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Whole-Class Reflection in Middle School

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

Helping Students Develop Conversational Identity

Jen Schwanke writes about the challenges of helping students develop conversational identities, providing prompts to help teachers reflect on their strengths and needs in fostering talk in classrooms.

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.

Stepping Away from the Conversation

Jennifer Schwanke explains why sometimes the best thing teachers can do to foster better conversations in their classrooms is to step away and let the talk unfold among students.

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.

Talk Guide

Gigi McAllister presents a guide to her fourth-grade students to improve talk in reading trios.

Stop and Inquire

Mark Levine capitalizes on what captures his middle school students’ attention with his Stop and Inquire routine.

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.

QR Code Listening Stations

Listening stations are invaluable in elementary reading workshops, and can also be a hassle to set up and maintain. QR codes to the rescue! Stephanie Affinito shares how she helps teachers use simple online tools for setting up QR code listening stations.

Using Podcasts as an Alternative to Article of the Week

Gretchen Schroeder adapts the popular "Article of the Week" activity with podcasts as an alternative in her high school classroom, and shares some of her favorite podcasts to use with students.

Balancing Reading and Talk

Mark Levine finds that the best way to deal with controversial topics like slavery in his middle school classroom is with open and focused whole-class discussions.

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.

Small Solutions for Big Problems with Classroom Discussions

Gretchen Schroeder shares some conversation fixes for when talk goes awry in her high school classroom.

The Power of Picture Book Conversations

Katie DiCesare uses conversations around picture books to build communication, community, and reading skills in her first-grade classroom. Late in the school year she reflects with students about why these conversations are so powerful.

The Importance of Their Words

Melanie Meehan shares strategies and prompts for helping easily distracted young learners focus in conferences.

Learning Vocabulary in Context with English Language Learners

Stella Villalba explores why it is so important to teach vocabulary to English language learners in context.

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.

Pausing for Reflection in Second Grade

Sean Moore helps his second graders remember the classroom routines and protocols for sharing reading reflections through a circle group.

Mid-Workshop Conversations

Stella Villalba finds mid-workshop conversations are a terrific routine to add to literacy workshops to promote growth, especially for English language learners.

Potato the Crow: Blurring the Lines Between Reality, Fantasy, and Play with Young Learners

Leslie Woodhouse discovers a dollar store find takes on a life of its own in her preschool classroom in this delightful essay.

Words with Friends

Melissa Kolb explores what needs to be in place for our youngest students to learn how to converse kindly.

Whole-Class Conversations for Read-Aloud Closure

Melanie Swider discovers that conversations after read alouds are a wonderful way for students to remember and retain the learning from shared texts.

How to Get a Book to Catch Fire

If your goal is to get teens more excited about independent reading, Gretchen Schroeder has suggestions to help.

Peer Evaluation of Student Writing

Megan Ginther found she was spending too much time responding to student writing, and just as important, taking on too much of the responsibility for improvement. She tackled the issue by developing a new program for peer evaluation of student writing.

Many Possibilities for Student Podcasting

Katherine Sokolowski shares how she has integrated podcasting into her 5th grade classroom.

Personal Listening Devices in Workshops

Justin Stygles finds that a ban on personal listening devices may not be the best option for students who are easily distracted. He explains how he designed a policy that allows students to listen to music of their choice during literacy workshops.

The Pause That Refreshes: Write When the Conversation Gets Hot

When’s the best time for some spontaneous opinion writing? Suzy Kaback argues it’s when class conversations get hot.

A Closer Look at Engagement

Are the terms stamina and engagement synonymous? Cathy Mere defines the terms by observing her first graders.

Tell Me More

Gretchen Taylor finds the three little words “tell me more” provide breakthroughs in helping her middle school students respond to reading.

Finding a Writing Buddy

Beth Lawson helps her fourth graders sort through what makes peer collaboration work during writing buddy time.

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