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SITO: Self-Imposed Time-Out

Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO).

Stamina Bubbles

“Why do you always say ‘Happy reading!’ to us?” This question from a first grader leads Katrina Edwards to develop visual support tools for building stamina during reading workshops.

A Fiction Writing Field Trip

Katherine Sokolowski’s students love writing fiction, but their skills don’t match their enthusiasm. A field trip helps bridge that gap.

Like Teacher, Like Student: Finding Emotional Support in Schools

Andie Cunningham and one of her kindergarten students share something in common at the start of the school year — tears as they struggle to find their place in a new community.

Speed Dating Books

Carly Ullmer presents a fun activity for introducing teens to new books and each other as readers, capitalizing on their interests.

A Booklist for Grandparents Day

Sarah Klim presents a booklist for Grandparents Day, with many suggestions for read alouds to promote the September event.

Why I Stopped Asking, “Where’s Your Pencil?”

Ruth Ayres finds the brain research is grim when it comes to the needs of neglected children, but there is still much that teachers can do to support healthy growth in students from challenging home environments.

What Difference Does Difference Make?

Mary Lee Hahn begins the year with honest and open discussions with her fifth-grade students about diversity.

I Don’t Want to Know What You Did Last Summer: Rethinking Narrative Nonfiction

Stella Villalba rethinks the seemingly innocuous “What did you do last summer?” writing assignment at the start of the year, especially for children who may have more limited experiences than peers.

Growth Lines

Deb Gaby thinks about the importance of baseline information early in the school year.

Doodlebug

What makes a teacher memorable? Recognizing a child's passions from the very first day of school. Jennifer Schwanke recounts how her second-grade teacher did just that.

Easing into Workshops: Routines in Third Grade

This quick and silent time-lapse video shows the arrival routine in Leslie Lloyd’s third-grade classroom.

Perfect Frosting and Workshop Routines

Things start to fall apart in a classroom when a beloved teacher is replaced with a long-term substitute. Deb Gaby shares how an analogy helps the class get back on track.

Read Alouds as “Third Things”

Katherine Sokolowski uses read alouds early in the year to help students reflect on how to be kind and thoughtful members of a classroom community.

More Than Dr. Seuss Hats: Why Events Matter

Franki Sibberson explains how scheduling big events can do important work in building the reading community.

The Beginnings of a Middle School Literacy Community

What do you do on day one? Christy Rush-Levine describes the routines in her middle school classroom.

Potato the Crow: Blurring the Lines Between Reality, Fantasy, and Play with Young Learners

Leslie Woodhouse discovers a dollar store find takes on a life of its own in her preschool classroom in this delightful essay.

Anchoring Language

Katie DiCesare thinks about what language supports student independence early in the year and how to share this in an anchor chart with her first graders.

Worth the Investment

Melanie Quinn finds it is worth taking time for community building in schools and classrooms, because the practice pays dividends all year long.

Words with Friends

Melissa Kolb explores what needs to be in place for our youngest students to learn how to converse kindly.

Setting Goals During Mini-Celebrations

Melanie Meehan recommends linking goal setting to small celebrations as a great way to build community and skills at the same time.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Gretchen Schroeder finds the classic dinner party assignment is a fun way for her high school students to explore kindred spirits in literature late in the school year.

Closing Out the Year with “Where I’m From”

Jillian Heise shares a marvelous poetry writing activity for students who are transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school.

Closing the Year and Making Space to Remember

Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris explain how ending the year is all about making space for memories, and provide some texts to help in the process.

Using Picture Books to Foster Resilience

Gigi McAllister uses picture books to strengthen her fourth grade classroom community.

Celebrating “The Voice” of Writers

Melanie Meehan presents a fun activity for late in the school year that uses the format of The Voice television series.

Group Composing

Gretchen Schroeder finds group composing is a fun way to build community, writing skills, and understanding of how arguments work with her high school students.

How to Speak “Friend”

Melissa Kolb shares some of her favorite mentor texts for helping preschoolers understand friendship.

Releasing Responsibility

When it comes to producing independent readers and writers in classrooms, it’s all about the language we use. Debbie Miller has practical suggestions for bringing out the best in children.

The Secret to Productivity: Hard Work or Play?

Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris connect their own working lives to those of students, and consider the value of play.

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