Category Archives: Kindergarten

Gearing Up for a Powerful Launch to a New Year: Reflecting on the June Teachers College Writing Institute

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

This week, institute season kicks off at The Reading and Writing Project, as thousands of educators gather at Teachers College in New York City to reflect upon, reinvigorate, and refine their teaching of writing. The workshops, lectures, keynotes, and often informal study groups they will attend will help them to hone their teaching practices so that they begin the next school year in the strongest place yet. 

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Combating Summer Slump: Let’s Keep Our Readers Reading

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Photo credit: Ben White

 by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

These days, books have a lot of competition for kids’ attention. Video games, cell phones, tablets, and social media sites all provide tantalizing sources of entertainment for kids of all ages during their off hours. As we move into the summer months, many kids will have a lot of hours to fill. As teachers, we have a lot of power to make sure that at least some of kids’ time this summer is taken up with reading. 

Reading over the summer is particularly crucial for children from lower income families, as study after study has shown. Many of these children already suffer from vast achievement gaps that they can’t afford to widen. Some research estimates that children from middle-income homes read three lines of print for everyone one line read by children from lower income homes. Children from lower income homes simply cannot afford to not read in the summer if they are to catch up. 

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How Can You Adjust Your Classroom Environment to Maximize Engagement?

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It's no secret that a healthy and intentional classroom environment can increase student engagement. But how do you create it? Master teacher and education consultant Patricia Vitale-Reilly has a deep understanding of what some of these engagement strategies can look like and how to integrate them into classroom practice. In her newest book, Engaging Every Learner, Patricia applies the research on motivation and engagement to strategies and tools that cultivate and sustain student engagement across the school year. In today's post adapted from the book, Patricia offers a classroom environment checklist. 

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What Kind of Writers Do We Hope To See In Our Classrooms?

E08880_Fletcher_Bookcover_9201Adapted from the introduction to Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low-Stakes Writing, by Ralph Fletcher


In the autumn of 1983 I started the MFA writing program at Columbia. This led to a famous first encounter, at least for me. In September I wandered uptown from 116th Street to 120th Street, walked into Teachers College, and met Lucy Calkins for the first time. She was a brand-new professor. I signed up for Lucy’s first course on the teaching of writing. Soon after that I took a position with the TC Reading and Writing Project as a consultant in New York City schools, helping teachers find wiser ways of teaching writing.

I didn’t realize it then, but more than taking an interesting job, I had embarked on my career. I have spent most of my professional life speaking, demonstrating, and writing books about the teaching of writing. Recently I ran into a teacher, a man in whose classroom I had worked twenty years earlier.

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How Old is Too Old to Read Aloud to Your Students?

NNTBT_NoMoreReading4Junk_1Students love choice. That's why giving students the power to choose books for independent reading, teacher read-aloud and classroom libraries makes them much more engaged and motivated readers.

In No More Reading for Junk, authors Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell provide teachers with research-based context for fostering reading motivation in children, as well as strategies and techniques proven to transform students into passionate, lifelong readers.

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Reflect, Revise, & Reset: Using Authentic Data to Plan for Next Year

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 by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Data collection has become more and more of an obsession in education over the past decade. Certainly, the term data often suggests Big Data: standardized test scores and other quantitative measures derived from evaluations, and school-wide data such as graduation rates and quality review or teacher evaluation outcomes. These kinds of data can provide helpful big-picture information about a school. But it is the little data that teachers collect continuously that often has the most impact on day to day teaching and, in the end, on student achievement. This kind of data is mostly qualitative and provides in-depth insights into students’ skill levels, understandings, and work habits. 

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