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 to her and said, “You can always talk to me if something is puzzling you. I might be able to help.” “It’s not Read More »
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Doing Language Arts in Morning Meeting

Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is a great way to set a positive tone for the day of learning ahead while also having fun and building community. It’s also a great way to…
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Pen Pals With a Twist

Not long ago, my second grade classes started pen pal projects. These weren't your usual pen pal ventures where children write to students in another state or country. These had a twist. 
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Morning Meeting Lesson Plans . . . Where to Begin?

Do you think a lot about how to create Morning Meetings that positively impact each day and prepare your students for the learning to come? I'll share a little secret that has…
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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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Books for Hopes and Dreams (2012)

Recommending children's books that teachers can use to begin talking about goal-setting and with their students has become an annual ritual for me. (Here are my picks for 2011 and 2010.) This…
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Sharing Idea: Who Remembers My Favorite Book?

Playing a fun remembering game builds on children's listening and memory skills.
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Greeting Idea: Backward Day Handshake

Here’s a Morning Meeting greeting idea from 80 Morning Meeting Ideas for Grades K–2, by Susan Lattanzi Roser: Backward Day Handshake Greeting Students pass along a friendly handshake, but say the greeting…
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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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More Books for Hopes and Dreams

A recent post on Facebook for more ideas about books to use with hopes and dreams made me think about why some stories work so well to inspire children to think about…
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Back to School with Children’s Books

Reading aloud can be a powerful way to build community and shared understanding at the beginning of the school year. My classes and I used to laugh and talk all year about…
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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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Celebrating Friendship

Take time at the end of the school year to help children reflect on how they have worked to get to know each other, efforts they have made to be kind, and…
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Read-Alouds for Remembering

How has your class grown this year? What acts of kindness have they done for each other? What have they learned? What do you hope they will remember? Children's books can be…
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Fruitful Mistakes

Recently I left my coat in a classroom in northern California, lost the cover for my Blackberry somewhere between California and Greenfield, Massachusetts, and made a pot of soup for dinner that…
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Read-Alouds: Duck! Rabbit!

Before I moved to California, I had the pleasure of being part of a children’s book club—a group of adults who gathered together once a month to read and discuss children’s books.…
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Read-Alouds for Rule Creation

Classroom rules work best when students understand why rules exist and how rules will help them, as individuals and as a group. I have found several children's books over the years that…
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Books for Back-to-School: School Poems

I’ve been having fun writing about books for the first few weeks of school, and today I have another collection of poems to share: Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other…
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Read-Alouds for the First Day of School

The other day Jen Audley sent me a link to a blog entry about the first day of school that really got me thinking about the children who come to our classes…
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Books for Back to School: Falling Down the Page

I love visiting bookstores, especially children’s bookstores, when I’m traveling. This summer, while I was on the road for work, I discovered lots of new books. (Truth be told, I also spent…
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Summer Reading: Access & Choice

I’d just read Tina Valentine’s post called “Will Your Students Keep Learning This Summer?” when I happened on another article on the same topic in the current International Reading Association newsletter. “Stopping…
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Will Your Students Keep Learning This Summer?

Did you know that two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading can be related directly to unequal summer learning opportunities? Even though I've seen firsthand how students can lose ground in their…
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Read-Alouds for the Last Day

What do you read to your class on the last day of school? I always put so much energy into that last choice. I wanted a book that would celebrate the community…
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Energizers! Spelling Stroll

Energizers are usually more about giving children quick movement and breathing breaks than they are about academics. Still, it’s possible to work in a little academic practice, as long as the focus…
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Here’s an Idea! Songs in Other Languages

Singing a familiar tune or chant in another language can enliven a Morning Meeting, be a fun energizer, and help meet the needs of the growing number of second language learners in…
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Book Club Lunches

When I was a second grader, my teacher would take us outside on mild afternoons to relax with whatever book we chose. We’d munch snacks and chat as we read together. Those…
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