Archive for December, 2018

Patterns of Power Plus. By Texas Teachers, for Texas Teachers



Download the TEKS Correlation here

Add comment December 18th, 2018

Digging in and Opening Minds

“As schools jump from curricula to curricula, from initiative to initiative, I’ve found that the biggest drivers of a quality math experience are teachers dedicated to their craft and to their students.”
–Geoff Krall, Necessary Conditions

Math for All

Three Essentials for Math Success
In his new book, Geoff Krall discusses the essential elements that will open the door to math for all your students: academic safety, quality tasks, and effective facilitation. Order your copy of Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation here.

Hands-on Choral Counting

The authors of Choral Counting are offering new resources for teachers. This vignette of a second-grade teacher showcases ways she engages her students in counting and conversation and an instructional routine that uses a number grid.

Digging into ‘Number Talks’
With Number Talks, students try to solve a problem mentally and then share their thinking with their peers. Read this reflection on Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker’s Making Number Talks Matter and their newest companion title, Digging Deeper: Making Number Talks Matter Even More.


Expanding the Literacy Mindset

The Value of a Good Question
Cathy Fraser, author of Love the Questions: Reclaiming Research with Curiosity and Passion, offers teachers the tools to nudge students beyond the mindset of “how fast can I get the answer and go?” Read an interview with Fraser here.

Calling all Artists and Illustrators


Shawna Coppola, author of Renew! Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher, is writing a new book for Stenhouse that calls for a re-imagining of what we consider “writing.” She’s looking for insights and input from illustrators and comic artists. If you fit the bill, the survey is here.


Opening Minds with Quick Writes
Coming on Jan 13: Paula Bourque’s Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle the Hearts and Minds and Elementary Classrooms. Bourque presents a way for children to create a rich array of writing, nurturing a range of skills: mindfulness, metacognitive skills, and a mindset of reflection motivation, and gratitude.

Sing it out for Commas!
Use this catchy tune to help your students remember when they need to use a comma with subordinating conjunctions. It’s all about “AAAWWUBBIS.” Highly recommended by Jeff Anderson.

Discounts and Free Shipping

Give the gift of professional learning! Hurry to the Stenhouse website to claim a 10% discount, in addition to the 25% educator discount–with free shipping–by entering promo code 18HOLIDAY. Offer valid through 12/31/18.

Newslinks will be back Friday, January 4, 2019 with same great content, but a fresh new look!

Add comment December 18th, 2018

Engage Students with the Choral Counting Tool!

As teachers and students engage in Choral Counting together, they often get quite intrigued by what they are seeing in the numbers and begin to wonder which patterns might arise, where regularities might repeat, and why certain things are happening. The ongoing thinking and conversations propel teachers to engage students in this activity over and over, finding new ways to adapt and innovate based on what students are exploring.

We designed this Choral Counting Tool to support teachers in planning their count. What do you want to count by? Where do you want to start? Do you want the sequence to progress across the row or down a column?  How many numbers do you want in that row or column?  What would happen if you increased the number of rows? Are you interested in trying something totally new, like a fractions count?  Do you think improper fractions or mixed numbers is the way to go? The list of questions continues, and we invite teachers to ask yourselves questions like these as you play around with a variety of counting sequences. As you test out new ideas, think about how you might try it with your students and what might happen.

Let yourself (and your students!) get intrigued by the many different ways we might engage in Choral Counting together.

To learn more about choral counting, pick up  Choral Counting & Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK–5 Math Classroom by Megan L. Franke, Elham Kazemi, and Angela Chan Turrou.

Add comment December 17th, 2018

Top 15 Stenhouse Titles of 2018


2018 has been an exciting year for new Stenhouse titles! In case you missed them, here are the top 15 that teachers loved. Pick them up today and bring fresh ideas to your classroom in 2019!

Classroom Practice

Activate: Deeper Learning Through Movement, Talk, and Flexible Classrooms by Katherine Mills Hernandez Author Katherine Mills Hernandez argues that movement, talk, and the physical environment of the classroom all contribute and influence students’ learning. The ideas in Activate will help you create a classroom optimized for deeper engagement and lasting learning.

Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom by Matthew R. Kay Have meaningful conversations about race with your students. In Not Light, but Fire, Kay gives you the tools you need to lead such conversations in your own classroom.

Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers by Lisa J. Lucas Drawing upon her own experiences, Lisa has written a book to help you more successfully manage the frustration of feeling overwhelmed. Written in an informal, conversational tone, Practicing Presence is filled with ideas, exercises, checklists, personal anecdotes, and practices you can use to reframe and establish a mindset that will enhance your focus and engagement in the classroom.

Beat Boredom: Engaging Tuned-Out Teenagers by Martha Sevetson Rush Beat Boredom will help you join the ranks of teachers who have challenged the status quo and found ways to motivate even the most reluctant learners.

Math Titles

Choral Counting & Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK–5 Math Classroom by Megan L. Franke, Elham Kazemi, and Angela Chan Turrou This influential book inspires preschool and elementary teachers to experience the joys and rewards of regularly using two activities—Choral Counting and Counting Collections—in their classrooms and in their partnerships with families.

Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation by Geoff Krall Necessary Conditions posits for the first time a coherent approach to secondary math pedagogy. Krall identifies three essential elements that will open the door to math for all of your students: academic safety, quality tasks, and effective facilitation.

Digging Deeper: Making Number Talks Matter Even More by Ruth Parker and Cathy Humphreys In this comprehensive sequel to Making Number Talks Matter, Ruth Parker and Cathy Humphreys explore more deeply the ways Number Talks can transform student understanding of mathematics.

Number Sense Routines: Developing Mathematical Understanding Every Day in Grades 3–5 by Jessica Shumway Number Sense Routines is about tapping into every child’s innate sense of number and providing daily, connected experiences that are responsive to children’s learning needs.

Adding Talk to the Equation: A Self-Study Guide for Teachers and Coaches on Improving Math Discussions by Lucy West Designed for math teachers and coaches in grades 1–8, this self-study guide, now available as a paperback with extensive online classroom video, showcases elementary and middle school classrooms where teachers inspire even the most reluctant students to share their ideas.

Literacy Titles

Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1–5 by Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca Instead of chanting grammar rules or completing countless convention worksheets, Jeff Anderson and literacy coach Whitney La Rocca invite young writers to explore conventions as special effects devices that activate meaning. Their students study authentic texts and come to recognize these “patterns of power”—the essential grammar conventions that readers and writers require to make meaning.

Teach Writing Well: How to Assess Writing, Invigorate Instruction, and Rethink Revision! by Ruth Culham Ruth Culham is both a successful writer and a writing teacher, and she’s discovered how to teach writing and revision in a way that’s accessible to both teacher and students: First read the writing, assess it using the traits of writing, then teach the writers and guide revision decisions using traits as a common language and map.

Teaching Literature Rhetorically: Transferable Literacy Skills for 21st Century Students by Jennifer Fletcher This book explores rhetorical approaches to novels, short stories, poetry, and drama that empower ALL students to read and write across the diverse contexts of today and tomorrow.

Love the Questions: Reclaiming Research with Curiosity and Passion by Cathy Fraser Cathy Fraser believes that school research projects should be less like busywork and more like police investigations. In Love the Questions she describes ways to engage middle and secondary students from the outset, honoring their curiosity and passion.

Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman Based on her ongoing teaching, leading, and coaching in diverse schools and districts, Regie Routman offers K–12 teachers and leaders practical, easy-to-implement tools to help students develop as self-determining readers, writers, and learners.

To Know and Nurture a Reader: Conferring with Confidence and Joy by Kari Yates and Christina Nosek Conferring with students about reading allows for clearer access to one-on-one, in-the-moment teaching and learning, yet it can feel intimidating or overwhelming. Through their book, To Know and Nurture a Reader, Kari Yates and Christina Nosek have provided practical, reflective, student-centered teaching moves that you can use to develop an intentional, joy-filled conferring practice.

Go to to place your order today. Enter promo code 18HOLIDAY at checkout and get an additional 10% off the 25% educator discount. And as always, FREE SHIPPING! (Offer expires 12/31/2018.)

Add comment December 13th, 2018

Better Teaching Practice That Leads to Student Agency

The book and the lesson sets have really rocked my teaching world. I’ve never been happier teaching in my 24 years, and I know this is a huge part of it.” ~Patti Austin, Second Grade Teacher from Islip, NY

Patti Austin, a second-grade teacher from Islip, NY, recently spoke to us about how she is using Who’s Doing the Work? Lessons Sets in her classroom and the tremendous impact it has had on her and her colleagues’ instruction. Read to find out how these simple, carefully-crafted lessons have transformed her classroom.

Lightly edited for clarity.

Q: What was your experience when you first read the professional book, Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More, when it came out?

A: When Who’s Doing the Work? came around, I read it with a study group. That book spoke to my teaching soul. It resonated so deeply, and I kept finding myself going, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in so many things I read. It created such an excitement. In the words of one of my colleagues who just started reading the book, “This is a game changer.” It really was. It really made a huge impression on me and the fellow teachers that I worked with in the study group.

Q: How did you go about incorporating some of the strategies from the book into your classroom?

A: Well, we were so excited. We had done the work over the summer, reading the book and discussing it. Leading into the new school year, it was like, Charge! But when we started we realized that we had to back it up a little bit. We weren’t ready for it, and the kids weren’t ready for it. They weren’t ready to do the work and talk about what they were thinking. As much as everything in the book made sense to us, we felt a struggle in trying to create lessons that had that gradual release of responsibility. The wait time was difficult because the students have been trained to look up and wait for somebody to help them. But there are components of the book, like the prompting funnel for example, that helped us a great deal.

Q: Your school was asked to field-test some of the lesson sets about a year ago. As someone who was already using strategies from the professional book, what was your experience seeing some of the lessons?

A: When we got the set, it was the biggest “aha” moment of our careers. What we thought we were understanding and trying to put into practice, didn’t exactly look like what we saw in the lesson sets. I often compare it to an experience I had many, many years ago, back when my children were little. Before videos, you did everything with a record album. I had the Jane Fonda workout album. My neighbor and I would put the album on every morning and do our best to work out. About a year into it, the video came out, and we watched it. We were both collectively, “Oh, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing!” We had to see it. And that’s what the lesson sets did for us. As much as we understood and followed the principles of the book, we weren’t really good at putting it all together. Then once we saw it in the lesson sets, it changed everything. As I said, it was the big “aha” moment.

Q: What did you think when the Lesson Sets came out, with all of the packaging, all of the trade books, and in full color?

A: Well, it was little bit like Christmas morning. We were very excited to see them because we had been working with them in the draft form. They’re just beautiful to look at. But what I feel is the most important feature of them is that it’s so user friendly. It is simple. I’ve read other “how to” books that are very, very long and dense. These are quick and easy to read. It’s just beautifully put together, every piece of it. To see the videos, to see Kim and Jan in action, is magical. It’s very inspiring. We’re very inspired by it all.

Q: Is there a component that your students have chosen as their favorite?

A: I would say absolutely the trade books that come with the lessons. I love them myself. Most of them I’d never heard of or read. It’s amazing to me how well they fit into what lesson is being taught. One of the things that we loved about it was how the concept was threaded through each portion of the balance piece, the gradual release. These books are such crowd-pleasers for the children, and for us as teachers, because they speak so well to what we’re trying to teach. The kids rave. They want to read them, they want to borrow them, they get very excited, and they want to hear them again and again.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about whether or not any of the strategies that you’ve learned from the lesson sets actually helped in any other parts of your curriculum?

A: It surely has. During math, when we’re reading story problems, where they have to really negotiate a lot of words, sometimes they don’t really understand. The reading is more of a challenge than the math. We found ourselves saying, “Hey, wait a minute. We’ve gotta break this down. We have to use the same strategies here in math that we were using for reading our stories.”

Q: Is there anything that you want to share with other educators about your experience with the program?

A: I could probably talk for weeks, but they don’t want to hear that. There’s just so much to say about it, but I have to say in a nutshell, the book and the lesson sets have really rocked my teaching world. It’s changed so much. Even in the guided reading sessions, whether it’s two kids or six kids, the conversations are different now. The children are feeling more empowered and more comfortable with doing the work. As we go on through the year, I’m looking forward to seeing how these second graders of mine grow and change as a result of this teaching. It is, I’ve said this many, many times, people will get sick of hearing me say it. I’ve never been happier teaching in my 24 years, and I know this is a huge part of it.

To learn more about Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets, download a sampler HERE. Or to view the full conversation with Patti Auston, click HERE.

Add comment December 12th, 2018

Turn Reluctant Readers Into Independent Readers

By reframing difficulty as opportunity, children begin to see the connection between their effort and their success.” Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris from Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More

The relationship between reading volume and reading proficiency is well documented (Allington 2011). The more time children spend engaged with text, the more exposure they have to problem-solving opportunities, new vocabulary, and information, all of which contribute to growing proficiency in reading.

Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets (WDTW) guides teachers to offer a wide variety of literacy opportunities to young readers through engaging lessons that align with a balanced literacy framework (Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Independent Reading). Using high-quality art and literature along with “next generation” reading instruction strategies, teachers will gain the tools they need to empower reluctant readers to become independent readers.

Next Generation Reading Instruction

The lessons in WDTW Lessons Sets were created around the idea of next generation reading instruction, which is defined as responsive teaching in the 2016 professional book, Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More. Instructional decisions are made based on carefully observing how students identify and manage the challenges they encounter in a text. The lessons are designed to show students their power as learners; reflect grade-level instructional standards; make learning deeper; and engage students in ways that make them forget that they’re working.

Engage Readers Through Art and High-Quality Books

In the WDTW Lesson Sets Reading Art lessons, teachers introduce a piece of art to students and encourage them to make observations and ask questions to determine what’s going on in the piece, thus practicing a skill or strategy they will be learning to apply when reading. A favorite among users of WDTW Lesson Sets, the Reading Art lessons allow teachers to ensure that students of all ability levels are able to participate and understand the lesson’s objective. WDTW Lesson Sets also include carefully selected fiction and nonfiction children’s trade books for each Read Aloud and Shared Reading lesson. According to Patti Austin, a second-grade teacher from Islip, NY who is currently using the WDTW Lesson Sets, “These books are such crowd-pleasers for the children, and for us as teachers, because they speak so well to what we’re trying to teach. The kids rave. They want to read them, they want to borrow them, they get very excited, and they want to hear them again and again.”

One Teacher’s Success Story

Take a look at this success story from Valinda Kimmel, an educator from Houston, TX, about a reluctant third-grade reader she worked with outside of the regular classroom using WDTW Lesson Sets.

“My planning and support for her was in large part guided by WDTW. . . We met every day from October until late May. Today her teacher sent me a text saying that she (the student) had passed our state assessment. She had a 37-point improvement from the benchmark she took in February until the ‘real’ test in early May. The last GRL she assessed as independent was a level G. The texts on the test were way beyond that. I’m believing that because she was empowered day after day to use the strategies she knew and had internalized, she was able, on the day of the test, to ‘gut it out.’ I know that she still has a long way to go, but the work she’s done and the fact that she passed should give her the much-needed confidence required to keep improving.”

A Gradual Release of Responsibility

At the heart of this student’s journey is the gradual release of responsibility, which supports a teacher’s shift from over-scaffolding a student’s development and allowing students to assume responsibility for their own reading progress by tapping into learned strategies on their own. According to Stephanie Harvey, the gradual release of responsibility is not a linear process, but rather a recursive and dynamic one (Harvey and Goudvis 2017). So, through repeated practice, with multiple texts of varying difficulties, reluctant readers can internalize new learning in ways that help them access it when working independently and transfer these skills back into their mainstream classrooms.

By presenting challenges as opportunities for growth, readers begin to see the connection between their effort and their success. As reading becomes its own reward, students are primed to become independent, proficient, joyful readers for life.

To learn more, download a sampler.


Allington, Richard. 2002 “What I’ve Learned About Effective Reading Instruction.” Phi Delta Kappan (June): 740-747

Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. 2017. Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding, Engagement, and Building Knowledge. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Add comment December 10th, 2018

Rethinking How Students Do Research

Research doesn’t have to be a flat experience. If students ask the right questions that require investigation and critical thinking, research can spark passion and curiosity. It can be an exciting exploration into topics that lead to discovery.

“It should pop up into one’s thoughts at odd times of the night. It should prickle the intellect as a persistent itch prickles the skin. It should be a passion, a temporary obsession, page count unlimited. It should not be a pesky, tedious assignment.” –Cathy Fraser

In her new book, Love the Questions: Reclaiming Research with Curiosity and Passion, Cathy Fraser shows us how to lead students to think more critically about information through genuine inquiry. She argues that if students consider heftier questions while doing research for a project, they’re more likely to transform the information into something more meaningful. Here are some ideas to think about before assigning your next research project.

Espousing a Culture of Inquiry

Students have a hard time coming up with research questions. Fraser believes that by getting students to comply with the rules of citizenry in the school community, we’ve inadvertently squelched their natural curiosity. But Fraser believes that this trend can be reversed by opening the avenues to inquiry. “Real research leads to discovery. It begins with inquiry, but in order to form great research questions students must have a substantial amount of background knowledge,” (Fraser 2018).

Evolution of the Research Question

Coming up with a meaningful question can be difficult. Some questions may be too broad, and some questions are too surface level. Fraser suggests putting off developing research questions until students have read more about the subject. The more they know about a topic or person, the easier it will be for them to identify a problem or a question. “A student should experience something—even vicariously—before he can develop sufficient feelings of interest to invest his time in thinking more about a subject,” (Fraser 2018).

Making Connections: The Missing Piece

The piece that is missing from student research work is the prior knowledge they’ve gained throughout all of their years spent in the classroom absorbing content and other information. Fraser believes that we do not encourage students enough to draw on what they already know, to make connections to prior reading they’ve done, or even consider interests they pursue on their own time. “If we make connections for students even briefly on a regular basis, they will see that it’s a valuable exercise, and it make break down the dividers between disciplines. Everything is connected,” (Fraser 2018).

Preliminary Reading on a Topic

As part of their research, Fraser believes that it is important for students to read authoritative essays that express opposing viewpoints on their chosen topics. They may have an emotional response to the reading, which would lead to more questions. Ask the school librarian to help you track down articles, or essays can be found on subscription databases such as Gale and EBSCO Host.

To learn more about how to implement these ideas in the classroom, go to


Fraser, Cathy. 2018. Love the Questions: Reclaiming Research with Curiosity and Passion. Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse

Add comment December 7th, 2018

Develop Number Sense with Number Talks

One of the reasons Number Talks are so important is that they give students, and adults, a whole different perspective on mathematics—a perspective that turns out to be critical for future learning.”  ~Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University

In Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker’s Making Number Talks Matter and their newest companion title, Digging Deeper: Making Number Talks Matter Even More, teachers learn not only how to use Number Talks to develop number sense, but how these short, daily routines can help create a thriving classroom community where students actively share their thinking and teachers become expert listeners.

What Are Number Talks?

Number Talks are routines in which students reason mentally with numbers. It is a time when students put their pencils and paper away to think about and try to solve a problem mentally, then share their thinking and strategies with their peers. The teacher’s role is to listen, to record the students’ thinking on the board, and to hold back on explaining or correcting. This can be difficult for some, but it is essential to making Number Talks work. “Number Talks turn students’ roles in math class upside down. Now they are supposed to figure something out rather than be told the steps to follow. Now they are supposed to explain what they think rather than waiting for us to explain” (Humphreys and Parker 2015).

Why Are Number Talks Important?

Number Talks allow students to take back the authority of their own reasoning, but they also bring interest, excitement, and joy back into the math classroom. Number Talks allow students to make sense of mathematics in their own ways by practicing making convincing arguments while critiquing and building on the ideas of their peers. “As students sit on the edge of their seats, eager to share their ideas, digging deep into why mathematical procedures work, they come to like mathematics and know that they can understand it,” (Humphreys and Parker 2015). Number Talks can help students build competence, flexibility, and confidence as mathematical thinkers.

How Do I Start Digging Deep Into Number Talks?

For practical guidance as to how to start Number Talks in your classroom, pick up a copy of Making Number Talks Matter, an introduction and how-to guide to Number Talks. In order to get a full grasp of Number Talks, however, and see exactly what they look like, Digging Deeper is a must-have. This essential companion book uses extensive video footage of teachers and students practicing Number Talks in real classrooms. This personal and accessible book shows teachers:

  • The kinds of questions that elicit deeper thinking
  • Ways to navigate tricky, problematic, or just plain hard exchanges in the classroom
  • How to more effectively use wait time during Number Talks
  • The importance of creating a safe learning environment
  • How to nudge students to think more flexibly without directing their thinking.

“The process of engaging students in reasoning with numbers is one we hope you will consider as a problem-solving venture—an investigation that will help you to learn to listen to your students and learn along with them as you build your lessons around their thinking” (Humphreys and Parker 2015).

Ruth Parker co-created Number Talks with Kathy Richardson in the early 1990s. Cathy Humphreys has been instrumental in extending Number Talks to the secondary level. Together, Cathy and Ruth have developed a deep knowledge of the best ways to teach Number Talks with students of all grade levels. Their extensive knowledge is packaged nicely into these two highly accessible books. Order them HERE today.


Humphreys, Cathy, and Ruth Parker. 2015. Making Number Talks Matter: Developing Mathematical Practices and Deepening Understanding, Grades 4 – 10. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Add comment December 3rd, 2018

Review of Not Light, But Fire by Matthew R. Kay

Recently, Peter Anderson, an English Language Arts teacher from Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, VA, sent us his take on Not Light, But Fire: How to Have Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom by Matthew R. Kay. He very articulately put into words what we at Stenhouse all think about this important book and its potential impact on classrooms across the country. We had to share.

Not Light, But Fire is a masterful combination of pedagogy and critical consciousness. It is impossible to come out on the other side of this book without experiencing some sort of growth. It was like Matthew had watched videotapes of my most ineffective teaching moments and devised a plan to help me improve. I’d been that teacher who engaged in privilege walks and shock pedagogy in the misguided belief that this would help my students engage with race. I had watched my classroom discussions flounder, unaware that I was setting my bar too low and staying away from the ‘hard problems.’ Thank goodness Matthew Kay is willing to share his own path and his own knowledge with folks like me. Every chapter contains relatable anecdotes, instructional strategies, and incisive commentary. Matthew Kay pushes us to see ourselves and our students as scholars, critical thinkers capable of high-level discourse. In an ideal world, my teacher training would have prepared me for the ethical and professional challenges I (and any teacher) face on a daily basis. But it didn’t. For that and other reasons, I am profoundly grateful that this book exists.

One of the sections I found most powerful was the very brief discussion of the different reasons teachers wish to incorporate social justice into the classroom. As someone who has tried to consume a steady diet of anti-racist texts in the last year and a half, I identified with the social justice warrior category. And it was wonderfully humbling.”

Pick up your copy of Not Light, But Fire HERE. Start having the tough, but essential conversations in your classroom and empower your students to find their voice.

Add comment December 1st, 2018

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