It's one of the big paradoxes of literacy instruction - students best learn how to read and write independently when they have a strong community of support in classrooms. How teachers build those thoughtful, kind, and challenging classroom communities is explained in these resources.
Melanie Meehan looks at the issue of engagement through the lens of student questions during read alouds, and shares a strategy to provoke more thoughtful student participation.
Bitsy Parks explains how the ending weeks of read alouds in her first-grade classroom are designed to celebrate learning and shared experiences from the entire year.
Students are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. Jennifer Schwanke explains how we can capitalize on that interest to build independent reading and writing habits.
Mark Levine capitalizes on what captures his middle school students’ attention with his Stop and Inquire routine.
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.
Bitsy Parks discovers that the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect on and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts.
Early January is a great time for relationship resets in classroom communities. Dana Murphy finds community building activities may be more helpful than just a review of classroom rules and norms.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills lead virtual parent book clubs to foster more home/school connections and build a love of reading outside the school walls.
Katherine Sokolowski confers with her son Liam and his friend Caden, helping them learn how to make peer book recommendations.
We spend a lot of time early in the year getting to know students and their families, and often celebrate the diversity of these families late in the year with multicultural festivals. Stella Villalba worries that this is a missed opportunity (especially with English language learners). She shares how teachers can integrate getting-to-know-you activities into regular classroom routines all year long.
Katherine Sokolowski demonstrates how she helps a group of girls in her fifth-grade classroom learn to help each other select books based on previous experiences and tastes.
Mark Levine always has a few students each year in his middle school classroom who are stunned by their poor grades, even when they clearly aren't meeting expectations. He develops a rubric to enable students to monitor and reflect on their learning behaviors daily.
Heather Fisher finds the key to independence for many first graders is lots of visual reminders in classrooms.
Andrea Smith builds reflection into whole-class discussions in her fourth-grade classroom by beginning an anchor chart with four different illustrations from the covers of a read-aloud.
Gigl McAllister explains why she hosts optional lunchtime author studies, with practical tips on getting started.
Gigi facilitates one of her lunchtime author fan clubs, where everyone gets organized and brainstorms what they might explore in the group during this first meeting.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how they use the first days and weeks of school to celebrate summer reading and build a classroom community.
Jillian Heise shares advice for teachers who want to try a #bookaday challenge of sharing at least one picture book each day with older students. She gives criteria for book selection, as well as examples of books to read at the start of the school year.
Christy Rush-Levine finds a community of new teachers bonds over a text highlighting addiction struggles. The experience leads her to think through what elements are essential for whole-class texts in her middle school classroom.
Jillian Heise rises to the challenge of reading a new picture book to her seventh and eighth graders each day all year long.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share suggestions for connecting with parents over the summer and early in the school year, including some fun uses of technology.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use Monday Headlines to energize students after the weekend, and get a peek into what’s going on at home.
Cathy Mere finds that a Reading Ambassadors program pays big dividends in building confident and conversant young readers.
Bitsy Parks finds building excitement for book awards works in tandem with generating enthusiasm for reading in her first-grade classroom.
Gigi McAllister explains why you have to be a bit choosy about reading and writing events since there are so many possibilities. Here are some she values in her fourth-grade classroom.
Katherine Sokolowski was that shy child hiding behind a tall classmate in the back of the room when she was a student. As a teacher, she makes sure there are many ways she helps bring out the voices of introverts in her fifth-grade classroom.
Bitsy Parks shares how she starts the day with literacy in her first-grade classroom.
Bitsy Parks teaches her first graders to write sticky note reminders throughout the day, and is delighted by the learning and community building that ensues.
Jennifer Schwanke shares her experience of having read-aloud go awry in a middle school classroom.
If children can choose just-right reading spots, they will have more stamina for reading. Heather Fisher explains how she works with first-grade teachers and students to build this skill.
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