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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.

Growth Lines

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

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.

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.

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.

More Than Dr. Seuss Hats: Why Events Matter

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

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.

Three Classroom Games for Literacy Learning and Laughter

Melanie Meehan suggests some favorite classroom games for building literacy skills.

The Secret to Magical Author Visits

Prolific children’s book author Laura Purdie Salas explains why you should treat visiting authors like rock stars, with many tips and examples from her writing friends.

Classroom Management and Student Responsibility

Katherine Sokolowski is discouraged when she observes that some students are off-task during literacy workshops. She decides a reflection sheet will be a useful weekly scaffold to support independent monitoring of behavior.

Shallow Books? Learning from a Reading Celebration

Franki Sibberson discovers we allow students to assess what reading matters most to them, we can learn a remarkable amount.

Multicultural Series Books

Shari Frost is alarmed when she realizes how rarely children of color are represented as main characters in book series. She decides to compile a list of multicultural series books.

Infusing Informational Texts into Morning Meetings: Fact of the Day and Daily News Routines

Andrea Smith explains two routines, Daily News and Fact of the Day, which are key components of her morning meetings.

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