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Rethinking a Study of Nonfiction Writing

Franki Sibberson reflects on her nonfiction writing unit, and realizes she emphasizes research skills at the expense of the craft of nonfiction writing.

Free Rice: Tools for Web-Based Vocabulary Learning

Mary Lee Hahn shares how she uses Free Rice in her classroom, as well as other online vocabulary learning tools.

Books to Get Us Ready for Summer Vacation

Franki Sibberson finds preparing students for summer reading is a little different this year, now that she has moved from classroom teaching to work in the school library. Here are some terrific books to get students excited about summer.

Reflections on Our Year of Read Alouds (BOOKLIST)

if you're moving from thinking about read alouds for the first days of school, to plotting out a plan for read alouds all year long, you might want to read Franki Sibberson's booklist of read-alouds used for the entire year with her 3rd and 4th grade students.

Novels in Verse (BOOKLIST)

Franki Sibberson provides a booklist of "novels in verse" – a genre intermediate readers enjoy, especially those who struggle with longer texts.

Just Because It’s Skinny, Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy: Matching Books to Transitional Readers in Grades 2-4

Franki Sibberson writes about her evolution in choosing books for transitional readers in grades 2-4. Franki includes a handy list of criteria for evaluating whether new short chapter books are appropriate for young readers.

Models, Coaches, Shepherds, or Rock Stars? Our Reading Roles in the First Few Weeks of School

Cheerleader? Shepherd? Rock Star? Coach? Andrea Smith considers her changing reading “roles” early in the school year as she tries to build a classroom community that shares her passion for literacy.

Knitting, Independence, and Small Group Routines for Intermediate Readers

Franki Sibberson uses a knitting analogy to reflect upon alternatives to guided reading in the intermediate grades that promote more student independence.

Animals as Ambassadors: Using Class Pets to Reach an English Language Learner

When a student is struggling, language barriers can make it even harder for teachers to connect. Andrea Smith finds webbing during conferring is an excellent strategy for assisting a young English language learner in her writer's workshop.

New Versions of Old Favorites (BOOKLIST)

Recently there has been less interest in retelling of classic tales by children’s book authors. Franki Sibberson’s booklist highlights some of the best new twists on favorite children’s stories.

Build Fluency with Books That Are Fun for Kids to Read Aloud Over and Over and Over Again

Here’s a booklist of delightful titles that will build fluency skills for students — both as read alouds, and during independent reading.

Wide Open Spaces: Learning from “Not-Just-Right” Books

When is it okay for a child to read a "not-just-right" book, especially one with themes that might be a bit sophisticated or of questionable taste? Andrea Smith confronts this issue as a parent, and thinks through what it might mean for her teaching.

The Luxury of Extra Reading Time Over the Holidays

Franki Sibberson finds the days before holiday break are the perfect time for talking through with students how to make pleasure reading choices. Her feature includes a template to help students organize and think through their preferences.

Community First: Using Read Alouds to Strengthen Classroom Connections

Mary Lee Hahn plans her read alouds for double duty, using them to build the community and a love of reading.

Teaching Themes Through Keywords

Aimee Buckner presents a simple strategy for helping students look for themes as they read a new text.

Forming Teams to Help Struggling Readers:A Pilot Project (TEMPLATES)

Andrea Smith shares observation strategies used within a teaching team.    The article includes templates developed by the group.

Reflecting on the First Six Weeks of Word Study

Franki Sibberson explains how she rethought word study during the first six weeks of school, giving manypractical examples of activities and routines with her intermediate students.

Strong Girls (BOOKLIST)

If Nancy Drew was an important literary role model for you when you were a preteen, you might enjoy a peek at the sassy new gals who are influencing our tweens.

To Fart or Not to Fart? Reflections on Boy Writers

"To Fart or Not to Fart?" was the question at the first meeting of Jennifer Allen's boys' literacy study group for teachers, and what followed was a rollicking discussion of writing, taste, and books that hook boys.

An Assessment Notebook That Works for Me

After lots of trial and error, Franki Sibberson finally has a format for her assessment notebook that works well.

Short Units, Big Messages

Those "in-between" writers in grades 3 and 4 present special challenges to teachers.  Some are fluent and versatile, writing page after page of drafts.  Other students struggle to craft even a sentence. Franki Sibberson explains how short texts and brief genre units can help intermediate writers with a wide range of abilities.

Makeover for the Teacher Desk Area

"The Sisters" (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) work with Sarah Thibault and friends in Maine to makeover the teacher desk area in her 4th grade classroom.

Running and Reading Logs

In this first video in a two-part series, Clare Landrigan meets with a group of fourth graders to talk about reading logs and goals. In this excerpt, Clare uses the analogy of how runners use logs to chart progress and set goals.

Running and Reading Logs Part II

In this second video in a two-part series, Clare Landrigan meets with a group of 4th graders to talk about reading logs and goals. In this excerpt, Clare confers with students over their logs and debriefs with their teacher.

“If You Like Matt Christopher” Student Book Share

In this video from Franki Sibberson’s grades 3-4 classroom, boys share books that are similar to ones written by Matt Christopher.

Helping Struggling Writers

How can we help students who are stuck when it comes time to write? Franki Sibberson shares a couple new strategies, including a book basket of texts selected by students themselves as useful for sparking writing topics in this photo essay.

Linking Math and Writing Through Word Problems

In this six-minute video, Franki Sibberson demonstrates how she helps her 3rd and 4th grade students make connections between writing workshop and math problem solving.

Old Elm Speaks Conclusion: Connecting Poetry, Observation, and Reading

In this second installment of a three-part video series, Aimee Buckner shows how observation skills, poetry, and reading instruction come together with the mentor text Old Elm Speaks by Kristin O'Connell George. In this final excerpt, students share what they wrote after browsing the book and completing some observations.

Animals for Literacy: 4th Grade Room Tour

In this five-minute video room tour, 4th grade teacher Andrea Smith from Dublin, Ohio shows how she builds a classroom community and much of her literacy curriculum from the care and study of unusual pets.

Conferring Close-Up: Test-Taking Strategies Part II

Andrea Smith confers with two 4th graders in her classroom as part of test preparation.

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