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And This Makes Me Think

Dana Murphy considers how teachers can make writing workshop routines more cozy and like writing at home.

When One Door Closes

Gretchen Schroeder finds new routines in her high school workshop means letting go of old expectations.

Wounded Warriors: Trauma and Literacy Routines

Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma.

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.

Invitations vs. Accountability

It’s not an invitation if students are required to accept it. Franki Sibberson explains how engagement depends upon true choice and lots of options in her fifth-grade classroom.

The Year’s First Read Aloud

From length to heart, Tara Smith provides seven criteria for selecting the first read aloud of the year that can engage students right from the start.

Flipping Negative Teacher Emotions

Gretchen Schroeder struggles to understand the meaning and value of her teaching when two former students overdose and die in separate incidents, and another is indicted on murder charges. These events lead to deep reflection on how teachers can move beyond feelings of sadness, apathy, and envy.

 

Three-Word Meditation

Mark Levine depends upon a simple meditation strategy during the required moment of silence in his classroom to begin each day with a calm sense of purpose.

Recharging with My Tribe

Stella Villalba uses the inquiry and reflection skills she has developed as a teacher to pore through her planner and journal for clues to why her energy flagged in the winter and spring, and what she can do differently next year.

Getting to the Heart of Theme

Tara Smith shares many strategies for helping her sixth graders get to the heart of understanding themes in literature.

Splashing Around to Find Themes

Christy Rush-Levine moves from emphasizing theme to teaching strategies for understanding text, and finds it’s a much better way to get her eighth graders to grapple with theme in natural, organic ways.

Writing Routines: Drafting Autonomy

Justin Stygles questions his conferring routine during writing workshops, and the value of interrupting students early in the drafting process.

Comics and Graphic Novels for Tweens

Comic books and graphic novels are genres tweens adore, but teachers sometimes struggle to embrace. Ruth Shagoury creates a booklist with engaging books in the genre any teacher would enjoy.

Refugees: A Children’s Booklist

There is probably no population more misunderstood or vilified than refugees. Stella Villalba shares a booklist to help young students understand the refugee's plight and experiences.

Conference Records That Stay with Kids

Ruth Ayres explains why conferring records that stay with kids are the most useful for teachers.

Conferring Notes

When it comes to conferring notes, form needs to follow function. Dana Murphy quit looking for the perfect template, and started focusing on what kinds of notes are most helpful.

Content and Context

Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.

Launching a Historical Fiction Genre Study

Tara Smith finds her sixth graders love historical fiction, but they often lack the background knowledge to understand texts fully. She launches her historical fiction unit with a careful mix of discussion, anchor charts, and shared texts.

Rethinking Spring Assessments

It's May, and teachers everywhere are preparing for final assessments of students. Jennifer Schwanke explains why it might be time to rethink or even ditch some of those plans.

More Scholarly Discussions in Middle School

“Eat my shorts!” Christy Rush-Levine overhears a student comment in a literature group, and begins a quest to teach her students strategies for more appropriate and thoughtful conversations around texts.

Know and Wonder: Deepening Reflection at the Start of Texts

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a know and wonder activity to encourage curiosity and independence as their seventh graders are beginning a new text.

Improving Turn-and-Talks

Melanie Meehan shares questions and reflection prompts to make the "turn and talk" strategy more effective.

Independent Project Hiccups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills conclude their series on independent projects with advice on how to handle issues that often crop up as students design and work through writing their projects.

Compass Points and Empathy

Andrea Smith uses the “compass points” strategy to provoke better whole-class discussions and reflection during read alouds.

One Child, Many Stories

Asking the right questions of family members can get you far more valuable information than anything from an assessment, especially when you are dealing with English language learners. Stella Villalba explains why initial meetings with new families are crucial.

My World Maps

Creating “world” maps is a great way to explore the territories beyond school that matter most to everyone in your classroom. Suzy Kaback explains how to create them with students early in the year as a way to get to know them as learners and community members.

Authentic Reading in Kindergarten

Dana Murphy realizes the best way to introduce students to reading in kindergarten is to apply the principles that work at home with her own children.

Summer Reading

Bitsy Parks reflects upon her own not-so-successful experiences as a parent in getting her four children to read during the summer months. She uses these parenting lessons to help students take the initiative for summer reading by writing down commitments and goals in her first-grade classroom.

Spreading Love with Compliments

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

Looking Forward with Students

Melanie Meehan uses reflective questions and video to build a library of materials at the end of the year to use with next year's class.

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