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Charts as Tools, Charts as Teachers

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give three principles they use to help avoid the “charts as wallpaper” syndrome in their fourth-grade classroom.

Mentors for Process and Habits

Ruth Ayres shares some of her favorite mentors and mentor texts for developing good writing processes and habits.

Introducing the Classroom Library

Andrea Smith shares a sequence of lessons she uses to introduce the classroom library to her fourth-grade students.

Prepping the Meeting Area for Success

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they set up their meeting area with the right supplies to build community and student independence.

Student-Centered Room Setup

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe the principles they use to design a student-centered classroom.

Trying on Books for Reading Groups

Gigi McAllister finds taking time to have students browse texts before forming book clubs makes all the difference in the quality of the discussions.

A Place to Belong

Andrea Smith reflects on preparing to say goodbye to students and her teaching partner of many years. If you have a favorite colleague who is retiring, you may want to get a hankie ready before you read this one.

An Individualized Conventions Checklist

Melanie Meehan finds that a flexible conventions checklist that students develop according to their own needs is the best way to ensure conventions are taught in the context of authentic student work.

Strategies for Elaboration in Opinion Writing

Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders who are struggling to elaborate on themes in their opinion writing.

Weaving in Poetry

Gigi McAllister shares suggestions for infusing poetry throughout classrooms and the literacy curriculum all year long.

Owl Research Brainstorming: Partner Work

Andrea Smith’s fourth graders are working on an Owl Research project that integrates reading, writing, talking, listening, and content literacy.

Alternatives to Home/School Reading Logs

There may be few literacy homework assignments more despised by families than the dreaded reading log. Gigi McAllister proposes some alternatives, and explains how she keeps families in the loop on reading progress.

Reorganizing the Classroom Library

Gigi McAllister reorganizes her classroom library checkout system, and finds that a little upfront investment in time pays big dividends all year long.

Restarting a Writing Draft in Fourth Grade

Beth Lawson confers with Michael, a fourth-grade writer who struggles with focus and basic conventions.

Using Reading Notebook Covers for Reflection and Goal Setting

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan are using reading notebook covers in ingenious ways.

Getting Started with Digital Portfolios

Megan Skogstad shares advice launching digital portfolios.

Staying True to Best Practices with Required Resources

Are you required to use a reading or writing program that goes against your beliefs about teaching and learning? Gigi McAllister has suggestions for holding onto your beliefs and sanity.

Launching Student Data Binders

Megan Skogstad shares lots of practical advice for creating and sustaining student data binders.

Strategies for Using Reader’s Notebooks

Melanie Swider enhances read alouds and the entire reading workshop with creative uses for reading notebooks.

Fourth-Grade Read Aloud: Checking In

In this video from a fourth-grade classroom, Gi Reed reads aloud Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Gi continually checks in with her students, making sure they are visualizing, noticing new vocabulary, and making connections to earlier incidents in the texts—all without breaking the flow of the story.

Owl Research Notes Group

Andrea Smith helps a group of boys take notes during an owl research project.

Using Picture Books to Foster Resilience

Gigi McAllister uses picture books to strengthen her fourth grade classroom community.

Percy Jackson Read-Aloud in Fourth Grade

Tony Keefer demonstrates how he makes his read-alouds interactive, and explains why he selected Percy Jackson to use with this group of fourth graders.

Giving Students a Notebook Tour

Melanie Meehan finds a notebooks tour is a terrific minilesson for helping students expand the ways they use notebooks.

Notebook Sketching: Conferring with Sarah

Aimee Buckner confers with Sarah about sketching in her notebook.

Finding Pockets of Time

Gigi McAllister gives suggestions for finding pockets of time in overstuffed schedules.

Making Time for Individual Conferences

Franki Sibberson explains how longer conferences early in the year pay dividends all year long.

Moving Away from Bed to Bed: Conferring with Ty

Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Ty about his personal narrative, and works to move him away from a “bed-to-bed” approach in his writing.

Making Memories Stick: Tutoring Kirk

Max Brand tutors a struggling fourth grader who produces very little writing.

Infographics and the Common Core: Resources and Standards

Andrea Smith explains why infographics are more useful than ever in the age of the Common Core, and provides many links to free infographic resources on the web.

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