Christy Rush-Levine

Christy Rush-Levine has taught middle school language arts in a Chicago suburb for 17 years.  She blogs about her teaching life at Read Write Inspire and reviews books at Reading Beyond the Middle, a blog for her former students.

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Scaffolding Instruction in an Author’s Study

Christy Rush-Levine scaffolds her middle-school students’ understanding of craft moves by moving from short stories to novels when studying specific authors.

Textual Lineage

Christy Rush-Levine uses book covers to help her middle-school students explore their histories (or “lineages”) as readers.

Back-Channel Conversations During Read Alouds

Christy Rush-Levine considers some of the “underground” ways in which she converses about books at conferences and on social media, and decides to set up a back channel for similar conversations about read alouds in her classroom.

Voices Mantra

Christy Rush-Levine’s eighth graders lead their classmates in a “voices” mantra. This shared chant created together starts each class with a sense of community and strength.

Who Owns the Learning?

An enthusiastic student response to an author visit inspires Christy Rush Levine to revamp her upcoming unit on craft moves to foster more student ownership.

Think Small

Christy Rush-Levine realized she had to help her students find a different “why” for their time in her classroom and school beyond test scores.

Opinion Proof Lesson

Christy Rush-Levine helps her students create an “opinion proof chart” in their notebooks. This exercise helps them build their skills in backing up opinions with evidence.

Revising Literary Analysis Essays: Supporting Claims

Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.

The Magic That Might Go Down

Christy Rush-Levine decides to slow down in her classroom and engage more fully with a student who is a wiseacre and resistant reader. What happens next can only be described as magic.

Reset

Christy Rush-Levine finds her students sometimes need to stop and be challenged to think in more positive ways about their reading abilities. She describes how she designs minilessons for impromptu resets in her middle school classroom.

Poetry Connections

Poetry writing always has the potential to spark some magic in students. Christy Rush-Levine finds this magic requires a few conditions to be in place first in her middle school classroom.

Evidence Claims in a Middle School Small Group

Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.

Cause and Effect: Conferring with Olivia

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Olivia about the principle of cause and effect in the novel she is reading.

Four-Step Reading Conferences

Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol — reflection that leads to action for her students.

History Through a Child’s Eyes: Conferring with Omar

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Omar, who is reading The Rock and the River.  The book is a fictional account of a tumultuous time in civil rights history, considering protests through a child’s eyes.

Reading Conference: Keeping Track of Characters

Christy Ruth-Levine confers with Edith, who is tracking character changes in the novel Room.

Reader Response as an Entry to Conferring

Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.

How to Get Books Off Shelves

Christy Rush-Levine writes about the push and pull of wanting to put books into students’ hands, and needing at the same time to give them room to explore the classroom library.

Seeking Personal Relevance

Christy Rush-Levine has to figure out how to engage a class of students that is compliant and dutiful, but shows little passion for reading and writing.

From Title to Theme: Conferring with Jadev

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Jadev about how the title of a book often gives clues to its theme.

Splashing Around to Find Themes

Christy Rush-Levine moves from emphasizing theme to teaching strategies for understanding text, and finds it’s a much better way to get her eighth graders to grapple with theme in natural, organic ways.

Understanding War: Conferring with Cam

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Cam, an eighth grader who seeks to understand the complexity of war through the experiences of main characters in novels.

Using a Storyboard for Reflection and Comprehension

Christy Rush-Levine shows a group of three students how they can use a storyboard to help track thinking while reading.

More Scholarly Discussions in Middle School

“Eat my shorts!” Christy Rush-Levine overhears a student comment in a literature group, and begins a quest to teach her students strategies for more appropriate and thoughtful conversations around texts.

Peer Support in Writing Workshop: Conferring with Jaden

Christy Rush-Levine meets with eighth grader Jaden, who talks through his struggles in writing a conclusion to his literary analysis, and how his peers helped him improve the writing.
 

Leveraging Read Aloud

Christy Rush-Levine finds administrators are questioning the value of read alouds, especially with older students. She shares how she uses the picture book Love in her middle school classroom to launch challenging discussions about timely themes.

The Importance of Context Minilesson

Christy Rush-Levine uses a vivid anecdote from her youth to teach her middle school students about the importance of context in literary analysis.

Close Attention and Reading Response: Conferring with Tori

Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Tori about her reading response to Why We Broke Up. She encourages Tori to make connections between the characters in her current book and her previous reading by paying close attention to surprising action.

Revising Thinking Through Multiple Readings

We’ve all had that student — the one who blurts out a misreading of a text, only to have classmates agree with the analysis. Christy Rush-Levine explains how she uses “first-, second-, and third-draft readings” to help her middle school students develop stronger comprehension skills.

Flash Forward with New Students

The dark days of winter may be the best time to plan for spring step-up events to introduce students to next year's teachers. Christy Rush-Levine has a new goal of using the day to promote summer reading.

Teaching Revision in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills.

Writing a Strong Conclusion to a Literary Analysis Essay

Christy Rush-Levine helps eighth grader Katherine sort through tools and strategies for writing a strong conclusion to her literary analysis essay.

Assessment Refresh

Christy Rush-Levine considers how her rubrics do not acknowledge different levels of support some students need to accomplish tasks. She rethinks her rubric design to include support, and in the process fosters more independence and reflection in students.

Eighth-Grade Conference: Empathetic Reading

Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Julian about his strengths as an empathetic reader.

Push Pause: Dealing with Failure in the Midst

Christy Rush-Levine discovers it’s important to “push pause” to deal with failure in the midst of teaching.

Meeting Mind-Set

Christy Rush-Levine helps a colleague develop strategies for getting the most out of an upcoming meeting she dreads.

Building Community with a Shared Text

Christy Rush-Levine finds a community of new teachers bonds over a text highlighting addiction struggles. The experience leads her to think through what elements are essential for whole-class texts in her middle school classroom.

Expert Students

Christy Rush-Levine uses a quick assessment during writing workshop conferences to connect expert students with peers who might need assistance. She includes a video example of the practice.

Literary Analysis: Tone and Scholarly Writing

Christy Rush-Levine shares how to help student writers understand and develop a scholarly tone. The feature includes a video example of small-group instruction.

Literary Analysis: Counterclaims

Christy Rush-Levine shares how to present counterclaims, as well as a video example of a small group exploring counterclaims.

Using If I Stay to Model Literary Analysis

Christy Rush-Levine uses the mentor text If I Stay to model literary analysis, building on her middle school students’ interest in the recent movie.

“Old Age Sticks”: Choral Reading and Reflection

Christy Rush-Levine leads her eighth graders in a choral reading and analysis of the E. E. Cummings poem "Old Age Sticks." This is the second video in a two-part series.

Fact or Fiction? Introducing the Task


Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. The piece includes a video excerpt from the group discussion.

Fact or Fiction? Discussion

Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. In this second installment of the video series, students discuss the articles they have read.

Book Talk: Boy21

Christy Rush-Levine piques interest in Boy21 through a book talk to her middle school students.

“Old Age Sticks”: Poetry Analysis in Eighth Grade

Christy Rush-Levine leads her middle school students in a choral reading and analysis of "Old Age Sticks" by E.E. Cummings. This is the first installment in a two-part series.

Beyond the Comfort Zone: Books for Our Times

Christy Rush-Levine explains why she stocks some books in her middle school classroom library that can provoke concerns from families, and how she deals with conflicts.

Critical Thinking and Captain Underpants

Christy Rush-Levine and some struggling eighth-grade readers consider misogyny in a popular children’s book.

Superpowers and a Middle School Classroom Library

Christy Rush-Levine explains how she gradually stocked her middle school classroom library, as well as how she uses student librarians to ensure books aren’t lost.

Reflective Transitions

Christy Rush-Levine helps her eighth-grade students launch the work period with a reflective question that sets a tone for productivity, and then returns to it throughout the morning during transition times.

The Living: Book Talk

Christy Rush-Levine introduces The Living to her eighth graders.

Book Talk: Trouble

Christy Rush-Levine previews the book Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt.

Last Chance Workshop

Christy Rush-Levine breaks her routine of responding to student writing, and instead calls on students to guide and support peers. She shares some surprising results.

Book Talk: When We Broke Up

Christy Rush-Levine piques the interest of her eighth graders in When We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.

A Formula for Great Book Talks

Christy Rush-Levine explains her formula for successful book talks in middle school that grab students' attention. We've also included a sample book talk.

Deep Reading of Picture Books in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine shows the power of using picture books with young adolescents to model close reading and deepen comprehension of sophisticated texts.

SITO: Self-Imposed Time-Out

Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO).

Literary Analysis and Authenticity in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine finds the best way to help her middle school students learn to read closely for literary analysis is through student writing. They begin with analyzing student exemplars from the Common Core, and then move to shared texts as they hone their skills.

Embracing Standards in Creative Ways

Christy Rush-Levine makes links between standards, video clips, and close reading.

Data That Matters

What information is gathered by a teacher sitting in a rocking chair quietly watching her students? Christy Rush-Levine discover it is plenty.

Just Reading?

Christy Rush-Levine challenges the notion that there is anything easy or natural about getting young teens to select and read books independently in classrooms.

The Beginnings of a Middle School Literacy Community

What do you do on day one? Christy Rush-Levine describes the routines in her middle school classroom.

Student Learning Targets

Christy Rush-Levine finds she has to rethink learning targets for her middle school students if she wants students to pursue complex and lifelong reading goals.

The Weight of Stories

Some of our students lead such hard lives. Christy Rush-Levine explores how teachers can keep from being dragged into the undertow of the most difficult situations children face.

Close Reading and Multiple Layers in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine uses striking texts that inspire multiple readings by her middle school students.

First Shared Text: Fishing for Many Meanings with Adolescents

Christy Rush-Levine introduces her middle school students to the complexity of reading on the first day of school.

Characters, Choices, and Graphic Novels: Eighth-Grade Reading Conference

Christy Rush-Levine confers with Nia over the graphic novel she is reading. They discuss the choices characters make.

Exploring Author’s Craft in Graphic Novels

Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students need more support and scaffolds to understand authors’ craft in graphic novels.

Creating a Safe Space in Middle School

Christy Rush-Levine ponders what it means to create a safe space for all of her middle school students, and then makes some changes.

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