Learning to Fly with Notice and Note Nonfiction Strategies

In my last post, I shared how I introduced Probst and Beers' Three Big Questions and Nonfiction Signposts strategies to my 8th graders.  After reading about the way Julie Swinehart introduced the nonfiction signposts to her 11th graders, it seemed logical that 8th graders should be able to do something similar with a partner with … Continue reading Learning to Fly with Notice and Note Nonfiction Strategies

Introducing Nonfiction Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies to 8th Grade Readers

This past week we began our study of informational text and writing for Quarter 2.  I am so excited that our pacing guide pairs informational text with informational writing and then allows a second round of study in Quarter 3 to build student stamina with informational text and argumentative writing (we'll be engaging in nonfiction … Continue reading Introducing Nonfiction Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies to 8th Grade Readers

Common Dialogic Threads: Library Collections and Your Student Writers

Many of you know I was an English teacher and then a school librarian for over ten years before returning to the classroom in 2016.  Both professions and all that has come "before" and "after" inform the work I do and how I think about my practice as a literacy educator.   Sometimes it is an … Continue reading Common Dialogic Threads: Library Collections and Your Student Writers

Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

In my last two posts, I wrote about some of the learning activities we did in my 8th grade Language Arts classroom to set the stage to do some collaborative work with theme.  Using the structure and materials from this "Discovering Theme" activity with learning stations as my framework, we spent roughly 4.5 days of … Continue reading Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

Days 2 and 3 of Inquiring Into Theme: Introducing Purposeful Annotations + The Note and Notice Contrasts and Contradictions Signpost

In my previous post, I outlined how we dipped our toe into deconstructing a piece of literature to take apart the "puzzle pieces" with a short text and then put them back together to see a big picture of theme.  On Day 2, we did a quick recap of the previous day's activities and concepts … Continue reading Days 2 and 3 of Inquiring Into Theme: Introducing Purposeful Annotations + The Note and Notice Contrasts and Contradictions Signpost

Day 1 of Inquiring Into Theme: Deconstructing “Harlem” and Constructing Possible Thematic Concepts and Statements

This past Tuesday we began the third and final "bend" in the Calkins Deep Study of Character unit of study for middle grades reading.  I personally did not care for the mini-lessons and the methods for framing/introducing theme, so I decided to keep the key concepts but design a different path to the same ends. … Continue reading Day 1 of Inquiring Into Theme: Deconstructing “Harlem” and Constructing Possible Thematic Concepts and Statements

Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I am terribly unhappy with the first unit of study our school has been working with---the Lucy Calkins Deep Study of Character.  Concerns I have include: Lack of academic vocabulary that I know my students will be expected to know on state tests and in future … Continue reading Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

My school is in our first year adoption of the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Middle Grades Reading.   Because some units are not published for 8th grade and because we are all bravely piloting the adoption together, all three grades have started with A Deep Study of Character for the first nine weeks. The … Continue reading When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems

This year I wanted to start the school year with an activity that infused reading, writing, and critical thinking while building classroom community and some personal connections.  Inspired by an Instagram post from the Ohio Writing Project at Miami University, I decided to work with my students to craft a collaborative "Where I'm From" class … Continue reading Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems