Listening and speaking—it's the art at the heart of literacy workshops. But there is also a science to how these skills are taught and learned. These resources will show you how to build communication skills in your classroom and school communities.
Christy Rush-Levine reminds us that text selection affects students. By shaping a unit of study to contain texts of varying formats and representing a wide variety of characters, students are empowered to develop their own ideas even while reading a whole-class text. Download a diverse text list to deepen a discussion of how family shapes identity.
Hannah Tills and Josie Stewart challenge themselves to select more inclusive texts so all students feel as though they belong. They offer six suggestions to help us examine our bookshelves, thinking, and curriculum.
Stella Villalba uses photos in the classroom as a powerful tool for critical thinking and reflection. Photos allow students to process complex learning as it happens.
Christy Rush-Levine reminds us that it requires presence to sit alongside young readers and writers. In two examples, we find resilience for meeting students at their points of need and then teaching them as readers and writers.
Bitsy Parks leads her first grade class in a study about communication in order to strengthen their social distanced and muffled-by-masks community. Included is a booklist.
Stella Villalba creates space for students to deeply notice the way artist Aminah Robinson uses images to share stories and testimonies.
Ruth Ayres observes a writing workshop that is remote. She reflects on the ways students offer feedback and how their community of writers is established.
Christy Rush-Levine considers how to communicate to all students that their presence and their identities are valued and appreciated.
Lora Bieghler facilitates a Socratic-style discussion among third graders.
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.
Mark Levine explains why whole-class reflection is an essential component of his middle school workshops.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gigi McAllister presents a guide to her fourth-grade students to improve talk in reading trios.
Mark Levine capitalizes on what captures his middle school students’ attention with his Stop and Inquire routine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gretchen Schroeder shares some conversation fixes for when talk goes awry in her high school classroom.
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.
Melanie Meehan shares strategies and prompts for helping easily distracted young learners focus in conferences.
Stella Villalba explores why it is so important to teach vocabulary to English language learners in context.
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.
Sean Moore helps his second graders remember the classroom routines and protocols for sharing reading reflections through a circle group.
Stella Villalba finds mid-workshop conversations are a terrific routine to add to literacy workshops to promote growth, especially for English language learners.
Leslie Woodhouse discovers a dollar store find takes on a life of its own in her preschool classroom in this delightful essay.
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