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Strategies for Sustaining Student Attention

Jen Schwanke shares some strategies for sustaining student attention, beyond just calling out a student’s name over and over and over again.

Setting and Using Classroom Norms

Class promises, rules, and norms—most teachers set them at the start of the year. But how can we make sure students live them? Dana Murphy shares some tips from her fifth-grade classroom.

Homework: I Challenge You!

Heather Fisher helps a first-grade teacher create a homework challenge as a way to make the practice more meaningful and engaging for students and families.

A Homework-Free Classroom

Dana Murphy looks at homework from the twin perspectives of mom and teacher, and finds she hates it from both views.

Guided Reading for Proficient Readers?

Shari Frost is surprised to see guided reading used for proficient fifth-grade readers. She considers some strategic alternatives.

Using a Strategy Notebook in Small-Group Instruction

So many needs for groups, and so little time. Dana Murphy finds that a strategy notebook is invaluable as a teaching aid in her fifth-grade small groups.

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.

Talking Through Characters

Melanie Meehan shares activities that help students talk about their characters before writing about them in a realistic fiction unit.

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.

Summer Literacy

“What can I do to help my son and daughter stay sharp and not lose momentum during the summer?” When a parent asks this question, Mark Levine offers his Top Six Summer Slide Preventers.

Student-Centered Notes

Dana Murphy discovers that what works for one student doesn’t work for another when it comes to note-taking. She provides options and then hosts a gallery walk so everyone can discover what works best for them.

Becoming More Inclusive

Every teacher wants to be more inclusive. But where do you begin? Melanie Meehan presents three practical starting points.

Whose Point of View Matters? Considering Multiple Perspectives

When it comes to including and understanding others, it may be hardest to empathize with those who disrupt or bully others. Tammy Mulligan shares her four favorite mentor texts for understanding students who are angry and lash out.

Spring Cleaning

Jennifer Schwanke shares some quick tips for spring cleaning of classrooms and literacy supplies.

Fewer Books and More Options at the End of the Year

Cathy Mere considers the dilemma teachers face when the bookroom, library, and tech departments require books and devices to be returned late in the year . . . but there are still a few weeks of school. She shares many suggestions for fostering literacy and community when there are far fewer books in the room.

Key Elements of Short Stories

Gretchen Schroeder finds her students’ enthusiasm for writing short stories flags quickly without some instruction and guidance.

Growing Toward Stories

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use prompts and aids to help their youngest learners tell stories and find a writing voice.

Alternatives to Graphic Organizers

Dana Murphy is dismayed by the ways graphic organizers can sometimes limit student creativity. She uses writing notebooks and a few other strategies to begin to wean her fourth graders from depending too much on organizers.

Writer’s Notebook Tweaks

Gretchen Schroeder analyzes the use of writing notebooks in her classroom, focusing on what’s confusing or frustrating for students. She makes some small changes that yield big results.

Releasing the Teaching to Students

Mark Levine releases responsibility for teaching and assessment to students late in the school year, and hears echoes of learning from previous units.

Who Owns the Learning?

An enthusiastic student response to an author visit inspires Christy Rush Levine to revamp her upcoming unit on craft moves to foster more student ownership.

Forming Groups Using a Planner

Dana Murphy explains how her small-group planner is an essential tool for organizing groups in her fourth-grade classroom.

Getting Started with Strategy Lessons

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they help teachers move from guided reading to strategy groups in the upper elementary grades.

Slowing Down

Bitsy Parks comforts a crying child after lunch, and realizes how essential it is to continually slow down the fast pace of learning in her classroom.

Don’t Forget to Marvel

Ruth Ayres is interrupted during a busy day by a first-grade teacher who enthuses over the details in a student draft. This leads to some reflection on the importance of taking time to marvel.

Think Small

Christy Rush-Levine realized she had to help her students find a different “why” for their time in her classroom and school beyond test scores.

Secret Reader

Suzy Kaback marvels at a very young learner who is a “secret reader,” and this leads her to reassess the value of constantly celebrating new skills in school communities.

Google It!

Ruth Ayres encourages her son to use the web for assistance when doing homework, and then has to ponder whether what she is advocating qualifies as cheating.

Unadulterated Reading

Just reading. Pure, unadulterated reading. That’s the reading homework that matters most in the long run. Stephanie Affinito explains why.

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