We ♥ the Saturday Reunion!

We as Literacy Specialist students LOVE the Saturday Reunion!


Patricia Polacco, TCRWP Staff Developers and Kylene Beers love it too! 

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We hope your Spring Saturday Reunion was full of excitement and learning!

For more information about the Saturday Reunion visit: http://readingandwritingproject.org/services/one-day-events/reunions

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Friday Book Favorites – Professional Texts

Guest post by Hannah — thank you!


“You may not always realize that you are doing these things, but that is just the point – we already know how to study what we love closely, it is a process, a method of falling in love.” (p. 8)

In Falling in Love with Close Reading, Lehman and Roberts describe a simple process and method to teach close reading to upper-elementary, middle school and high school students. They do so by inspiring the reader to study texts deeply, as if they were the people and places they love the most. For a teacher like me, with a limited background in English Literature, the book provides an extremely helpful review of the literary elements and structures that we need to teach our students.

Lehman and Roberts suggest following a ‘ritual’ when close reading texts.

  • Read through lenses (ex: relationships, setting descriptions or time period)
  • Use lenses to find patterns
  • Use patterns to develop a new understanding of the text

Throughout the book, the authors return to this ritual each time they embark on close reading, regardless of the focus of the reading. This ritual is very user-friendly for both teachers and students because it outlines a path of specific and consistent steps to follow.

Along with providing a general framework for close reading instruction, the authors provide lesson plans and practical tips to use with students. For example, they offer ideas for tangible scaffolds such as sentence stems and anchor charts to help students with abstract concepts. The authors also make suggestions for ways to increase student engagement such as by incorporating pop culture, students’ interests and video clips into close reading instruction. Connections to the Common Core State Standards are present throughout the text and are very helpful. This is an exceptionally practical and clearly written text. It’s a must for all upper-elementary, middle school and high school ELA teachers.

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It’s THIS Saturday!

Don’t forget the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Saturday Reunion is this weekend, March 28th, beginning at 9 am.

Educators come from all over the country to attend this free, fantastic professional development!  Keynotes by Patricia Polacco and Kathy Collins, hundreds of sessions for all grade levels and topics, book vendors galore, and dedicated teachers eager to share and expand their learning…what could be better?!

No registration required.  Hope to see you there!

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Confessions of a Title I Teacher

Guest post by Shipnia — thank you!

Whenever people who are not familiar with low-income communities in New York find out that I teach at a Title I school, their responses are most often shock—then, sympathy. Actually, I could write a book of awkward things to ask teachers who serve in low-income communities, including: “Are you doing okay?” “Do they listen to you?” “When are you going to…uh…do something different?” While I ponder the question asker’s sudden concern for my (Mental? Emotional? Physical?) well-being, their “othering” of my kids, and assumption that I must be planning on doing something bigger, better (and maybe safer?) sometime soon, I muster enough polite energy to smile big and assert, “I love my kids. It’s really great.”

I always feel forced into a corner in these situations—it seems that my only option is to smile and tell them it’s great. Why? Because they clearly already think that teaching at a Title I school is a teacher’s nightmare. It hurts to imagine the kinds of things they might be imagining are going on in my classroom and with my scholars. I discussed this recently with colleagues; they expressed that many people think teachers in Title I schools “don’t have a lot to work with.” Well–this I could build on, I thought—hm, what is it that we unfortunate Title I teachers have to work with? Continue reading

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Wise Advice from Anna-Kay

Guest post by Anna-Kay — thank you!

As teachers we play many different important roles. We’re nurses, mathematicians, scientists, historians, meteorologists, and sometimes stand in mommies. We wipe tears, tie shoes, halt arguments or fights and must always keep it all together (and we do). We are practically real life superheroes! But what do we do on those days when it seems everything is falling apart? As with many superheroes, teachers often forget to take off their superhero cloaks and put on their bathrobes and fluffy slippers. Even superheroes become overwhelmed and must retire to their fortresses of solitude in search of methods to tame their stress. Here are some tips and tricks that have been successful for me when I feel I am being taken over by the stress monster.

For a picture… Continue reading

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Friday Book Favorites – A Spring Sampling

then springAnd Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

its springIt’s Spring by Linda Glaser

rumMiss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

fgFlower Garden by Eve Bunting

gardThe Gardener by Sarah Stewart

tpTops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

planttIf You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

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Tuesday Tech Tip – Digital Oral Storytelling K-2

Thanks to Stefanie, we are beginning a new series, Tuesday Tech Tip!  Look for these suggestions for using technology in your classroom every other Tuesday.

Storytelling is very important for students of all grade levels, especially our friends in K-2! Sometimes, though, kids struggle to tell stories to their fullest potential when writing them down. They have so many ideas, but writing takes a lot of time for them. Sometimes student say, “I don’t know what else to add…” and teachers say, “Well talk to me about it!” and then students tell such detailed elaborate stories. It’s important to think about and ask ourselves as teachers, “How can my students orally story tell in a way that is recorded like writing is?”

Well, one way that students can tell stories orally is by using an iPad application. There are LOTS of different iPad apps and web-based programs that allow students to orally story tell, but after exploring and trying things out in my teaching, Storybook Maker is my favorite one. It is $2.99, and there are many free ones out there, but this application in particular has features other free apps don’t. If oral storytelling is something you want to prioritize and practice, this one is worth the investment!

Click this icon for a link to Storybook Maker in the App store!


Here are 3 of many ways that K-2 teachers can use Storybook Maker in the classroom tomorrow!

1) Book Creation: This app allows for many pages, fonts, stickers, colors, photos, drawing tools, and voice recording. Students can write their own stories, draw pictures, upload pictures, and then record themselves telling the story.

2) Supporting ELLs: Students who are learning English can tell stories with images and just a few words and then they can record either in their own language, or if they are more confident in speaking English than writing it, they can do so here.

3) Anxiety-Free Shares: Many students are absolutely terrified to go up in front of the class and share their writing. Writing on Storybook Maker can allow students to share their stories in a less intimidating way. They can pass around the iPad to share, or share to a small group without having to read their work live.

Lastly, here’s a TIP:

For this app, let the students explore how to use it on their own. It’s really interesting to see what they figure out and come up with themselves.

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