Jen Schwanke began her career as a language arts educator and is currently a principal for the Dublin City School District in Dublin, Ohio. A graduate instructor in educational leadership, she has written frequently for literacy and educational leadership publications and blogs about her experiences in learning and leading at jenschwanke.com. Follow Jen on Twitter @Jenschwanke and Instagram @jenschwanke.
Adolescent learners can face daunting reading loads in high school that they need to tackle at home. Jen Schwanke has tips for how teachers and parents can work together to help teens develop strategies for dealing with a lot of complex reading quickly.
Jen Schwanke shares some strategies for sustaining student attention, beyond just calling out a student’s name over and over and over again.
In the end classroom management often comes down to students valuing the same things we do. Jen Schwanke has tips for how high school teachers can create a culture where there is better communication and more shared values.
Jen Schwanke writes about the challenges of helping students develop conversational identities, providing prompts to help teachers reflect on their strengths and needs in fostering talk in classrooms.
Jennifer Schwanke explains why sometimes the best thing teachers can do to foster better conversations in their classrooms is to step away and let the talk unfold among students.
Jennifer Schwanke shares some quick tips for spring cleaning of classrooms and literacy supplies.
If you want to bring everyone in your school together around writing, you can’t beat the simplicity and fun of six-word memoirs. Jennifer Schwanke describes how she sparked enthusiasm for the project in her school.
Parents of middle school students are often bewildered at how best to deal with their child’s unresponsiveness. Jennifer Schwanke explains how teachers can construct conferences with middle school parents that foster reflection, action, and shared goals.
Jen Schwanke gets berated by a tire shop repair guy for ignoring routine maintenance needs on her bike. That gets her thinking about what needs routine maintenance in elementary classrooms.
It's May, and teachers everywhere are preparing for final assessments of students. Jennifer Schwanke explains why it might be time to rethink or even ditch some of those plans.
Students are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. Jennifer Schwanke explains how we can capitalize on that interest to build independent reading and writing habits.
Lifelong readers often have books they love to reread, sometimes more than once. But young readers can also get into ruts. Jennifer Schwanke explores when rereading is fine for students, and when it should be challenged. She includes a series of questions for teachers to use when conferring with children who are rereading favorite books.
Why bother with close reading? Jennifer Schwanke finds many teachers asking themselves if close reading is worth the time, when schedules are already overstuffed. She shares some prompts to help assess when close reading makes sense.
Jennifer Schwanke explains how she stopped railing against the tradition and learned to appreciate parent-teacher conferences. She shares tips for making them better.
Are you considering school-to-home journals in your classroom this year? Jennifer Schwanke describes how these notebooks build community and literacy skills.
Jennifer Schwanke reflects upon how the iPad and other touchscreen devices have changed the way children interact with all texts, even traditional storybooks.
ennifer Schwanke explains how jargon can trip up communication with parents, and lists which terms are worth defining. This is the final installment of her series on talking about literacy workshops with families.
Jennifer Schwanke explains why parent-teacher conferences can be bewildering for families, and offers advice for better ways to explain a literacy workshop model to them.
Jennifer Schwanke shares her experience of having read-aloud go awry in a middle school classroom.
Jennifer Schwanke shares some of the unique struggles parents of English language learners have in making their children's needs known, and how we can help them.
Jennifer Schwanke finds song lyrics are one way for students to see the power of poems.
Jennifer Schwanke finds that a scavenger hunt for errors to add to a bulletin board is a great way to build editing skills and a writing community all year long in her seventh-grade classroom.
Jennifer Schwanke finds teachers can get territorial about texts, "claiming" them for their grade level. She explores when it is appropriate to repeat the use of a text in subsequent grades.
Jennifer Schwanke cleans out a school storage area, and with advice from teachers discovers new purposes for old items she was about to discard.
Jennifer Schwanke tells the story of Josh, a special-needs student who is almost impossible to reach, until one committed teacher unlocks the key to what makes him tick as a learner.
Jennifer Schwanke remembers the days when mimeographed nonfiction pieces were rare and not welcome additions to elementary classrooms, and reflects on how much has changed.
Jennifer Schwanke explains how concerns about plagiarism can get in the way of recognizing the value of mimicking the styles of other writers to find our own.
Jennifer Schwanke finds dictionaries (the real, not virtual, variety) are still a potent tool for teaching new vocabulary to children.
Jennifer Schwanke explains why pop quizzes can be damaging to students by using a pop culture reference.
What makes a teacher memorable? Recognizing a child's passions from the very first day of school. Jennifer Schwanke recounts how her second-grade teacher did just that.
Jennifer Schwanke interviews older students and discovers their most beloved memories of elementary school involve read alouds.
Jennifer Schwanke shares a favorite activity for building community and self-esteem.
Jennifer Schwanke has a student who just won't sit still and behave appropriately in her middle school classroom. She finally gives up. That's where the learning begins.
Jennifer Schwanke writes about the need for teachers to understand how phrasal verbs work and why it is essential to teach them explicitly to English language learners.
Jennifer Schwanke helps middle school students make connections between classics and their current reading.
Jennifer Schwanke describes the work of a music teacher who integrates literacy learning into her curriculum.
Family Literacy Nights have become popular in many schools. Principal Jennifer Schwanke describes the format for a successful event, including a sample program and tips.
Principal Jennifer Schwanke looks at the challenging issue of retention and the power of teamwork.
Jennifer Schwanke remembers the awkward and stressful experience of being evaluated as a young teacher. In her work now as a principal, she’s developed her own criteria for evaluating teachers.
Principal Jennifer Schwanke finds herself on a mad dash to buy a baked potato for a struggling reader, and this is the moment that crystallizes for her everything that is wrong with most reading rewards (especially those involving food).
Jennifer Schwanke finds connections between her childhood, teaching, and school leadership in this heartwarming essay.
Jen Schwanke remembers her own experiences with trauma as a scared young girl, and how one kind teacher made all the difference in putting her on the path to healing. This makes her ponder the power of literacy in reaching wounded students in our midst.
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