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teaching with informational texts

Text Set: Athletes & Bias-Related Challenges

If you’re students love sports (and even if they don’t), a text set on athletes and the biases they have faced might motivate students to engage in some critical thinking and tranformative conversations. Below is a set of five Newsela articles I curated for a middle school program. (We used Sara Ahmed’s Being the Change …Read more

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Thinking Aloud for Students – The What, Why, How & When

When we realize a student does not understand a complex chunk of text, we may need to stop asking questions for understanding and “think aloud” for the student, modeling how to make sense of the text. What follows is an excerpt from a middleweb.com column “Letting Go is Messy” that I co-wrote with Julie Webb …Read more

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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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Would a clearer purpose help?

If your students struggle with determining what’s important or they think “it’s all important!” make sure they have a clear purpose for reading. A purpose stated as a question is even better. Questions like “What is the author’s point of view? What are details in the sources that make me think so?” or “How did …Read more

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Predictions are not “right” or “wrong”

Recently I watched 60 Seesaw videos of fifth grade students reflecting on a THIEVES lesson. I’d posed these questions for reflection: “Were your predictions on track? How were they helpful (or not) to you as a reader?” What I noticed was that many students commented about whether their predictions were “right” or “wrong.” This made …Read more

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Using THIEVES + Seesaw for Student Reflections

Are the Seesaw videos you need to watch piling up? While Seesaw seems to be an easy space for students to upload videos for a variety of purposes, as the teacher who has to watch them, these can pile up. So how can we use Seesaw as a reflection tool versus just a repository for …Read more

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Sport Climbing: Three Sources + Cheat Sheet

What kind of sport climbing are you interested in? Speed climbing? Lead climbing? Or bouldering? There are some great sources on this hot topic–I chose a video and two articles that compliment each other (i.e., they have similar main ideas but each contributes interesting supporting details). And of course, there’s a cheat sheet, too. You …Read more

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Padlet with Sets of High Interest Sources

The pandemic provides an excellent opportunity for many of our students to read A LOT nonfiction and to read W I D E L Y on a lot of topics of interest. The benefits are numerous–more background knowledge, better comprehension, bigger vocabulary, and the development of a love for what reading offers. There are even …Read more

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Insect Superfood: Two Sources + Cheat Notes

Entomophagy is the human consumption of insects as food. While we were in Mexico last summer, my husband and I tried avocado toast with crickets at La Gruta, a restaurant near Teotihuacán, Mexico. There tasty! This week’s sources for remote learning (during COVID-19 pandemic) are on this high interest topic. Geared towards 2nd-5th grade. I’ve included …Read more

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Driverless Cars: Three Sources + Cheat Notes

This text set includes two articles and a video on this HOT TOPIC! See further below for cheat notes on similar details in the sources. Probably most appropriate for 4th-7th grades. Source 1 VIDEO “Why don’t we have self-driving cars yet?” by Business Insider This is about five minutes. The details I suggest using begin …Read more

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