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Slowing Down

Bitsy Parks comforts a crying child after lunch, and realizes how essential it is to continually slow down the fast pace of learning in her classroom.

Don’t Forget to Marvel

Ruth Ayres is interrupted during a busy day by a first-grade teacher who enthuses over the details in a student draft. This leads to some reflection on the importance of taking time to marvel.

A Minilesson on Minilessons

Franki Sibberson leads a minilesson in her fifth-grade classroom to help students design their own lessons. Students also assess what goes into a high-quality minilesson.

Think Small

Christy Rush-Levine realized she had to help her students find a different “why” for their time in her classroom and school beyond test scores.

Secret Reader

Suzy Kaback marvels at a very young learner who is a “secret reader,” and this leads her to reassess the value of constantly celebrating new skills in school communities.

March 29, 2019 Salad Dressing and Soft Spots

We look at literacy homework in this week’s newsletter.

Google It!

Ruth Ayres encourages her son to use the web for assistance when doing homework, and then has to ponder whether what she is advocating qualifies as cheating.

Stretching Writing in First Grade with Details

Bitsy Parks makes the home-school connection with first grader Grace early in the year as she writes about her birthday party.

Unadulterated Reading

Just reading. Pure, unadulterated reading. That’s the reading homework that matters most in the long run. Stephanie Affinito explains why.

Small Group: Creativity

Franki Sibberson pulls together a group of fifth graders to explore writing mentors together.

March 22, 2019 Spring Break

We’re celebrating spring with our Annual Spring Break edition of the newsletter, featuring the 10 most popular articles published over the past year.

March 15, 2019 Impossible Negotiations

Argument and persuasion is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

March 8, 2019 With Students in Mind

We consider student identity and ownership in this week’s newsletter.

Opinion Proof Lesson

Christy Rush-Levine helps her students create an “opinion proof chart” in their notebooks. This exercise helps them build their skills in backing up opinions with evidence.

A Fresh Take on Persuasive Writing

Louise Wrobleski uses video clips, children’s literature, and newspaper articles to teach middle school students new ways to craft persuasive writing.

Reading That Changes Us

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills slow down the “Article of the Week” nonfiction reading activity, making space for more reflection and thoughtful discussion.

March 1, 2019 Joy and Ambition

This week we dive in to understanding scaffolds.

February 22, 2019 What’s Your Catchphrase?

This week we consider the ways mentor texts can be thoughtful “detours” for learning.

Student-Led Minilesson: Annotating Reading with Sticky Notes

Students can claim who they are as readers and writers by designing and presenting minilessons to their peers. In this week’s video, fifth grader Reagan from Franki Sibberson’s classroom presents a lesson on annotating reading with sticky notes.

Building Cultural Awareness

Stella Villalba explains how frustrations with the families of English language learners can come from misunderstandings of cultural norms, and gives some tips for building awareness.

Reading Bingo

Gretchen Schroeder has developed a fun version of Reading Bingo to help students explore their identity as readers. The activity includes clever social media inspired options like creating memes and “bookstagram” posts.

The Power of Paper

Melanie Meehan details how different paper options can be a powerful scaffold for students as they explore different writing genres. She includes many sample scaffolds to download for use in an opinion writing unit.

Scaffolding Revision with a Mentor Text

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills show how to break down mentor texts into brief excerpts for step-by-step scaffolding of writers in the intermediate grades.

Crafting the Basics: First-Grade Writing Conference

Bitsy Parks confers with Aubrey early in the year, using books from whole-class lessons as a scaffold for understanding key text elements like title, author, and illustrations.

Exploring Dystopian Literature: Fifth-Grade Reading Conference

Katherine Sokolowski confers with Ian about The Giver, broadening his understanding of the text to consider other dystopian literature.

Bringing Multiple Texts and Perspectives into Teaching Point of View

Katherine Sokolowski finds her students are struggling to understand point of view. She takes a detour over a week with mentor texts, quick assists from favorite writers on Twitter, and practice sessions retelling Little Red Riding Hood to teach the concept.

Detour Texts

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the concept of “detour texts”—picture books to use as mentor texts in the intermediate grades to illustrate complex literary elements. They also share three of their favorite new children’s books to use as detours.

February 15, 2019 Abandoned Canoes

This week we focus on revision minilessons in the intermediate grades.

Revising Literary Analysis Essays: Supporting Claims

Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.

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