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Book Club Tools

Tammy Mulligan shares the importance of giving students choice and agency with book club tools to improve engagement and quality of the conversations.

Moving from Interactive Read Alouds to Book Clubs

Tammy Mulligan shares how teachers can move seamlessly from thoughtful conversations during whole-class read alouds to lively book clubs.

Introducing Social Studies Concepts with Picture Books

Mark Levine explains how picture books are powerful teaching tools in his middle school classroom.

Read Aloud in Middle School

Katherine Sokolowski values read aloud for her middle school students and struggles to find time for them. Her solution? A picture book a day, better known as the #bookaday activity.

Grand Conversations and Read Aloud

Are your conversations during read aloud stilted or shallow? Tammy Mulligan recommends weekly “grand conversations” to spark more thoughtful talk. She provides the tools you need to get started in your classroom.

Jane Goodall Inquiry: Introducing Expectations

Katherine Sokolowski introduces her students to routines and expectations early in the year with a unit on Jane Goodall, including many short read alouds.

Back-Channel Conversations During Read Alouds

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.

Interactive Read Aloud and the Whole-Class Notebook

Tammy Mulligan enhances the quality of the class read aloud and student discussions with the use of a whole-class response notebook.

A Better Status of the Class

Dana Murphy finds that adding numbers of pages to her status-of-the-class list for reading makes all the difference in assessing students’ growth and needs as readers.

Talking Through Characters

Melanie Meehan shares activities that help students talk about their characters before writing about them in a realistic fiction unit.

Summer Literacy

“What can I do to help my son and daughter stay sharp and not lose momentum during the summer?” When a parent asks this question, Mark Levine offers his Top Six Summer Slide Preventers.

Releasing the Teaching to Students

Mark Levine releases responsibility for teaching and assessment to students late in the school year, and hears echoes of learning from previous units.

A Fresh Take on Persuasive Writing

Louise Wrobleski uses video clips, children’s literature, and newspaper articles to teach middle school students new ways to craft persuasive writing.

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.

Detour Texts

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the concept of “detour texts”—picture books to use as mentor texts in the intermediate grades to illustrate complex literary elements. They also share three of their favorite new children’s books to use as detours.

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.

The Magic That Might Go Down

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.

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.

Reset

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 Connections

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.

Student-Led Minilessons in Fifth Grade

Franki Sibberson initiates student-led minilessons, and finds the process takes her literacy workshops to a new level of independence and energy.

Russell Freedman Book Clubs

Mark Levine finds Russell Freedman book clubs are a great way for his middle school students to deepen understanding of history and empathize with young people who lived through previous eras.

Balancing Whole-Class and Independent Reading in Middle School

The choice between whole-class novels or independent reading can be a false one in many middle school classrooms. Katie Doherty’s sixth graders discuss their reading together of a novel in verse, and Katie explains how some shared whole-class texts can support independent reading.

Annotating While Reading

Franki Sibberson finds teaching students to annotate while reading is one of the best ways to promote ongoing reflective response in her fifth-grade classroom. She shares how she starts teaching annotation skills early in the year.

Organizing for Middle School

Tara Smith covers all the basics of how to get organized in middle school for the first days of literacy workshops.

Keeping the Classroom Library Current

Franki Sibberson explains how she watches students closely and adjusts her library based on what she sees all year long.

Invitations vs. Accountability

It’s not an invitation if students are required to accept it. Franki Sibberson explains how engagement depends upon true choice and lots of options in her fifth-grade classroom.

The Year’s First Read Aloud

From length to heart, Tara Smith provides seven criteria for selecting the first read aloud of the year that can engage students right from the start.

Getting to the Heart of Theme

Tara Smith shares many strategies for helping her sixth graders get to the heart of understanding themes in literature.

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