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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.

May 3, 2019 Buried Writing

We look at better ways to use notebooks in this week’s newsletter.

Key Elements of Short Stories

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

April 26, 2019 Neighborhood Grocery

We look at releasing responsibility for learning to students in this week’s newsletter.

Growing Toward Stories

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

Read Aloud Annotations: Characters and Intentions

In this video series, Franki Sibberson’s fifth graders share their strategies for annotating the class read aloud The Girl Who Drank the Moon. In this installment, Ben creates a graph in his notebook to record characters and intentions that are emerging in the story.

April 19, 2019 Step Back and Begin Again

We ponder how to keep assesssment in its place in this week’s newsletter.

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.

Read Aloud Annotations: Notebook Predictions

In this video series, Franki Sibberson’s fifth graders share their strategies for annotating the class read aloud, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Students have their choice of using notebooks or tech devices, and can pick any strategy that helps them make sense of the story. In this installment, Hannah shares her notebook where she highlights the setting and characters, as well as makes predictions.

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.

April 12, 2019 The Recipe Formula

We ponder how to keep assesssment in its place in this week’s newsletter.

April 5, 2019 Black Diamond

We explore grouping in grades 3-5 in this week’s newsletter.

Student-Led Minilession: Planning and Organizing Nonfiction Writing

Katie presents a student-led minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on organizing and planning nonfiction writing.

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.

Digital and Disney: Conferring with Ben

It would be easy to zip quickly through a writing conference about a vacation story, especially one about a trip to Disney. In this video, Franki Sibberson slows down with Ben to explore how he is meeting his goal of adding descriptive language to writing, using digital tools to assist.

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.

A Minilesson on Minilessons

Franki Sibberson leads a minilesson in her fifth-grade classroom to help students design their own lessons. Students also assess what goes into a high-quality minilesson.

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.

March 29, 2019 Salad Dressing and Soft Spots

We look at literacy homework in this week’s newsletter.

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.

Stretching Writing in First Grade with Details

Bitsy Parks makes the home-school connection with first grader Grace early in the year as she writes about her birthday party.

Unadulterated Reading

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

Small Group: Creativity

Franki Sibberson pulls together a group of fifth graders to explore writing mentors together.

March 22, 2019 Spring Break

We’re celebrating spring with our Annual Spring Break edition of the newsletter, featuring the 10 most popular articles published over the past year.

March 15, 2019 Impossible Negotiations

Argument and persuasion is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

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