Tara Barnett and Kate Mills are teachers in New Jersey. Their favorite years in the classroom have been the ones they co-taught together, when they experienced the powerful effects of professional collaboration for both the teachers and the students in the classroom. They blog together at Tara and Kate.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills remind us of the important opportunities offered during book shopping. Giving yourself permission to slow down and see the opportunities that the routines invite for collaboration and reflection will likely make it feel like you’re maximizing your minutes even more.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share poems to start the year that touch a variety of needs, from building community to connecting with colleagues to hosting parents for back-to-school night.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share their authentic process for expanding their beginning-of-the-year student survey to make it more open for all students.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share three ways using The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad empowers and strengthens readers in all grades.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills step us through an intentional process to help students understand and interpret figurative language. Using Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds as a mentor text, Tara and Kate give students the skills and confidence to find deep meaning in texts. Download an Interpreting Figurative Language chart to support your students in learning to interpret figurative language.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share a wonderful school-wide and home read aloud experience: Bedtime Mystery Reader. They outline all of the details to bring Bedtime Mystery Reader to your school.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how to create and use learning progressions to support students in deepening their understanding of theme. Download a copy of a theme progression.
Tara Barnett outlines ways to offer choices for students to show their understandings of a book’s theme. Download a choice board and rubric.
Tara Barnett offers practical and engaging choices to students when reading a teacher-selected whole-class text. Download the reading choices survey and a sample pacing calendar to offer your students more choice during a whole-class read.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills consider the power of asynchronous lessons in creating a student-centered learning environment.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills discuss mentor texts for argument writing on the podcast.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the many targeted ways in which they use mentor texts to teach argument writing and move students away from five-paragraph themes.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills reflect on the ways they actively recognize their own biases and help students recognize their own.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give a step-by-step guide for creating choice boards in writing workshop.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett pinpoint common difficulties in sixth-grade memoir. They share teaching points and student writing samples before and after revision.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills write about the power of series books in helping young readers build skills and independence as they exit intervention programs.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share everything from useful prompts to the best tech tools for moving interactive read alouds to digital platforms during remote instruction.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find that book clubs succeed when students are given thoughtful tools to prepare for them.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share their favorite strategies for building a classroom community of readers where everyone has several options for choosing their next book.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give guidance and support for varying the structures and routines in literacy workshops.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they use examples from YA authors of how to mine everyday life for powerful ideas. They then help students move from ideas to blurbs as they start their realistic fiction drafts.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the power of teaching writer’s craft in bite-sized chunks, through careful study of mentor sentences in read alouds.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find that they have to change the way they think about connecting with families once students reach middle school.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills write about the challenge of creating meaningful print-based packages of materials for students who don’t have internet access for remote learning.
Kate Mills notes her own miscues in reading a bedtime story to her young children, and thinks about what that means for analyzing the running records of readers in primary classrooms.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills introduce their middle school students to pastiche, a technique of mimicking the craft of favorite poems and poets.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with a second-grade team to think through how best to teach transition words during a fairy tale unit, especially to students who are English learners.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find their middle school students need some scaffolding to tease out essential details in literature.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills take advantage of students’ knowledge of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to teach the concept of theme before the holiday break.
The start of the school year is often all about building reader identities in classrooms. And then October comes, and many of the activities that help students celebrate their reading histories and preferences are forgotten. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share ways teachers can continue to help students define, refine, and expand their reading identities all year long.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share many of their favorite anchor charts for helping students connect writer’s craft to mentor texts.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills start with the poem “Where I’m From” to build community through literacy at the start of the year.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use prompts and aids to help their youngest learners tell stories and find a writing voice.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they help teachers move from guided reading to strategy groups in the upper elementary grades.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills slow down the “Article of the Week” nonfiction reading activity, making space for more reflection and thoughtful discussion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a know-and-wonder activity to encourage curiosity and independence as their seventh graders begin a new text.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills close out the year in their eighth-grade classroom with a compliments activity.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills continue their series on independent projects with nuts and bolts advice on management.
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.
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.
Is your problem writers whose sentences never seem to end? Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have a strategy for grappling with run-on sentences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they use one mentor text, Owl Moon, to teach multiple lessons on craft during a writing unit.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find an ingenious way in the upper elementary grades to help their struggling readers develop fluency through read alouds.
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.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills develop a process of pre-assessment, careful planning, and systematic recordkeeping to up the value of their small groups.
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.
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.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals.
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.
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.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a jot lot to turn students’ notes on their learning into instructional plans and assessment.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the process of helping students set weekly goals and then reflect on their progress every Friday.
Tara Barnett 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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use the Sara Bareilles song “Brave” to help their fourth-grade students move from bed-to-bed stories to more emotive writing early in the year.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett share strategies for building bridges between intervention and classroom instruction.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give three principles they use to help avoid the “charts as wallpaper” syndrome in their fourth-grade classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills carefully select the first mentor text for crafting leads in their fourth-grade classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they set up their meeting area with the right supplies to build community and student independence.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share strategies for meaningful transitions in their fourth-grade classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe the principles they use to design a student-centered classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills begin a few days before the start of break to help students develop summer reading goals and plans.
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.
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.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills continue their series on independent projects with nuts and bolts advice on management.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the way a lending library can provide an additional resource for teachers and community members to quickly get the books they need. They offer practical steps to make the lending library a go-to resource as well as a template to track the monthly book highlights.
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