing Empathy

Dana Murphy explains why teachers can have true empathy with student writers only if they write themselves, and chronicles the difference between a typical and an empathetic response in a writing conference.

Sketchnoting as a Response to Reading

Dana Murphy tries sketchnoting during professional development, and soon finds herself sharing the fun technique with students. They hone their skills during read alouds and while annotating texts.

Getting to Know Writers: Using Quotes

Dana Murphy concludes her series on getting to know writers with an activity on responding to quotes. This activity is a great baseline for gauging attitudes and previous  experiences early in the year.

Getting to Know Writers: The Writing Process Survey

Dana Murphy continues her series on getting to know writers early in the year. In this installment, she explains how to use a simple six-question survey to help teachers and students explore differences in writing routines and habits.

Getting to Know Writers: Introduction

Dana Murphy writes about the litmus tests we give writing teachers to analyze whether or not they are teaching the "right" way, when we might better serve students by focusing on the six truths of writing.

Exploring the Writing Process

Dana Murphy considers the differences between authentic writing processes and what we teach in schools.

Forming Groups Using a Planner

Dana Murphy explains how her small-group planner is an essential tool for organizing groups in her fourth-grade classroom.

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