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Literary Analysis in Eighth Grade: Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine helps Alyssa draft her literary analysis essay.

Navigating the Interpretation Process

Tammy Mulligan shares how she introduces students to the process of interpreting literature at different grade and developmental levels.

Student Ownership of Literary Analysis

Christy Rush-Levine shares the strategies she uses to help her middle school students take ownership of their literary analysis essays.

Studying Craft and Punctuation in Sentences from Read Alouds

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.

Reading Conference: Connections to Home

In this conference in Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth-grade classroom, Jaden is reading a book that mixes math with basketball, an activity he enjoys at home.

Keeping Parent Communication Open in Middle School

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find that they have to change the way they think about connecting with families once students reach middle school.

Observing Skilled Readers

Mark Levine wonders why his most some of his most skilled readers take the most time to get through texts. So he asks them, and gets some fascinating answers he uses to assist struggling students.

Creating a Safe Space in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine ponders what it means to create a safe space for all of her middle school students, and then makes some changes.

Poetry and Pastiche

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills introduce their middle school students to pastiche, a technique of mimicking the craft of favorite poems and poets.

Exploring Author’s Craft in Graphic Novels

Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students need more support and scaffolds to understand authors’ craft in graphic novels.

Pairing Video Clips with Text: The Great Depression

Mark Levine has his middle school students “closely read” paired videos as well as texts to ponder the value and accuracy of different historical sources.

Characters, Choices, and Graphic Novels: Eighth-Grade Reading Conference

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Nia over the graphic novel she is reading. They discuss the choices characters make.

Self-Esteem and Literacy: Understanding Jeff

Jeff is apathetic and unengaged. To help this middle school learner, Mark Levine needs to understand his history. Mark shows the power of interviews for connecting with struggling teen learners.

Collaborating for Understanding in Writing

Mark Levine realizes explaining expectations for an essay assignment over and over again isn’t working. But when he has students write in pairs for a portion of his workshop, magic happens.

Community Timeline Project

Katherine Sokolowski uses the Community Timeline Project to bring together students and older community members around history and writing.

Scaffolding Instruction in an Author’s Study

Christy Rush-Levine scaffolds her middle-school students’ understanding of craft moves by moving from short stories to novels when studying specific authors.

Magic Connections: Young Adult Literature in a Social Studies Class

Mark Levine shows how young adult literature is a potent tool to drive learning in his middle school social studies classroom.

The Freewrite Pause

Mark Levine finds his middle school students need more time to digest learning from brief articles. Freewriting provides the perfect pause for promoting more reflection and insight.

Whole-Class Reflection in Middle School

Mark Levine explains why whole-class reflection is an essential component of his middle school workshops.

Building Reading Identities Across the Year

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.

Textual Lineage

Christy Rush-Levine uses book covers to help her middle-school students explore their histories (or “lineages”) as readers.

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.

Reading and Thinking Aloud in Middle School

Mark Levine combines reading and thinking aloud in a minilesson to help his middle school students grapple with complex texts.

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.

Voices Mantra

Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth graders lead their classmates in a “voices” mantra. This shared chant created together starts each class with a sense of community and strength.

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.

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