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Student-Led Minilesson: Connecting Facts from Different Sources

Lucas leads a minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on connecting facts from different sources.  

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...

Reader Response as an Entry to Conferring

“How often do you confer with readers?” I get asked this question a lot. In fact, I work with a close friend of mine who, before I can answer that...

Organizing for Middle School

Ask any middle school teacher what they hope to accomplish with their students every year, and you will likely find “organization” somewhere in their top five choices. Ask a sixth-grade...

Doing the Writing in a Unit

It may seem simple to you, but every time I look at that shelf, I am filled with pride. The shelf hangs—perfectly straight at eye level in my bedroom. On...

Writing on Someone Else’s Topic

An email message in my inbox said, “Shari, can you write something about why it’s good for children to touch their foreheads? I think it has something to do with the...

And This Makes Me Think

If you could see me right now, you would know I’m sitting cross-legged on my unmade bed, my hair up in a messy knot, with three tabs open on my...

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...

Getting to the Heart of Theme

When I was in junior high way back in the day, the biggest and most important papers we had to write about the books we read all focused on one...

Writing Routines: Drafting Autonomy

This past year, I’ve taken time to evaluate my role in the writing workshop. One question I’ve asked myself is Am I interrupting students writing by continually conferring with them?...

Conference Records That Stay with Kids

As I waited for the transition to writing workshop, I looked around the kindergarten classroom. It was packed! Not only were class sizes large—34 five-year-olds had prepared their desks for...

Content and Context

For years, my tennis partner tried to get me to change the grip on my forehand volley. She’d rotate my hand, we’d hit a few, and then we’d move into...

Leads Minilesson

This fifth-grade minilesson from Franki Sibberson is a lovely mix of mentor texts, Franki's own writing, and honesty about the writing process.  

Independent Project Hiccups

Some teachers in our school have thrown in the towel on independent projects. Often our colleagues lament the many issues that come up when students are choosing their own genre...

Improving Turn-and-Talks

The turn-and-talk strategy is often used during minilessons. During a turn-and-talk, the teacher poses a question or concept and then asks students to turn to another learner and talk about...

Using Tech to Find Authentic Audiences for Student Writing

Stanford professor Andrea Lunsford organized a project in which she collected and analyzed almost 15,000 writing samples. They included formal (i.e., assignments, essays) and informal (i.e., emails, blog posts) examples....

Managing Independent Projects

If you had been able to walk around our classroom last Friday, you might have paused to see Sophie sketching a picture in a comic strip panel. As you glanced...

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...

Why We Like Independent Writing Projects

It’s Friday morning during writing workshop, and 21 writers are scurrying around our room, gathering their materials: writer’s notebooks, writing folders, special revision pens. Some students take out a Chromebook,...

Backward Chaining

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working in a fifth-grade classroom throughout a research-based essay unit. My focus has been on a group of six students who were far...

The Writing Workout

I overuse it as an analogy, but it’s hard to ignore how often principles of fitness and teaching mirror each other. Recently, validation for my tendency came in the form...