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Posts from the ‘Key Strategies’ Category

From the Classroom: The Power of the Booktalk

By Tricia Ebarvia

Although I’d been doing some form of independent reading for several years, with each year better than the one before, I came into last school year determined to commit in a way I hadn’t before. I wanted to find a way to make students’ independent reading a core component of their learning rather than something they did “on the side” or “in addition to” what we were doing in class.

Was I successful? I think so. Certainly there’s always room for improvement, but when I look back at last year, my 9th grade students together read more than 1000 books. That’s 1000 books in addition to the whole class novels they were assigned. That’s 1000 books I’m sure that would have gone unread had I not made the time in class for students to develop independent reading habits.
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Support Diversity and Encourage Young Writers by Using Window and Mirror Books in Your Writing Workshop (Guest Post)

by Stacey Shubitz, September’s Guest Blogger

A powerful way for teachers to embrace diversity is through the careful selection of mentor texts. All students deserve to read mirror books, in which they can see themselves, and window books, in which they can learn about others.  This means teachers must have books that represent a variety of religions, races, and sexual orientations on classroom bookshelves during all months of the year, not just the ones with special designations (e.g., Black History Month, Women’s History Month).

Children need exposure to books that mirror their life experiences.  Classrooms with minority students need books with minority protagonists.  Children with same-sex parents need opportunities to access books with other children who are navigating the world with a family that looks different than the “mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, and white picket fence” scenario most books often show.  When children see their lives mirrored in books, it allows them to feel safe, thereby giving them permission to write freely about their own lives in the texts they compose.  Read more

Teacher to Teacher: The Art of Questioning

By Lynne R. Dorfman

As teachers, we often feel like we should know the answer to every question. Often, we make sure that the questions we ask in our classrooms are questions we can answer. But is it necessary or even effective to ask these kinds of questions most of the time?  What does a teacher asking questions of a class expect the class to learn from the questioning process? Can we learn from our students who just might have possible answers to questions that we have not imagined?  Read more

From the Classroom: What Does Real-World Writing Look Like?

By Tricia Ebarvia

Speaking on a panel at the NCTE Annual Convention last fall, author Cris Crutcher commented, “Reading Shakespeare is an academic exercise. It’s not one that’s going to get me to love reading.” Though I disagree with him about Shakespeare―I think studying Shakespeare can give us tremendous insight into who we are as human beings and speak to us in profound ways―his remark did give me pause. How many of the things we assign―books, writing assignments―are no more than academic exercises? Read more

Teacher to Teacher: Close Reading – What It Means for a Writer

By Lynne R. Dorfman

Writers make choices, make changes, and make meaning. It is clear that writing is a tool for thinking.  Writing is thinking written down (Zinsser, 1988). Writing, in fact, is the most disciplined form of thinking (Murray, 1984).   Educators everywhere are talking about close reading, the instructional practice of asking students to critically examine a text through multiple rereadings.  But what does close reading mean for a writer? Read more

From the Classroom: If You Build It, They Will Come

By Tricia Ebarvia

Last week, I shared how I organize my classroom library. But how did I build my library? How did I know what books to include? And how do I keep it fresh and inviting for students? This week, I share the answers to these questions and more.


START AT HOME

Three years ago, my first attempt at a classroom library was a collection of titles that I’d read during and after college. Well-loved copies of books like A Farewell to Arms, Pride and Prejudice, and Mrs. Dalloway sat along side more contemporary fiction I read for pleasure when I had the time, titles like A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Time Traveler’s Wife.  As an English major and general book nerd, it was a lot of books!  That was also the year I was teaching AP Lit, so many of those “English major” titles were going to come in handy with the independent reading I was planning on having my seniors do.

But I soon realized that while many of these titles were great for AP Lit students, they weren’t so great for my other classes, Read more