Category Archives: Reading

Ways to Support All Readers in Our Classrooms K-8

calkclasslib611px21Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Because of its deliberately simple and predictable structure, reading workshop allows teachers to adapt their instruction to meet students’ needs in the most responsive of ways. There are few topics that matter more than responsive teaching. Certainly, no two learners are the same, so no one curriculum could possibly meet all learners’ needs. Nowhere in the curriculum is this more true than in reading.

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With Struggling Learners, Embrace The Power of Yet

Supporting Struggling Learners

The following is adapted from the introduction to Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher by Patricia Vitale-Reilly

Believing in and teaching the transformative power of yet is perhaps my favorite of all moves and its power with struggling learners especially important. Life, learning, progress, and success is always about yet. What you can’t do now is not what you can’t do, but what you can’t do yet.

[Click here to download a sample chapter from Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher ]

Wrapping your mind around yet is not always easy. “It’s about learning to fly. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Wherever you are is where you are. You will get there. Embrace where you are and believe that you will learn to fly.” These words are exactly the kinds of words we need to say to our students.

Begin by acknowledging that students are where they are. Embrace that, and believe that they will learn how to fly. Truly. Believing in the power of yet is not some touchy-feely ideology but is grounded in the belief that when we have a mindset that trusts that all students can grow, we can move our students to a place of great joy and success.

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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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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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Who Are Struggling Learners?

Who Are Struggling Learners?

The following is adapted from the introduction to Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher by Patricia Vitale-Reilly

I have been thinking of writing about struggling learners for many years and for many reasons. I’m sure a tiny seed was planted even when I was a young child, and that seed began to grow as soon as I started working with children and young adults. We will (unfortunately) always have students in our classrooms who struggle. They struggle in many different ways—different in both the reasons why and the ways in which they struggle. Since each and every classroom will have struggling learners, it is helpful to define the kinds of struggling learners we might encounter in our classrooms and then plan moves to support them.

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