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Comics and Graphic Novels for Tweens

Comic books and graphic novels are genres tweens adore, but teachers sometimes struggle to embrace. Ruth Shagoury creates a booklist with engaging books in the genre any teacher would enjoy.

The Big Fresh June 2, 2018 Memory

We explore how to take better notes in this week’s Big Fresh.

Student Notes: Experimenting with Two Strategies

What do student notes from independent reading look like when students have free choice? In this video series, fifth graders from Franki Sibberson's class explain their notetaking strategies. We start with Ally, who tries out two different strategies to figure out which one will help her the most.

Conferring Notes

When it comes to conferring notes, form needs to follow function. Dana Murphy quit looking for the perfect template, and started focusing on what kinds of notes are most helpful.

Conference Records That Stay with Kids

Ruth Ayres explains why conferring records that stay with kids are the most useful for teachers.

The Big Fresh May 26, 2018 Everyday Subversions

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

Conferring: Establishing a Setting in a Novel

In this week's video, Aimee Buckner has a quick conference with a fourth grader about ways to solve a dilemma — how to figure out the setting in a historical fiction novel when there are no pictures.

Leads Minilesson

This fifth-grade minilesson from Franki Sibberson is a lovely mix of mentor texts, Franki's own writing, and honesty about the writing process.

Content and Context

Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.

Launching a Historical Fiction Genre Study

Tara Smith finds her sixth graders love historical fiction, but they often lack the background knowledge to understand texts fully. She launches her historical fiction unit with a careful mix of discussion, anchor charts, and shared texts.

The Big Fresh May 19, 2018 Style

We look at middle school reading and writing workshops in this week’s Big Fresh.

Using a Storyboard for Reflection and Comprehension

Christy Rush-Levine shows a group of three students how they can use a storyboard to help track thinking while reading.

Rethinking Spring Assessments

It's May, and teachers everywhere are preparing for final assessments of students. Jennifer Schwanke explains why it might be time to rethink or even ditch some of those plans.

More Scholarly Discussions in Middle School

“Eat my shorts!” Christy Rush-Levine overhears a student comment in a literature group, and begins a quest to teach her students strategies for more appropriate and thoughtful conversations around texts.

Know and Wonder: Deepening Reflection at the Start of Texts

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a know and wonder activity to encourage curiosity and independence as their seventh graders are beginning a new text.

The Big Fresh May 12, 2018 Appearances

We look at the power of classroom talk in this week’s Big Fresh.

Talk Guide

Gigi McAllister presents a guide to her fourth-grade students to improve talk in reading trios.

Improving Turn-and-Talks

Melanie Meehan shares questions and reflection prompts to make the "turn and talk" strategy more effective.

Independent Project Hiccups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills conclude their series on independent projects with advice on how to handle issues that often crop up as students design and work through writing their projects.

Compass Points and Empathy

Andrea Smith uses the “compass points” strategy to provoke better whole-class discussions and reflection during read alouds.

The Big Fresh May 5, 2018 The Space Between

We consider the boundaries between home and school in this week’s Big Fresh.

My World Maps

Creating “world” maps is a great way to explore the territories beyond school that matter most to everyone in your classroom. Suzy Kaback explains how to create them with students early in the year as a way to get to know them as learners and community members.

Authentic Reading in Kindergarten

Dana Murphy realizes the best way to introduce students to reading in kindergarten is to apply the principles that work at home with her own children.

One Child, Many Stories

Asking the right questions of family members can get you far more valuable information than anything from an assessment, especially when you are dealing with English language learners. Stella Villalba explains why initial meetings with new families are crucial.

Group Meeting: Sharing Resources for Animal Study

Katherine Sokolowski helps her fifth-grade students expand their territory for their animal research projects by sharing information sources and peer connections.

The Big Fresh April 28, 2018 Doing Enough

We consider how to close out the year strong in this week’s Big Fresh.

Summer Reading

Bitsy Parks reflects upon her own not-so-successful experiences as a parent in getting her four children to read during the summer months. She uses these parenting lessons to help students take the initiative for summer reading by writing down commitments and goals in her first-grade classroom.

Spreading Love with Compliments

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills close out the year in their eighth-grade classroom with a compliments activity.

The Big Fresh April 21, 2018 Big Dog

We consider what makes literacy instruction authentic in this week’s Big Fresh.

Looking Forward with Students

Melanie Meehan uses reflective questions and video to build a library of materials at the end of the year to use with next year's class.

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