Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Taking a page from the playbook of Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy, I decided to introduce our new unit on argumentative writing with some informal debate.  On Day 1, we started with this ticket in the door that surveyed students on what they knew about debate.  Students engaged in partner talk (I recommend the … Continue reading Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

A few weeks ago my students completed a Book, Head, Heart set of reflections as a formative assessment and reflection for their day of in-class reading of their choice library books. I borrowed this strategy from Bob Probst and Kylene Beers; you can read more about BHH in their book Disrupting Thinking.   Once they completed composing … Continue reading Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Right after the first of the year, one of my favorite teachers and literacy leaders, Sarah Brown Wessling, posted this video about taking her class on the move.  Last year, I crafted and incorporated many learning activities for my high school students that involved movement, and I've continued that with my 8th graders during the … Continue reading Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

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

Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

Update, January 1, 2019:  Hi! I have posted each resource as a free download in my new Teachers Pay Teachers store. I just uploaded the files, so they may not all be visible for a couple of hours, but they should all be visible within 24 hours. I hope you enjoy them! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Buffy-Hamilton Those of … 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

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures

In my last blog post, I shared how I used book tasting to help students pick one of five books for our American Lit book club project.  There are many ways teachers may structure book club meetings and assignments---some choose a path that is very open and flexible while others may provide more structure.  I … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures