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Hey, Mom! Guided Writing

“Who will you tell?” This is a conversation I’ve started having with students at the guided reading table before they write in response to an informational source. I usually start by saying something like the following: When you go home tonight and your mom asks about school, you could just say, “It was okay” OR …Read more

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Orally rehearsing with key words can boost writing

Do your students struggle to compose sentences about nonfiction topics that make sense or sound right? Do they lack structure at the sentence and paragraph level? Here’s a few tricks I’ve been trying with small groups of late-early and transitional stage readers. As part of a conversation generate key words they will use to orally …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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New Book – Accessible Intro to Microorganisms for 1st-3rd

LOVE THIS BOOK. An accessible introduction to microbes for 1st through 3rd grade. Definitely read aloud to students, pausing for space to “oooo” and “aaah.” I’d even be tempted to use it with older students as an introduction to more complex texts on this topic. Davies, the author, talks to you, the reader, in a …Read more

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Value of Conversation Before Students Write in Response to Prompt

Love this short video clip on the Teaching Channel of a 5th grade teacher helping students make meaning of informational text through conversation. The students sit in a circle for a 20 minute discussion; they signal to the teacher with two fingers when they have a thought to add to the previous student’s comment or …Read more

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Giving up I-R-E and Coaching Student Conversations

I’ve given up calling on one student at a time during whole group instruction. A few weeks ago I was walking down the hallway in an urban school and stopped to ask a fourth grade student for directions. She knew where I needed to go, but she struggled to tell me. “Like…well, it’s down there…like …Read more

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New book by Tonya Bolden – Searching for Sarah Rector

New book for late-intermediate and middle grade students – Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America (Bolden, 2014). Let me start by saying that Tonya Bolden has become a “go to” author for me; her research is meticulous, thorough and her writing is appropriate for her audience with rigorous and rich content. …Read more

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Please dump traditional book report requirements and try…

My daughter is enjoying a new school in a new state, but I was dismayed to see the traditional, worn out book report requirements for her 5th grade class. I want to say first – her teacher is  hosting some amazing learning experiences – they are currently studying the eye, are engaged in research reports …Read more

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Nonfiction Author Study – Moving preK-1 Towards Close Reading

  Last year I had the honor of working with two kindergarten teachers who immersed their students in nonfiction author studies. Late in the spring they led a two week author study – week one on Steve Jenkins’ books and week two on Nic Bishop’s books. Monday-Wednesday or Thursday, they read aloud a book and …Read more

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The Great Fire by Murphy – Good Example of Nonfiction 4th-8th Grade

The Great Fire (Murphy, 1995), a Newbery Honor Book, is listed in the Common Core Appendix B as an exemplar text for 6th-8th grade reading. Filled with black and white photos and illustrations, this isn’t a book that is immediately appealing like some other titles. If you can get kids to start the book, though, …Read more

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