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Reading groups — homogeneous or heterogeneous?

Leveled readers #4

As teachers, we know that small-group instruction can be extremely powerful. It allows us to work with just a handful of students at time, to differentiate our instruction to specific student needs, and can help students listen to and learn from one another. An often taken-for-granted assumption is that we should group our students according […]

Middle grade fiction – Serafina’s Promise


Perhaps you have read about the studies that demonstrate how reading can build empathy. Those studies usually use adults as subjects but anyone who has seen a child moved by a fictional story knows that reading can make us better people. Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg offers young readers the chance to learn about […]

Does leveled reading create life-long readers?

Leveled readers #3

Imagine you’re in the library, looking for a new book to read. You see the covers and spines of many books with intriguing titles and related to topics about which you care deeply or desire to learn more. Your excitement mounts as you take in the seemingly boundless possibilities. But then, upon closer inspection, you […]

In a word…the logophile’s journey


Every group text, email chain, and Facebook thread has one… that one member who can’t help but change someone’s “who” to “whom,” who balks at the improper use of “their” and “there,” and who inserts the little star symbol to indicate a correction on a daily basis. Yes, indeed, some may see it as a […]

What’s in those leveled book boxes?

Leveled readers #2

Recently, I was reading an article called “The Character of Our Content” in an archived issue of Rethinking Schools. In this piece, a concerned mother critiques representations of gender and race in a basal anthology that her daughter was reading at school. The article got me thinking how incidents such as these are likely very […]

High reader, low motivation

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

In retrospect, I realize now that I have been extremely lucky. My students have always been highly motivated to read. Obviously, I’ve encountered the spectrum when it comes to low to excellent readers, but nonetheless, my students needed only minimal encouragement to read. When students lost interest, a graphic novel always did the trick (I’m […]

The pros and cons of leveled readers

Leveled readers #1

These days, if you enter any elementary school classroom, the chances are good that you’ll encounter leveled readers organized into colorful bins with letters or numbers indicating the challenge level of the books contained inside. With the rise of literacy approaches such as guided reading, many hail leveled readers as a critical component of effective […]

The power of the image: photographs in biographies


Striking photographs in biographies can draw in, engage, and inform young readers on a deep level. In addition, they can serve as outstanding primary sources. Whether the photographs are current, colorful, high quality prints, or old, sepia, grainy shots, they reveal much about the subject, the setting, and the social/historical context. The two books below […]

Mock award results | Class #6, 2016


The children’s lit class met for the last time last night and we held six (6!) mock book award deliberations. Each student chose which award they wanted to judge and had free reign to nominate any eligible book. I’m pretty sure every last one of them also brought snacks to fuel their discussions. You can […]

Last children’s lit class in 2016


It’s hard to believe that this half-semester module is finishing up in one week. Tonight the students are handing in their annotated bibliographies — the big written assignment in this course. Next, we head into the last class for a little fun. We are reading Charlotte’s Web for dessert but most of our last meeting […]