Category Archives: Collaboration

Tom Newkirk on Internalizing the “We Can do This” Voice

Book_Product photoNo one escapes embarrassment. Both students and teachers face it every day in school and its influence affects our willingness to take risks. How might our fear of failure, of not living up to expectations, be holding us back?  How can our fear of embarrassment affect how we learn, how we teach, and how we live?

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Taking the Fear Out of Jumping Into Inquiry

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Let's face it, the idea of jumping into student-directed inquiry can be overwhelming. Fears over releasing control to students—and visions of students losing control—can seem like too much to handle to even consider dipping one’s toe into the waters of inquiry. But the truth is, successful student-directed inquiry is a highly structured, adaptable framework that honors kids questions about the world and fits any curriculum. There is no need for it to be scary.

In the following video, author Harvey “Smokey” Daniels talks about how doing inquiry correctly can turn that trepidation into fulfillment and fun for both teachers and students alike.

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How to Set Up Reading Partnerships to Maximize Literacy Learning in Your Classroom

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Adapted from "What Are The Rest of my Kids Doing?" Fostering Independence in the K–2 Reading Workshop, by Lindsey Moses and Meridith Ogden


Partner reading is important for many reasons. Literacy is a socially constructed activity involving reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing. Reading together and talking about books can provide partners with enriching experiences, thinking, and conversation that would not take place while reading independently. In addition to the motivation, engagement, and social aspects, Rogoff (1990) documented interactions between partners that led to each child achieving a higher level of understanding than working by themselves. This could be due to the type of talk surrounding partner reading. Brown (2006) found five major themes of talk occurred during partner reading time in second grade: organizational, disputational, word strategy, meaning making, and personal talk. All of these, except personal talk, supported partner reading.

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When World, Community, or School News is Upsetting

rhendi-rukmana-193672Excerpted from The Curious Classroom by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels

When you live with thirty other human beings for 180 days in a row, sad things and bad things can happen. Individual children or the whole group will encounter struggles, worries, losses, changes, or emergencies. It’s not whether, but when.

Many of these happenings are predictable and expectable. A class pet dies. Then someone breaks a bone. Someone moves away. Someone has a sick parent or grandparent. Someone’s family is in a car crash. There’s a bullying incident on the playground. A big storm rages through town. There’s scary news on TV and adults are agitated about it.

Here are some ways to support students when dealing with these crises in your classroom:

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The 5 Features of a Motivated Classroom

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The following is adapted from Motivated: Designing Math Classrooms Where Students Want to Join In, by Ilana Seidel Horn

In her new book, Motivated, author Ilana Seidel Horn outlines the features of a motivational classroom. Based on her research, Horn has found that a motivational classroom attends to the following five features:

  • students’ sense of belongingness
  • the meaningfulness of learning
  • students’ competence
  • structures for accountability
  • students’ autonomy.

Teachers can foster all of these through deliberate instructional design as they tinker to motivate their students. Here's where to start:

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Using Pre-Assessment to Ease into Reading Differentiation

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The research is compelling: When teachers differentiate reading instruction, students learn more. But teachers are too often given the expectation of differentiation without the details on how to make it work. In No More Reading Instruction Without Differentiation, Lynn Bigelman and Debra Peterson offer a framework that adapts instruction based on individual students' needs and interests.

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