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Sustaining (Not Just Building) Community Online
“What comes after we start?” Sara Kajder answers this tough question from a first-year teacher about what it takes to sustain a remote learning community.
August 14, 2020 A Place for Wonder

We look at how to help students differentiate between fact and fiction in this week’s newsletter.

Poetry Resources for Remote Learning

Poetry can be the glue that holds many virtual classroom communities together. It works for quick morning meeting openings, transitions, or even a bit of laughter when energy is flagging. Cathy Mere shares her favorite poetry resources for remote learning.

Fact or Fiction?

Suzy Kaback works with students to create a “fact or fiction” class book to explore the boundaries between truth and fantasy.

First-Grade Conference: Information Writing

Stella Villalba confers with Esmeralda about her information writing on blue jays.

Letting Students Organize Informational Books

Mandy Robek is a little nervous about setting her students loose to organize informational texts, but she couldn’t be more pleased by what they learned in the process.

August 7, 2020 Slow Down to Be Kind

We look at building kindness and community in this week’s newsletter.

Reading Minilesson: Theme

Dana Murphy leads a reading minilesson on theme in fifth grade, explaining how students might think more deeply about themes through characters’ problems.

Routines for Building Gratitude

Bitsy Parks finds even the dreariest days in her first-grade classroom are infinitely more enjoyable because she’s built in routines for expressing gratitude.

Management and Middle School Workshops

Christy Rush-Levine lowers the tension level in her class over management issues by moving from irritation to curiosity, using her “inner chimpanzee” voice.

July 31, 2020 The Importance of Routines

We look at routines and structures for learning in this week’s newsletter.

Lessons and Minilessons: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a lesson and a minilesson? Christy Rush-Levine finds that flexibility is just as important as length in making minilessons work well.

Planning Writing in Kindergarten

Hayley Whitaker leads a minilesson in kindergarten on how to plan a narrative writing draft.

Varying Workshop Structures to Meet Student Needs

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give guidance and support for varying the structures and routines in literacy workshops.

July 24, 2020 Christmas in July

We look at ways to learn student names and honor their history early in the year in this week’s newsletter.

First Grade Minilesson: Connections

Melissa Atwood leads her first-grade class with a minilesson early in the school year on making connections to text.

Picture Books for Persona Poems

Gretchen Schroeder uses picture books to help her high school students understand and write persona poems.

Call Me by My Name

Suzy Kaback reminds us that the language we use to talk about challenging students shapes our perceptions of them. That’s why she has moved to calling students “small teachers.”

July 17, 2020 Walking Tours

We look at ways to teach realistic and historical fiction in this week’s newsletter.

Sparking Ideas for Realistic Fiction

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they use examples from YA authors of how to mine everyday life for powerful ideas. They then help students move from ideas to blurbs as they start their realistic fiction drafts.

Conferring over Motivation and Genre

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Griffin over his reading responses. They consider the differences between dystopian literature and realistic fiction, as well as what motivates characters.

Building Interest Through Artifacts

Mark Levine has many students who haven’t traveled much more than 100 miles from home. He makes history come to life for them by bringing artifacts into his middle school classroom.

Historical Fiction Background Folders

Tara Smith finds that students in book clubs reading historical fiction are often confused because they lack background knowledge. Her solution is to create background folders that include key documents to support the history in the texts.

July 10, 2020 When Your Glasses Fall Into the Lake

We look at ways to reinforce learning after minilessons in this week’s newsletter.

First-Grade Conference: Repeated Phrases in Writing

Bitsy Parks confers with Michael about his gingerbread man writing. She encourages him to use a repeated phrase in the writing, echoing a whole-class lesson on repeated phrases.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Accountability for Young Writers

Stella Villalba teaches young writers about writer’s craft. So how come evidence of learning from the minilessons isn’t showing up when she confers with her students? She decides to develop a plan to help students link craft lessons with their writing.

Balancing Conferences and Small Groups

Balancing small groups and conferences is essential for transferring learning from lessons and units, and it’s one of the trickiest tasks for teachers. Dana Murphy explains how she works toward balance in her classroom, weighing everything from the timeline of the unit to the intensity of the minilesson.

June 5, 2020 My Son

We help teachers move from teaching retelling to theme in this week’s newsletter.

Literary Analysis in Eighth Grade: Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine helps Alyssa draft her literary analysis essay.

Navigating the Interpretation Process

Tammy Mulligan shares how she introduces students to the process of interpreting literature at different grade and developmental levels.

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