This last full week of the year seems to be a good time to look back at 2013. We hope you were able to catch up with our blog frequently during the year, but in case you missed something, here is a quick roundup of some of our most popular posts. What was your favorite Stenhouse blog post this year?
Increasing engagement: A school revamps its reading program We’d like to think that it happens we just don’t hear about it — a Stenhouse blog post planting a seed in a teacher or principal’s head. Matt Renwick is an elementary principal in Wisconsin and he shared with us how he re-thought his school’s reading intervention program after reading a blog post by Peter Johnston. Matt will be back in a few months to share the results of the new program.
Baking and the zone of proximal development In her latest contribution to the Stenhouse Blog, frequent contributor and editor Maureen Barbieri wonders “how much modeling is too much” in life, in baking, and in teaching.
Blog tour for Assessment in Perspective “This is a book that speaks to teachers today. It reminds us to keep our eye on the reader but it does not discount the tremendous stress and mandates we are all dealing with when it comes to assessment.” (Review from A Year of Reading)
Writing and publishing a book is a long, arduous process. There is of course the actual research and writing, followed by what seems like endless edits, changes, proofs, discussions about design, more changes. During the process it’s easy to lose sight — both for our authors and for us at Stenhouse — of the actual end product: a real, hard copy, printed book that people will actually buy and read.
So we are always happy to celebrate along with our authors when a new book is born. Most recently first-time Stenhouse author Laurie Rubin held a small gathering in Ithaca, NY, for her family, friends, and students, to celebrate the arrival of her book To Look Closely: Science and Literacy in the Natural World. In this book Laurie demonstrates how nature study can help students become careful, intentional observers of all they see, growing into stronger readers, writers, mathematicians, and scientists in the process.
Here are some snapshots from her book launch party. We hope you will celebrate with us and Laurie buy previewing her book online and then buying a copy to put under a special teacher’s Christmas tree!
Laurie signed her books for her students and their parents.
Laurie with one of her students
Laurie introduces her book to those in the audience. Just look at that crowd!
Check out three new books from Pembroke Publishers, available in the U.S. from Stenhouse. All are posted for full-text preview.
Moment to Moment
A Positive Approach to Managing Classroom Behavior
Joey Mandel • Grades K-6 • 160 pp • $22.00
How do you deal with difficult classroom behavior? This book gives you a positive framework for understanding student behaviors and linking them to social skill deficits. Includes a comprehensive class survey tool and 52 games and activities that target specific skills.
I’ve Got Something to Say
How Student Voices Inform Our Teaching
David Booth • Grades 4-8 • 144 pp • $22.00
Acclaimed educator David Booth provides rich, authentic examples of a “talk curriculum” that honors students’ voices and builds thinking skills across subject areas. Includes 41 practical teaching strategies.
Students at Risk (2nd Edition)
Cheryll Duquette • Grades K-8 • 160 pp • $22.00
Daunted by the task of meeting the needs of your exceptional students? Get a concise guide to a wide range of exceptionalities, from behavioral disorders to sensory impairments to giftedness, with specific ways to help students. Includes new chapters on differentiation, working with parents, and preparing students for transitions to new routines and environments.
“When we can build on the things that kids are trying to do or are almost doing, their energy for writing goes up.”
We recently had the chance to sit down with Ruth Ayres, author of Celebrating Writers, to talk about her new book and the impact it’s been having on how teachers approach their day in the classroom. Ruth is also excited about a new feature on own blog, Ruth Ayres Writes, where teachers can share the small ways they brought celebrations into their classrooms. Make sure to check it out every Saturday and share your celebration with a community of teachers and writers.
Jennifer McDonough is the coauthor with Georgia Heard of A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades. In their book Jennifer and Georgia discuss how to create “a landscape of wonder,” a primary classroom where curiosity, creativity, and exploration are encouraged. Here, Jennifer shares a couple of tips and tricks she uses in her own classroom.
In A Place for Wonder, Georgia and I quote Seymour Simon who says, “I’m more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives.” This is the idea behind infusing wonder into our exploration of nonfiction reading and writing. Writers are curious about the world and hungry for answers. Writing comes from these curious moments and wonderment about the world. This is what we want to teach young children before they even pick up a pen to start writing informational books. Reading nonfiction comes from a hunger to answer questions and learn more. To celebrate wonder and encourage questions in the classroom primes the pump for great nonfiction writing and reading. Here are a few ways I get students thinking and wondering in my first grade classroom before we begin a nonfiction unit.
Debbie Miller in, Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades, first introduced me to the idea of wonder boxes. She encourages her students to write down wonders they have about the world and keep them in a file box to pull out at later times to investigate. We keep these boxes going all year long and find ways and reasons to pull out the questions and find the answers.
In my classroom I have students create a wonder wall where they put up wonders they have and answer each other’s questions. When a question has been answered by a student or whole class exploration, the student gets to take home their question and answer and put up a new one.
Use bulletin board border to mark off a part of your window so your students can look out and observe the world outside the classroom. Leave a notebook and some colored pencils for the students to record their thinking and observations as they look outside. Encourage them to ask questions about what they see and leave them for the next student that comes to the journal to ponder and possibly answer.
Leave small notebooks next to living things in your classroom for students to observe, write about and leave questions. I have one in my classroom by our hermit crabs and any other living things that come to live with us for awhile: butterflies, ladybugs or ants in an anthill.
The Wonder House
My students nicknamed the nonfiction section of our classroom, The Wonder House. After all, they said, this is where we go to find the answers to questions we have. They created a sign that says, “Enter Here if you Have Wonders” and we had parents volunteer to come and hang netting around the area to create a cozy area for exploring nonfiction topics.
One Small Square
To encourage descriptive detailed writing, create small frames out of black construction paper and have the students bring them outside to set on the ground. Have them write only about what they see in their one small square.
Leaving Space in Writing for Wonder
Finally, when writing information books I always make sure to have students leave a chapter open for a wonder about the topic being written about. After writing everything the student knows, he or she will then explore nonfiction text to find out more about the topic to write in the book. After all, isn’t this is exactly what writers in the world do?
If you need some more inspiration, take a look at this video created by Joanne Maria Babalis and her colleagues at Bond Lake Public School in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, after using A Place for Wonder in a book study group.