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Who Owns the Learning?

Author Gary D. Schmidt visited our school this morning. I have known for a long time through books like Okay for Now, What Came from the Stars, and Trouble that...

Slowing Down

During the rush to retrieve my class after lunch, I saw Olivia crying as she was running to get a spot in line. Her arms were cradling a coat, food...

Secret Reader

I stay modest ’bout it, aye, she elaborate it, aye. —Kendrick Lamar, from “Humble” “I have a secret reader in my class,” Betsy told us at a recent professional development...

Reading Bingo

Every teacher understands the winter slump—the time of year when enthusiasm (both in students and teachers) wanes and established routines begin to feel mechanical and devoid of the life they...

An All-School Writing Project: Six-Word Memoirs

I’ve long heard inspiring stories about schools who adopted a “One Book, One School” experience, exposing all students to a text and then using it to launch conversations and connections....

The Magic That Might Go Down

In her TED Talk, author Susan Conley tells a story about leading writing workshops for students. She explains that during one of her sessions a particularly intense student asked, “Why...

Sharing Writing in a Class Celebration

Does celebration matter? Is celebration essential to the business of developing meaningful, conventional, and powerful writers? When there is more to teach and meeting all the needs of students as...

Shoulders-Down Spaces

In certain people, places, and events, we hear the tune of our own bones.                                                                                 Laurie Patton Last February, I found myself walking under the famous Dragon’s Gate and onto...

Does the Pencil Still Have Power?

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them.                                                                                                                             Galileo Galilei An enormous supply of graphite was found in northern England in...

Building Routines

I give the group of teachers a big wave and a smile as they quietly slip out of the classroom. Many of them smile and wave back, some mouth Thank...

Getting to Know Each Other Through the Work

It is the first full day of school. In my first class of the day, 31 seventh graders are staring at me and wondering what my social studies class is...

Seeking Personal Relevance

All teachers know that each class of students comes with its own personality and dynamic. For instance, I vividly remember the year I had the class of eighth graders who...

Invitations vs. Accountability

My reading life is full of invitations. A friend recommends a book. I get invited into a book club. I see an announcement for the next #titletalk Twitter chat in...

The Year’s First Read Aloud

Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own...

Compass Points and Empathy

“Today we are going to discuss our thinking about one of our story’s main characters—Viola,” I announced at the start of my fourth-grade reading workshop. I was met with a...

My World Maps

What we do is who we are. I repeat this phrase often as I think about a project I’m starting with first-year teachers in grades 4-6. What we do is...

Spreading Love with Compliments

It was the end of the year—a time when teacher patience is growing thin and students (and teachers) have visions of lazy mornings and long days lounging in the sun....

Looking Forward with Students

Remember those first weeks of school? That time when you felt like the current class would never understand the classroom routines, and you went home exhausted from the effort of...

Literacy and Global Competence

We must build students’ global connectedness as if our lives depended on it.                                             Homa Sabet Tavangar I recently worked with an intermediate student who was upset because, he said,...

A Variety of Share Sessions

Sharing in writing workshop is a powerhouse for producing energy, excitement, and new learning to sustain writers. I’ve always pressed teachers to tap into a variety of share sessions to...

A Community Reads “Wonder”

Author C. Alexander London wrote, “It’s a fact: people can survive without books. People can even have wonderful, full lives without books. But they can’t endure without community, and community...