Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Key Strategies’ Category

Digital Tools Support Students on the Autism Spectrum (Guest Post)

by Aileen Hower

Digital tools that have proven helpful in supporting students on the autism spectrum to express their thoughts better in writing are those that allow them to create comic strips and videos. Likewise, digital tools like QR codes, podcasts, and interactive sites like BookFlix and TrueFlix can support a student’s reading more efficiently and effectively.  Read more

Parent-Teacher Conferences

By Linda Kerschner

November brings cooler temperatures, fluttering leaves, early sunsets, Thanksgiving feasts, and parent-teacher conferences. Of course, you may have already met with parents, by their request or your invitation, but the November school calendar includes a specific day when you will spend a day (or maybe several days) meeting with parents.

English teachers are in great demand on this day. English teachers of juniors are particularly popular. My allotted 15 slots generally filled in record time, at least according to the administrative assistant who took parent calls to schedule this event. Parents don’t always realize that they can schedule an appointment with us on another day, perhaps a time that is even more convenient for them. 

Obviously, parents take these days seriously, and for good reason. They want to find out, from the horse’s mouth, how their children are doing, above and beyond the numbers they can see on tests, quizzes, and papers. They want to hear that their children are wonderful and that they will be recruited by the colleges of their choice on full scholarships. More importantly, they want to hear that we, the teachers, recognize and appreciate their children’s special talents.

What can we do to make sure that the conferences live up to the parents’ expectations? More importantly, what can we do to make sure that these conferences benefit our students?  Read more

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.
Read more

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