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Fluency Practice in Middle School

Leigh Anne Eck tackles fluency strategies with her middle school readers.

Purposeful Play

Jodie Bailey makes a case for purposeful play with her middle school students. To strengthen reading habits, we offer exposure to a wide variety of books, time to read, and opportunities to discuss ideas. In math classrooms students need similar opportunities to explore and play.

Your Voice Matters

Jodie Bailey shares a picture-book version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech and then gives students time to reflect on the message. While math class might seem like an unusual place to help students consider their identity and place in the world, Jodie inspires teachers to offer space and time for students to find their voice…while making direct connections to math standards.

Examining Power Dynamics

Gretchen Schroeder leads her students to consider the power and privilege in the texts they read. By creating a power continuum, students become more aware of issues of power and oppression in society. Once this happens, they can move to discussions of how to take action for positive social change.

Building Vocabulary One Purple Word at a Time

Leigh Anne Eck shares one way to uplift word choice of middle school writers. Through a simple and responsive system, her students are growing their vocabulary, learning parts of speech, and taking risks with more sophisticated word choice. All you need is a purple highlighter and a willingness to celebrate student voices.

Empowering Students Through Thinking Routines

Jodie Bailey shares practical ways to nourish students’ thinking routines in her math classroom. She is inspired by Peter Liljedahl’s book Building Thinking Classrooms.

Using Drama Games to Approach Difficult Conversations

Gretchen Schroeder is committed to having conversations about race and racism with her high school students. Sometimes it’s difficult to engage students, so Gretchen used drama games as a means to think about concepts metaphorically, then ground them within the text, and, finally, have students apply them to their own lives and the world.

When Reading Practices Drift

When Leigh Anne Eck noticed her students’ reading practices weren’t as robust as she expected, she realized she was the one who had drifted away from key instructional practices. Leigh Anne offers several ways to support students in their independent reading lives.

Kintsugi

Given an assignment to break a china bowl and rebuild it allowed Gretchen Schroeder to engage in the Japanese art of kintsugi. What surprised her were the lessons she learned about growth and innovation in her teaching practice.

Sparking Curiosity: Developing Ownership of Learning Through “What If” Questions

Jodie Bailey encourages us to use “What if” questions in all content areas to give students the space to use their innate curiosity to engage in meaningful learning.

Detours: A Reminder of the Humanity of Students

Gretchen Schroeder reminds us of the importance of checking in with students and gauging how they are feeling—and then responding with authenticity and joy.

Increasing Student Choice

We want students to be lifelong learners, eager to grow, and equipped to face challenges. For this to happen, we have to let the classroom be a place that reflects these qualities. Julie Cox offers three innovative ways to leave choice in the hands of students. In turn, they learn to trust themselves and their learning, and believe that they are capable of finding answers.

Anchor Charts: A Tool for Every Classroom

Leigh Anne Eck reflects on the importance of anchor charts and the way they help students be more independent.

Author Moves: More Than “Lots of Detail”

Julie Cox deconstructs craft moves—literally and figuratively—with her high school writers. If you are looking to move conversations about craft beyond “The author used a lot of good details,” then you’ll want to try Julie’s suggestions.

Considerations for AI in the Classroom

Gretchen Schroeder considers the positive ways AI will influence her high school English classroom.

Does Gender Impact Reader Engagement?

Gretchen Schroeder questions whether the protagonist’s gender influences her students’ engagement with a text. Using the dystopian novel Legend, which has two protagonists of different genders, Gretchen gathered feedback from her students. What she discovered was that a reader’s engagement with a text has more to do with empathy than with gender. You’ll love Gretchen’s new way of selecting whole-class texts for her students.

Considering Positionality and Developing New Sight Lines

Gretchen Schroeder shares a powerful approach to reading response to help students consider their positionality in a scene. Your identity, your thoughts, and your experiences influence the way that you relate to a text. This is your positionality as a reader, and it’s important to consider your positionality within a text because it explains how and why we come to certain conclusions as we read.  

How Long Does This Have to Be?

Students often question how long a piece of writing needs to be. Gretchen Schroeder shares a strategy that changed the focus of writing projects from length to meaning.

Putting Together the Pieces of a Classroom (Classroom Organization)

When Julie Cox moves into a smaller classroom, she realizes that to make it a room where students learn and thrive, she needs to shift her mindset. Rather than simply putting things where they fit, she asks three questions to make intentional decisions that will support learning.

From a Blank Canvas to a Community Space

Jodie Bailey approaches setting up her math classroom as a blank space with an invitation for students to engage in establishing identity, creativity, and collaboration.

Emoji Book Talks

Jen Vincent outlines a twist on book talks—the Emoji Book Talks. This is a fast and fun way for students to share books and build their Books to Read lists.

Middle School Reading Routines

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share ways to establish middle school reading routines. They share two downloads to help support reading routines in all classrooms.

Small-Group Conversations About Independent Reading

Jen Vincent scaffolds conversations to help students discuss their independent reading books in small groups…even when everyone is reading a different book! Download and print a copy of the guide to support students in their small-group conversations.

It’s Time to Admire: Sharing in the Beauty of Students’ Writing

Heather Fisher shares a process to help teachers learn to admire student writers and find the beauty in their work.

QuickTake: Choice in Making Plans for Writing

Ruth Ayres shares the importance of giving students choice when planning their writing projects.

Writing from the Heart

Kate Mills and Tara Barnett pour their hearts into teaching writers, but when Tara loses her family dog, she is reminded that writing is the thing that helps us understand what’s most important.

Three Ways to Engage Your Students in Reading and Writing Poetry This Spring

Gretchen Schroeder offers three poetry-writing activities to take the pressure off the writing process by using another poet’s structure and/or words as a starting point. You’ll be amazed by how deep and personal the resulting poems can become. Download a PDF for students to collect lines for a cento poem.

Authentic Audience

Julie Cox offers three questions to determine authentic audiences for high school students to share work.

Teaching Students to Be Teachers

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share a process for empowering students to be teachers in partnerships and small-group instruction.

It’s the Final Countdown: Using Chunking and Timers to Scaffold Reluctant Writers

What do you do when students won’t write during class? Gretchen Schroeder offers a creative, practical, and effective solution.

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