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July 17, 2020 Walking Tours

We look at ways to teach realistic and historical fiction in this week’s newsletter.

Sparking Ideas for Realistic Fiction

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they use examples from YA authors of how to mine everyday life for powerful ideas. They then help students move from ideas to blurbs as they start their realistic fiction drafts.

Conferring over Motivation and Genre

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Griffin over his reading responses. They consider the differences between dystopian literature and realistic fiction, as well as what motivates characters.

Building Interest Through Artifacts

Mark Levine has many students who haven’t traveled much more than 100 miles from home. He makes history come to life for them by bringing artifacts into his middle school classroom.

Historical Fiction Background Folders

Tara Smith finds that students in book clubs reading historical fiction are often confused because they lack background knowledge. Her solution is to create background folders that include key documents to support the history in the texts.

July 10, 2020 When Your Glasses Fall Into the Lake

We look at ways to reinforce learning after minilessons in this week’s newsletter.

First-Grade Conference: Repeated Phrases in Writing

Bitsy Parks confers with Michael about his gingerbread man writing. She encourages him to use a repeated phrase in the writing, echoing a whole-class lesson on repeated phrases.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Accountability for Young Writers

Stella Villalba teaches young writers about writer’s craft. So how come evidence of learning from the minilessons isn’t showing up when she confers with her students? She decides to develop a plan to help students link craft lessons with their writing.

Balancing Conferences and Small Groups

Balancing small groups and conferences is essential for transferring learning from lessons and units, and it’s one of the trickiest tasks for teachers. Dana Murphy explains how she works toward balance in her classroom, weighing everything from the timeline of the unit to the intensity of the minilesson.

June 5, 2020 My Son

We help teachers move from teaching retelling to theme in this week’s newsletter.

Literary Analysis in Eighth Grade: Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine helps Alyssa draft her literary analysis essay.

Navigating the Interpretation Process

Tammy Mulligan shares how she introduces students to the process of interpreting literature at different grade and developmental levels.

Student Ownership of Literary Analysis

Christy Rush-Levine shares the strategies she uses to help her middle school students take ownership of their literary analysis essays.

May 29, 2020 Missing Hallways

We consider ways to boost summer learning in this week’s newsletter.

Fifth-Grade Reading Conference: Previewing

Dana Murphy confers with Krisha over her reading, talking about the value of using a book’s back cover for previewing.

Getting Students in the Learning Zone

The zone of proximal development (or ZPD) is the sweet spot for learning—just enough challenge with just enough support to take on the challenge. Melanie Meehan shares how teachers can create scaffolds in their classrooms that help students find their own ZPDs.

Pausing for Renewal Throughout the Day

Stella Villalba shares three strategies teachers and literacy coaches can use to pause, re-center, and renew themselves throughout busy stressful days in schools.

May 22, 2020 Write Now

We look at writer’s craft in this week’s newsletter.

First-Grade Writing Share: Highlighting Craft

Bitsy Parks leads a writing share early in the year, presenting three student examples of writing and highlighting different aspects of writer’s craft linked to minilessons.

Dealing with Lists in Style

Polysyndeton, asyndeton—if you are a writer and a word nerd, you will love Gretchen Schroeder’s suggestions for helping your students create lists with style in their writing.

Studying Craft and Punctuation in Sentences from Read Alouds

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the power of teaching writer’s craft in bite-sized chunks, through careful study of mentor sentences in read alouds.

May 15, 2020 Seeking Community

We celebrate families in this week’s newsletter.

Reading Conference: Connections to Home

In this conference in Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth-grade classroom, Jaden is reading a book that mixes math with basketball, an activity he enjoys at home.

Keeping Parent Communication Open in Middle School

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find that they have to change the way they think about connecting with families once students reach middle school.

Everyday Celebrations and Traditions

Bitsy Parks shares how she builds a learning community with displays and traditions that celebrate families.

May 8, 2020 Eagle’s Nest

We reflect on how to close out the year with read alouds and interviews in this week’s newsletter.

May 1, 2020 Virtual Third Things

Creative response from teachers and students is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

I’m Done! What’s Next?

Tammy Mulligan contemplates the unique pleasure of finishing a piece of writing, as well as the challenges of helping students figure out what’s next.

April 24, 2020 Truth and Judgment

Getting better feedback from teachers and students is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

Second-Grade Conference: Illustrations and Frames

Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Reagan about writing she is revising for publication about a class trip to the zoo that included her grandmother. Ruth introduces her to the concept of frames in illustrations, using an example from a picture book.

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