Tara Smith taught sixth grade writing workshop, reading workshop and social studies at a suburban middle school in New Jersey for many years. She began her working life as an editor, and loves the fact that she can instill in her students her own love of literature and writing. Tara blogs at A Teaching Life, and is currently working on her first middle grade novel.
Tara Smith finds that students in book clubs reading historical fiction are often confused because they lack background knowledge. Her solution is to create background folders that include key documents to support the history in the texts.
Tara Smith covers all the basics of how to get organized in middle school for the first days of literacy workshops.
From length to heart, Tara Smith provides seven criteria for selecting the first read aloud of the year that can engage students right from the start.
Tara Smith shares many strategies for helping her sixth graders get to the heart of understanding themes in literature.
Tara Smith finds her sixth graders love historical fiction, but they often lack the background knowledge to understand texts fully. She launches her historical fiction unit with a careful mix of discussion, anchor charts, and shared texts.
What's the difference between a sense of calm purpose in writing workshops and an atmosphere fraught with tension? Tara Smith finds in her sixth-grade classroom it's the structures in place (or missing) for student independence.
Tara Smith describes how she eases her sixth-grade students into writing poetry through careful selection and analysis of mentor poems.
Tara Smith shares some of her favorite online resources for keeping up with new books, as well as organizing tips for classroom libraries.
Tara Smith finds that the 20 minutes she spends on poetry reading, analysis, and response in her sixth-grade classroom each week pay dividends all year long.
Tara Smith finds her sixth graders have years of experience with writer's notebooks by the time they reach her classroom. How to inspire enthusiasm for a familiar tool? Mix old favorite tasks and lessons with fresh texts and tech-savvy options.