Archive for May, 2008

New Stenhouse titles for this summer

Our editors are feverishly working on a new batch of titles available this summer.

The second edition of Beyond Leveled Books is in the works with authors Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak. The new edition of this popular title will include a new section on leveled books in K-1 classrooms, updated book lists, and ideas for classroom library organization.

Kathy Collins, author of Growing Readers is working a new book titled Reading for Real: Teaching Students to Read with Power, Intention, and Joy in K-3 Classrooms. Her new book will focus on adding more authentic reading opportunities into classroom reading time.

A new book by Debbie Miller is also in the works: Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5. In the words of Peter Johnston, Debbie “engages us in the details of a teaching life from inside her mind showing the thinking behind her teaching and the consequences of her actions.”

You can sign up to receive notices when these books become available on our website.

Add comment May 22nd, 2008

New from Debbie Diller

Spaces and PlacesAre you wondering about rearringing your classroom? Do you have trouble organizing your classroom library or work stations? Can’t decide what to keep and what to toss at the end of the school year?

Debbie Diller’s new book, Spaces & Places is packed with before and after pictures of classrooms that best support student learning. She provides encouragement, tips, and resources for making your classroom a haven for learning.

We just posted a sample chapter from her book on our website!

Add comment May 22nd, 2008

Review: Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning

Schoolyard-Enhanced LearningWhat happens when test-stressed teachers and video-game addicted children take a trip down to the schoolyard?

Reviewing Herbert Broda’s recent book, Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning, Emmet Rosenfeld, a 15-year veteran English teacher and blogger on the Teacher Magazine website, says that what happens is a “meaningful natural encounter within the framework of school.”

Rosenfeld says that it is increasingly rare these days to see schoolyards with kids “clustered around a butterfly bush identifying local species.” Today’s schoolyards are more like “a forlorn soccer field near a brick building that displays a banner proclaiming, ‘This school is fully accredited.'”

He praises Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning for its real-life advice on getting administrators on board for trips outside of the classroom, for providing the “nuts and bolts” of actually leaving the classroom, and for providing clear linkages between outdoor activities and curriculum standards.

The full review appears on the Teacher Magazine website.

Add comment May 22nd, 2008

Podcast: Kimberly Hill Campbell

Kimberly Hill Campbell

Kimberly Hill Campbell

Students can really dig deep if they have a manageable-sized text. The quality of the conversations you have in the classroom increases and the engagement deepens.”

In our latest Author Conversations podcast episode, Kimberly Campbell, author of Less Is More, discusses how short texts foster students’ enthusiasm for literature, and how they can help teach longer texts as well.

Listen to the podcast with Kimberly

Add comment May 22nd, 2008

Authors in Action: Jeff Anderson

During his visits to classrooms around the country, Jeff Anderson often notices a shift in tone when teachers talk about editing and grammar. “I’ve been in classrooms where teachers are doing a lot of great things with writer’s workshop and craft lessons and then they get to editing and they say, ‘Okay, guys. We have to prepare for the test and so now we’ve got to do some editing.’ It sounds like ‘take your castor oil,'” says Anderson.

And the typical editing activity isn’t much more inviting. In the classic daily oral language drill, a teacher puts up a sentence filled with errors and students shout out all the things that are wrong with it. Again, Anderson wonders about the messages that students are taking away: “The brain absorbs the patterns it sees all day; I don’t think it’s a good idea to look at bad patterns.” Instead of leading students on a scavenger hunt for errors, Anderson posts a wonderful mentor sentence and invites students to notice its characteristics and then to imitate its structure. When students immediately start shouting out errors they see in the mentor sentence, Anderson slows them down. “Wait, wait. This year I’m going to put up sentences that I like, that I love, and let’s see what we notice about them.”

Anderson demonstrated the activity in a recent webcast with a group of a dozen teachers and staff developers from around the country. You can listen in to the 45-minute webcast and see Jeff’s slides by clicking here.

Add comment May 22nd, 2008

Team Teaching: With careful planning it’s not a luxury

Without teamwork, we cannot prepare students to meet the challenges of the next millennium. If each teacher individually tries to address every curricular objective and cycle back to the broader standards of learning, there will never be enough time in the day or the school year to finish the job. We have to work together to integrate and reinforce importance concepts from all subjects, teaching students that learning is recursive, related, and really, really cool.

–The authors of TeamWork
TeamWorkTo many teachers, the idea of team teaching seems like a luxury. It sounds wonderful, but who has the time for that kind of collaboration? In their new book, TeamWork, Monique Wild, Amanda Mayeaux, and Kathryn Edmonds argue that with careful planning, collaborative teaching actually saves time by drawing on both individual and collective strengths. And if you’re resourceful, these award-winning teachers say, you can carve out planning time without skipping meals or abandoning your family life.

The authors of TeamWork spend countless hours unifying their curriculum, coordinating classroom activities, discussing student progress, and collaborating on creative ways to bring the curriculum to life for their students. They even wrote their book together during stolen minutes between classes, or while sitting in a parking lot in Monique’s Acura, waiting for their daughters to finish dance lessons. “Ultimately, it was our passion about the benefits of teaming for students that propelled us to find the time to work when it seemed there was none,” says Amanda.

This same passion fuels their teaching every day. They believe that teaching as a team enables them to infuse their lessons with engaging and challenging content, while also ensuring that the curriculum meets state and national standards.

The three “Teamers” begin the planning process in the summer with a series of meetings. “The summer meetings might frighten people,” Kathryn says, “but we probably meet for a total of only four full days. And in that time, we can outline our entire year.” Once they have the framework in place, they can pull lessons together quickly throughout the year, staying a few weeks ahead of where the students are.

The Teamers were provided with 90 minutes of planning time each day by their school’s administration — half of that time is used for team planning and the other half for individual planning — and every minute is critical. “We plan the meeting the day before so that we’re clear on what we have to do,” explains Monique. “We table things if we can’t come to a conclusion.” They also have a timetable for what topics are addressed on what days: for example, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are set aside for IEP meetings and on Fridays they address classroom discipline issues. “We set these at the beginning of the year, so we don’t have to ask ‘what are we doing today?'”

It also helps to have ground rules for meetings: always start at the agreed-upon time, don’t run over the allotted time, stick to the topic, and don’t get distracted with other things like grading papers. Resist the urge to multitask, advises Monique; it’s more efficient to concentrate on one thing at a time as a group.

The Teamers also take advantage of their different personalities to move planning forward — Amanda is “the dreamer” who comes up with imaginative ideas to engage students; Monique plays the role of “the enforcer” who makes sure that things happen on time; and Kathryn has great organizational skills that “keep the team humming.” The key, Monique says, is using the group’s balance to meet all the objectives: “We divide and conquer.”

The Teamers realize that other obligations at school or at home sometimes can cut into the most well-planned meeting, but they try to keep interruptions to a minimum. “When that starts to happen on a regular basis, we have a frank discussion,” says Monique, and they might modify their team meeting schedule. “That time remains sacred at all cost.”

Family time is equally important. The teachers’ ambitious teaching and planning schedules could easily overtake home life, but they won’t let that happen. “Our schedules revolve around our families. We don’t cancel family plans because of work,” Monique says.

And sometimes, family members pitch in their own ideas to help with the process — like the converter Monique’s husband bought for her so she could plug her laptop into her car during all those dance lessons. Without that kind of team spirit, TeamWork might have never been written.

Add comment May 22nd, 2008


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