Archive for January, 2019

Getting Started in Action Research

In my former school district, we facilitated action research for 20 of our district teachers. They came from all areas, K-12. The course was led by Dr. Beth Giles and Dr. Mark Dziedzic from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Teachers met one evening a month to explore their driving questions, set up action plans, collect and organize data, and prepare their work for an inquiry showcase this spring. Here are some of the questions specific to literacy and what we learned.

What happens when we provide choice in reading and learning?

Three teachers investigated this tenet of engagement. A 2nd grade teacher conducted Genius Hour at the end of the day, a time in which students could tinker and make things of their choosing. A 3rd grade teacher allowed her students to decide how their classroom should look like and feel like regarding furniture and resources. A reading interventionist embedded choice within her instruction, including letting the students select one book a month to take home and keep.

What they found out was choice affected each student in different ways. For example, the reading interventionist discovered that if a student’s basic needs were not being met, they had a hard time progressing. She countered this reality by bringing families into school to engage in literacy activities, such as building book shelves. The 3rd grade teacher realized that some students like working with peers regularly, while others needed quiet time to read and write. The 2nd grade teacher found for one student that a half hour of tinkering every day led to a reduction in office referrals by 70% from fall to spring. Providing choice in school helped teachers better understand their students and adjusted their instruction.

What happens when students are taught to ask questions and reflect about their reading?

A 4th and 5th grade teacher working with multiple curriculums in a split classroom realized that addressing the needs of a wide variety of learners was a tall order. Therefore, she wanted to find out if teaching her students to ask their own questions of the books they read and reflect on their thinking in authentic ways through reading journals would lead to more independence.

She modeled these skills and strategies with her own reading. Gradually, she released the responsibility of questioning and reflecting to the students. Data she gathered was anecdotal and powerful. Students not only kept reflections of their own reading, but also noted what their peers were reading. Recommendations for what to read next led to students creating “Want to Read” lists in their journals. Also, students emulated how their teacher talked in their book discussions. This teacher later noted that she was looking forward to working with next year’s fifth graders in the fall.

What happens when teachers reveal themselves as learners?

A secondary reading interventionist was frustrated with her past students’ inability to exit out of her program in a timely manner. She decided to focus on how her language might promote a growth mindset in her most reluctant readers and writers. First, she wrote in front of her students about the struggles she was having as a teacher and as a parent. These were day-to-day ordeals, ordinary issues she was sharing publicly. Students were also asked to write about their struggles. Few initially took her up on her offer. But as the teacher continued to model a growth mindset, more students followed her lead.

Because the teacher was so open about her own learning, students felt safe in her classroom to take risks. They started to shed their rough exteriors, revealing frustrations about classes and their home lives. This led to exploring literature that students could personally relate to, populated with characters in which they could reside. Pretty soon, her students were coming to her with improved progress reports to share and celebrate. A few kids exited her reading intervention earlier than anticipated, but didn’t want to leave. This teacher eventually published her action research in the Wisconsin State Reading Association journal.

What happens when we let kids read?

A 5th grade teacher and I teamed up to provide her students with lots of texts to read and decrease the reading requirements placed upon them. I would come in once a month with a box full of high interest books and do a quick blurb about each one. The teacher also used her allocated funds to enhance the classroom library. She taught the students how to have a conversation with peers and frequently conferred with students about their reading and goals. Her work derived from the research by Gay Ivey and Peter Johnston, highlighted in a Stenhouse blog post four years ago.

My role as co-researcher was to survey the students once a month using a tool developed by Ivey and Johnston. What we learned was that every student was different. Their reading lives varied from month to month. One student who proclaimed, “I hate reading!” in February was excited about a new series he discovered in March. Other students also became more honest about reading in school. “I am SO glad to be done with my reading contract, so I can read whatever I want.” This type of data was more powerful than any screener or test score. Reading lives looks more like a heartbeat than a straight line. Readers, kids and adults, have their ups and downs.

In observing these teachers’ journeys, I have discovered new truths about the principalship. As students need to be engaged in their learning, teachers likewise have to be engaged in their work. Not merely busy or working collegially with staff – really engaged. We need to trust in their professionalism. We need to provide teachers the room to ask questions and grow. We need to honor the process as much as the outcomes. We need to celebrate both their mistakes and their successes, always striving to become better every day as a professional. Letting go of some control as a school leader is hard. Yet when we do, teachers are able to be the leaders of their own learning.

Tips for Getting Started in Action Research

If you are a teacher…

  • Ask yourself, “Why do I want to engage in action research?” If you can identify the purpose for this work in your professional life, it will motivate you to get started.
  • Do your homework on action research to build a knowledge base about the topic. Excellent resources include Living the Questions by Ruth Shagourey and Brenda Power (Stenhouse, 2012) and The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research by Nancy Fichtman Dana and Diane Yendol-Hoppey (Corwin, 2014).
  • Develop a community of professionals who also want to engage in action research. You can leverage the power of the group to persuade your principal to support this initiative as part of the professional development plan. If you cannot collaborate in person, check out online communities related to classroom research, such as The Teachers Guild.
  • Find a question that you want to explore and is embedded within your current practice. This wondering should relate to your professional learning goals and offer artifacts that can serve as evidence for your evaluation system.
  • Include your students in your action research as much as possible. They will become a great source of information as you study the impact of your work on their learning. They will also come to see you as a learner, which enhances the entire classroom community.

If you are an administrator…

  • Be deliberate when considering action research as a possible professional learning experience. The phrase “action research” can scare off some teachers who might otherwise be interested in this approach. Start small, maybe offering it as a voluntary course beyond the school day for graduate credit or pay.
  • Connect with outside organizations who can facilitate a course instead of trying to host it yourself. There is vulnerability involved in action research. The more we can have others lead the initiative, the more likely teachers will be willing to open up and take risks in their pursuits of becoming better practitioners.
  • Conduct action research yourself. I did this, using the resource The Action Research Guidebook by Richard Sagor (Corwin, 2012). The author offers several examples of a principal engaging in professional inquiry at a schoolwide level. I would share my findings and reflections in staff newsletters and at meetings. The message you send is the same teacher-researchers convey to their students: We are all learners here.
  • Prepare for a multi-year plan for facilitating action research in your school or district. Teacher questions seemed to lead to more questions during the school year. At the inquiry showcase teachers were already asking if they could conduct action research again. “I feel like I just discovered my question,” noted one teacher.

Add comment January 18th, 2019

Stenhouse Authors at TCTELA, 2019

For those lucky educators going to the annual Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (TCTELA) Conference in San Antonio, TX next week, here is a rundown of the presentations being given by two wonderful Stenhouse authors. Learn how to empower and engage your students and think beyond leveled books with Franki Sibberson. And join Jeff Anderson to learn about harnessing language convention to purposefully activate meaning in both comprehension and composition. Enhance your professional learning with these dynamic presenters.

Franki Sibberson

Saturday, 1/26, 8:30–10:00 a.m., Regency/Second Floor – Ballroom Level

“Passionate Learners—How to Engage And Empower Your Students” Franki Sibberson, President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), is a fifth-grade teacher in Dublin, Ohio, where she has taught for over 30 years. She has co-authored several books including Beyond Leveled Books and Still Learning to Read. Franki is a regular contributor to Choice Literacy and she blogs with Mary Lee Hahn at a Year of Reading.

Saturday, 1/26 1:30–3:45 p.m., Live Oak/Third Floor – Hill Country Level

“Workshop With Franki Sibberson: Beyond Leveled Books” If we are committed to creating classrooms that grow lifelong readers, every reader needs to find joy and purpose in reading. This is not possible when we rely too heavily on levels. In this workshop, Franki will discuss the limitations of levels and the importance of looking beyond level when creating classroom libraries, conferring with students, and planning for instruction. Lists of books that Franki has used with her students will be shared.

Jeff Anderson

Sunday, 1/27, 9:30–10:30 a.m., Rio Grande/Second Floor

“Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers Into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1–5” Meaning is made when reading and writing crash together in the conventions of language. Explore ways to harness language conventions to purposefully activate meaning in both comprehension and composition. Author’s purpose is why, and author’s craft is how. How do we move the conventions of language from being viewed as a right and wrong proposition with only one correct answer? We know we acquire language through imitation. That’s how we learned to talk, read, and write, and if done well, language conventions can also be explored with ease and enthusiasm in much the same way. Come discover brain-based, practical ways to use the reading-writing connection to teach grammar and editing in a way that grows young writers and readers.

Don’t miss these opportunities!

Add comment January 18th, 2019

New Ideas for Art, Math, and Student Support

“Because learners can decode visual texts it means they can also engage with meaning-making skills, such as inferring, using text evidence, recognizing symbols and patterns, identifying themes and big ideas and making rich, meaningful connections.”

Trevor Bryan, author, The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence

Broadening the Path to Literacy

New! The Art of Comprehension

Fresh off the press is The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence. In this video, author Trevor Bryan introduces his innovative framework for deepening comprehension, which helps students interpret both print and visual texts and lead powerful conversations about them. Read more here.


Coming Soon: Super Spellers Starter Sets
Mark Weakland’s Super Speller Starter Sets will be out soon! From master word lists and spelling centers to word ladders, Weakland provides everything you need to bring to life the wisdom of Super Spellers: Seven Steps to Transforming Your Spelling Instruction. Preorder here.

Close Reading in Primary Grades
“Sometimes even our littlest readers are also our biggest thinkers,” notes Amy Stewart, author of Little Readers, Big Thinkers. Explore her tried and true approaches to enable even the youngest children to discover new ways to enjoy texts, think about them critically, and share that thinking.

The Magic of Math

“Nerding Out” on Math

Tracy Johnston Zager’s Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had is “chock full of ideas and examples; very readable, entertaining, and intriguing,” notes Jenn David-Lang on The Main Idea podcast. Listen as she explores the gap between how math is taught and how mathematicians view it–as full of wonder and creativity. Read her summary of the book here.

Review: How Many? is “Magic”

“So many wonderful things one can learn” in Christopher Danielson’s How Many? Teacher’s Guide bundle, according to this review. “The magic of this book truly lies in sharing [it] with our own children/students,” writes Kelly Darke, math teacher and author of the Math Book Magic blog.


Tips, Tools for Classroom Practice

Top Topics: Race, Religion, and Gender
Authors Matthew R. Kay, author of Not Light, But Fire, and Shawna Coppola, author of Renew: Become a Better–and more Authentic–Writing Teacher talk about race relations in today’s classrooms and communities and how to avoid “fake conversations” in favor of thoughtful, open, and rigorous discussions with students. Listen here.

Working with Trauma-affected Children
How do we support the growth of children who have experienced trauma? It all starts with the relationship. Conferring is a powerful way to cultivate trust, respect and agency in children, according to Kari Yates, co-author with Christina Nosek of To Know and Nurture a Reader. Read more here.

Presence, One Day at a Time
If you want to overcome the daily blur, Lisa Lucas, author of Practicing Presence, has created a project that can transform the way you approach each day. Read about it here and consider registering for the “Practicing Presence Summer Self-Care Retreat for Educators.”

New Titles from Stenhouse Partner
Pembroke Publishers, the Canadian sister company to Stenhouse, has released new engaging, practical books on freewriting, vocabulary, mindfulness activities, and work-life balance for teachers. Explore the new titles here.

Add comment January 18th, 2019

Choosing a Text for Close Reading

Identifying a worthy text is often one of the biggest challenges to overcome when putting together a close-reading plan. Choosing a text that offers opportunities for multiple readings, as well as new, meaningful understandings can be difficult. So how do we know if a book or article will work for close reading?

In her new book, Little Readers, Big Thinkers: Teaching Close Reading in the Primary Grades, Amy Stewart gives us some tips on how to choose the best books for close reading in your primary classrooms. According to Stewart, we really won’t know what will work until we put it in front of our students. But there are some general guidelines that should help.

Know your books

As teachers we must read widely and voraciously within the age range and interests of our students in order to have the best shot at success with our readers. Most teachers, however, don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands to read many books. Stewart recommends planning a few minutes during team or staff meetings to read, share, and discuss the latest and greatest in children’s literature with one another. “Administrators, make it happen. Team leaders, craft your meeting agendas to include some time to read and talk about books; collaboration is imperative when choosing good texts for close reading,” (Stewart 2019).

Choose the right level in difficulty

In the early elementary grades, a text suitable for close reading is most likely going to be a text that the students are not yet able to read independently. “Chances are, the books students are independently reading—especially in the earliest years of school—don’t lend themselves to the deep thinking and new learning we desire as an outcome of close reading,” (Stewart 2019). But while children may not yet be able to read the book, article, or passage on their own, it must also not be so high-level that they cannot understand it or take away any new, transferrable learning from it.  “When we wrap close reading into the shared experience of a read-aloud, we make an otherwise inaccessible text one that students come to know and understand very well,” (Stewart 2019).

Use short texts 

Close reading is typically done using a short piece of text. Since texts in the primary grades are already short, it’s possible to do a close read with an entire text, but keep in mind that “while you may initially read aloud a whole book or article with students, your closer look and subsequent readings might take place with only a small excerpt of that book or article,” (Stewart 2019).

You don’t always have to use nonfiction texts

While there is a strong emphasis on using nonfiction texts for close reading because they’re known for being more difficult and therefore offering more learning opportunities, there are plenty of fiction texts that require students to do some deep thinking and careful noticing.  “Use what you know about your students as readers, consider texts—both fiction and nonfiction—that will align their interests with your instructional outcomes,” (Stewart 2019).

A caution

You may find many passages online that have been marketed and sold as ideal for close reading, but it’s important to pay attention to the quality of these texts. “As teachers we must be careful and critical consumers of content created and tagged as ‘Close Reading Passages’ because these texts often lack authenticity and opportunities for students to engage in higher-level thinking,” (Stewart 2019). Stewart recommends choosing authentic texts that are chosen with your individual students in mind. “Texts that connect our young readers to their leaning, to each other, and to the world around them—and that empower them to view themselves as readers and thinkers—are going to be most meaningful as they begin to shape their literacy lives,” (Stewart 2019).

To learn more about how to use close reading in the primary classroom, go to

Stewart, Amy. 2019. Little Readers, Big Thinkers: Teaching Close Reading in the Primary Grades. Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse Publishers.

Add comment January 15th, 2019

Don’t Miss Out on These Pembroke Titles!

Pembroke Publishers, the Canadian sister company to Stenhouse, has been busy creating some exciting titles for the spring! Don’t miss out on these fresh ideas from our authors up north!

 Empower your teaching and avoid burnout

A must and no-nonsense read for teachers striving for their personal wellbeing and student success and school administrators who want to be great mentors for their teachers!” Mary Ann Danowitz. D.Ed., Dean, College of Education, North Carolina State University

Establish a balance of a busy, overwhelming classroom and your own well-being with the newest title by Lisa Bush, Teaching Well: How healthy, empowered teachers lead to thriving, successful classroomsBush suggests that teachers can reduce the amount of time they work outside the classroom and still be a motivated and engaged teacher. Establishing a healthy work–life balance and putting teachers’ own emotional health needs first will naturally lead to more effective teaching. The conversational tone of this book, along with a wealth of anecdotal examples, will make this highly readable resource an invaluable guide for every educator.

Expand students’ interest in words and word power

Discover key strategies for making words the core of classroom instruction and engagement with the new title from literacy guru, Larry Swartz, Word By Word: 101 ways to inspire and engage students by building vocabulary, improving spelling, and enriching reading, writing, and learning. This practical resource is designed to help students discover why words matter as they build vocabulary; gain confidence to spell new and difficult words; develop word recognition and process unfamiliar words when reading; increase understanding of words in the content areas; inquire about word meanings and derivations; play with and celebrate words and language; and much more!

Use freewriting to bring meaning and confidence to students’ writing

In freewriting, we write continuously. We begin with a prompt and keep our pen or pencil moving throughout the entire duration. We do not stop to question or censor ourselves; we do not concern ourselves with spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or grammar; we do not let critical thoughts creep into our freewriting time. This new title from Karen Filewych, Freewriting with Purpose: Simple classroom techniques to help students make connections, think critically, and construct meaning, shows teachers how to use freewriting to help kids write well and more, regardless of grade level, subject, time of day, or time of year. It is not a difficult process to implement and yet it makes a significant difference in teacher attitudes, student confidence, and, ultimately, student writing abilities.

Help students build self-regulation skills  

Learn how to incorporate simple mindfulness activities and strategies that foster self-regulation in the classroom and beyond with the newest title by Shelley Murphy, Fostering Mindfulness: Building skills that students need to manage their attention, emotions, and behavior in classrooms and beyond. Murphy defines self-regulation as students’ ability to manage their own attention, emotions, and behavior. Using instructions, scripts, worksheets, and ready-to-use templates, this book shows teachers how to help students strengthen their attention-regulation, emotion-regulation, and behavior-regulation skills. Supporting students’ overall well-being, not just their intellectual progress, is the focus of this timely and important book.

To learn more go to

Add comment January 9th, 2019

Using Art to Deepen Comprehension

“Using images to unlock new possibilities affords a powerful stepping-stone to words in a meaning-making merger that deepens understanding.” –Dr. Mary Howard

Most books about teaching comprehension address the role that pictures play in helping children understand a text, but few authors have looked at visual literacy as systematically as Trevor Bryan has. In his new book, The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence, Bryan introduces an innovative framework for deepening comprehension, which he calls Access Lenses. The Lenses provide a scaffold for helping students of all ages interpret both print and visual texts and lead powerful conversations about them.

Here’s how it works.

The Method

“With the Access Lenses in hand, students became active explorers and meaning-makers, instead of passive question answerers. Students jumped into texts and felt like explorers, always on the brink of discovery,” (Bryan 2019).

The Access Lenses are at the heart of the Art of Comprehension (AoC). It’s a method that will make it easier for teachers and students to enter into visual texts (and eventually written texts) and to think about and discuss them deeply and meaningfully. If practiced regularly, the Lenses will eventually help student so dissect and discuss texts in increasingly sophisticated ways as texts become more complicated across the grades.


The Access Lenses are made up of nine lenses. When used concurrently this method enables students to discover information within visual and written texts, independently or with partners, which makes them more likely to synthesize the information they find in unique and surprising ways.

  • Lens 1: Facial Expressions: Facial expressions reveal a lot about a character’s moods and are generally easy for even young children to understand. The facial expressions lens can help many students enter a text and begin to use textual evidence to support their thinking.
  • Lens 2: Body Language, Action/Inaction: As with facial expressions, most students are capable of making inferences based on reading either a character’s body language or a character’s action or inaction. Pairing information delivered through faces and bodies is also another straightforward way to introduce students to patterns: when the pattern changes, it usually indicates an important part or key moment of the story.
  • Lens 3: Colors: Colors are often used to convey moods, and even very young children can grasp this idea. Getting students accustomed to thinking about how colors are used to reflect moods is a simple way to promote deeper thinking about images, texts, and performances, as well as symbolism and metaphors.
  • Lens 4: Close Together, Far Apart Lens: Using this lens, students think about how characters’ proximity to, or distance from, people, places, or objects can indicate how they are feeling, what they want, or the predicament they are in. It’s not just physical proximity that can be considered, however, students can also think about emotional proximity.
  • Lens 5: Alone: As with the close together, far apart lens, the alone lens can relate to both physical and emotional aloneness. Either way, when characters are alone in visual or in written texts, their isolation needs to be considered regarding the mood or moods the artist or writer is crafting.
  • Lens 6: Words or No Words/Sounds or Silence: The words that characters say, as well as other sounds expressed within a text, often reveal much about what is happening. What characters say and how they say it provides important information about thoughts, feelings, and motivations.
  • Lens 7: Big Things and Little Things: Awareness of the physical size of a character or a setting often helps readers comprehend the dynamics of a story. The big and little things lens can also be applied to the emotional state or symbolic nature of characters.
  • Lens 8: Zooming In or Out: Artists and authors will often zoom in or zoom out on scenes. What they choose to zoom in on frequently provides a key detail that they want their audience to notice.
  • Lens 9: Symbols and Metaphors: Every story that has a problem has symbols of obstruction or destruction, and nearly all stories, if not every story that gets resolved, has at least one symbol of hope and support. Making connections (through symbols and moods) helps students to understand how stories work.

The Access Lenses are a set of tools that help to give teachers and students initial access to texts of all kinds. The Art of Comprehension can show you how to effectively and efficiently use these tools in the classroom allowing students to gain an understanding of texts in both content and craft. To learn more, check it our on the Stenhouse Publishers website.


John Frederick Kensett, Lake George, ca.. 1870. Bequest of Elaine King in memory of her husband, Col. Herbert G. King, Princeton University Art Museum. 


Bryan, Trevor. 2019. The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence. Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse Publishers.

Add comment January 8th, 2019

Close Reading in the Primary Grades

Kids are always thinking and thinking is always happening—even when your teacher eyes don’t really know for sure, and even when you least expect it.”—Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart believes that primary-grade teachers are capable of empowering students—even in their earliest years of school—to think and engage with texts in ways that will set them up for success as the readers, writers, and thinkers of the future.

With her new book, Little Readers, Big Thinkers: Teaching Close Reading in the Primary Grades, Stewart shows us how to use close reading to teach even the youngest children new ways to enjoy texts, think about them critically, and share that thinking with peers and adults. Here’s what close reading looks like in the primary grades.

The Close Reading Process

According to Stewart, close reading should be thought of as a process that follows the needs and interests of your readers, and the opportunities to engage in the process will unfold naturally through carefully chosen texts. It will look different depending on your students and the text you chose to use with them.

In order to create layers of understanding, students must have multiple experiences with a text. In the primary grades, this would be done mostly through shared reading and interactive read-aloud. Many literacy experts agree that rereading a text is one of the best ways for students to improve comprehension. “The trick is to make returning to a text so exciting, engaging, and purposeful that students don’t even think about raising their hand to tell you they’ve already heard this one,” (Stewart 2019). Keep in mind that different texts require varying degrees of “digging deeper,” so the amount of time spent with them will differ.

Text-Dependent Questions

When you are engaging students in multiple readings of texts, be sure to sprinkle questions ranging from the literal to the inferential throughout. Those questions will allow students to participate in discussions that help shape their understandings. “These opportunities for collaborative conversations are essential to close reading because they invite students to think about a text in multiple ways as they learn to support their thinking with text evidence,” (Stewart 2019). Discussions about texts that have been read aloud means that primary-grade readers can participate even if they are not reading or writing independently.

Talking, Writing, and Drawing

Often, in the primary grades, listening and speaking opportunities are used to provide oral language experiences that support comprehension, versus the writing expectations and independence of older students. But Stewart believes that it is important to honor what students can do and give them a chance to exercise an important pillar of close reading: independently writing or drawing their thinking. “Allowing students to draw their thinking is another important way to document immediate thinking about a text and can be a useful indicator of a student’s level of comprehension,” (Stewart 2019).

Noticing and Naming Close Reading

Stewart believes it is important for young students to become familiar with the term “close reading” and begin to associate it with big thinking, conversations, questions, and repeated readings. “It’s almost like we are asking them to switch their thinking caps to deep-thinking mode as we dive into a text together,” (Stewart 2019). It’s important for students to know that close reading is a different kind of reading experience that will require them to think about a text in new ways and answer questions or participate in discussions that lead to new understandings.

Using the processes and tools in Little Readers, Big Thinkers, close reading will become your students’ stepping stone to a lifelong love of reading. “We must start our students on the path toward becoming close and careful readers now, even when they’re little, because sometimes even our littlest readers are also our biggest thinkers,” (Stewart 2019).


Stewart, Amy. 2019. Little Readers, Big Thinkers: Teaching Close Reading in the Primary Grades. Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse Publishers.

Add comment January 4th, 2019

In Memoriam: Stenhouse Author David Booth

Canadian literacy leader David Booth, who wrote more than a dozen books for Stenhouse and our Canadian partners Pembroke Publishers, died over the holidays. David’s 60-year career as a writer, teacher, speaker, and professor at University of Toronto had a powerful impact on teachers around the world.

“David dedicated his life to teachers. He was a tremendous advocate and mentor,” said Stenhouse Publisher Dan Tobin. “He was also a wonderful guy—funny, generous, and interested in everybody and everything. I always looked forward to dinner with David on my trips to Toronto.”

David wrote most of his books with co-authors because he was passionate about the process of collaboration: “I have worked with such fine teachers in writing my books over the years,” he said in a recent interview. “I want the world to realize how many good teachers there are. I write with really good people who have lots to say and want to share their ideas with the world. With others, we are stronger.

Watch a video interview with David Booth talking about his 2017 book What Is a Good Teacher?

Check out David Booth’s books, including the bestseller, The Literacy Principal, 2ndEdition:

Read David Booth’s obituary in the Toronto Star:

Add comment January 3rd, 2019

A New Year for Professional Development

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, Islip, N.Y.

Literacy and Classroom Practice

Who’s Doing the Work?

Find out more here about how Patti Austin’s world has been transformed by using Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets in her classroom. These carefully crafted resources by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris will help you turn reluctant readers into independent readers.

What is Most Important? Equity

Drawing on the equity section of her recent Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners, Regie Routman identifies “9 Key Actions We Can and Must Take to Ensure Equity for All.”



Models of Good Writing

What better way to teach students the power of writing than by using models of good writing? Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca, authors of Patterns of Power, have chosen the top 10 mentor texts for grades 1-5 and compiled them into a convenient collection for grammar instruction.

Making Revision Work

“Children don’t hate to write; they hate how we teach writing.” So states Ruth Culham in this MiddleWeb commentary. Author of Teach Writing Well, she offers strategies to demystify revision, making it doable for all.

Rethinking Student Research

In her new book, Love the Questions: Reclaiming Research with Curiosity and Passion, Cathy Fraser shows us how to lead students through genuine inquiry to think more critically about research. Explore her ideas here, and preview and order the book here.

MiddleWeb Review: Not Light, But Fire

Reviewer Sarah Cooper was “inspired to change in real time” as she read Matthew R. Kay’s Not Light, But Fire. Read her review, where she concludes, “Having read this book, in many ways I feel I can’t return to the teacher I was.”

Math Professional Development

Developing a Math Pedagogy

Check out this free webinar to hear Geoff Krall share inspirations for his new book Necessary Conditions as well as his framework for a secondary math pedagogy. With his guidance, math teachers can open the door to math for all their students.

Number Sense Routines


Find out how you can bring Stenhouse’s new research-based Number Sense professional development program to your school. Developed by author Jessica Shumway, the in-school program guides teachers as they improve students’ number sense learning through quick, 5-15-minute math discussions every day.


Top 15 Titles of 2018

2018 was an exciting year for new Stenhouse titles. Covering literacy, math, and classroom practice, our top 15 books can bring fresh ideas to your classroom in 2019. Educators can receive a 25% discount and free shipping on professional books when ordering directly on Check our 2019 titles here.

In Memoriam: Stenhouse Author David Booth

Canadian literacy leader David Booth, who wrote more than a dozen books for Stenhouse and our Canadian partners Pembroke Publishers, died over the holidays. David’s 60-year career as a writer, teacher, speaker, and professor had a powerful impact on teachers around the world. Read more about him here.

Watch for a fresh new look for Newslinks in 2019!

Add comment January 3rd, 2019

Provide More Writing Opportunities with Quick Writes

 “Writing has the power to help us explore, discover, and express our thoughts in a way that is at the heart of being human, and our students need us to teach it in ways that engage and empower them beyond a standardized curriculum.” ~Paula Bourque

We learn to write by writing. The more we write, the more proficient we become. But writing time doesn’t always have to take place during workshop. Quick Writes are a way to “sneak in” more writing opportunities into a student’s day, which will lead to greater fluency and proficiency.

What are Quick Writes?

In her new book, Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, Paula Bourque defines Quick Writes as: “Short and frequent bursts of low-stakes writing in response to a stimulus (spark) that do not allow for planning, revising, or overly cautious forethought. They constitute thinking on paper that helps students creatively explore ideas while boosting their volume of writing. Or, put simply: Thinking and Inking,” (Bourque 2019).

Quick Writes allow students to play and experiment with writing. They encourage risk-taking that is pleasurable and meaningful. The big idea is that you build a daily habit for writing that increases your students’ volume of writing and extends (or moves beyond) your writing curriculum in ways that are engaging and create a broader, more positive perception of writing for students.

How to Use Quick Writes

Spark! provides a variety of ideas for Quick Writes, some addressing specific needs or motivations and some simply to spur creative thinking of teachers and students alike. For example:

  • Emerging—to develop greater automaticity and fluency at the letter, word, and sentence level for our primary writers
  • Information—to activate prior knowledge, stimulate curiosity, and express opinions from a wide variety of informational sources
  • Appreciation—to expose students to a variety of art in visual, auditory, or verbal formats and invite personal responses as an integral expression of language arts
  • Creativity—to promote more playful practice when composing narrative writing and communication with others
  • Social-Emotional—to nurture mindfulness, encourage metacognitive skills, and foster a mind-set of reflection, motivation, and gratitude

The goal is to encourage habits of mind, foster awareness, and appreciate or stimulate thinking.

Benefits of Daily Quick Writes

Students can develop tunnel vision about what writing is supposed to be when they are singularly focused on components of a rubric or a learning progression. By developing a habit of daily Quick Writes with her own students, Bourque observed the following benefits to students beyond the targeted skills and formal assessments that measure the success of writing instruction. Daily Quick Writes:

  1. Develop valuable “soft skills” beyond literacy
  2. Reset students’ default approach to writing
  3. Strengthen relationships with our students
  4. Increase enjoyment of writing.

“If you want to get to know your students more intimately, build stronger relationships, and create a supportive writing community, Quick Writes can help. If you want to cultivate more joy and success in the lives of your writers, Quick Writes can help. There is so much potential thinking and learning awaiting your students in ten minutes or so a day!” (Bourque 2019).

To learn more about how to bring the benefits of Quick Writes to your classroom, get your copy of Spark! today! Free shipping, as always!


Bourque, Paula. 2019. Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms. Stenhouse Publishing: Portsmouth, NH.

Add comment January 2nd, 2019

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