Academic Engagement in the Home Stretch

You’ve made it to the last few months of the academic year! From spring fever to state testing, there are lots of reasons why students might need a nudge to stay engaged in academics around this time of year. Here are some tips that can help!
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Breathe Life into Learning with Engaging Academics

Building the characteristics of engaging academics into lessons helps students do rigorous learning in a dynamic way. Students not only engage with and enjoy their learning, but are more willing to tackle…
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Making Learning Meaningful: It’s All About the Why

A few years ago, as I looked around the fourth/fifth grade combination class I taught, I saw a student staring at her math notebook and slowly shaking her head. I wandered over…
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A Teacher Shares

Get Moving! It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and our class is preparing for language arts block. Recess and lunch seem like hours ago, and we still have an entire content area to…
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The Building Blocks of Collaboration: Partner and Small-Group Chats (Grades 5–6)

Children learn a great deal, academically and socially, by collaborating—working together toward common goals. A good way to help students begin developing collaboration skills is by teaching them how to exchange ideas,…
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Active, Engaging Test Prep: The Walking Quiz

In my previous post, I talked about the importance of incorporating movement into classroom work and gave an example of one way to do that with an editing activity. In this post,…
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Keep Your Class Moving!

It's 1:30 in the afternoon, and our class is preparing for language arts block. Recess and lunch seem like hours ago, and we still have an entire content area left to teach.…
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Go Slow to Go Fast

My second grade class sits cross-legged on the rug. It is the first day of school, and I'm introducing a classroom tool that the children will be using today and all year.…
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Test Prep with Less Stress

As we approached testing season, the already anxiety-prone fourth graders I teach began asking questions about test dates, format, and content. These signs of stress, combined with antsiness brought on by the…
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Teaching Skillful Communication

Ryan holds up the book so all his classmates can see the cover and begins: "Reptile Facts is my favorite first grade book. Every first grader should read this book because it…
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The Hot Seat

Are you looking for interactive learning structures that will help your students gain a deeper understanding of content while also developing and practicing higher level thinking skills? The Hot Seat is a…
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The Language of Learning (Foreword)

Students enter our school doors with a vision of themselves as learners, filled with hopes and dreams for learning. That's what I firmly believe. With them, they bring an innate curiosity and…
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Choices Choices

When I look around my classroom, I see students making choices. The first graders I teach make choices all through the day, from the time they arrive until Closing Circle.
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Asking Strategic Questions

Adapted from the new book The Language of Learning: Teaching Students Core Thinking, Listening, & Speaking Skills 
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Common Core: Let’s Seize the Opportunity Together

Crafting powerful solutions for educating all children is an evolutionary and continuous improvement process. Educators and all those responsible for education must always be focused on innovating and pushing boundaries, digging deep,…
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Challenges Are Fun!

Recently I've been thinking about how enthusiastically the students in my class take on challenges, and how challenging them has helped us build a more positive community and made learning more fun…
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Movement Breaks to the Rescue!

While giving the January spelling assessment, I paused to look around the classroom and here's what I saw: Sara was yawning. Ben held his head in his hands. Julie's head was down…
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When Learning Is Fun

If your classroom life is like mine these days, it's gotten harder to make learning fun. This year in my district we have a new teacher evaluation system, new report cards, new…
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Building Community Through Academics

When they are working towards a common goal, engaged in a fascinating topic, or trying to figure out a solution for a meaningful problem, students feel more connected to school and each…
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Are You Having Fun?

One afternoon in late October, my third grade class laughed together for the first time this year. It happened as we were getting ready to transition from science to math. "Okay," I…
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Teaching Future Scientists

 "Young engineers, it looks as if you have mastered skyscrapers. Now you are ready for the challenge of building a bridge!" said the teacher to a small group of children in a…
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The Trouble with Testing

When I first began my teaching career in the early 1990's, it felt like an exciting time to be in education. There was incredible momentum building for rich, multi-layered, developmentally appropriate teaching.…
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Guided Discovery: Paper, Scissors, and Glue

One of my favorite Guided Discovery lessons led children to explore ways they could use paper, glue sticks (or glue), and scissors. I was always amazed at what children could create with…
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Books for Guided Discovery: Crayons

Use a book to kick off a Guided Discovery lesson or to reinforce learning from it. A great read-aloud can open children’s minds to the magic and possibilities of the material you’re…
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Do You Teach Writing?

Always on the lookout for resources to help teachers, I recently found a gem: Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice (Stenhouse, 2010). Ruth Ayres and Stacey…
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Homework: An Unwelcome Guest

Most Thursday nights, our family joins two other families for what we all call "Dinner and a Show." We congregate at one of our houses, the kids play together and we all…
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Seeing It All Come Together

While reading Mike Anderson’s series of posts about strategies for keeping students active and engaged, I kept thinking about a second grade classroom I visited recently. I was lucky enough to watch…
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