How to Plan for Book Clubs in Middle School

historical fiction book club option

The following is an excerpt from pages 74-75 of A Guide to the Teachers
College Reading and Writing Project Classroom Libraries, Grades 6–8
by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

What is a book club?

Simply put, a book club is a group of readers, usually three or four, who read books roughly in sync with each other. Usually clubs read the same book, but sometimes clubs may read books by the same author, or read a series of books together that share a common genre—mystery, historical fiction, fantasy—or they may read a collection of disparate books with a common lens—thinking about interpretation, learning about shared social issues across the book.

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Tools Don’t Teach, Teachers Do! Using Tools to Support Our Teaching & Teach to Independence

Teachers Toolkits

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Building a strong workshop practice is similar to building a house. Doing it successfully takes expertise, patience, foresight, flexibility, and, of course, the right tools. Having an arsenal of resources to draw upon, in minilessons and in conferences and small groups, is key when you need to teach on your feet, reflexively and quickly meeting the needs of a range of students. 

Just as no two teachers are the same, and no two groups of students are the same, so must teachers’ toolkits be varied, personalized by the teacher and set up to best support the teachers' current group. A toolkit might be a binder filled with text samples and checklists, or it might be a digital toolkit filled with resources available at the touch of a button. A toolkit’s mode of delivery is far less important than its usability and connection to students’ needs. However you decide to store your teaching toolkit, digitally or in a good, old-fashioned binder, here are some tips for its organization and development.

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Mindset and Understanding How The Brain Does What it Does

Mindset_3H6A0024s

In A Mindset for Learning, authors Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz show teachers how, through explicit instruction, they can their turn classroom thinking from that of a fixed mindset to one of a growth mindset, and how together students and teachers can create classrooms of risk and resilience. In the following excerpt, the authors talk about the power that our brain's established neural pathways have over our interpretation of information, and how we have the power to change. 

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PLC Series: Focus on the Strengths of Your ELs

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.

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After discovering a pattern of deficit thinking about her child’s reading struggles, Cohort 1 Heinemann Fellow Lisa Birno embarked on action research to investigate instructional strategies that would “increase equity and engagement through the use of purposeful talk”.

In this post on the Heinemann blog, Lisa tells the story of how she began critically examine patterns of deficit language we sometimes use to describe learners. She writes, “In order to make sense of why the child isn’t learning the way we expect, our deficit language kicks in and it damns every child we use it on.”

Take a few moments to read her post and think about a time you recall defaulting to deficit-thinking, whether it be with a student, a family member, or yourself. What phrases of deficit language dominate this memory?

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Supporting LGBTQ Students and Teachers

Heinemann Podcast_H-podcast-logo-bluerules2400x2400_WToday on The Heinemann Podcast, how can teachers improve their practice around LGBTQ needs in the classroom? It’s October 11th, National Coming Out Day. A day for those who identify as LGBTQ to be visible. A day to say you matter, you’re not alone. How can educators make their classrooms a safer place for LGBTQ students and why is it important for both LGBTQ teachers and students to see schools as a safe place? Heinemann author Kate Roberts and Heinemann Fellow Jess Lifshitz talk more about the importance for our classrooms to be safe places. 

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Framing Science Learning With Coherent Science Stories

The Stories of Science
Science stories can be compelling vehicles for connecting people to information. When we create overarching story lines for instruction (within a unit, throughout a year of study, or over several years), students are more likely to remember what we teach. Information is more likely to stick because (as cognitive science shows) stories are the basic organizing principle for memory. Compelling stories also engage more of the brain (Berns et al. 2013). Also, students can begin to see the big ideas of science and how they connect across disciplines. Finally, the story lines give students a coherent framework to hang their learning on.

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