Archive for April, 2013

National Poetry Month: Writing small

On this last day of April we close our National Poetry Month celebration with a post on short poems by Rose Cappelli. We hope you enjoyed our poetry month posts by Rose and Lynne and that you had a chance to check out their latest book, Poetry Mentor Texts. You can preview the full book online for a limited time! And you still have time to download our free e-book on teaching poetry.

Writing Small

By Rose Cappelli

npm2013_logoI enjoy writing poetry. In fact, sometimes it’s easier for me to write a short poem from an inspired image than it is to write a narrative. Maybe it’s because my first writing experience was a poem I created with the help of my father. I was six years old, and I wanted to enter a writing contest that was being held in our county. My father encouraged me to write about something I liked to do. At that time I had just started taking violin lessons, so that is what I chose to write about. When I got stuck, my dad made suggestions, and together (looking back, I think it was more of a shared effort) we wrote the following poem, which won in my age bracket:

My Violin

I like to play my violin
It’s such a lot of fun.
And when my mommy listens in
She’s glad it’s not a drum.

Several years ago I remember a surprise snow at the beginning of April. Bulbs were beginning to push through the ground and the trees were budding, yet here it was—a snowy spring day. Outside the library at my school is a small tree. I remember being fascinated watching four robins (at least I think they were robins) as they flitted about this tree, dodging snowflakes. They seemed confused but undaunted in their quest for any food the tree had to offer. They held on to the swaying branches, tenacious and determined. On a scrap of paper I wrote these phrases: 4 robins, amidst the snow, confused, finding food (?), fat. Later, I wrote this poem:


Robins flit,
Shake the snow from their feathers.
Confused by nature’s foolery,
They feast on fat berries
Enjoying a wintry repast.

All the Small Poems by Valerie Worth can be used as a mentor text to show students that they can write about everyday things. If you can, take them on nature walks or walks around the school building with their notebooks, jotting down words or phrases that can be used to describe the things they observe. Then ask them to think about using those observations in a poem or narrative. Focusing on the small things can help students write big. As E. B. White once wrote: “I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace.”

Add comment April 30th, 2013

Now Online: Starting with Science

Even the most reluctant learners will observe a bearded dragon lizard, play with water, and be excited to see their little seed start to grow.
—Christina Ryan, Kindergarten Teacher

Imagine teaching a unit where young children are fully engaged, observing, predicting, questioning, and collaborating with their classmates. The stage is set for students to make connections, practice literacy and math skills, and enjoy activities that serve well-defined learning goals.

In Starting with Science, veteran educator Marcia Edson shows why inquiry-based science should play a prominent role in preschool and primary-grades classrooms. Readers will discover how inquiry-based science differs from “hands-on” science, the teaching strategies that are critical to fostering inquiry, and how this approach leads to lasting skills and content knowledge that students will carry into the higher grades.

Regardless of the depth of your science background, you’ll find practical suggestions for designing and teaching rich inquiry units—including a detailed example of a unit on choosing a classroom pet. Edson shows you how to integrate science and literacy, make meaningful assessments, and find ways to incorporate inquiry-based science into your already-busy schedule.

Starting with Science has just been published and is in stock, and you can preview the entire book online.

Add comment April 26th, 2013

Memories of San Antonio

Thanks to all of you who came to our booth during last week’s IRA conference. It is always a pleasure to meet our readers and customers.

Here are a few snapshots from the Stenhouse booth.

The Stenhouse booth, ready for the show!

The Stenhouse booth, ready for the show!


Cris Tovani stopped by to sign some books


Debbie Diller is always happy to talk with teachers.


And so is Debbie Miller!


Jeff Anderson looks like he is having a more serious discussion.


Julie Ramsay talks about her book with a customer.


Stenhouse editor Holly Holland (left) with author Mary Shorey.


Lee Ann Spillane (right) showed off her new Read & Watch Book, Reading Amplified.


Hot off the press! Steve Layne’s new book Life’s Literacy Lessons made it to IRA just in time!


Lee Ann Tysseling was on hand to talk about her book, Word Travelers.

Add comment April 25th, 2013

National Poetry Month: “A Thousand Paper Cranes” inspires writing

On this last full week of April, we continue our National Poetry Month celebration with some student poems inspired by Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and the classroom project centered around the book. We will have one more Poetry Month post next week and you still have time to download our free e-book about teaching poetry.

A Thousand Paper Cranes Inspire Writing

By Lynne R. Dorfman

When I was teaching third grade, my students read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. They were so moved that we searched for websites and more information about Sadako. We asked a fourth-grade class to join us, and we participated in a project with children around the world by sending a thousand paper cranes to Hiroshima for their Peace Day on August 6. The entire initiative for this project came from the students.

Because the students wrote daily in my classroom, conferred, and published frequently, I decided to offer other options to make the project come to life for them. Some of the students interviewed their grandparents or great-grandparents about World War II to gain their perspectives. We experimented with tanka, haiku, bio poems, and persona poems, so we could send our poems to Japan as well. Students wrote letters to family members to talk about what they were doing. We even created a scrolled banner that said, “Peace for the World: Let the Children Become the Peacemakers.” Ethan’s aunt helped us translate our motto into Japanese. Then Ethan carefully painted the letters on parchment paper for us. We displayed our work in the hallways, packaged our cranes with the banner and poetry, and mailed them to Japan. Later, we created a class book of memories with poems, letters, journal entries, and photographs. I still have that book and a newspaper clipping about our project.

Often I write with the children, and sometimes I publish my work alongside theirs in hallways and class books. My students have always viewed me as a member of the writing community. When we have conferences, they’re always writer to writer. They help me revise and see things differently. I am grateful for all the writers in my life. We help each other move forward and imagine the possibilities. A small sampling of our poetry is included here.

Peace for the World
By Lynne R. Dorfman

Blue ghosts linger above Hiroshima’s dome
While deeply scarred faces wander below.
White doves circle a lone statue—
Sadako, stretching outward to release
A crane that joins the flock of peace birds—
Thousands of origami cranes litter the ground.

Silent onlookers remember loved ones lost
As lanterns, fragile warm-yellow swans,
Glide across the cold, black waters.
Families place rice cakes on altars for spirits . . .
For the blue ghosts, for Oba Chan,
And now, for Sadako, too.

Atom bomb brings a mushroom-shaped cloud,
Brings sickness and snatches children
Oh, so slowly . . . oh, so slowly.
Hoping the gods would grant her wish, she labors.
Thick, swollen fingers make fold after fold,
More paper cranes for the hospital ceiling.

Her family waiting, watching, wondering
Who will be the next to join Oba Chan.
It should not be the children . . .
It must not be the children . . .
It will not be the children . . .
Struggling with clumsy fingers,
She makes one last crane.

Remembering Sadako,
she lives.
All over the world
making paper cranes.
Blue ghosts


Young, brave, superstitious
Lover of good luck signs
Who feels frightened and guilty at the same time
Who need enough strength to fold a thousand paper cranes
Who fears death from the dreadful leukemia
Who gives her love and happiness to everyone
Who would like to see herself back on her feet and running
Granddaughter of Oba Chan

—Bio poem by Andrew B. , grade 3

Running, flying fast.
So many cranes to fly with . . .
Sadako still lives.

—Haiku by Alexis & Danielle, grade 3


Wanting to get on her feet again
And run, run, run.
Tangled up in pain,
She still dresses in the kimono
To please her mother.
They need no words.
They ache together.

—Andrew L., grade 3

Folding paper cranes
She bravely fights her illness . . .
Running in the wind.

—Adam, grade 3


Add comment April 24th, 2013

Celebrating with Tammy and Clare

We are always excited when one of our new books emerges from a tightly packed box sent by the printer. I have the feeling that the authors feel the same way when they receive their first copies. When Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan — authors of Assessment in Perspective — saw their new book for the first time, Stenhouse editor Philippa Stratton was on hand to snap a picture. Also there to celebrate were The Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, who wrote the book’s foreword. Gail and Joan will be kicking off an upcoming blog tour for Assessment in Perspective — check back here soon for more information!


Add comment April 19th, 2013

Comprehension Institute with Miller, Tovani, and Harvey

Publication12812_REV_2Debbie Miller, Cris Tovani, and Stephanie Harvey invite you to spend three days learning about comprehension theory and practice this summer in Denver.

Their Comprehension Times Three (CX3) institute, July 24-26, covers a range of topics including expanding comprehension across the curriculum, differentiating instruction, learning targets, assessment, and implementing small-group inquiry circles across the curriculum.

The early registration rate of $575 is available through May 1. Space is limited and early registration is recommended. Graduate credit is available for an additional cost. For a detailed agenda and registration info, visit the event site:

For more info about Stephanie and Cris, visit their websites at and

Add comment April 18th, 2013

Meet us in San Antonio for IRA!

We will be in San Antonio this weekend, April 20-22, and we hope you will stop by at booth #1727. You will be able to browse and buy our books and receive a 25% show discount, meet our authors, and receive this FREE poster for your classroom or office.


This is also a great chance to find out more about our Read & Watch books. Authors Lee Ann Tysseling (Word Travelers) and Lee Ann Spillane (Reading Amplified) will be at the booth to present mini-sessions about their online books. Stop by to see what the buzz is about and receive a free trial!

Here is a list of author signings and mini-sessions:

Saturday, April 20
10 a.m.: Debbie Miller (Reading with Meaning)
11 a.m.: MINI-SESSION with Lee Ann Tysseling
1 p.m.: MINI SESSION with Lee Ann Spillane
2 p.m.: Steve Wolk (Caring Heart & Critical Minds)
2 p.m.: Jeff Anderson (10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know)
3 p.m.: Cris Tovani (Talk to Me)
3 p.m.: Brenda Overturf, Leslie Montgomery, Margot Holmes Smith (Word Nerds)

Sunday, April 21
9 a.m.: Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan (Assessment in Perspective)
11 a.m.: Carol Bedard and Charles Fuhrken (When Writing with Technology Matters)
Noon: Mary Shorey (Many Texts, Many Voices)
Noon:MINI SESSION with Lee Ann Tysseling
1 p.m. MINI SESSION with Lee Ann Spillane
1 p.m.: Debbie Diller (Moving into Math Stations)
3 p.m.: Steven Layne (Life’s Literacy Lessons)

Monday, April 22
9 a.m.: MINI SESSION with Lee Ann Spillane
10:30 a.m. Julie Ramsay (“Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing?”)
1 p.m.: MINI SESSION with Lee Ann Tysseling


1 comment April 16th, 2013

National Poetry Month: A Trade

We continue our Poetry Month celebration with a poem by Lynne Dorfman. She also shares how the poem came to life. Revisit our previous National Poetry Month posts and don’t forget to download our free e-book filled with dozens of tips on teaching poetry.

A Trade

npm2013_logoPoetry is everywhere you look. Last night I started reading The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and realized that one of her characters, Rocco, speaks in three short sentences or phrases that match the syllable count of haiku. Earlier that day I had downloaded an article, “Mastering Metaphor through Poetry” by Judith W Steinbergh, from Narrative magazine.

The rebirth of my garden and the woods behind my house speaks to me of poems waiting to be written, and I itch to open my new writer’s notebook and get it started with a poem. But today I do not write the garden or woodlands poem. Today I write about my Raggedy Ann doll and my biggest writing territory, my grandfather. He has always been the deep well I return to when I revisit my writer’s notebooks to find ideas I can explore and develop. Today, however, my notebooks do not provide the stimulus to write. As my gaze passes between Ga Ga’s photo (our name for him) and the little doll leaning against a portion of the silver frame, I know a poem is blooming in my mind’s garden. I grab the nearest pen and notebook, find an empty page, and begin to scribble furiously.

After some revision—deleting a few lines, changing the verb form, substituting for stronger nouns and verbs—I am ready to share with you.

A Trade

By Lynne R. Dorfman

Raggedy Ann kept Grandpa company,
Traveling to work with him.
I stood on the curbside,
Jumping up and down . . .
Stretching to watch the old Dodge
Crawl-crawl-craaaaawl in turtle fashion
Down the friendly Emmaus street.
Grandpa waving Raggedy Ann out the window,
Grandma clutching my hand to keep me safe.

At twilight they would return,
Shining with stories about their day.
Minnie (that’s what I called her)
And Grandpa had deliciously delicious tales.
Allentown Plumbing and Heating Supply,
A bustling place filled with mostly men.
I was secretly greener-than-green with envy.
I wished I could have traded places.
I wished I could have been that doll.

I yearned for all her adventures,
The fun she had each day with Grandpa.
Now, every day, I see her nestled on my dresser,
My eyes lingering on the photo beside her.
The silvery hair and the too-much-time-in-the-sun face,
The hazel eyes that match my own and the high brow,
The strong hands that often held a rake or a saw,
The wisdom earned from being a stepfather and grandfather.
Wish I could trade that doll for Grandpa.




1 comment April 15th, 2013

Count on us in Colorado — NCTM 2013

We are excited to be heading to Denver next week for NCTM’s annual conference April 17-20. You can find us at booth #1717 where you will be able to purchase our books at a 25% discount, meet our authors, and receive this glorious poster for your classroom:


Here is a schedule of our author appearances at the booth:

Thursday, April 18
11 a.m. Chris Moynihan (Math Sense)
Noon: Jessica Shumway (Number Sense Routines)

Friday, April 19
Noon: Debbie Diller (Moving into Math Stations)

See you there!

1 comment April 10th, 2013

Now Online: Life’s Literacy Lessons

Noted literacy educator and author Steven Layne (Igniting a Passion for Reading) has received much attention over the years for his poem “Read to Them.” It inspired Life’s Literacy Lessons, a collection of poems first published over ten years ago, which has touched tens of thousands of teachers.

Now Steven has added six additional poems and five longer pieces of prose—anecdotes written in the voice and style of the stories he shares in his powerful keynote addresses—in a new edition to be published by Stenhouse next week.

Steven’s poems and stories about literacy teaching and learning are filled with honesty and wit that inspire educators at all grade levels. From grammar to handwriting, from standards to reading aloud, these short pieces highlight the tears, laughter, challenges, and rewards experienced by today’s teachers. It’s the perfect gift for a colleague, mentor, or your entire staff—anyone with a passion for creating lifelong readers and writers.

Life’s Literacy Lessons will start shipping next week, and you can pre-order and preview excerpts now.

Add comment April 9th, 2013

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