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Don’t Force Vulnerability

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.                                                                                       Brené Brown I found myself among a group of moms who were complaining about their kids’ homework assignments. I...

Creating a Safe Space in Middle School

I have never felt more uncomfortable as a professional than I did this past summer in a session led by Chad Everett at the Lead Learners Summer Institute. That session...

Kindergarten and Middle School Poetry Partnership

When I taught fourth grade in a kindergarten through fourth-grade building, it was nothing to create an activity that involved lower grades. I strongly believed then as I do now...

Trauma and Literacy

When I was between the ages of 8 and 10, two things happened. First, it stopped raining. There was a two-year drought that dried up the entire state of Ohio....

Getting Started with Lunchtime Author Groups

Gigi McAllister helps a group of fourth graders evaluate questions for fostering good group discussions.

Appointment Clocks

Although there are many benefits to using groups in the classroom, sometimes the dynamics can be overwhelming or problematic. An easy alternative, especially when time is a factor, is using...

Community Timeline Project

In seventh-grade language arts we are constantly looking for ways to bring the community to our students. With our schedule, that is often difficult. One way we manage to accomplish...

Reading and Writing for the 100th Day of School

“I don’t believe this!” I mumbled to myself as I left the classroom. I was leaving after a meeting with Allie, who was completing a teaching internship, and her cooperating...

Reinforcing Workshop Norms

In this quick video, Dana Murphy shows how she leads her fifth graders with a kinesthetic reminder of workshop norms before beginning independent work.

Circle Share

It had been an intense day of finishing the rough drafts of our memoirs. My students were really putting themselves on the page, and I had been moved nearly to...

Minimizing Interruptions During Workshops

I have two young children at home, so believe me, I am accustomed to interruptions. I am used to the call of “Moooommmm!” right when I sit down to fold...

Raising Student Voices: Mentor Texts

I’ve never really gotten over watching A Muslim and Jewish Girl’s Bold Poetry Slam on YouTube. Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern share their poem about the way the world sees...

Moving from Interactive Read Alouds to Book Clubs

The first time I met with my neighborhood book club, I was nervous. I wondered, Should I bring notes? Will my ideas be “literary” enough to share with the group?...

Read Aloud in Middle School

My first 20 years of teaching were spent in elementary school. Over that time period, from a few years at lower elementary to 16 at fourth and fifth grade, one...

More Thoughtful Read Alouds

Franki Sibberson shares strategies for deeper reflection from students during read aloud to help them move beyond “like/don’t like” responses to books. The strategies include pausing for written reflection, partner...

Grand Conversations and Read Aloud

“Wait a minute. Is there a turtle in this book or not? Are you saying that the turtle shell is a way to describe the preacher’s feelings? I completely missed...

Jane Goodall Inquiry: Introducing Expectations

At the start of the school year I like to ease my students into the type of learning we will do throughout the year. In seventh grade we share text,...

Interactive Read Aloud and the Whole-Class Notebook

There are moments during read aloud that feel almost magical: when students lean in as the plot twists and turns, or when they snicker as they understand the author’s play...

Student Greeting

Students in the first-grade classroom of Bitsy Parks lead a morning greeting at the start of the day. It’s a quick activity to check attendance, build reading skills, and help...

Linking Literacy and Community at the Start of the Year

At the start of the school year, teachers everywhere strive to build community. A sense of community is vital to our literacy classrooms, so we search for activities to launch...

Strategies for Sustaining Student Attention

Last October, my family got a puppy. I have extensive experience with dogs from my childhood and pre-parenthood days. I know a few things about training a puppy into a...