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The Power of Similes

If you want stronger poetry from students, a good starting point might be to explore how to write a powerful simile. Gretchen Schroeder explains how she helps her high school students play with and create better similes.

Reading The Crossover: Fourth-Grade Reading Group

Gigi McAllister leads a group of boys who are just starting the novel in verse The Crossover in her fourth-grade classroom.

Evidence Claims in a Middle School Small Group

Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.

Readers’ Guides: Helping Students Think About Informational Text

Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.

Hunting for Textual Evidence

Gretchen Schroeder finds just telling her high school class to include textual evidence when making points and arming them with sticky notes leaves many students bewildered. She regroups and comes up with activities to scaffold their understanding of what makes for valid evidence.

Teaching Tone: Deal Me In

Gretchen Schroeder’s high school students are surprised to see a deck of cards on their supply list. The cards are a tool for teaching the vocabulary of tone in creative ways.

Fear of Reading

Gretchen Schroeder reflects on why some of her students have developed a fear of reading by the time they reach high school.

Cause and Effect: Conferring with Olivia

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Olivia about the principle of cause and effect in the novel she is reading.

Linking Pictures and Text: Conferring with Ava

Katrina Edwards begins her conference with first grader Ava by having her share what she learned from a picture walk through a simple text, and then she helps her use pictures to decode text while reading.

Four-Step Reading Conferences

Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol — reflection that leads to action for her students.

Student-Led Minilesson: Connecting Facts from Different Sources

Lucas leads a minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on connecting facts from different sources.

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.

History Through a Child’s Eyes: Conferring with Omar

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Omar, who is reading The Rock and the River.  The book is a fictional account of a tumultuous time in civil rights history, considering protests through a child’s eyes.

Expanding Black History Month Reading

A heavy sigh from a student is a cue to Shari Frost that he has heard the same Martin Luther King picture book biography one too many times in February. She shares her top picture book picks for expanding children's awareness of black history all year long.

What Does It Mean to Read?

“I read 35 pages!” An elated student deflates Bitsy Parks in her first-grade classroom. By mid-fall she is alarmed at the responses of students to their reading in the whole-group share — they are all about quantity, with no thinking or reflection. She uses modeling and careful questioning to foster more thoughtful reader response.

Reader Response as an Entry to Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.

Reading Conference: Keeping Track of Characters

Christy Ruth-Levine confers with Edith, who is tracking character changes in the novel Room.

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.

Three Challenges for the 40 Book Challenge

Matt Renwick encourages you to ask a few critical questions before you adopt the 40-Book Challenge or any other activity with a number for a goal you're going to be tied to all year long in your classroom.

Levels and What’s Appropriate

“How do you know what level they have selected?” a visitor asks Bitsy Parks as she observes during a first-grade independent reading period. “I don’t,” Bitsy responds, and explains why it is a beautiful thing.

Guided Reading Run Amok

Shari Frost helps a teacher who has guided reading groups that have run amok, and discovers the real culprit is a lack of time for reading and writing in the literacy block.

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.

First-Grade Reading Share: Focus on Conferring and Strategies

Bitsy Parks uses reading share time early in the year to describe and summarize the work in two conferences to help students learn how conferring, independent reading time, and strategy practice work. One of the books used in a conference is from a recent read aloud.

Fifth-Grade Book Talk: Wish Girl

Katherine Sokolowski builds interest in a new book in the classroom library through a book talk on Wish Girl.

How to Get Books Off Shelves

Christy Rush-Levine writes about the push and pull of wanting to put books into students' hands, and needing at the same time to give them room to explore the classroom library.

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.

When One Door Closes

Gretchen Schroeder finds new routines in her high school workshop means letting go of old expectations.

First-Grade Read and Think Check-In

Katrina Edwards demonstrates a read and think check-in from her first-grade classroom.

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.

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