Refreshing Your Kids’ Reading and Writing Lives in the New Year

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Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

The start of a new calendar year brings a sense of renewal, possibility, and novelty.  It is a time for reflection, and certainly, as the number of people who make New Year’s resolutions shows, for goal-setting. 

Hopefully, your students (and you!) have returned from the break rested, recharged, and ready to reinvest. This is the perfect time to channel your students to reflect on their reading and writing lives and to make plans for the year ahead. 

In January, you might help students to: 

  • Take stock of their progress thus far. Now is a great time for students to return to goals from earlier in the school year and to reflect on progress toward those goals. 
  • Set new goals. Naturally, as students reflect on previous goals, they might realize they’ve outgrown some of them and are ready to set new ones. If students need help setting concrete goals, they might use some of the student-facing checklists that are part of the Units of Study series.  
  • Reflect on their reading and writing identities. At the start of the school year, many teachers invite students to consider their own unique approaches to reading and writing. Developing this understanding helps students to honor and work from their individual strengths. January is a wonderful time to do this kind of reflection again. You might ask your students to write using simple prompts, such as: I’m the kind of reader (or writer) who…, or I’m the kind of reader (or writer) who is becoming…
  • Grow excitement about what is to come. You might show students some previews of the wonderful and engaging reading and writing units that are coming up later in the year. Remind them that they have worked hard to be ready for this kind of sophisticated work. Or, you might show them end-of-year work samples from previous years to get them excited about the level of work you hope they’ll soon be able to achieve. 

At this week’s TCRWP Twitter chat, staff developer Katy Wischow will discuss ways to help students to freshen up their reading and writing lives in the new year. Please join to get and share ideas on how to reinvigorate your students and yourself to ensure the second half of the school year is the strongest it can be. 

Each Wednesday night at 7:30pm eastern, The Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project hosts a Twitter chat using the hashtag #TCRWP. Join Katy Wischow @kw625 to chat about refreshing your kids’ reading and writing lives tomorrow evening.  

Not on Twitter? Take Heinemann’s free Twitter for Educators course here.


    Anna Gratz Cockerille

Coauthor of Bringing History to Life (Grade 4) in the Units of Study for Teaching Writing Series.

Anna was a teacher and a literacy coach in New York City and in Sydney, Australia, and later became a Staff Developer and Writer at TCRWP. She served as an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and taught at several TCRWP institutes, including the content literacy institute, where she helped participants bring strong literacy instruction into social studies classrooms. Anna also has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement (Heinemann 2012), and Navigating Nonfiction in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3–5 series (Heinemann 2010). Most recently, Anna served as an editor for the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, K–5 series.

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