Back-to-school books

Chrysanthemum

Down South sometimes we do things a little differently… like starting back to school in early August. So while many a teacher is still enjoying their summer vacation until after Labor Day, my first day of school was a week ago. To me, the first days of school are some of the richest times for […]

Who’s doing the thinking?

teacher-point

Over the summer, I’ve been doing some literacy work with an educational consulting group here in Boston — we’re taking some of their existing professional development (PD) and classroom tools and modifying them to better address the Common Core. Last week, I went with some other members of the team to a PD session for […]

A visual life

Andre the Giant

Whether you are teaching history, English, or nonfiction writing, biographies and memoirs can be great tools. They can create a personal connection to and a deeper understanding of a period in history, or illustrate specific types of writing techniques, or showcase a person’s unique perspective. Unfortunately, some students think these books are dry or unappealing. […]

Why are we doing any of this?

bubbletest

Every teacher has heard it before: if you’re teaching students to succeed on the Test, then you’re teaching them the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond. And if you’re like me, you’ve either inwardly or outwardly scoffed at this claim. As I use the summer to reflect on this past school year […]

Summertime books for middle school boys

lieberman_boys_all

Earlier this summer, my middle school colleagues and I worked on a curriculum project in our district’s comprehensive high school — a busy place during the summer. On one of those days, literally hundreds of our students lined up to participate in a teen summer job fair. As they patiently waited in line, they chatted […]

Books in Spanish: A problem of access?

La Siesta Del Martes

When working as an elementary teacher in the United States, I found it hard to find original children’s literature in Spanish language — books originally published in Spanish, that is. As a fourth-grade public school teacher in a dual-immersion and bilingual transitional programs in Colorado and North Carolina, it was difficult to try to read […]

Yaqui’s text set

medina_yaqui delgado

Since I wrote recently about using a text set built around the idea of respect and the title Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, a few people have asked what other texts we used alongside it. Our* essential question was “What makes someone worthy of respect?” We were aiming for a […]

Using Dear Mr. Henshaw to encourage students to write

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw, a Newbery medal-winning book by Beverly Cleary, is a great way to get students to think about some of the therapeutic benefits of writing. Of course, you don’t have to mention how helpful writing can be when you need to sort out feelings but you can let students figure this out on […]

Third grade transitional books

redwoods_199x300

Third grade is a funny transition period between picture books (“baby books”) and chapter books (“big kid books”).  Personally, I think there is much to say about a great picture book, but my students tend to balk at the idea of reading them; they want long books with as many chapters as possible. I think […]

Batter up!

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

With baseball season in full swing, it is the perfect time to check out one of the many great picture books featuring baseball. Here are some of my favorites. Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise with illustrations by Adam Gustavson (K-3) Today many baseball fans may not know […]