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Charting Mentor Texts

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share many of their favorite anchor charts for helping students connect writer’s craft to mentor texts.

Linking Literacy and Community at the Start of the Year

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills start with the poem “Where I’m From” to build community through literacy at the start of the year.

Growing Talk About Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find that struggling readers in the early grades benefit from scaffolds and repeated practice in small groups. They share some of their favorite tools, including key ring prompts and anchor charts.

Growing Toward Stories

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use prompts and aids to help their youngest learners tell stories and find a writing voice.

Getting Started with Strategy Lessons

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they help teachers move from guided reading to strategy groups in the upper elementary grades.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Building Habits with Short-Term Goals

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why short-term writing goals can help students reset expectations for their writing on a daily basis, and how they make these goals an integral part of their writing workshops.

Know and Wonder: Deepening Reflection at the Start of Texts

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a know and wonder activity to encourage curiosity and independence as their seventh graders are beginning a new text.

Independent Project Hiccups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills conclude their series on independent projects with advice on how to handle issues that often crop up as students design and work through writing their projects.

Spreading Love with Compliments

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills close out the year in their eighth-grade classroom with a compliments activity.

Reimagining Reading Logs

Reading logs have fallen out of favor in many classrooms because they often become a rote activity for recording pages read. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find authenticity with the logs comes when they move from emphasizing recording to goals and reflection.

Managing Independent Projects

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills continue their series on independent projects with nuts and bolts advice on management.

Why We Like Independent Writing Projects

One way to get all students excited about writing workshop is through independent projects. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why they devote many Fridays to independent projects. This is the first installment in a three-part series.

Leveraging Reading Assessment Benchmarks

Benchmark assessments can be incredibly time-consuming for teachers to complete. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they leverage the time spent by using the assessments in strategy conferences with students.

An Editing Strategy for Run-On Sentences

Is your problem writers whose sentences never seem to end? Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have a strategy for grappling with run-on sentences.

One Text, Many Lessons

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how one book can serve as an anchor for lessons on everything from writer’s craft to test-taking skills.

Goals in Small Groups for English Language Learners

Setting small-group goals can be tricky, and the complexity is compounded when you are working with English language learners. Kate Mills explains her goal-setting process with K-3 ELLs, and gives examples of how it works.

Parent Book Clubs

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills lead virtual parent book clubs to foster more home/school connections and build a love of reading outside the school walls.

Preparing Students for Winter Break Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they avoid a holiday reading slump with students through “break baggies” that include plans developed in the classroom and books selected with peer and teacher input.

Better Writing Response Groups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills discover giving “compliments and wishes” aren’t enough when it comes to useful feedback for revision in peer groups. They implement a more structured response process for writing groups.

Making Co-Teaching Work

Kate Mills and Tara Barnett often write together about their experiences as co-teachers. They share their best advice for teachers and school administrators on how to make co-teaching partnerships between classroom teachers and special educators work.

Using Mentor Texts Across the Writing Process

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they use one mentor text, Owl Moon, to teach multiple lessons on craft during a writing unit.

Using Read Alouds to Build Fluency

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find an ingenious way in the upper elementary grades to help their struggling readers develop fluency through read alouds.

Assessment During On-Demand Writing

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills combine an engagement inventory and an on-demand writing assessment to get a full picture of skills and habits in their classroom community.

Sketching Your Way to a Big Idea

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with eighth graders who struggle to articulate big themes in literature. A breakthrough comes when they have the option of sketching their thoughts.

Gradual Release of Responsibility in Small Groups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills develop a process of pre-assessment, careful planning, and systematic recordkeeping to up the value of their small groups.

Sharing and Celebrating Summer Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how they use the first days and weeks of school to celebrate summer reading and build a classroom community.

Using Stories to Launch Writers’ Notebooks

If you're looking for the perfect launch for writers' notebooks this school year, you might want to begin with story.  Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how.

Practical Ways to Connect Students and Goals

Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals.

Creating an On-Demand Writing Checklist

On-demand writing can be a stressful assessment task for students, but it does mimic the type of writing many adults face in their professional lives. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with students to create an on-demand writing checklist.

Building Community and Family Connections

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share suggestions for connecting with parents over the summer and early in the school year, including some fun uses of technology.

Monday Headlines

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use Monday Headlines to energize students after the weekend, and get a peek into what’s going on at home.

The Ins and Outs of Using a Jot Lot

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a jot lot to turn students’ notes on their learning into instructional plans and assessment.

Student-Generated Vocabulary Discussions

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find the key to middle school students attending to new vocabulary during read-alouds is to have students choose the words.

Setting Weekly Goals

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the process of helping students set weekly goals and then reflect on their progress every Friday.

Growing Writing Stamina

Tara Barnes and Kate Mills have a confession to make: in the first weeks of school, many of their fourth-grade students didn’t write much at all in workshops. It was only after tackling the issue of writing stamina head-on that they saw rapid progress.

Supporting Brave Writers

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use the Sara Bareilles song Brave to help their fourth-grade students move from bed-to-bed to more emotive writing early in the year.

Bridging the Gap Between Intervention and the Classroom

Kate Mills and Tara Barnett share strategies for building bridges between intervention and classroom instruction.

Charts as Tools, Charts as Teachers

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give three principles they use to help avoid the “charts as wallpaper” syndrome in their fourth-grade classroom.

Using Mentor Texts to Craft Leads

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills carefully select the first mentor text for crafting leads in their fourth-grade classroom.

Prepping the Meeting Area for Success

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they set up their meeting area with the right supplies to build community and student independence.

Making the Most of Transitions

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share strategies for meaningful transitions in their fourth-grade classroom.

Student-Centered Room Setup

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe the principles they use to design a student-centered classroom.

Making Plans for Summer Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills begin a few days before the start of break to help students develop summer reading goals and plans.

Purposeful Partners

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find the young learners in their classroom have mastered the art of turning and talking only with close friends. They provide practical suggestions for expanding the circle of peer response.

Supporting Talk Around Writer’s Craft

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills help young writers move away from seeing editing as “adding more details,” and toward developing more specific language for the revision process.

Setting the Stage for Meaningful Peer Feedback

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills develop a scaffold with an index card to help student partners move from agreeable talk to suggestions for revising writing.

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