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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.

Tell Me More

Gretchen Taylor finds the three little words “tell me more” provide breakthroughs in helping her middle school students respond to reading.

Middle School Design: Reading Gutters

Katie Doherty explains how reading gutters, an inexpensive design feature, dress up her middle school classroom and build community at the same time.

Explanatory Grammar Moves: Right-Branching Sentences

Jeff Anderson continues his Explanatory Grammar Series with a feature on the power of right-branching sentences.

Spelling Cycles: An Alternative to Weekly Spelling Lists

Max Brand developed Spelling Cycles as an alternative to weekly spelling tests. He explains how they work with an example from a third-grade class.

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.

Powerful Conferences

Ruth Ayres explains how deciding the purpose of conferring in advance can lead to more powerful conferences.

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.

She Wants to Be Katniss for Halloween: Courageous Girls in Books

Shari Frost celebrates a tomboy who finally finds a female character she wants to emulate with a booklist highlighting courageous girls.

Exploring Explanatory Moves Writers Use

Jeff Anderson explores the difference between informational and explanatory writing, and what that might mean for teaching craft moves to students.

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.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

Julie Johnson provides helpful tips and a letter for parents to help keep students safe on the Internet.

Emphasizing Empathy: September Literacy Contracts

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

How to Eat an Elephant One Bit(e) at a Time: Reading Complex Texts

Maggie Beattie Roberts and Kate Roberts present a step-by-step process for close reading in the middle and high school grades involving multiple passes through the same text.

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.

Using Pinterest for Professional Development

Franki Sibberson finds Pinterest is a useful tool for professional development.

Helping Students Evaluate Online Video for Research

Even if your district is blocking web video now, it's not going anywhere. As time goes on, schools will rely more and more on video available from the Internet for research and learning. Bill Bass has practical advice for helping middle and high school students assess everything from suspect sources to appalling comments on the Wild Wild Web.

First Read Alouds (ROUND-UP)

Choice Literacy contributors share their picks for the first read aloud of the year.

A Summer Reading Camp for Middle School Students

Katherine Sokolowski has tips for a "book club" summer reading camp for middle school students.

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.

Death in Books: Finding Our Way After Loss

Books can help children deal with the toughest challenges in life. In a new booklist, Andie Cunningham shares her top picks for stories about characters grappling with the death of a loved one.

Shared Reading in the Intermediate Grades

Shari Frost explains why shared reading is valuable for older students, with examples of the practice in the intermediate grades.

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.

Understanding the Middle East Through Children’s Literature (BOOKLIST)

Sheiks, harems, and terrorists — the stereotypes of the middle east from popular culture may not be realistic, but they sure are pervasive. Ruth Shagoury and Andie Cunningham find authentic alternative views to present to children in their new booklist.

Just-Right Poetry and Individualizing Instruction

Shari Frost describes how a sixth-grade teacher provides a range of poetry options to meet the needs of all students.

Beyond Text Features in Nonfiction Instruction

Franki Sibberson considers how the demands of the Common Core and the complex mix of online and offline nonfiction texts are changing the skills she teaches students.

What Information Is Good Information? Smooth and Effective Transitions to Middle School

Gretchen Taylor explains her role in observing Maria’s fifth-grade classroom, and then building a relationship with students and their families.

Shared Reading and Annotation in 6th Grade

Gretchen Taylor explains how she uses that old chestnut The Outsiders with her sixth graders for shared reading and to build skills in annotating text. The article includes a video example of a small group.

Student-Selected Vocabulary in Middle School

Katie Doherty shares many ways to make vocabulary learning fun in middle school, beginning with students working together to select words to study each week.

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