Katie DiCesare

Katie DiCesare has worked as an educator for over 20 years in a number of roles including kindergarten, first, and second grade, primary literacy support and middle school math teacher.

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Building Relationships with Authors

Katie DiCesare is helping her students move from mentor texts to seeing authors as mentors through their websites and other digital resources.

The Power of Picture Book Conversations

Katie DiCesare uses conversations around picture books to build communication, community, and reading skills in her first-grade classroom. Late in the school year she reflects with students about why these conversations are so powerful.

Collaborative Charting in First Grade

Katie DiCesare shares examples from her first-grade classroom of collaborative charting with students.

From Mentor Texts to Mentors in First Grade

Katie DiCesare uses technology in her first-grade classroom so that students can see the lives of the authors who create the texts they love.

Creating a Space for Peace

At a time of escalating violence throughout the world, children need peaceful spaces. Katie DiCesare creates a "peace table" in her first-grade classroom as a safe place for working through everything from playground squabbles to emotional distress.

Fostering Thinking Through Play

Katie DiCesare repurposes materials for her first graders to play with, and finds that encouraging play early in the year is a great tool for building reflection skills.

Choosing and Refining Student Goals

Katie DiCesare shares the process of having her first graders choose their literacy goals, and her role in helping them refine goals through observation and conferring.

Knowing Ami: Silent Communication with an English Language Learner

Katie DiCesare finds patience and observation are the keys to helping a first-grade English language learner who is in the silent period.

Little Levels, Big Thinking

Katie DiCesare moves beyond levels to consider her first-grade readers’ needs.

Reorganizing Primary Information Texts

Katie DiCesare thinks about the needs of her first-grade students, and spends some time reorganizing primary information texts, considering both physical texts for the library and online resources.

Embracing Meaning Making in Guided Reading Groups

Katie DiCesare finds her guided reading practices are rusty, so she develops some new strategies to improve her work.

Anchoring Language

Katie DiCesare thinks about what language supports student independence early in the year and how to share this in an anchor chart with her first graders.

Questions and Picture Books

Katie DiCesare suggests some mentor texts for fostering curiosity in young readers.

Conferring About Characters in First Grade

Katie DiCesare confers with Vidhi about the main character in her independent reading book.

Whole Class Partner Share Session in First Grade

Katie DiCesare leads her first graders in a reading share session during a character traits unit.

Student-Generated Blends Chart in First Grade

Katie DiCesare’s first graders add to a blends chart during reading transition time.

First-Grade Humor: Conferring with Jude

Katie DiCesare confers with first grader Jude. He is inspired in his writing by Captain Underpants, the #1 challenged book series in schools over the past three years.

Books for Studying Illustration with First Graders

Katie DiCesare has suggestions for books to support an illustration unit early in the year.

Understanding Study: Noticing Pictures

Katie DiCesare’s favorite beginning unit with first graders focuses on illustration.

Supporting Struggling Readers: David’s Story

Katie DiCesare has wise advice for helping readers who are falling behind their peers but don't qualify for additional services.

Character Study Share Session in First Grade

First graders in Katie DiCesare’s class discuss character traits in books from independent reading during a whole-class share session.

Conferring with Sebastian

Katie DiCesare chats with first grader Sebastian in this one-minute conference, then shares her reflections on where Sebastian might go next in his reading.

Rereading for Writing: Conferring with Jack

Katie DiCesare confers with first grader Jack, using rereading to help him rethink the title of his story and possibilities for revision.

Partner Reading Conference in First Grade

Katie DiCesare confers with Jack and Praneel about their partner reading.

Group Conference in First Grade

Katie DiCesare meets with first graders Anna and Brendan to help them learn from each other and prepare to share their rereading strategies with the whole class.

Mentor Texts for Writing Endings

One goal of many primary teachers is to help students finish their drafts with an ending other than “The End” (or “they lived happily ever after”). Katie DiCesare shows her first graders many alternative examples, and she begins early in the year.

Notebooks, Goals, and Writing About Characters in First Grade

Katie DiCesare confers with a group of first graders about their writing notebooks, goals, and drafts about the characters they are studying during reading workshop.

Transition Tool: “Come On Over”

This video is a quick take from Katie DiCesare’s first-grade classroom, showing how she uses the tune “Come On Over” as a transition tool.

Routines to Build Independence Early in the School Year

Katie DiCesare explores how to develop routines early in the year, and includes advice to give to parents to build the home/school connection around expectations for independence.

First Grade Read Aloud: Sergio Saves the Game

Katie DiCesare reads aloud Sergio Saves the Day to her first graders as part of a unit on understanding literary characters.

First Grade Conference: Beginnings and Endings in Nonfiction

Katie DiCesare helps first grader Ava craft beginnings and endings for her nonfiction writing.

Nonfiction Reading Group in First Grade

Katie DiCesare brings together a group of her first-grade students who are reading nonfiction, helping them to expand the ways they share what they are learning with classmates.

Shared Reading to Explore Writer’s Craft in First Grade

Katie DiCesare’s first graders reread a favorite text in pairs to work on noticing the details of writer’s craft.

Conferring to Build Stamina in First Grade

Katie DiCesare works with first grader JJ to help him meld decoding and comprehension skills.

Movement with First Graders

Katie DiCesare leads her first-grade students through movements and a song, and explains in the debrief why movement activities are valuable for young learners.

Whole Class Writing Share: Teaching Response Skills in 1st Grade

Katie DiCesare’s first graders respond to their classmates’ writing, using questions they developed together over time.

Celebrating Growth and Setting Goals: Conferring with Anna

Katie DiCesare confers with first grader Anna, celebrating her growth as a reader in the first few months of school and helping her with a new strategy goal based on listening to her read.

Happy Holidays from Choice Literacy and Pete the Cat

Wishing you and yours a totally groovy Pete the Cat holiday season.

Supporting Young Writers with Opinion Texts

Katie DiCesare considers how different texts at the primary level can support student understanding of standards for opinion and argumentative writing.

More Productive Writing Share Sessions in First Grade

In this video from a first-grade classroom, Katie DiCesare demonstrates how she has made writing share time more productive by linking student work to recent lessons.

Helping Young Readers Become Independent

Teachers speak often about the importance of helping students become independent, but what does that look like in practical terms? Katie DiCesare considers her interactions with Evan, an emergent reader, on the road to independence.

Readers’ Theater Revisited

Katie DiCesare becomes reacquainted with an old curricular friend.  But in trying reader’s theater again in her primary classroom, she finds ways to streamline the process and foster more independence in students.

First Grade Guided Writing Group: Targeting Common Spelling Needs

In this video of a 1st grade guided writing group, Katie DiCesare works with children to address common issues with spelling and conventions. By grouping the students together, she is able to use her time well in addressing common needs among students.

Purposeful First Grade Reading Share Sessions

Katie DiCesare prompts her 1st grade students during the reading share time at the end of workshop to make connections between the strategies they use during independent reading time and the day’s minilessons.

Teaching Blogging to Second Graders

You’re never too young to blog, as Katie DiCesare demonstrates with her 2nd graders.

Digging Deeper with Rereading

In this video from Katie DiCesare’s first-grade classroom, Katie uses the strategy of rereading to help students look more closely at words—in this case, words that rhyme.

Primary Series Study

Katie DiCesare describes the primary series study unit she completes with her 1st and 2nd graders, combining reading, writing, and community building.

Conferring in First Grade

This nine-minute video from Katie DiCesare’s first-grade classroom demonstrates a range of conferring in the midst of writing workshop.

Reorganizing Books in the Reading Support Classroom

Katie DiCesare helps her mom, a reading support teacher, reorganize her materials to better serve students.

Using Series Books to Model Comprehension and Anchor Thinking

Katie DiCesare shares some of her favorite texts for a primary study on series books.  This is Part 2 in a series.

Picture Books for Shared Reading

Shared reading builds skills and community in Katie DiCesare's 1st grade classroom.

Book Basket Idea: Cars and Trucks

Katie DiCesare remembers books that were fought over among the boys in her 1st grade classroom, and this leads to creating a new basket for the fall on cars and trucks.  She shares a booklist of fun titles in the basket.

Assessment in Writing Workshops: Considering Students

What does formative assessment look like in practice? Katie DiCesare shares her assessment insights in these brief case studies of two first-grade students.

Accurate But Not Quite Fluent: Books for Second-Grade Readers in Transition

Many second-grade readers are in transition – they can decode almost any text and are eager to read chapter books.  Yet many don't have the stamina for reading even very short chapter books on their own. Katie DiCesare presents a booklist of her top picks of new fiction and nonfiction books that might engage and challenge her second-grade students.

Getting the Most Out of Picture Books

If you are a fan of Mo Willems’ picture books (and who isn’t?), you’ll enjoy Katie DiCesare’s ideas for integrating his popular stories throughout the literacy curriculum. From read-alouds to mentor texts, these books are wonderful tools for engaging students.

Books We Love: Building a Reading Community

Katie DiCesare talks about how her first graders closed out the year with a sequence of activities analyzing their favorite books individually and as a community.

Supporting Readers During Workshops: The First Few Weeks

Katie DiCesare ponders the different ways students need to be supported in her primary classroom during the early days of the school year.

Overcoming Tears and Fears: Developing Criteria for Flexible Groups

Katie DiCesare comforts a student in tears at the end of the day, and realizes part of the problem may be that she moved the child into a guided writing group too quickly.

Step by Step: Integrating Nonfiction into Primary Classroom Instruction

Nonfiction texts require different reading skills than fiction, and you can’t introduce nonfiction genres to children too early. Katie DiCesare shares how she moves between whole-class, small-group, and individual instruction to help all her first graders master the text features in nonfiction.

Picture Books About Books: Young Learners and Reading Identity


Katie DiCesare gathers picture books to talk with her first graders about everything from reading identity to the proper care of books in the classroom library.

Assessing Spelling in Writing Workshops Part 1: Thinking Through the Assessment

Katie DiCesare takes on the challenge of developing a one-page assessment tool to analyze the spelling needs and abilities of each of her 1st graders. This is the first in a series, as Katie takes us through the use of the tool in her workshop.

Assessing Spelling in Writing Workshop Part 2: Noticing Patterns in Individuals, Small Groups and the Whole Group

Katie DiCesare took on the challenge of developing a one-page assessment tool to analyze the spelling needs and abilities of each of her 1st graders. In the second of her three-part series, Katie shows how she translates the findings from individual students into instructional plans.

Assessing Spelling in Writing Workshop Part 3: Embedding Instruction

In the last installment of this three-part series, Katie DiCesare shows how she translates the findings from individual students into instructional plans when she uses a spelling assessment in her 1st grade classroom.

Envisioning Writing: Wow Words and Mental Images in 1st Grade

In this minilesson, Katie DiCesare uses the book My Cat Copies Me to help her first-grade students “envision” their writing drafts. The lesson focuses on creating mental images to conjure stronger verbs and adjectives while writing.

Organizing Book Bins: Letting Kids Help and Plan

Katie DiCesare writes about how children can be enlisted to help in creating and organizing book bins in libraries. But in Katie's classroom, the process of matching books to children begins with "My Stack" – her pile of books that changes daily, linking individual children and texts of interest.

Rethinking Centers

Are centers essential in classrooms? Katie DiCesare rethinks the centers program in her primary classroom.

Becoming More Purposeful with Writing Share

In this whole-class writing-share session from Katie DiCesare’s first-grade classroom, Katie talks about how she has become more purposeful in connecting student drafts with the minilesson from the start of the writing workshop.

First Grade Guided Writing Group: Goldilocks and the 3 Writers

In this video of a first-grade guided writing group, Katie DiCesare works with three girls on spelling issues that have emerged in their writing.

1st Grade Room Tour with Katie DiCesare

In this video tour of her 1st grade classroom, Katie DiCesare highlights the many areas of the room used to support literacy, including the classroom library and wall displays.

Picture Reading in First Grade

In this read-aloud lesson from Katie DiCesare's first-grade classroom, Katie demonstrates the importance of picture reading using the wordless picture book The Zoo by Suzy Lee.

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