To teach and reinforce the building blocks of literacy, we must show our students how to interact with others, develop self- control and persistence, and find their own voices as well as value the contributions of peers. But how do you find the time to explicitly teach these skills within a crowded curriculum?
In Sharing the Blue Crayon, accomplished primary teacher Mary Anne Buckley gives you a flexible, practical program for teaching the interpersonal and emotional skills that your students need to succeed as they learn to read and write.
Using a workshop model, lessons are integrated throughout school day and week–not as add-ons–and will help you build and sustain a caring, supportive classroom community that learns and grows together. You’ll discover how to reframe your reactions to student behaviors to understand and address the underlying social/emotional needs, ultimately leading to better academic outcomes. Throughout the book you will find real classroom examples and literacy connections that allow lessons to do double duty, giving kids the language to learn.
Sharing the Blue Crayon improves your classroom management and helps you build the kind of skills that students will use throughout their school years and beyond.
Kids love to talk about their passions and tell stories about their experiences. How can you transfer this enthusiasm to writing? And how can you use other types of talk–one-on-one and in small groups–to build trust, inform revision, and develop confident writers?
Veteran instructional coach Mark Overmeyer gives you five useful structures for making the most of talk in writing workshop in his new book, Let’s Talk.
In addition to the classic one-on-one student-teacher conference, Mark guides teachers on how to incorporate teacher-led small-group conferences, teacher-led public conferences, peer conferences, and small-group peer review conferences. Along the way you will pick up dozens of tips and examples–effectively giving feedback, asking better questions, assessment, meeting the needs of ELLs, conference & record-keeping forms, and more–that will help you become a better writing teacher.
We continue our outdoorlearning series with Herbert Broda with a new post that includes some helpful book recommendations and activities for outdoor learning in the winter.
Using Books as a Springboard
Winter is a great time to explore books that could be incorporated into outdoor teaching. A few years ago I met Florence Milutinovic of Park Forest Elementary in State College, Pennsylvania who shared with me a wonderful way to incorporate outdoor learning into a unit about prehistoric life. Here is the activity she shared with me for Moving the Classroom Outdoors.
Florence takes her students outside and reads the book If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most to her second grade class. This whimsical children’s book entertains kids by showing dinosaurs in a modern day setting, catching lost kites and pushing away rain clouds. She then poses the question, “What if dinosaurs came to our schoolyard?” Students then draw pictures of what that might look like and also write about what they think might happen. Creativity as well as a sense of scale come out as kids write things like, “They would eat all the leaves” or “They would give children rides.”
As students continue to learn more about dinosaurs, Florence poses the question, “Could dinosaurs fit in our schoolyard?” She then cuts yarn to the lengths of various types of dinosaurs—the longest was 180 feet, while the smallest was three feet in length. The class took the yarn outside and held the various lengths to see for themselves where the various “dinosaurs” might be able to go on the school grounds. As a culminating activity, dinosaur “eggs” were hidden on the schoolyard and the class trooped outside for a new twist on the traditional egg hunt!
The dinosaur in the schoolyard activity is a great example of using the outdoors as a venue for learning. Although Florence could have read the book to students seated in a classroom, the concept of “dinosaur” and the scenarios portrayed in the book are enhanced by an outdoor setting. Simply talking indoors about the size of dinosaurs just doesn’t make the same dramatic impression that is created when twenty-five kids hold 180 feet of yarn and try to imagine the body that occupied such a large space.
Park Forest teachers also suggested two books by Lois Ehlert as great springboards for outdoor activity and discussion. One is Leaf Man, a delightful picture book that tells a story with leaf collages that take the form of different shapes and animals. The book can inspire wonderful art projects using fall leaves, and most certainly makes children more aware of the variety, beauty and complexity of the autumn landscape. What a great precursor to a walk!
Planting a Rainbow is another Ehlert book designed for primary level children. The book is a perfect way to build excitement for planting on the school grounds. It begins in the fall and introduces children to several types of familiar bulbs that can be planted on most school sites. Beautiful pictures then show the springtime flowers that emerge from the bulbs. The book progresses to familiar annual flowers that can be planted as the weather warms. I love the last third of the book that shows the spectacular colors found in common flowers around the schoolyard and in home gardens. The color section would be a perfect segue into an outdoor color matching activity. I like to use paint chip samples (usually readily available from paint or home improvement stores if you explain that you are a teacher) and have children try to match the paint sample with something in the outdoors.
At the primary grades, there are hundreds of picture books that can create enthusiasm for outdoor exploration. Like the books described above, many books written for very young readers immediately and almost instinctively lead to outdoor activities.
If you are looking for a good source of current outdoor related books, the National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) website is good place to begin. NOBA is “a non-profit, educational program, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University.” The program was founded in 1997 and includes a children’s books category. You can look at lists of book winners for every year since the program began. You can search only for children’s books and get a good listing of books that have been selected since the beginning of the program. At a time when traditional outdoor-themed books are being eclipsed by social issues and dystopian topics, the NOBA site provides a helpful compilation of books that emphasizes the outdoors.
“Writing with my students made me a mentor and a far better teacher. Because I was in the middle of the messy process, just as they were, I understood the feeling of wanting to finish but being stuck. I could relate to their fear and their failures–and that made all of our successes so much more to celebrate.”
The more you write, the better writing teacher you will be. But how do get started, find the time, and make the most of it to benefit your students?
Award-winning author Kate Messner draws on her popular summer writing camp (Teachers Write) and more than 50 professional writers to inspire you to write every day–on your own, or with a group of colleagues–in her new book, 59 Reasons to Write.
You’ll get a concrete framework for a writing program that can be used in any school, with groups of any size, led by anyone who wants to support teachers and librarians as writers and as mentors for the young writers they serve. Prompts and mini-lessons will hone your skills on organizing, characters, voice, setting, plot, pacing, poetry, revising, critiquing, and more.
If you’re ready to write (or write more), now is the time, and 59 Reasons to Write is the resource you need to start and sustain this essential part of your work as a teacher of writing. The book is available now, you can preview the entire text online.
In their new video, Up & Running with the Daily 5, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (“The 2 Sisters”) take you and your staff into real classrooms where they work with teachers to demonstrate key components of the Daily 5 literacy structure, including:
• the 10 Steps to Independence;
• brain & body breaks;
• differentiating student choices;
• Math Daily 3; and
• strategies for “barometer students.”
The perfect companion to the second edition of The Daily 5, Up & Running with the Daily 5 is essential for any school starting or sustaining the structure used by hundreds of thousands of teachers to help students achieve literacy independence. And you can get five three-month subscriptions to The 2 Sisters’ Daily CAFE website for each video ordered by using the code 5FREE (valid through 3/31).
You can now purchase this video and all Stenhouse videos in streaming format in addition to DVD. Streaming offers access for an entire school from any online device, enables you to embed clips and/or playlists into your learning management system, and provides tracking/reporting features for PD leaders. Get details and a free 48-hour trial here!
Stenhouse now offers video streaming—powered by our partner Kanopy—directly to your school, allowing teachers to watch professional development videos where they want, when they want.
For as low as $150 per title you can stream Stenhouse videos directly to your entire school! Or you can save up to 30% on a one-year subscription and 45% on a 3-year subscription when you purchase one of our ten collections.
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