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Expanding Black History Month Reading

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.

Russell Freedman Book Clubs

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.

History Through a Child’s Eyes: Conferring with Omar

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Omar, who is reading The Rock and the River.  The book is a fictional account of a tumultuous time in civil rights history, considering protests through a child’s eyes.

Picture Book Biographies

Stella Villalba shares some of her favorite new picture book bIographies for bringing history to life for young learners, with a focus on perseverance.

The Big Fresh September 8, 2018 Mothers of the Brides

We consider the connections between personal history and literacy in this week’s Big Fresh.

A Poem About Lost Friendship: Conferring with Estelle

Estelle shares a poem she has written about lost friendship with her teacher, Katherine Sokolowski. She captures the fickle nature of fifth-grade relationships among girls. Katherine connects the cadence of the writing to the style of The Crossover, and helps Estelle find possibilities for more writing.

Ohana Means “Family”

Suzy Kaback is startled to see a picture of her deceased father on the wall when she visits her daughter’s seventh-grade classroom. It’s the start of learning about the power of ohana in schools.

Does the Pencil Still Have Power?

Ruth Ayres wonders if the pencil still has power, taking readers through a whirlwind history of the writing tool in her life, schools, and the world.

The Big Fresh September 1, 2018 Listening to Children

We consider literacy foundations in this week’s Big Fresh.

Message from the Moon

Shirl McPhillips crafts a message from the moon about tone in poetry and school in her latest poem and companion essay.

Avoiding Flat Tires

Jen Schwanke gets berated by a tire shop repair guy for ignoring routine maintenance needs on her bike. That gets her thinking about what needs routine maintenance in elementary classrooms.

Building Routines

Bitsy Parks teaches the foundations of first-grade classroom life through minilessons early in the year.

Reading Partners: Process Discussion

Gigi McAllister helps fourth-grade reading partners evaluate their success and areas to work on in their partnership.

Confusing Children

Ruth Ayres explains why we can’t assume children who have experienced trauma understand the foundations and routines of how school works

The Big Fresh August 25, 2018 Gym Workshop

We explore reading response in this week’s Big Fresh.

Reader Response as an Entry to Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.

Reading Conference: Keeping Track of Characters

Christy Ruth-Levine confers with Edith, who is tracking character changes in the novel Room.

Annotating While Reading

Franki Sibberson finds teaching students to annotate while reading is one of the best ways to promote ongoing reflective response in her fifth-grade classroom. She shares how she starts teaching annotation skills early in the year.

What Does It Mean to Read?

“I read 35 pages!” An elated student deflates Bitsy Parks in her first-grade classroom. By mid-fall she is alarmed at the responses of students to their reading in the whole-group share — they are all about quantity, with no thinking or reflection. She uses modeling and careful questioning to foster more thoughtful reader response.

The Big Fresh August 18, 2018 Lily Pads

We consider levels and limits in this week’s Big Fresh.

Making Meaning with Simple Text: Conferring in First Grade

Katrina Edwards confers with a first grader, looking beyond the level of the book early in the year to ensure the child is engaging with the story. She helps the child notice changes in the simple text and illustrations.

Guided Reading Run Amok

Shari Frost helps a teacher who has guided reading groups that have run amok, and discovers the real culprit is a lack of time for reading and writing in the literacy block.

Three Challenges for the 40 Book Challenge

Matt Renwick encourages you to ask a few critical questions before you adopt the 40-Book Challenge or any other activity with a number for a goal you’re going to be tied to all year long in your classroom.

Levels and What’s Appropriate

“How do you know what level they have selected?” a visitor asks Bitsy Parks as she observes during a first-grade independent reading period. “I don’t,” Bitsy responds, and explains why it is a beautiful thing.

The Big Fresh August 11, 2018 Stubborn Gladness

We look at first lessons and introductions to students in this week’s Big Fresh.

Read Alouds to Start the Year in First Grade

Bitsy Parks selects read alouds for the first weeks of school for many different purposes, from building community to helping her first graders navigate the classroom library.

Getting to Know Each Other Through the Work

Mark Levine explains why he dives right into work in his middle school classroom, rather than getting-to-know-you activities. And through the work, a community is born.

Organizing for Middle School

Tara Smith covers all the basics of how to get organized in middle school for the first days of literacy workshops.

First-Grade Reading Share: Focus on Conferring and Strategies

Bitsy Parks uses reading share time early in the year to describe and summarize the work in two conferences to help students learn how conferring, independent reading time, and strategy practice work. One of the books used in a conference is from a recent read aloud.

The Big Fresh August 4, 2018 Surprise

We look at creative ways to teach required units in this week's Big Fresh.

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