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Journeys and Quests: January Literacy Contracts

Middle school teachers Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller focus on journeys and quests as the theme of their January Literacy Contracts in the latest installment of their year-long series.

Exploring Winter with Short Texts

Middle school teachers Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller focus on winter in short texts as the theme of their December Literacy Contracts in the latest installment of their year-long series.

November Contract: Family and Memoir

The November installment of Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller’s yearlong literacy contract series has a theme of family and memoir.

Learning from Kidwatching

Quiet kindergartners can be a challenge to understand when they are in the beginning stages of learning social and academic norms. Andie Cunningham uses observation to make sense of five-year-old Sierra’s learning.

Creating Your Own Kindergarten Assessment

Max Brand finds standard assessments don’t always give him the information he needs when working with kindergarten English language learners, so he develops his own tool for analyzing book handling skills.

October Literacy Contracts: Fear and Conflict

Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller continue their monthly series on using literacy contracts in middle school. The October literacy contracts have a theme of fear and conflict.

Kidwatching and Connections in the Early Days

Cathy Mere finds the early days of school are all about kidwatching and connecting with her first-grade students during reading and writing workshops. She shares some terrific guiding questions that might also help new teachers hone their observation skills.

Emphasizing Empathy: September Literacy Contracts

Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller are Emphasizing Empathy in their September literacy contracts for middle school students.

Literacy Contracts: Introduction

Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller present Reading Contracts, a system for middle and high school teachers that involves students contracting to complete specific texts and tasks each month.

The Cure for Value-Added Grief? Teacher Research

Gretchen Taylor goes through the stages of "value-added grief" when her sixth-grade team receives disappointing test scores from the state. Teacher research helps her find joy again in her classroom, as well as some useful strategies for helping a group of struggling readers.

Notebooks, Goals, and Writing About Characters in First Grade

Katie DiCesare confers with a group of first graders about their writing notebooks, goals, and drafts about the characters they are studying during reading workshop.

What Data Will You Be Collecting?

Tony Keefer explains why attitudinal survey data is important to collect early in the year, and shares different reading surveys he uses with students to understand their needs in the first six weeks of school.

Rethinking the Assessment Binder

Franki Sibberson’s dilemma? How to file every evaluation so it is organized and accessible (since she never knows when someone might ask for it), while still finding a way to keep the assessments she needs every day at her fingertips.

Reflecting All Year Long

Katherine Sokolowski finds the impulse for reflection is strong at the start of summer, but reflection works best when it’s built into routines all year long.

Independent Reading By the Numbers Is NOT Text Complexity

How do you guide students to select books for independent summer reading? Aimee Buckner challenges teachers who are requiring middle students to pick books based solely on Lexile scores.

Three Ways to Build Purpose in a Preschool Reading Workshop

Melissa Kolb finds her three- and four-year-old students are ready for more focus during reading time.

Assessing Learning During Student-Led Book Clubs

When middle school students have choice and independence in book clubs they lead themselves, how do you assess their learning and thinking? Katie Doherty provides a variety of question prompts she uses with groups to spark reflection on learning.

Eyes on the Fries: Just-Right Books and Reading Peer Pressure in Middle School

Gretchen Taylor addresses the issue of "peer-pressured reading" in middle school reading workshops, with a practical example of how she helped her students move beyond the fad book of the moment to more thoughtful previewing and independent reading choices.

New Year Goals (Part 2)

Choice Literacy contributors share their New Year goals. This is the second installment in a two-part series.

Rethinking Mrs. T Letters

Karen Terlecky reconsiders one of her favorite writing assignments.

Value-Added: Moving Assessments from “Inflicted” to “Student-Owned”

Gretchen Taylor looks closely at the superficial reading responses of one student, and then uses a mid-year assessment to challenge all of her middle school readers to think, talk, and write more deeply about their reading.

Evaluating the Literacy Classroom

Jennifer Schwanke remembers the awkward and stressful experience of being evaluated as a young teacher. In her work now as a principal, she’s developed her own criteria for evaluating teachers.

Revising My Recording Form for Writing Conferences

Mandy Robek shares how she has revised the records she keeps during writing conferences.

On Perfection and Goals

Ruth Ayres explains how she sets realistic goals for her own learning during the year.

Helping Middle School Readers Set Goals

In the final installment of a two-part series, Gretchen Taylor explains how to help middle school readers set goals.

Running and Middle School Reading Goals

Gretchen Taylor helps her middle school students analyze their needs as readers and set benchmarks for growth.

Introducing the Common Core Standards in Writing (Part 2)

Heather Rader shares more guidelines for a professional development day on the Common Core with a writing focus.

Tried and True Trumps Shiny and New

Amanda Adrian explains why running records are still an essential tool in any teacher’s assessment arsenal.  She also includes links to web resources for honing your running record skills if they are a bit rusty.

Capturing Student Learning with Evernote

It can be difficult to move from print to electronic records in the classroom. After using a spiral notebook for 10 years, Cathy Mere did just that.

How Do We Know Small-Group Instruction is Effective?

Heather Rader considers how to assess the effectiveness of groups.

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