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Drawing and Learning in Kindergarten

Max Brand demonstrates basic drawing strategies early in the year, and then has his kindergartners attempt similar pictures. He explains how the exercise builds basic skills both in literacy and hand/eye coordination.

No Pictures Stinks!

Shari Frost remembers how she inadvertently stifled the creativity of one of her most enthusiastic first-grade writers. Her story has important lessons for all of us about the importance of voice and choice for learners of all ages.

August 2, 2019 Diving into New Roles

We look at how to build classroom communities early in the year in this week’s newsletter.

Student Greeting

Students in the first-grade classroom of Bitsy Parks lead a morning greeting at the start of the day. It’s a quick activity to check attendance, build reading skills, and help students learn the names of classmates in the community.

Status of the Class: Reflecting on Reading Communities

Franki Sibberson uses status of the class each day as a window into her fledgling reading community.

A Better Status of the Class

Dana Murphy finds that adding numbers of pages to her status-of-the-class list for reading makes all the difference in assessing students’ growth and needs as readers.

Linking Literacy and Community at the Start of the Year

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills start with the poem “Where I’m From” to build community through literacy at the start of the year.

Voices Mantra

Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth graders lead their classmates in a “voices” mantra. This shared chant created together starts each class with a sense of community and strength.

July 26, 2019 Death by Banana

We look at reading at home in this week’s newsletter.

July 19, 2019 Data Without Judgment

We look at classroom, coaching, and literacy norms in this week’s newsletter.

Speed Reading

Adolescent learners can face daunting reading loads in high school that they need to tackle at home. Jen Schwanke has tips for how teachers and parents can work together to help teens develop strategies for dealing with a lot of complex reading quickly.

Managing Take-Home Books

Sending books home with young readers is essential. Cathy Mere gives lots of practical tips for designing a take-home books program and communicating with families about what young readers need.

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.

Forgetting and Remembering

In the end classroom management often comes down to students valuing the same things we do. Jen Schwanke has tips for how high school teachers can create a culture where there is better communication and more shared values.

July 12, 2019 The Most Important Person

We look at the pros and cons of assigning literacy homework in this week’s newsletter.

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.

June 21, 2019 Invitations to Move

We look at how to improve small-group instruction in this week’s newsletter.

Read-Aloud Annotations: Google Slides

In this video series, Franki Sibberson’s fifth graders share their strategies for annotating the class read aloud. In this installment, Antonio shares his Google Slides.

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.

June 14, 2019 Fly-Fishing on a Basketball Court

We look at talk scaffolds for learners of all ages in this week’s newsletter.

June 7, 2019 Maps and Journeys

We look at student note-taking in this week’s newsletter.

Read-Aloud Annotations: Google Docs for Questions

In this video series, Franki Sibberson’s fifth graders share their strategies for annotating the class read-aloud. In this installment, Lauren uses Google Docs to record questions to explore as she listens.

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.

Read-Aloud Annotations: Expectation and Reality

In this video series, Franki Sibberson’s fifth graders share their strategies for annotating the class read-aloud. In this installment, Lizzie uses her notebook to focus on expectations and reality for characters, especially when it comes to stereotypes.

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.

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