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Literacy Rights and Responsibilities

Something bad was happening in Katie Doherty’s middle school classroom—it was time to rebuild the class community with a reality check.

Seedfolks: Connecting Community and Literature

There's so much to do during the first weeks of school, but it's important not to skip the most important thing – building a sense of community with your students.

Literacy Letters: Helping New Students Understand Ongoing Assignments

How do teachers bring new students up to speed with ongoing assignments? In this video from Katie Doherty’s middle school classroom, Katie presents the latest “Literary Letters” assignment to her 6th graders. It is early spring, and all but two of the students have experience with this writing assignment.

Linking Reading, Writing, and Getting to Know You Activities During the First Week of Middle School

Want to get your middle school students’ attention on the first day of school? Read a book about how to ruin it for them.

“The Wrath of Guess Jeans”: Reading, Writing, and Cliques in Middle School

In this first video in a three-part series, Katie Doherty leads her 6th graders through a response activity. The text they are reading was written by a middle school student over a decade ago, and its themes of popularity and belonging still ring true for students.

Persuasive Pamphlets

Erin Ocon and her middle-school students observe some political activists passing out pamphlets outside the building for a few moments. Voila – the pamphlet project is born.  Pamphlets are the perfect genre for teaching persuasion and summary, two key skills highlighted in the Common Core.

Quick Takes: Advice on Book Hogs

In this quick take video, Franki Sibberson gives advice for dealing with "book hogs" — those students who try to grab any new book when it appears in the classroom library.

Pamphlets on Books (Part 2 of the Persuasive Pamphlets Series)

Erin Ocon finds pamphlets are a terrific format for teaching her middle-school students persuasive writing and summary skills.  In this essay she explains how to use pamphlets for book recommendations.  This is the second installment in a two-part series.

“The Wrath of Guess Jeans”: Response and Read Around

In this second video in a three-part series, Katie Doherty leads her 6th graders through a response activity.  In this installment, the students respond orally and share some of their writing, making links to pop culture and other books from reading workshop.

Clearing Up Confusion

Katie Doherty works closely with a student who has an unusual request – he wants to take home a basal anthology for "pleasure reading."  She puts a different text in his hands, and uses what she learns from the experience to design a for lesson her 6th grade students.

“The Wrath of Guess Jeans”: Debrief

In this third video in a three-part series, Katie Doherty leads her 6th graders through a response activity. The text they are reading was written by a middle school student over a decade ago, and its themes of popularity and belonging still ring true for students. In this installment, Katie debriefs with students about the value of the writing activity.

Uncovering Reading Behaviors

Teachers value the assessment of student skills and needs that come from close observation in classrooms, but may not know how to focus those observations.  Ruth Shagoury documents some of those behaviors that put students on the path of becoming accomplished independent readers in a middle school classroom.

Preparing for Book Talks

In this first video in a two-part series, Katie Doherty meets with her sixth-grade students who will be sharing their book recommendations with the class.

Student Book Talks

In this second video in a two-part series, Katie Doherty's sixth-grade students share their book recommendations with the class. Students work from a template provided by Katie to ensure their presentations are brief, thoughtful, and connected to reading workshop.

Read Alouds for the Last Days of School

Choice Literacy readers share some of their favorite read alouds for the last days of school.

Literacy Keepsakes to Carry Home at the End of the School Year

Choice Literacy readers share their favorite gifts for students to make and take home at the end of the year.

Writing and Publishing Book Reviews with Middle School Students

What teenager doesn't enjoy critiquing everything in the world? Erin Ocon puts that judgmental passion to good use in her classroom with a book review assignment.

More Literacy Keepsakes to Carry Home at the End of the School Year

Choice Literacy readers share more of their favorite end-of-year gifts for students to make and take home.

Beginning with the End in Mind: Planning Ahead for Closing Activities

Choice Literacy readers share their favorite end-of-year activities that circle back to events from the start of the school year.

Pencil Plans

The care and use of the lowly pencil in classrooms says a lot about what we value and our relationships with students.

Read Alouds for the First Day of School

Choice Literacy readers share their favorite read alouds for the start of the year.

“I Am the One Who . . .” Building Writing Skills and Community in Middle Schools

In this 12-minute video, Katie Doherty leads her sixth-grade students as they try the prompt “I am the one who . . .” during writing workshop. This is an excellent activity for building classroom community.

Quick Take: Katie Doherty on Middle School Reading Workshop Choices

In this two-minute quick-take video, Katie Doherty explains the choices students have in her sixth-grade reading workshop.

Using Picture Books to Teach Theme in Grades 3-6

Many students in the upper elementary and middle school grades shun all picture books, yet they are an invaluable resource for teaching sophisticated literacy concepts.  Franki Sibberson explains how to teach the concept of theme using picture books in this booklist.

Writing Do-Overs: ERPs in the Classroom

ERP.  The sound can't help but make you grin.  It's Heather Rader's acronym for Explicit Revision for Peers, a series of one-minute kinesthetic writing routines to help students learn how to help each other kindly during writer's workshop.

Vocabrity: Fun with Words for Middle School Students

Are your students getting bored with vocabulary routines?  Katie Doherty invents a quick and fun game, Vocabrity, to help her middle school students learn words.

Ecstatic: When Words Shape Thinking

Carol Wilcox prepares her struggling intermediate readers for state exams, and finally experiences a breakthrough in linking vocabulary learning to authentic reading.

Changing the Learning Landscape: Organizing My 6th Grade Classroom (PHOTO ESSAY)

Ann Marie Corgill switches from a 1st to 6th grade classroom, and finds herself immersed in rethinking the “learning landscape” as she unpacks boxes and sets up her classroom.  While the room looks a little different, the principles for classroom design are the same.  She shares her process in this photo essay.

Sarcasm Is a Useful Teaching Tool — NOT

How does sarcasm hurt students? Heather Rader counts the ways.

The Book Lovers Quilt Project

Katie Doherty and Ruth Shagoury present  a fun way to launch (or close) the year with middle schoolers and discover the best-loved books of students from previous years.  This project can be adapted for any age level.

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