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Why do I have to annotate? Why can’t I just highlight?

Note: This post was first published in January 2019. I’ve revised and posted again because it’s still so relevant! “Why can’t I just highlight? Why do I have to annotate?” Ever heard that from a student?  I don’t have to convince you of the value of annotating, but we do need to remind (and even …Read more

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It’s ok to confer about just a word or phrase

Do you have students who blow through texts, getting just the gist, but not really thinking through specific details that might make a difference in their understanding? Help them slow down by conferring about just a small part of the text–an important word, phrase, sentence. Sample conference When I leaned in to confer with a …Read more

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Are your students’ minds wandering while they read?

When I ask students if they ever think about lunch or something else while they are reading, most give me a thumbs up! After we get past the “shocked teacher” look, I talk to them about the importance of staying focused and monitoring for whether they are understanding the content in the source. Then I …Read more

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Three Phase Lesson – Explaining Supporting Evidence

Do your students ever need help with explaining how key details support a main idea? Here are a few thoughts and artifacts from a three-phase lesson I gave. Phase One – Meet the Source The students read the article entitled “Tortoises battle it out with Marines for the right to stay put.” Suggestion – Before …Read more

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NEWSELA–I like this site but beware…

Just be careful. NEWSELA is a great site for short informational articles for students to read. The  content is usually worthy of student-led discussions and writing about in response. The beauty of NEWSELA is that the same article is available at different Lexile levels. (When you click on an article, check out the blue bar …Read more

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Creative Responses Analyzed – Persuasive Letter from the Roots to the Plant

A few posts ago I wrote about shaking up how we ask students to write in response to texts–creating hall of fame posters, designing two-page layouts for trade books, and writing letters. One of my colleagues in the field, Britany, a fifth grade teacher, gave this a go! She asked students who’d read the book …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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Writing Authentic Letters as Reading Responses

Are your students tired of writing analytical essays? I’m shaking up how students respond to informational texts. I’m experimenting with letters to real people that still nudge students to think about the big ideas in sources. With small groups of 4th and 5th grade students, I explored what writing letters might look like. Here’s the …Read more

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Liberate your students! In the beginning, give them the main idea!!!

Do your students hesitate when you ask, “What is the main or central idea of this source?” Why? There may be a couple of reasons. Many students have not had enough experience with identifying main ideas to identify them easily.  And they may have only a superficial understanding of key vocabulary in a main idea. …Read more

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