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Mindful Test-Taking

High-stakes tests weigh on teachers and students through the winter and spring. Mark Levine shares mindfulness strategies for test-taking, explaining how to help students recommit and refocus in the midst of an exam.

The Magic That Might Go Down

Christy Rush-Levine decides to slow down in her classroom and engage more fully with a student who is a wiseacre and resistant reader. What happens next can only be described as magic.

Reset

Christy Rush-Levine finds her students sometimes need to stop and be challenged to think in more positive ways about their reading abilities. She describes how she designs minilessons for impromptu resets in her middle school classroom.

Poetry Connections

Poetry writing always has the potential to spark some magic in students. Christy Rush-Levine finds this magic requires a few conditions to be in place first in her middle school 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.

High Standards and Struggling Learners

Mark Levine explains why high standards can be helpful even for students who are struggling in his middle school classroom.

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.

Student-Led Minilessons in Middle School

One student’s request to lead a minilesson is a catalyst for Mark Levine to see the value of student-led minilessons as an assignment for all in his middle school classroom.

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.

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.

Balancing Whole-Class and Independent Reading in Middle School

The choice between whole-class novels or independent reading can be a false one in many middle school classrooms. Katie Doherty’s sixth graders discuss their reading together of a novel in verse, and Katie explains how some shared whole-class texts can support independent reading.

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.

Getting to Know Each Other Through the Work

Mark Levine explains why he dives right into work in his middle school classroom, rather than getting-to-know-you activities. And through the work, a community is born.

Seeking Personal Relevance

Christy Rush-Levine has to figure out how to engage a class of students that is compliant and dutiful, but shows little passion for reading and writing.

From Title to Theme: Conferring with Jadev

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Jadev about how the title of a book often gives clues to its theme.

Understanding War: Conferring with Cam

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Cam, an eighth grader who seeks to understand the complexity of war through the experiences of main characters in novels.

Using a Storyboard for Reflection and Comprehension

Christy Rush-Levine shows a group of three students how they can use a storyboard to help track thinking while reading.

Spreading Love with Compliments

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills close out the year in their eighth-grade classroom with a compliments activity.

A Community Reads “Wonder”

Katherine Sokolowski had a dream — her whole community reading and celebrating the same book. She explains how she helped coordinate, organize, and purchase hundreds of books for a community-wide reading of Wonder.

Peer Support in Writing Workshop: Conferring with Jaden

Christy Rush-Levine meets with eighth grader Jaden, who talks through his struggles in writing a conclusion to his literary analysis, and how his peers helped him improve the writing.
 

Leveraging Read Aloud

Christy Rush-Levine finds administrators are questioning the value of read alouds, especially with older students. She shares how she uses the picture book Love in her middle school classroom to launch challenging discussions about timely themes.

Writing Workshop Bingo

Carly Ulmer develops a bingo board to use with her middle school students to give them more choice and foster independence while crafting writing in specific genres.

The Importance of Context Minilesson

Christy Rush-Levine uses a vivid anecdote from her youth to teach her middle school students about the importance of context in literary analysis.

Revising Thinking Through Multiple Readings

We’ve all had that student — the one who blurts out a misreading of a text, only to have classmates agree with the analysis. Christy Rush-Levine explains how she uses “first-, second-, and third-draft readings” to help her middle school students develop stronger comprehension skills.

Stop and Inquire

Mark Levine capitalizes on what captures his middle school students’ attention with his Stop and Inquire routine.

Flash Forward with New Students

The dark days of winter may be the best time to plan for spring step-up events to introduce students to next year's teachers. Christy Rush-Levine has a new goal of using the day to promote summer reading.

Teaching Revision in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills.

Tips for Student Podcasting

Mark Levine details a podcast assignment he used with his middle school students to explore civil rights topics, including software options, a template to help students get organized, and a realistic timeframe.

Writing a Strong Conclusion to a Literary Analysis Essay

Christy Rush-Levine helps eighth grader Katherine sort through tools and strategies for writing a strong conclusion to her literary analysis essay.

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