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Students Watching Teachers

Students are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. Jennifer Schwanke explains how we can capitalize on that interest to build independent reading and writing habits.

Bulletin Board of Independence

Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.

Keeping Minilessons Short

Melanie Meehan gives three quick management tips for tackling the challenge many teachers face — keeping minilessons short.

One Text, Many Lessons

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how one book can serve as an anchor for lessons on everything from writer’s craft to test-taking skills.

Revising Thinking Through Multiple Readings

We’ve all had that student — the one who blurts out a misreading of a text, only to have classmates agree with the analysis. Christy Rush-Levine explains how she uses “first-, second-, and third-draft readings” to help her middle school students develop stronger comprehension skills.

Questions for Rereaders

Lifelong readers often have books they love to reread, sometimes more than once. But young readers can also get into ruts. Jennifer Schwanke explores when rereading is fine for students, and when it should be challenged. She includes a series of questions for teachers to use when conferring with children who are rereading favorite books.

Fostering More Rereading in Classrooms

Stella Villalba explains why rereading is especially useful for young English language learners, and shares some simple strategies for integrating more rereading strategies into reading and writing workshops

Stop and Inquire

Mark Levine capitalizes on what captures his middle school students’ attention with his Stop and Inquire routine.

Bin of the Week

Shari Frost and a teacher she is assisting notice some bins collecting dust in the classroom library. When the teacher resists removing the books, they work together to find creative ways to help students develop enthusiasm for neglected series and authors.

Why Bother? Practical Answers to Questions About Close Reading

Why bother with close reading? Jennifer Schwanke finds many teachers asking themselves if close reading is worth the time, when schedules are already overstuffed. She shares some prompts to help assess when close reading makes sense.

Goals to Habits in First Grade

Bitsy Parks finds goals aren't enough for her first-grade students — real growth requires that the goals eventually become habits. She develops a process mid-year to help children refine their goals step-by-step.

Goals in Small Groups for English Language Learners

Setting small-group goals can be tricky, and the complexity is compounded when you are working with English language learners. Kate Mills explains her goal-setting process with K-3 ELLs, and gives examples of how it works.

Self-Assessment and Goal Setting

Gigi McAllister is disappointed by the shallow and unexpected responses by her fourth graders to literacy rubrics at the end of the year. The experience sends her on a quest to do a better job of helping her students learn to set goals and understand what measurable progress looks like over time.

Flash Forward with New Students

The dark days of winter may be the best time to plan for spring step-up events to introduce students to next year's teachers. Christy Rush-Levine has a new goal of using the day to promote summer reading.

Independence in Writing Workshop

What's the difference between a sense of calm purpose in writing workshops and an atmosphere fraught with tension? Tara Smith finds in her sixth-grade classroom it's the structures in place (or missing) for student independence.

First-Grade Reflections: Looking Back to Move Forward

Bitsy Parks discovers the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect upon and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts.

Fresh Starts Through Community Building

Early January is a great time for relationship resets in classroom communities. Dana Murphy finds community building activities may be more helpful than just a review of classroom rules and norms.

Flexible Seating: Mid-Year Tweaks with Book Nooks

Have you revisited your classroom design since September? Andrea Smith and her fourth graders get over the midwinter blahs by refreshing classroom seating together.

Better Parent-Teacher Conferences

Jennifer Schwanke explains how she stopped railing against the tradition and learned to appreciate parent-teacher conferences. She shares tips for making them better.

Parent Book Clubs

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills lead virtual parent book clubs to foster more home/school connections and build a love of reading outside the school walls.

Getting to Know English Language Learners All Year Long

We spend a lot of time early in the year getting to know students and their families, and often celebrate the diversity of these families late in the year with multicultural festivals. Stella Villalba worries that this is a missed opportunity (especially with English language learners). She shares how teachers can integrate getting-to-know-you activities into regular classroom routines all year long.

More Productive Writing Workshops

Melanie Meehan shares how everything from transitions to clutter can provide clues for how to increase student output and enjoyment.
 

Preparing Students for Winter Break Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they avoid a holiday reading slump with students through “break baggies” that include plans developed in the classroom and books selected with peer and teacher input.

Reaction and Intention: Rethinking the Library in Early Winter

Mary Lee Hahn finds some of her fifth-grade readers are stuck in ruts by early winter. Her solution involves some radical changes to her classroom library over winter break.

Focused Revision: Introductions

Gretchen Schroeder focuses solely on revision to introductions in her high school classroom with three fun activities to teach students new possibilities for beginnings.

Teaching Revision in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills.

Better Writing Response Groups

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills discover giving “compliments and wishes” aren’t enough when it comes to useful feedback for revision in peer groups. They implement a more structured response process for writing groups.

Tips for Student Podcasting

Mark Levine details a podcast assignment he used with his middle school students to explore civil rights topics, including software options, a template to help students get organized, and a realistic timeframe.

QR Code Listening Stations

Listening stations are invaluable in elementary reading workshops, and can also be a hassle to set up and maintain. QR codes to the rescue! Stephanie Affinito shares how she helps teachers use simple online tools for setting up QR code listening stations.

Using Podcasts as an Alternative to Article of the Week

Gretchen Schroeder adapts the popular "Article of the Week" activity with podcasts as an alternative in her high school classroom, and shares some of her favorite podcasts to use with students.

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