My mom recently received a label maker as a gift. If you visited her house, I would not need to tell you this. There are labels everywhere—on drawers, on shelves, in closets, even on some books.
This is a photo of the favorite new label I found during my last visit. There is a small cross on the lawn. My mom keeps it there because it reminds her of her faith when she looks out the window each morning. She’s told me a few times that visitors frequently ask her if it marks the grave of a pet. The cross is now neatly labeled on both sides with NOTHING BURIED HERE!
I fully expect to find a box in one of her closets with a label on it that says “NOTHING HERE WORTH LABELING.”
Such is the fate of new tools we love—we use them creatively and abundantly, till in our zealousness we’ve killed their usefulness. I have the same problem with favorite new recipes. The first time I make a great new pumpkin soup, my family loves it. When I make again the next week, they tolerate it. When it shows up on the menu for the third time in a few weeks, I hear, “For the love of squash, no more pumpkin soup please!”
Morning meetings can be a cautionary tale of “when bad things happen to good tools.” What starts as a quick way to bring a classroom community together for a few minutes first thing in the morning can devolve into a mind-numbingly long stretch on the rug when you keep piling on activities to do during this time. Turn-and-talks are a wonderful strategy for breaking up lessons and promoting student engagement, unless you do them so often they become rote chatter for students.
The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the activities or tools you love in your classroom and how often you use them. Like label makers or recipes, it’s easy to kill the value of a good one through overuse.
This week we share some of our favorite new tools for learning. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Sometimes a student just. won’t. write. Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tools in her bag of tricks to get the pencil or pen moving across the page.
Bitsy Parks discovers that the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect on and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts.
Jennifer Gonzalez shares 10 great uses for that classic learning tool in literacy workshops, the graphic organizer.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Gretchen Schroeder uses “appointment clocks” to ensure her students meet with a variety of peers for partner work.
Tammy Mulligan explains how using the popular “reading mats” can help build student confidence.
In this week’s video, Dana Murphy’s fifth-grade students use a visual tool to help them build on each other’s ideas in book clubs.
Many commercial aids are available to assist young writers. The challenge is choosing carefully, and integrating them into workshops in a way that doesn’t inhibit student fluency and risk-taking. In this encore video, Heather Rader confers with a second grader, demonstrating how to use a spelling log for high-frequency words.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Heather Fisher shares her favorite tools to share as gifts for a new literacy coach.
In this quick video, Jean Russell explains how a simple trick with a coaching calendar can build in more time and expectations for leadership growth.
New PD2Go: In this workshop guide and video, Deb Gaby confers with a second-grade reader, using a reading strategies “tool kit” for support. In the support video, Clare Landrigan reflects on a conference with a student and discovers that a tool designed to help the reader is actually hindering her learning.
The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.
That’s all for this week!