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The Big Fresh October 27, 2018 Stretching

We look at what constitutes evidence of learning in this week’s Big Fresh.

Evidence Claims in a Middle School Small Group

Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.

Readers’ Guides: Helping Students Think About Informational Text

Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.

Hunting for Textual Evidence

Gretchen Schroeder finds just telling her high school class to include textual evidence when making points and arming them with sticky notes leaves many students bewildered. She regroups and comes up with activities to scaffold their understanding of what makes for valid evidence.

The Big Fresh October 20, 2018 Crayons

We look at ways to make classrooms more comforting to students in this week’s Big Fresh.

Shoulders-Down Spaces

Suzy Kaback feels rising unease as a tourist in unfamiliar neighborhoods. The experience provokes empathy for students who find classrooms strange or uncomfortable.

The Right to Be Seen

Stella Villalba is at a loss when a teacher is hostile to a new English language learner in her classroom. She considers the unspoken challenges of welcoming students who may have had no time at all in schools in their previous history.

Reading Minilesson: A Good Partner

Katrina Edwards helps her first graders early in the year transition to more thoughtful reading partnerships through a minilesson at the start of the morning workshop.

The Big Fresh October 13, 2018 Raccoon

We look at creative takes on learning words in this week’s Big Fresh.

First-Grade Word Learning with Kinesthetics

Katrina Edwards teaches her first graders the word much using kinesthetics.

Teaching Tone: Deal Me In

Gretchen Schroeder’s high school students are surprised to see a deck of cards on their supply list. The cards are a tool for teaching the vocabulary of tone in creative ways.

Retelling and English Language Learners

Retelling is an essential skill many English language learners struggle with. Stella Villalba finds tackling vocabulary in context is the key for many.

The Big Fresh October 6, 2018 Get Under the Ball

We look at struggling, striving, and stuck learners in this week’s Big Fresh.

Word Walls in Preschool? Yes, You Can!

A word wall in preschool?! Shari Frost helps a teacher meet this impossible edict, and has a lot of fun in the process thinking about how our youngest learners acquire word knowledge.

Moving Beyond Pokemon: Conferring with Clover

Bitsy Parks works with a first grader stuck on writing about Pokemon characters. She uses other writing from Clover to nudge her to try something new.

Fear of Reading

Gretchen Schroeder reflects on why some of her students have developed a fear of reading by the time they reach high school.

High Standards and Struggling Learners

Mark Levine explains why high standards can be helpful even for students who are struggling in his middle school classroom.

The Big Fresh September 29, 2018 The “One Thing” Mindset

We look at how to confer for reflection and action in this week’s Big Fresh.

Linking Pictures and Text: Conferring with Ava

Katrina Edwards begins her conference with first grader Ava by having her share what she learned from a picture walk through a simple text, and then she helps her use pictures to decode text while reading.

Conferences Between Middle School Parents and Teachers

Parents of middle school students are often bewildered at how best to deal with their child’s unresponsiveness. Jennifer Schwanke explains how teachers can construct conferences with middle school parents that foster reflection, action, and shared goals.

Cause and Effect: Conferring with Olivia

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Olivia about the principle of cause and effect in the novel she is reading.

Four-Step Reading Conferences

Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol — reflection that leads to action for her students.

The Big Fresh September 22, 2018 Sometimes We Should Just Clap

We look at student-led minilessons in this week’s Big Fresh.

Planning a Student-Led Minilesson

Franki Sibberson helps Lucas plan his minilesson for his fifth-grade classmates on how to connect words and facts from two different sources.

Student-Led Minilessons in Fifth Grade

Franki Sibberson initiates student-led minilessons, and finds the process takes her literacy workshops to a new level of independence and energy.

Student-Led Minilesson: Connecting Facts from Different Sources

Lucas leads a minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on connecting facts from different sources.

Student-Led Minilessons in Middle School

One student’s request to lead a minilesson is a catalyst for Mark Levine to see the value of student-led minilessons as an assignment for all in his middle school classroom.

The Big Fresh September 15, 2018 Inviting the Stranger In

We have some fresh takes on teaching history and biography in this week’s Big Fresh.

Balancing Whole-Class and Independent Reading in Middle School

The choice between whole-class novels or independent reading can be a false one in many middle school classrooms. Katie Doherty’s sixth graders discuss their reading together of a novel in verse, and Katie explains how some shared whole-class texts can support independent reading.

Expanding Black History Month Reading

A heavy sigh from a student is a cue to Shari Frost that he has heard the same Martin Luther King picture book biography one too many times in February. She shares her top picture book picks for expanding children’s awareness of black history all year long.

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