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When Learning Gets Tricky, Go Back to the Pigs

Whenever a tricky literary concept comes up, Tammy Mulligan finds herself returning to a favorite mentor text to guide students. She explains the value of shared simple stories for understanding complicated literary elements.

Mentor Text Craft Guides

Melanie Meehan helps students see the craft moves in mentor texts by tucking brief guides into many of her favorite children’s books in the classroom library.

Mastering Conventions

Even eight-year-olds are expected to master a dozen or more conventions. Melanie Meehan shares a process for helping students focus on the small steps needed to master any convention with peer support.

Text Set Resources

Melanie Meehan shares some of her favorite resources for developing text sets.

Helping Students Understand What Works for Them

Want students to become more independent? Melanie Meehan recommends that you take each student through a reflective process to figure out what learning processes and habits work for them.

Whole-Class Reflection in Middle School

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

Teaching Conventions in Small Groups

Dana Murphy finds it is best to teach conventions in small, targeted groups in her fifth-grade classroom. She explains how she designs and leads these groups.

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.

Finding Time for Writing Shares

Finding time for writing share sessions may begin with trying out a few different options to see what works in your classroom. Melanie Meehan presents some of her favorites.

Circle Share

Sometimes those times when we “wing it” because we don’t have plans can lead to the most profound learning. Dana Murphy dreams up a quick circle share, and what follows is magic.

Textual Lineage

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

Big Table Writing

Max Brand uses the “big table” in his kindergarten classroom as a communal spot for writing. You can see how he interrupts students naturally to make quick suggestions, and allows some interruptions of his own writing as he works with his students.

Minimizing Interruptions During Workshops

Dana Murphy explains why a system for minimizing interruptions is essential in her fifth-grade classroom, and how she keeps the process of creating and using it as simple as possible.

Field Notes: Preserving Minilesson Time

Ruth Ayres shows how one first-grade teacher saves precious time by not ending minilessons with lots of directions for independent work.

Raising Student Voices: Mentor Texts

Helping students find and raise their voices so that they can someday change the world is one of the most important things we do. Cathy Mere shares some of her favorite mentor texts for this essential work.

Boosting the Confidence of Writers

We can teach students craft moves for their writing and how to punctuate. But how do we build their confidence? Melanie Meehan helps Aaron see his needs as a writer, but even more importantly, his strengths.

The Power of Video Replay

Heather Fisher explains how viewing excerpts from the same video multiple times can help students in book clubs hone their conversation and reflection skills.

Book Club Tools

Tammy Mulligan shares the importance of giving students choice and agency with book club tools to improve engagement and quality of the conversations.

Moving from Interactive Read Alouds to Book Clubs

Tammy Mulligan shares how teachers can move seamlessly from thoughtful conversations during whole-class read alouds to lively book clubs.

Do Students Need to Love the Books We Read Aloud?

Franki Sibberson asks a critical question: Do students need to love the read alouds we share in classrooms?  She works to move students beyond shallow like/don’t like responses to books.

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.

Grand Conversations and Read Aloud

Are your conversations during read aloud stilted or shallow? Tammy Mulligan recommends weekly “grand conversations” to spark more thoughtful talk. She provides the tools you need to get started in your classroom.

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.

Interactive Read Aloud and the Whole-Class Notebook

Tammy Mulligan enhances the quality of the class read aloud and student discussions with the use of a whole-class response notebook.

Charting Mentor Texts

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share many of their favorite anchor charts for helping students connect writer’s craft to mentor texts.

A New System for Anchor Charts

Dana Murphy develops a love-hate relationship with the faded anchor charts peeling away from her classroom walls. She finds a move to anchor charts in a sketchbook and a website for chart images improves the quality of her charts and their usefulness.

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