Category Archives: Middle School

Setting up Strong Reading and Writing Partnerships at the Beginning of a New School Year

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille​

In most reading and writing units, students work in partnerships to support and extend their work. Over time, even very young students can learn to turn to a partner as the first line of defense when trouble arises. When they encounter a tricky word in their reading, for example, they can ask a partner for help rather than running to a teacher. Or, when they aren’t sure what to write about, they can ask a partner to spend a couple of minutes brainstorming. As Lucy Calkins writes in A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Primary Grades, “Partner time is designed to give young readers a second wind, renewing their energy to continue on” (p. 52). The same is true for young writers, too. With a bit of extra instruction and time, partners can learn to act as confidantes, sounding boards, and cheerleaders for each other, spurring each other on to do their best work. 

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Congratulations to Cris Tovani, Recipient of the 2017 Adolescent Literacy Thought Leader Award

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At the International Literacy Association annual conference this past weekend, author, veteran teacher, staff developer, nationally known consultant Cris Tovani was awrded the Adolescent Literacy Thought Leader Award. Cris is the author of I Read It But I Don’t Get It, Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? So, What do They Really Know? and most recently is coauthor of No More Telling as Teaching. Since the announcement, many educators, authors, and friends have taken to Twitter to express their excitement and congratulations to Cris:

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Heinemann Fellow Chris Hall on Building a Culture of Revision

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“I like it the way it is.” As a writing teacher, I groan inside when I hear my students say this. It’s the verbal equivalent of that giant, capitalized declaration etched into many of my students’ writing pieces: THE END. Whether uttered or written, whether delivered with a scowl and arms crossed or offered hesitantly, the message is the same: This piece is not changing. This work site is closed, and no renovations will be made. No “revision”—no “reseeing” of this writing—is happening, period.

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10 Lessons Teachers Taught Me About Good to Great Teaching

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With each tick of the instructional clock, we can lift students to great heights of learning or hold them cognitive hostages in an instructional dead end. Great work doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a conscious choice we make using a new mind-set that forever alters our thinking. — From Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work That Matters, pg. 96

In August 2012, Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work That Matters was published (Heinemann). As my fifth anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the impact this experience had on me personally and professionally. Bringing Good to Great Teaching to life in the company of dedicated educators launched a collaborative exploratory journey that still lingers five years later.

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Getting Ready for Next Year by Enlivening Your Own Reading and Writing Life

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By Anna Gratz Cockerille

If you are an educator with some time away from school this summer, hopefully you are using a lot of it to recharge. There are many ways you might choose to do this: gardening, lounging, beach-going, cleaning, socializing and, perhaps reading and writing. 

Getting caught up on that stack of novels at your bedside or finally tucking into that personal journal that's been sitting empty can be such pleasures when you finally have the time. Happily, as you nurture yourself as a reader or writer this summer, you can also fuel your teaching. 

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This is What Segregation Looks Like, and How Heinemann Fellow Dr. Kim Parker is Working to Change It

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I teach at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school. Rindge sits in the shadow of Harvard University—one of the best institutions for higher learning in the world. Yet, despite many who insist that my school’s diversity and opportunity are afforded to all students, I know otherwise. Here, students begin the ninth grade on one of two tracks: the (misnamed) College Prep track or the Honors track. The College Prep (CP) track (or “Colored People” track as some students unofficially call it) serves students of color, students with disabilities, students of lower socioeconomic class, and others. The Honors track tends to include students who are white, middle or upper class, and who have parents who are actively involved in their educations.

Students experience education differently depending on their track designation.

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