Category Archives: Language Arts

Teaching Middle School Reading Units of Study: Tips from the Authors

Teaching Middle School Reading Units of Study: Tips from the Authors

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Teachers of middle school reading have their own, unique set of challenges. On the one hand, there is the pressure to get middle schoolers ready for high school. In high school, the demands will be high, to say the least. Students will be expected to wrestle with complex texts with minimal help. They’ll be expected to read and digest information quickly, and to write well about what they read. The inclination for many middle school reading teachers is to prepare students for a high school curriculum by angling their own curriculum toward what will come in high school. On the other hand, most middle schoolers still need plenty of instruction in reading skill work, and many are not quite ready for the high levels of text complexity of whole class novels. So what is a middle school teacher to do? 

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Using an Editor’s Mindset: An Origin Story

Back and Forth: Using an Editor's Mindset to improve Student Writing

In her new book Back and Forth: Using and Editor's Mindset to Improve Student Writing, Lee Heffernan encourages teachers to go from giving writing feedback to students as their teacher, to giving feedback as students’ editor. Here, excerpted from her introduction from Back and Forth is the origin story of her thinking:

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PLC Series: Decentering Our Perceptions of Language

Welcome back to the Heinemann Professional Development Professional Learning Community (PLC) series. We are excited to present a new format for the 2017-2018 year! 

Each month, we'll share 2 posts designed to provoke thinking and discussion, through a simple framework, incorporating mini-collections of linked content into your professional development time. 

This month, our posts will challenge us to examine literacy practices so we can be more inclusive of students who speak varieties of English as well those learning English.

PLC OCT #1

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When we pause to consider our use of English in different contexts— words, phrases, hashtags, colloquialisms—some of us might be surprised to discover the choices we make and why.

Make a list of places you have lived, learned, and worked, as well as spaces you frequent (both physical and online), and groups of people with whom you interact. Jot some examples of things you might say in the context of each of your list items.

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Starting The Year With Student Thinking

Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation

Written by Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation

Educators are granted the incredible gift of revision, a chance to reflect on and refine instruction year after year. Try again. Do over. Make better. At its core, education is a creative process, facilitated by a teacher and constructed by the student community. It’s a meeting of the minds.

In the fall we aim for instruction that will introduce the fundamental concepts we’ll nurture across the year. I’m dedicated to creating a classroom where student ideas and voices are the foundation of our daily discussions.

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Rozlyn Linder on Lee Heffernan’s new Back and Forth

 

The following is Rozlyn Linder's foreword from Lee Heffernan's new book, Back and Forth: Using an Editor's Mindset to Improve Student Writing


 

Guilty as charged. I can recall numerous times when I asked a student, “Are you ready to publish your writing?” I swiftly sent them off to rewrite, type, or illustrate their work. That writing was then retired to a class bulletin board, or even worse— my desk. Done. That was the end of that piece. It now belonged to me. Lee Heffernan has shown me the error of my ways.

Lee’s book speaks to the idea of student empowerment, accountability, meaningful writing, revision, and publishing. Her work essentially shows us how to move students from fake writing (writing that is just for the teacher) to writing that has purpose and passion. Lee manages to marry process and product in a way that will inevitably set a new standard for writing instruction for teachers everywhere. Her work breaks ground with tenets that shift our writing instructional norms and inspires students.

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The 6 Comprehension Strategies Every Reader Must Learn

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Kids’ thinking matters. When students begin to understand that their thinking matters, reading changes. Throughout the school day, kids are actively questioning, discussing, arguing, debating, responding, and generating new knowledge. We can’t read kids’ minds, but one way to open a window into their understanding is to help them bring their thinking to the surface by talking and writing about it.

The Primary and Intermediate Comprehension Toolkits emphasize responsive teaching with lessons that explicitly teach the language of thinking. With this metacognitive scaffolding, teachers are able to gradually release to kids the responsibility for comprehending the wide variety of nonfiction texts they encounter. Toolkit lessons strengthen the specific kinds of thinking proficient readers use: six comprehension strategies that research has shown are part of an effective reader’s mental toolkit. The Comprehension Toolkit guides you through the explicit instruction of these six comprehension strategies:

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