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Don’t neglect connectives like “even though”

BUT. DESPITE. WHEREAS. ALTHOUGH. IN CONTRAST. INSTEAD. HOWEVER. YET. WHILE. NEVERTHELESS. NOTWITHSTANDING. Our students may gloss over these words as they read, not realizing how powerful they are. Words like these signal a causal relationship that is in opposition to what a reader might have expected. These words are a BIG DEAL. Technically they’re called …Read more

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Three Books – Same Facts But…

Three books about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Three different authors. Each shape the facts to reveal distinct insight. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Levy, 2016) Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R. B. G. vs. Inequality (Winter, 2017) No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Krull, 2018) Here are two examples of how …Read more

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Our students know so little if…

When our students read just one source on a topic, I would argue they still know almost nothing about that topic or issue. I know you know this. It’s not until they read, view, listen to multiple sources on that topic that their understanding is transformed. This is not a new point. My argument is that students should …Read more

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Do our students notice “definitions” & “examples”?

Do you students notice when authors provide definitions and examples? Many nonfiction authors use these and other types of details when they describe concepts like forces, magnets, weather and so forth. Readers need to recognize these types of details to understand these concepts. I was surprised one day to find out the middle grade students I …Read more

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Sample Lesson – Close reading with NewsELA article

Do your students need help with clearly stating a main idea? And with organization when they elaborate on that main idea? Last month I had the honor of teaching close reading of an informational article to a small group of fifth grade students for a demonstration lesson in front of 40 educators in the North …Read more

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Critical Thinking Across Multiple Texts – Choosing Texts Part 2

I’m hooked on the art of locating and layering texts for students to read and think across. In my last entry, I described a series of lessons where middle school students used an evolving definition of “honorable” to think critically about the role of medieval age warriors and modern warriors. We chose text excerpts and …Read more

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Critical thinking across multiple texts – Part I

In a 7th grade social studies class I visited a few weeks ago, the students used an evolving definition of “honorable” as a lens for reading multiple texts on warriors – ancient and modern. In the image below, the blue text was our original definition. As the students engaged in discussions about what it means …Read more

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Can your 6-8th grade students explain how two authors present the same info and reveal different points of view?

Here’s a lesson for teaching students to analyze how two authors writing about the same topic may shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of the facts (Common Core Standard 7.9). Go to Science News for Students and locate an article that cites a study. Most of these …Read more

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Writing with Mentor Texts – App Reviews in Grades 6-8

Is anybody else sick of the five-paragraph essay? The book Writing with Mentors (Marchetti & O’Dell, 2015) was so refreshing to read as I ponder how to keep students excited about reading and writing analytically. The authors provide insight into how we can engage students in writing for authentic purposes in a variety of non-five-paragraph …Read more

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Are your students tired of writing summaries and analytic essays?

I’m shaking up how students respond to informational texts. I’m experimenting with letters, Hall of Fame posters for a bulletin board in the classroom entitled “People Who Have Changed the World,” designing and writing content for a book entitled Did You Know, and classified ads. Regardless of the format, though, I’m still  REQUIRING students to …Read more

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