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The Power of Written Blind Word Sorts

Automatic pattern knowledge is critical to spelling and understanding how words work. Sorting words is an opportunity to examine words, search for common patterns, and categorize discoveries. Word sorting can...

Three Questions to Ask When a Guided Reading Group Is Stuck

In our work in schools, we often field questions from teachers worried about student progress. The concern goes something like this: “I have this group that is stuck at level...

Classroom Management and Student Responsibility

This year, my workshop time increased from 55 to 80 minutes, which still isn’t long enough for all we want to accomplish. With the increase in time, however, came added...

Student-Generated Blends Chart in First Grade

At the start of each year, my first-grade students and I often sit down together near our chart stand to practice interactive writing. They sit clumped on the floor with...

Close Reading and Multiple Layers in Middle School

My eighth-grade students read to master literacy standards. Though this goal is always on my mind, I prefer for my students to forget they are reading as a means of...

A Strong Foundation: Books and Media for Launching Literacy Workshops

Beginnings are important, whether it is building a new relationship, building a home, or starting a new school year. Lucy Calkins talks about building invisible structures so that the deeper,...

Curriculum Night? No Sweat

It is curriculum night, and I am sweating. Not the subtle, sheeny glow the beautiful people have after running a 5K, but large raindrop-size plops of sweat rolling down my...

Why I Hate Homework

I hate homework. I hate it more now than I did when I was the one lugging textbooks and binders back and forth from school.  The house my children are...

How to Eat an Elephant One Bit(e) at a Time: Reading Complex Texts

There is a saying:  “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”  Attributed to Creighton Abrams, we have come to use this phrase to help us understand that...

Using Shared Writing to Build Argument Skills

Belinda was feeling rather discouraged. She had just finished reading drafts of her students’ argumentative writing. After several minilessons and conferences, most of her fourth graders were still not supporting...

Hindsight: What I Wish I’d Known Before My School Burned Down

As trite as it sounds, you never think it is going to happen to you, until it does and then hindsight is just that — a lot of “wish I...

Value-Added: Moving Assessments from “Inflicted” to “Student-Owned”

I looked at Michael’s latest reading reflection and sighed.  It was January, and he was still struggling to make progress in his ability to demonstrate deep thinking about his independent...

Don’t Be a Sneetch

When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball, Could a Plain-Belly get in the game? Not at all. You only could play if your bellies had stars, And the...

Main Ideas, Summaries, and Notes in a Reading Conference

In this conference with a fourth grader, Aimee Buckner tackles text choice, notes, and main ideas all in less than five minutes. You’ll notice teachers observing in the background; the...

Image of the Week: Building a Classroom Community Through Visual Literacy

A nonfiction routine and ritual that my students love is called “Image of the Week.” Each Wednesday, an image of interest is posted in the center of a whiteboard in...

An Attitude of Gratitude

When my daughter Ahna was in first grade, she secretly stuck a note in my purse that read: I hope you have an extcnt day Mom. Spis! (Translation: I hope...

Books Struggling Readers Can and Will Want to Read: Building the Classroom Library

Cleaning up the room after school, I noticed Sammy’s reading bag under the table. I’ve been finding his reading intervention bag left on his hook lately, and have been wondering...

Mentor Texts to Help Students Monitor Their Actions

Thoughtful planning, experience, and visualization were not enough to help me at the beginning of the school year two years ago in kindergarten. After spending five years with third graders,...

Quick Take: Awkward Beginnings with English Language Learners

In this short video, Ruth Shagoury gives two pieces of advice to teachers who feel awkward as they are trying to communicate with young English language learners.  

Book Matchmaker: Texts to Build Stamina

    Â Recently Gail Boushey asked me to recommend some books to use with students who are working on building stamina in their reading. Building stamina, or even understanding...

The DIBELS Divide (LITERACY COACH CONFIDENTIAL)

Literacy Coach Confidential is Choice Literacy's forum for answering the toughest questions literacy coaches and teachers face as they work together. Our contributors respond to the questions anonymously, which enables them...