Category Archives: Literacy

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.


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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Amplifying Student Voice Through Writing Workshop, 3-12

Writing Workshop Students

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

When we teach students to express themselves well in writing, we are doing so much more than simply helping them to do better on school assignments. We are giving them tools so that they can express themselves to the world in the best ways possible. When we teach students to become better writers, we are teaching them to become better thinkers. We are teaching them to connect ideas, to unpack arguments, to angle details, and to draw conclusions. Perhaps most importantly of all, we are teaching them that what they have to say matters. 

Many students feel powerless in their environments. They don’t feel they have a voice, or a place in the world to share it. In writing workshop, we can teach them that they do have power, the power of words, and they do have a voice, a voice they can use for good. Any writing unit in which students are taught to choose and grow their own ideas (every unit in the Units of Study for Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing, that is) will help students to find their voices. But there are some that are more specifically angled toward helping students to identify and express their opinions on topics that matter to them. These are: 

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New Editions of Two Marie Clay Resources

Heinemann is proud to be the U.S. distributor of Marie Clay’s work. To influence new generations of teachers, the Marie Clay Literacy Trust brings us these refreshed editions of key titles. Marie’s words are untouched, but the Trust has updated references and surrounding features as appropriate. 

We are thrilled to announce the two newest editions of beloved Marie Clay favorites.

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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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Establishing a Vibrant Community of Readers: Fostering Partnerships, Independence, and Courage


Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

In reading workshop classrooms, many goals that teachers have for students and that students have for themselves are tangible and measurable. These include being able to read books at higher levels of text complexity and becoming more skilled in areas such as inferencing, predicting, and thinking critically. There are other goals that workshop teachers keep in mind that are perhaps less tangible and measurable but are nonetheless just as important when helping children to develop thoughtful, rich reading lives. These include working well in partnerships, developing greater independence in managing the reading process, and bravery when tackling the challenges that arise when becoming a better reader. 

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