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Better Mondays Through Quick-Writes

Mark Levine uses quick-writes with his middle school students to set the expectation at the start of the week for work together that is independent, thoughtful, and conversational.

Critical Thinking and Captain Underpants

Christy Rush-Levine and some struggling eighth-grade readers consider misogyny in a popular children’s book.

Mentors for Process and Habits

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

Superpowers and a Middle School Classroom Library

Christy Rush-Levine explains how she gradually stocked her middle school classroom library, as well as how she uses student librarians to ensure books aren’t lost.

Reflective Transitions

Christy Rush-Levine helps her eighth-grade students launch the work period with a reflective question that sets a tone for productivity, and then returns to it throughout the morning during transition times.

Transition Time in Middle School

Gretchen Taylor considers how she handles hard transitions as an adult, and questions how she can make transitions more efficient and valuable for her middle school students.

Beginnings, Middles, and Endings: The Power of Baseline Assessments

Carly Ullmer shares how much her seventh-grade students learn from examining their own growth as writers with baseline, midpoint, and final assessments throughout the year.

The Living: Book Talk

Christy Rush-Levine introduces The Living to her eighth graders.

Book Talk: Trouble

Christy Rush-Levine previews the book Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt.

Last Chance Workshop

Christy Rush-Levine breaks her routine of responding to student writing, and instead calls on students to guide and support peers. She shares some surprising results.

Book Talk: When We Broke Up

Christy Rush-Levine piques the interest of her eighth graders in When We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.

A Formula for Great Book Talks

Christy Rush-Levine explains her formula for successful book talks in middle school that grab students' attention. We've also included a sample book talk.

Getting Teens Out of Reading Ruts: The Sampler

Carly Ullmer describes the activity she's developed for getting her middle school readers out of reading ruts by sampling different authors and genres.

Deep Reading of Picture Books in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine shows the power of using picture books with young adolescents to model close reading and deepen comprehension of sophisticated texts.

SITO: Self-Imposed Time-Out

Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO).

Building Stamina in Middle School Writers

Carly Ullmer finds herself wasting a lot of time because of interruptions during student conferences, so she makes building stamina in her middle school students a priority.

Invitations for Narrative Writing

Kim Campbell suggests activities and prompts to energize narrative writing with teens.

Visual Reading for Writing

Carly Ulmer uses visual literacy to build writing skills with her seventh graders through two powerful minilessons.

Literary Analysis and Authenticity in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine finds the best way to help her middle school students learn to read closely for literary analysis is through student writing. They begin with analyzing student exemplars from the Common Core, and then move to shared texts as they hone their skills.

Embracing Standards in Creative Ways

Christy Rush-Levine makes links between standards, video clips, and close reading.

Data That Matters

What information is gathered by a teacher sitting in a rocking chair quietly watching her students? Christy Rush-Levine discover it is plenty.

Speed Dating Books

Carly Ullmer presents a fun activity for introducing teens to new books and each other as readers, capitalizing on their interests.

Just Reading?

Christy Rush-Levine challenges the notion that there is anything easy or natural about getting young teens to select and read books independently in classrooms.

The Beginnings of a Middle School Literacy Community

What do you do on day one? Christy Rush-Levine describes the routines in her middle school classroom.

Feed Forward

Carly Ullmer learns a powerful lesson about teaching her middle school students to respond to peer writing.

Student-Created Text Sets

Jillian Heise’s middle school students design text sets late in the school year. It’s a great activity for discovering how they have grown as readers, as well as a gift to next year’s class.

Closing Out the Year with “Where I’m From”

Jillian Heise shares a marvelous poetry writing activity for students who are transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school.

Student Learning Targets

Christy Rush-Levine finds she has to rethink learning targets for her middle school students if she wants students to pursue complex and lifelong reading goals.

Book Blurbs in the Middle School Classroom

Jillian Heise uses the quirky genre of book blurbs in her middle school classroom to model summaries and glean information about students’ comprehension, reading interests, and writing skills.

Blackout Poems and Paint-Chip Haiku: Two Fun Ways into Poetry with Adolescents

Jillian Heise uses the lowly paint-chip board to inspire poetry in her middle school students.

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