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A Complete Circle: Identity, Growth, and Community

Kailey put her head down on the desk, frantic with giggles. I walked over to her, and she looked up at me with watery eyes, almost crying with laughter, trying...

Words of Wisdom and Passing the Torch

This fall when my students arrived in Room 236, they were greeted by a wall of frames. Inside those frames were words of affirmation and encouragement that had been created...

Onward! Reflection and Goal-Setting

Reflective practice and goal-setting are important practices for educators. Jen Schwanke leads the way in encouraging a positive mindset and reflective practice anchored in gratitude. When paired with Jaz Ampaw-Farr‘s...

COVID Silver Linings: Positive Changes in Teaching Practices

Whether you’re teaching remotely or in a socially distanced classroom (or some hybrid combination of the two), no doubt you have made substantial changes to your teaching practice this school...

Adjusting to COVID: A Minimalist Classroom

I walked in and got teary eyed. My classroom didn’t look right and it didn’t feel right. My classroom felt awkward, and I didn’t know where to start. I had...

Best Graphic Novel Adaptations for the Middle Grades

The year 2019 was a historic year for the American Library Association’s Newbery Award. The recipient was The New Kid by Jerry Craft, the first graphic novel to receive this...

Class Books Build Readers, Writers, and Community

During morning arrival a student came up to me and shared that her family had gotten a new cat over the weekend. I responded with the excitement that a new...

Teaching Summary

On the first day of school, I have sixth graders complete a survey answering questions to help me get to know them as readers, writers, and individuals. The last item...

One Text. One Conversation. Many Possibilities.

It’s generally accepted that classroom discussion is an effective strategy for building comprehension and improving student achievement overall. But how it should occur around text is debatable. Guided reading? Yes,...

Online Routines to Create Energetic Reading Communities

A weekly biography exploration, celebrated as Meet Someone New Monday, is filled with reading experiences that my fourth graders and I cherish. Meet Someone New Monday means sharing success stories...

Belonging in a School Community

Frank Lloyd Wright built houses that grew out of the land where they were located. His homes were of the hill, not on it. He once wrote the following: I...

Honoring Student Identity

It is rare that I take time out from professional reading for books I don’t intend to put in the hands of my sixth graders. Most of the time, if...

A Student Book of Awesome

What do working on trucks, potatoes, and Christmas morning have in common? They are all things deemed “awesome” by my students and are forever commemorated in the official “Second Period...

Building Writer Relationships with Author Studies

“Could you announce that it is Dav Pilkey’s birthday today?” The second graders’ earnest request in my office was met with an “Of course!” from me. Pilkey’s birthday announcement was...

Engaging Students with Humor

“This class is the reason that I come to school in the morning.” I asked Jessica to tell me more about that statement. “This class makes me feel like I...

Digital Interactive Read Alouds

Something we’ve been trying with teachers in the last few months is digital interactive read alouds. During the digital read aloud, we watch a short film with students and use...

Issues Overload

One of my favorite books from childhood was Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, published in 1955. Beezus lives an almost idyllic life in a loving home on Klickitat Street....

Choice in Literacy Workshops

Early in the school year, I came across this message posted on social media by Donalyn Miller: Unpopular opinion of the day: If your students don’t have any autonomy or...

Using Photographs in Remote Learning Communities

It is amazing how cameras and photographs have evolved with technology.  I can remember days when I had to remember to bring my camera to school, take some pictures, drop...

Three Things Digital Tools Have Taught Me About Feedback

No digital platform is an effective instructional tool unless I am thoughtful about how I use it to give and receive feedback. As a middle school language arts teacher, I...

“Who I Am” Early in the Year

ARTICLE: Tara Barnett and Kate Mills start with the poem “Where I’m From” to build community through literacy at the start of the year. VIDEO: Katie Doherty leads her sixth-grade...