Archive for November, 2018

NCTE Learning Opportunities from Stenhouse Authors

National conferences provide teachers with a wonderful opportunity to meet and collaborate with new colleagues, authors, and experts; broaden professional learning; learn about cutting-edge new ideas in teaching; and, not to mention, get out of town for a while!

This year’s National Council of Teacher’s of English (NCTE) annual conference in Houston, TX is focusing on student voices and the impact they make in the world. Our Stenhouse authors are coming with fresh ideas and passion for teaching in many areas. Take a look at what they have to offer this year, and don’t miss out on these learning opportunities!

In-Booth Mini-Sessions, Stenhouse Booth #329

Learn from the experts in these 15-minute complimentary mini-sessions – no reservation required.

Author Signings, Stenhouse Booth #329

Chat with some of your favorite Stenhouse authors and get your book signed. Take this opportunity to pick their brains about strategies and ideas!


11:00 am:  Shawna Coppola, author of Renew!

11:30 am: Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg, author of The Author’s Apprentice

1:00 pm: Melissa Stewart, author of Perfect Pairs

2:00 pm: Matthew R. Kay, author of Not Light, But Fire

2:45 pm: Lynne Dorfman & Rose Cappelli, authors of Mentor Texts, Second Edition

3:30 pm: Ruth Ayres, author of Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers

4:00 pm: Jennifer Fletcher, author of Teaching Literature Rhetorically

4:30 pm: Erik Palmer, author of Good Thinking

5:00 pm: Stacey Shubitz, author of Craft Moves


11:00 am: Jeff Anderson & Brian Kissel

3:30 pm: Stephanie Harvey & Anne Goudvis, authors of Strategies That Work, Third Edition

4:30 pm: Jan Burkins & Kim Yaris, authors of Who’s Doing the Work?

5:00 pm: Paula Bourque, author of Close Writing


8:30 am: Kari Yates & Christina Nosek, authors of To Know and Nurture a Reader

Don’t forget to sign up for their regular sessions as well! Here’s a full schedule, which we are also available at the Stenhouse Booth for your convenience. Happy NCTE, y’all!

Add comment November 14th, 2018

Three Elements of a Successful Secondary Math Classroom

This is the first in a series of posts where we take a deep dive into the three elements of a successful classroom from the upcoming book, Necessary Conditions by Geoff Krall.

We want kids to like math. We want kids to be mathematical thinkers. So why is it that math is often the barrier that prevents students from having a rich secondary or post-secondary experience? That is the question author and educator, Geoff Krall, tackles in his new book, Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation.

“As challenging as it is to teach math, a high-quality mathematical school experience can unlock a person’s academic identity…I’ve found that the biggest drivers of a high-quality math experience are teachers dedicated to their craft and to their students.” ~Geoff Krall

In his research visiting schools across the country, Krall found secondary mathematical ecosystems where learning is thriving; students are confident in mathematics and demonstrate high achievement. He found that all the classrooms he visited had a common thread: the teachers are implementing high-quality mathematical tasks, facilitating effectively, and attending to the students’ social and emotional well-being and self-regard in math. In Necessary Conditions, Krall explores these three elements of a successful math classroom. Here’s a brief description. We will go into more detail in subsequent blog posts.

Academic Safety

Academic Safety exists when students are in a safe environment where they have the allowance to ask questions, make mistakes, and try something new. Being proactive about academic safety is especially crucial in mathematics because students often arrive with negative prior experiences and already-low self-esteem. It is the teacher’s responsibility to create and maintain an environment that invites all students into challenging mathematics. Through real classroom stories and thoughtful analysis, Krall describes specific teacher moves and routines we can use to create academic safety.

Quality Tasks

For students to build and develop their own mathematical identity they need to hone it with quality tasks. Tasks are what you see students working on in the classroom. A quality task is one that is intrinsically interesting and allows all students to access it. Students cannot realize their mathematical potential without being provided opportunities to grapple with and successfully solve quality tasks.

Effective Facilitation

Effective facilitation involves the series of teacher moves that guide students to construct, enhance, and communicate their mathematical insight in a quality task. It is the launch of a rich task that captures all students’ interest; the question that pushes a collaborative group of students to think more deeply; the framing of the whole-class discussion afterward to promote sense making. Facilitation appears as singular moments in a classroom and as structures and norms that develop over months.

If a student enters post-secondary education requiring remediation (most typically in math), that student is much less likely to graduate. Of students who require remedial courses at four-year universities, only 35 percent go on to graduate within six years (Complete College America 2012). Let’s work to change this statistic by giving our secondary students a better math experience.

Click HERE to see a preview of Geoff Krall’s new book, Necessary Conditions.

Add comment November 12th, 2018

Continually Learning to Learn

Writing, like all creative work, isn’t about good work or bad work. It’s about doing the work. Give yourself, give your work all the time it needs. –Trevor Bryan

Literacy, Writing, and Art

“Writing Isn’t Hard”
Author Trevor Bryan, whose new book The Art of Comprehension took four years to write, says writing isn’t as hard as we’ve been told it is…but it is “terribly, excruciatingly, unbelievably time-consuming.” Read his blog here.

Prompting Student Engagement
Help students think for themselves using the “prompting funnel” from Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, authors of Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets. Watch it in action and learn how to say less so readers can do more!

Speaking Skills Count

Stenhouse authors Kelly Gallagher (left, author of Write Like This) and Erik Palmer (right, author of Well Spoken) are featured in this recent EdWeek blog post, which makes the case that teaching oral communication is more important than ever.


Nudging Resistant Writers
Mark Overmeyer, author of When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, has discovered that taking an “inquiry stance” is more likely to produce positive results with resistant writers. Check out his tips for working with struggling writers.

Book Review
Not Light, But Fire by Matthew R. Kay is a “well written, concise … and thought-provoking book that challenges teachers to move beyond traditional classroom topics,” notes Dr. Laura Von Staden’s review on MiddleWeb.

Quality Math Instruction

Online Series Starts Soon
Registration opens Sunday for “Effective Practices for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (K-5),” an online series hosted by Mike Flynn and featuring several additional Stenhouse authors. Join Christopher Danielson, Tracy Zager, Elham Kazemi, and others for the 10 collaborative sessions.

Toward a Math Pedagogy
What are the three, universal elements for a quality math experience? Find out here from Geoff Krall, author of the new title, Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation.

Thriving in the Classroom

Shifting Attitudes about Teaching
Paula Bourque, author of the forthcoming Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, reflects on the “dips and rises” in a first-year teacher’s experience and attitudes toward teaching. Her advice: “Don’t be fazed by the phases.”

A Teacher’s “Prime Real Estate”
Regie Routman, author of Literacy Essentials, suggests that classrooms are teachers’ prime—and often undeveloped—real estate. “Never underestimate the influence of a well-conceived physical learning space for optimizing social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.”

Add comment November 8th, 2018

Toward a Math Pedagogy

There’s that famous yarn about how if someone time traveled from 100 years ago everything would look different except classrooms. That’s not really true. At least, not now. In fact, if this time traveler walked along the hallway of a math department, they’d see all sorts of disparate things. Sure, some classrooms might have desks in rows with the teacher lecturing at the board. But in other rooms students would be working in groups. In other rooms still students would be plugged into a piece of instructional software. This would-be time traveler would have no idea what’s going on!

When I walk down the hallways of a school, I notice these differences. In a 9th-grade Algebra class, students are using physical textbooks, while right across the hall in a 10th-grade Geometry class (or even a different 9th-grade Algebra class), I see hands-on activities. We’ve never had more varying math classroom experiences: project-based learning and instructional software, tracking and de-tracking, group work and packets.

We have so many pedagogies, we don’t have any pedagogy.

So I sought to find a pedagogy. What are the universal elements for a quality math experience? What are the things we as teachers can get better at? What are the things students bring to the table that help or hinder their mathematical identity?

In my work as a traveling instructional coach, I saw three consistent elements in successful math classrooms. The three elements are listed here, with much-too-brief definitions:

  • Academic Safety – the social and self-regard of a student’s mathematical status
  • Quality Tasks – the items that students are working on and toward
  • Effective Facilitation – the short- and long-term moves that allow for learning to occur

We’ll dig into these three elements in my forthcoming book, Necessary Conditions. Each of these elements receive a deep dive individually, with analysis of where these elements interact with one another. These aspects exist in everything students experience: from problem-solving to assessment, from lesson planning to room design. We can create a system that carves the path for our three necessary conditions, or we can create a system that works against them.

Combining research, classroom observations, and student voices, the book contains practical examples of how to assess and improve each of these conditions in your classroom and how you can imbue them in every lesson.

You can check out a preview of the book here. You can read stories of students who have been lifted up by incredible math teachers. You can see concrete examples of lessons and routines that yield deep mathematical learning. You can gawk at the ridiculous number of appendices.

So give it a look and see if we can really make that time traveler have something to marvel at.

This blog post was written by Geoff Krall, educator and author of the new title, Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation.

Add comment November 5th, 2018

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