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Doing the Writing in a Unit

One way to keep your instruction fresh in a required writing unit is to take on the tasks and topics yourself. Dana Murphy finds completing the assignments herself is well worth her time, and gives her a treasure trove of notebook entries to use in her conferring.

Fourth-Grade Minilesson: Character Traits

Gigi McAllister helps her fourth graders develop the characters in their writing with a minilesson. She uses three mentor texts, one of which is her own writing.

Writing on Someone Else’s Topic

Shari Frost finds she has to do required, on-demand writing for a new job, and in the process develops a new appreciation for how teachers struggle with rigid reading and writing programs.

Fall Fluster

Bitsy Parks is stressed from trying to "cover" all the lessons in the first required reading unit of the year with her first graders. She takes a deep breath, and decides to integrate more of her own lessons into her instruction.

The Big Fresh July 28, 2018 Passion for Work

We look at launching classroom libraries in this week’s Big Fresh.

Enticing Young Readers: First-Grade Group

Bitsy Parks helps first graders early in the year engage with the library by introducing a series with companion stuffed animals to a small group.

How to Get Books Off Shelves

Christy Rush-Levine writes about the push and pull of wanting to put books into students’ hands, and needing at the same time to give them room to explore the classroom library.

Fifth-Grade Book Talk: Wish Girl

Katherine Sokolowski builds interest in a new book in the classroom library through a book talk on Wish Girl.

Keeping the Classroom Library Current

Franki Sibberson explains how she watches students closely and adjusts her library based on what she sees all year long.

The Big Fresh July 21, 2018 Hitting Save

We reflect on routines in this week’s Big Fresh.

And This Makes Me Think

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

First-Grade Read and Think Check-In

Katrina Edwards demonstrates a read and think check-in from her first-grade classroom.

Wounded Warriors: Trauma and Literacy Routines

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

When One Door Closes

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

The Big Fresh July 14, 2018 Work and Play

We consider the difference between engagement and compliance in this week’s Big Fresh.

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.

Student Notes: Slow Down and Think

Fifth-grader Orion uses sticky notes to make questions and predictions at the end of each chapter.

The Big Fresh June 23, 2018 Time to Write

We look at strategies for self care in this week’s Big Fresh.

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.

Student Notes: Reading for Writing

Reagan, a fifth grader in Franki Sibberson's class, explains how she uses sticky notes to flag examples of writer's craft she could use in her own writing.

The Big Fresh June 16, 2018 Old Boat

We look at how to teach theme to teens and tweens in this week’s Big Fresh.

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.

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.

Student Notes: Reminders for Later

We continue our video series from Franki Sibberson's class of fifth graders explaining how they take notes while reading. Sarah marks important elements early in the mystery she is reading, so she can easily refer to them later.

From Title to Theme: Conferring with Jadev

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Jadev about how the title of a book often gives clues to its theme.

The Big Fresh June 9, 2018 Free Range

We consider the importance of background knowledge in this week’s Big Fresh.

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