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If you want to bring everyone in your school together around writing, you can’t beat the simplicity and fun of six-word memoirs. Jennifer Schwanke describes how she sparked enthusiasm for the project in her school.
Melanie Meehan explains why it is important to mentor students who are struggling with correct examples, and why she cautions writing teachers to avoid “find the mistakes” exercises.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why short-term writing goals can help students reset expectations for their writing on a daily basis, and how they make these goals an integral part of their writing workshops.
Andrea Smith confers with fourth grader Ian, who is plowing through a book series. She helps him look at the bigger picture of characters, themes, and how the series might end.
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.
When students set intentions, reflection and celebration go hand in hand. Melanie Meehan explains how teachers can help students become more explicit about intentions with practical cues from bulletin boards and index cards.
Do celebrations matter? If you know Ruth Ayres, you know her answer is always a resounding YES. Here are her best tips for sharing writing in a class celebration.
Shirl McPhillips shares a poem she’s written about her grandmother Eva, and the fragments of memory that inspired it.
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.
If you want stronger poetry from students, a good starting point might be to explore how to write a powerful simile. Gretchen Schroeder explains how she helps her high school students play with and create better similes.
Gretchen Schroeder finds helping her students see the value in rereading poems is all about helping them pay close attention to imagery.
Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops.
David Pittman delights in a student’s enthusiasm for poetry, leading him to reflect on how teachers often need to overcome their own negative history with poems to spark student love of the genre.
Matt Renwick describes the process of paying attention to telling details, and gives practical advice for teaching this skill to young writers.
Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.
Gretchen Schroeder finds just telling her high school class to include textual evidence when making points and arming them with sticky notes leaves many students bewildered. She regroups and comes up with activities to scaffold their understanding of what makes for valid evidence.
Stella Villalba is at a loss when a teacher is hostile to a new English language learner in her classroom. She considers the unspoken challenges of welcoming students who may have had no time at all in schools in their previous history.
Suzy Kaback feels rising unease as a tourist in unfamiliar neighborhoods. The experience provokes empathy for students who find classrooms strange or uncomfortable.
Gretchen Schroeder’s high school students are surprised to see a deck of cards on their supply list. The cards are a tool for teaching the vocabulary of tone in creative ways.
Retelling is an essential skill many English language learners struggle with. Stella Villalba finds tackling vocabulary in context is the key for many.
A word wall in preschool?! Shari Frost helps a teacher meet this impossible edict, and has a lot of fun in the process thinking about how our youngest learners acquire word knowledge.
Gretchen Schroeder reflects on why some of her students have developed a fear of reading by the time they reach high school.
Mark Levine explains why high standards can be helpful even for students who are struggling in his middle school classroom.
Parents of middle school students are often bewildered at how best to deal with their child’s unresponsiveness. Jennifer Schwanke explains how teachers can construct conferences with middle school parents that foster reflection, action, and shared goals.
Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol — reflection that leads to action for her students.
Franki Sibberson initiates student-led minilessons, and finds the process takes her literacy workshops to a new level of independence and energy.
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.
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.
A heavy sigh from a student is a cue to Shari Frost that he has heard the same Martin Luther King picture book biography one too many times in February. She shares her top picture book picks for expanding children’s awareness of black history all year long.
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