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Fonts Lesson: A Revision Strategy for Transitional Writers

I recently added a nonfiction reading time at the start of the day, and I’ve found this time has changed many of the conversations about reading and writing with the...

Conferring in the Zone: Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and Writing Conferences

The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a concept developed by the Russian language researcher Lev Vygotsky nearly a century ago. The theory simply stated is there is a learning...

Fonts: Small Group and Conferring with Intermediate Writers

In this follow-up to a whole class lesson and discussion on fonts, Franki Sibberson pulls together a group of third and fourth graders from her class who have asked to...

Designing Comprehension Constructors: Helping Adolescent Learners Develop Reading Strategies (E-GUIDE)

Comprehension instruction has value and lasting impact when teachers know how to design lessons, activities, and materials that match the needs of their students. Prefab worksheets or generic activities and...

Writing Conference Principles

When we were first learning to confer with students of all ages, we devoured books written by Nancie Atwell, Donald Graves, and Lucy Calkins. Each of these teachers had their...

The “All About Us” Board: Linking Literacy and Community Building All Year Long

One activity that supports our community building and literacy development all year is the “All About Us” bulletin board. In preparation I divide my largest bulletin board into as many...

Understanding the “Silent Period” with English Language Learners

If you have a new English language learner in your class who is not speaking, don’t worry. According to language researcher Stephen Krashen, most new learners of English will go...

The Read-Around: Raising Writers

The read-around is the classroom equivalent to quilt making or barn raising. It is the public space — the zocolo or town square — of my room. During our read-arounds,...

The Art of Listening in Writing Conferences with English Language Learners

Listening looks easy, but it is not simple. Every head is a world.                                                         Cuban Proverb Researchers have studied the physiology of listening and speaking. One of the things they...

Writing Workshop Share: Talking About Revision Tools

In this video of a discussion after writing workshop in Franki Sibberson’s classroom, intermediate students share the tools they used in revision.  

Guilty Pleasures

TV. These two letters can make a grown adult’s eyes roll. It can make a child shout for joy or cry in frustration. Educators cringe as we try to compete...

Organizing Writing Groups

Many times I’ll form a writing group based on what I’m noticing as I observe children in writer’s workshop. They will tell me what they need in conferences, or I’ll...

Getting Started with Your Own Writer’s Notebook

It's summer and school is out – at least in Georgia. There are a zillion things I love about the summer: waking up without an alarm, having my morning java...

Using Foam Boards in Writer’s Workshop

Foam boards are an inspiration that came from my friend Ann Marie Corgill. She shared this idea with me when she was working at the Manhattan New School in New...

Assessing Student Writing

The standards and testing movement almost made me lose sight of the "workshop" part of writing workshop. It's been hard to keep the energy, joy, and excitement of a thriving...

Mix It Up: Helping Young Writers Learn to Confer with Peers and Teachers

When writers put words to paper, they are writing to an imagined audience. The audience might be themselves at another point in time; it might be a specific friend; it...

Introducing Bull’s-Eye and Waves Written Responses in Synthesis Work

My students helped me understand that to synthesize what you are reading, you have to stand in two places at once: in your own shoes and in the shoes of...

Webbing to Learn: A Writing Strategy to Chart Thinking with Young Learners

Teachers and teacher educators used to think that a web structure was too advanced for our youngest school learners, and reserved this work for more academically experienced students. A couple...

Reflection Sheets: A Tool for Assessment and Conferring

I use reflection sheets a few times a month with my third- and fourth-grade students in reading and writing workshops. The students answer a few questions around some issue we...

Revision Tools: Providing Options to Students

From old favorites like highlighters to new resources like kangaroo bags, this whole-class session with Franki Sibberson’s grades 3-4 students highlights cool tools that will inspire learners to dive in...

The Lines are to Write My Words: Phonics in Context

New journals. The excitement of a whole blank book of pages waiting for words and drawings to fill them. The kindergarten children seem eager to have their own new journals...