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

Literacy and Classroom Strategies

“In classrooms where writers flourish, students engage with the world around them, noticing things that not everyone else sees.”
Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca, Patterns of Power

The Power of Conversation

Experimenting and Playing with Language
No more chanting rules or grammar worksheets for Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca, coauthors of Patterns of Power. Join them in real classrooms as they invite elementary students to explore the essential grammar conventions. Watch here.

Race Talk in the Classroom
In this video “Let’s All Get Woke: Engaging Students in Conversations About Race,” three educators, including Shawna Coppola, author of Renew! Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher, offer insights and dispel common misperceptions.

Nuances of Race ConversationsIn this Teach Me, Teacher podcast, Matthew R. Kay, author of Not Light, But Fire, continues his discussion of meaningful race conversations. “As a country we’re fraudulent in our conversations about race—left, right, and center,” says Kay, who urges teachers to “normalize race conversations.”

In this short Stenhouse video, Kay urges teachers to tread carefully when it comes to impromptu race conversations. Take time; don’t rush headlong into “teachable moments,” he advises “Reflection is important.”

Strategic Work of Reading

Children go through a collection of strategic processes that work together to help them comprehend text. Writing on a Lesley University blog, Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, authors of Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets, share insights on the subtler aspects of teaching students to be strategic.


Authors at LFA Conference
Burkins and Yaris (above), will be speaking at the Literacy for All Conference Oct. 28-30, along with J. Richard Gentry, co-author of the forthcoming BrainWords: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching, and Trevor Bryan, author of The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence.

Check the schedule here.

On Monday, Oct. 29, don’t miss the chance to meet these Stenhouse authors and get your book signed:

Math Reflections

A “Dehumanizing” Assessment
Math coach and Stenhouse editor Kassia Omohundro Wedekind takes up a controversial subject in her “Why iReady is Dangerous” blog post. Calling the assessment “dehumanizing,” Wedekind critiques the way iReady reports data and makes suggestions for instruction.

Coaching that Lasts
Check out this post on the long-lasting benefits of receiving high-quality coaching and professional development from Lucy West, author of the new video-rich Adding Talk to the Equation: A Self-Study Guide for Teachers and Coaches on Improving Math Discussion.

Add comment October 25th, 2018

Art, Race, and Lifelong Learning

“Nearly all students—non-readers, striving readers, and beginning readers—can decode visual texts, such as illustrations and paintings, effectively.”
Trevor Bryan, author of The Art of Comprehension 

Looking Closely at Literacy

In the Mood for Art?
“Most artworks are crafted around moods,” says Trevor Bryan, author of forthcoming The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence. Watch this short video on how he helps students engage with art through his original “access lenses.” Preview and order here.



Rethinking Guided Reading
“Guided reading is a temporary scaffold to assist students to become self-regulating, self-reliant readers,” writes Regie Routman, author of Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners. Read her MiddleWeb blog and explore her four “crucial considerations” for being fair and equitable to all students.

Working with Older Spellers
Mark Weakland, author of the upcoming Super Spellers Starter Sets, has lots of ideas for reaching older spellers, especially 4th through 6th graders. Check out his blog for suggestions, including “jaw drop;” “I say, we say, you say, you write;” deep and rich word lists; and more.

Math Tools for the Classroom

Stenhouse Math Author “Has Our Backs”
In a review of Number Sense Routines: Building Mathematical Understanding Every Day in Grades 3-5 by Jessica Shumway, math teacher Rebecca Crockett says Shumway has “given me all the tools… to commit to using number sense routines.”

Leading Robust Math Conversations


Watch this short video from Lucy West, author of the new, video-rich edition of Adding Talk to the Equation, about how teachers can help facilitate a discussion and increase student engagement in rich, robust conversations around math.



Lifelong Learning

On Talking About Race in Class
“It takes almost as much effort to not talk about race as it does to talk about it,” says Matthew Kay, author of Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom. Hear his reflections, dos and don’ts, and helpful hints on this teacher’s podcast.

Close Up: Mentoring a New Teacher
As a first-year teacher, having a mentor can make the difference between feeling overwhelmed or exhilarated. Shawna Coppola, author of Renew! Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher, reflects on her six-episode podcast about mentoring a first-year kindergarten teacher.

“Insatiable Appetite” for Learning
Paula Bourque, author of the forthcoming Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, reveals her hunger for learning and how she takes charge of her own professional development in her latest blog post “nErDs Unite!”

Teach More, Manage Less
Explore these one and two-day workshops presented by Gail Boushey and Allison Behne of The 2 Sisters: Daily 5 literacy block framework, behavior strategies for keeping all your students on-task, and the CAFE Literacy protocol for individual assessment and teaching. Learn about Detroit, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, and Orange County live workshops.

Add comment October 11th, 2018

Close Up: Mentoring a New Teacher

By Shawna Coppola

Author of Renew! Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher

As a first-year teacher, having a mentor can make the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling exhilarated. We invited Stenhouse author and experienced educator Shawna Coppola to document her experience with mentoring Laura during her first year as a kindergarten teacher. Please join us and follow their six-episode podcast (links below) as they experience Laura’s first year in her classroom.

When Stenhouse asked me if I wanted to mentor a new teacher through her first year and record the experience for posterity, I barely took a breath before saying yes. As someone who has taught for nearly two decades, I still feel the desire to be mentored, to surround myself with supportive individuals who understand the joyful, yet challenging, life of an educator and who can occasionally offer a sage piece of advice, a thought-provoking question, a listening ear, or a much-needed laugh.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway, and loudly, for those sitting in the back) that teachers are engaged in some of the most complex work imaginable: making hundreds of important decisions (often on the fly), masterfully integrating a seemingly endless variety of skills, and cultivating a near-superhuman capacity for empathy and grace.

When I met Laura, an educator in her first year, I was so impressed with her thoughtful, reflective approach to teaching. A kindergarten teacher in a K-6 public school serving approximately 300 students, Laura told me during our very first conversation that she knew from early on that she wanted to work with children. That first year, she taught 22 children largely independently, with only occasional access to a classroom aide. She described her students as kind, motivated to learn, and, for the most part, happy to be in school.

As we got to know each other, investigating together some of the challenges of that first year, we covered a lot of territory. Laura and I discussed social-emotional learning, managing a large group of children, a variety of literacy practices, how to balance short- and long-term demands, and the value of using mentors to teach writing. It was such an enriching, pleasurable experience for both of us!

Like many teachers, Laura found it difficult to balance building positive, healthy relationships with her students alongside managing them as a whole group. Her biggest challenges were related to planning and making decisions both ahead of time and in the moment. She worried about how to fit in valuable instruction around skills that many perceive as “non-academic” or “soft” along with more traditionally-recognized academic skills.

The first time we met, we discussed the enormous, all-too-familiar challenge of “fitting it all in”–particularly with regard to literacy–and how to maintain a daily schedule for her students that is meaningful, engaging, and developmentally appropriate. I advised her to keep a close eye on the big picture when it came to her students’ literacy experiences and to try to identify the experiences that gave both her and her students the “best bang for [their] buck”—a difficult, yet important, task.

[Listen to Episode 1]

As Laura continued to experiment with how to incorporate literacy instruction into her students’ day in a way that felt more integrated and less piecemeal, she reported that she was beginning to feel challenged by the social/emotional demands of her kindergartners. Like many classroom teachers, Laura was forced to juggle a wide variety of student needs with very little sustained guidance. She felt as though she was “drowning in behavior charts,” which ran counter to her desire to co-construct a healthy classroom community with her students. We agreed that social-emotional learning is at the heart of all good teaching.

[Listen to Episode 2]

As we worked together, Laura reported that she was seeing marked improvements. Her students were adjusting to the routines they’d established around their classroom literacy centers. Frequent check-ins were helping students develop their ability to reflect on their work in peer partnerships. With literacy centers running more smoothly, Laura decided she wanted to broaden literacy activities. Facilitated guided reading groups could help her support her students as they read connected text within their zone of proximal development. I offered Laura some advice for how to begin the challenging work of facilitating effective guided reading groups without becoming too overwhelmed.

[Listen to Episode 3]

By mid-year, assessment results indicated that Laura needed to invest more time in helping her kindergarten students practice decoding and encoding words. We discussed how she could modify some of what she already does with her students. We brainstormed ways she could incorporate additional multisensory work with letters and sounds to help students create even more neural pathways in the brain. I shared with her the many missteps that I and other teachers have made when helping students become more independent readers and writers.

[Listen to Episode 4]

So many options exist to elicit creativity from young students. Mentors—both professional mentors and student mentors—can inspire students to write while also opening up a world of possibilities for how they might make decisions as composers of text. Laura said her students benefited greatly from two things: noticing the different and varied craft moves of such beloved authors as Kevin Henkes and Mo Willems and trying them out in their own compositions. She said their excitement over the realization that they, too, could use these moves in their writing was palpable!

[Listen to Episode 5]

As we came to the end of our mentoring sessions, we talked about how to incorporate strategies to help students learn and retain sight words. As many teachers who work with our youngest students know, it can be enormously difficult to balance phonics work and word play with opportunities to listen to and read connected text—not to mention everything else that teachers must juggle within what often seems like a few short hours! Laura and I also reflected on this unique experience we shared and the many ways in which it has impacted our work as educators.

[Listen to Episode 6]

Add comment October 5th, 2018

Newslinks: Spirited Classrooms

“Can we make sure kids are comfortable with making mistakes first and then fixing them second?”
–Brett Eberly, Teachers’ Corner Podcast


New! Teachers’ Corner Podcast
Our first Teachers’ Corner podcast—best practices for teachers by teachers—is now posted! Hear from authors Paula Bourque, Brett Eberly, and Matthew R. Kay as they talk about how teachers can prepare themselves and their classrooms for success. Tune in now.


Teaching Math

Ways to Revel—Not Struggle—in Math
Math author and coach Tracy Zager, author of Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, shares her vision of math class moving from “confusing and compliant” to “creative and spirited” during “Class in Session.” Listen on Cincinnati radio. (Program starts at 2:04.)

How to Facilitate Rather than Deliver
Mike Flynn, author of Beyond Answers, knows that a lot of students are hesitant when it comes to talking about math. In this two-minute video, he explains how to flip the “I do, you do, we do” approach.

Literacy and More

Three Tips for Classroom Libraries
A robust classroom library is a key way to build students’ lifelong love of learning. As the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) notes, “research demonstrates that equitable access to books promotes reading achievement and motivation.” Read the Council’s tips on how to build your own.

Adding Diverse Texts to Your Library for Reading AND Writing
Ruth Culham, author of Teach Writing Well, has some tips about how to be “really, really smart” about book choice. “When you intentionally include books with diversity in mind, you step it upbig time,” she writes.

The Case for Redos and Retakes
One of the most controversial issues in grading today: redos and retakes. Watch an interview with Rick Wormeli, author of Fair Isn’t Always Equal, where he posits that “schools are not set up for teaching,” before he takes on some challenging questions.

Review: Literacy Essentials
Read this educator’s take on Regie Routman’s “timely, robust, and relevant” Literacy Essentials. The book “is an excellent reminder that every teacher is a literacy teacher,” the review notes, adding that the “bulleted, succinct, common-sense lists [are] perfect to use as a resource.”

Creative Calendars for Kindergartners
A conversation between two Stenhouse authors, Katie Keier, co-author of Catching Readers Before They Fall, and Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, author of Math Exchanges, produced some fun ideas for working with kindergartners on the passage of time.

Add comment September 27th, 2018

Mentoring New Teachers, Episode 6

Welcome to the final episode of this season of our Mentoring New Teachers podcast! In our last episode, Laura and I explored the idea of using mentors–both professional and student mentors–to inspire students to write. As Laura shares with me in this episode, her students benefited greatly from 1) noticing the different and varied craft moves of such beloved authors as Kevin Henkes and Mo Willems and 2) trying them out in their own compositions. Their excitement over the realization that they, too, could use these moves in their writing was palpable!

In this episode, I offer Laura some advice about how to incorporate strategies for helping her students learn and retain sight words into her instructional routine. As many teachers who work with our youngest students know, it can be enormously difficult to balance phonics work and word play with opportunities to listen to and read connected text–not to mention everything else that teachers must juggle within what often seems like a few short hours! Because this is our final “formal” conversation for the podcast, Laura and I also reflect on this unique experience and the many ways in which it has impacted our work as educators.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through one classroom teacher’s first full year as a public school educator. We hope you have found lots to take away and try in your own classroom and/or share with others, whether you consider yourself a “novice,” a “veteran,” or somewhere in between. If so, please recommend this podcast to colleagues within your professional learning network. And if you have any advice for how we might improve this or future Stenhouse podcasts, we’d love to hear from you!


Add comment September 24th, 2018

Mentoring New Teachers, Episode 5

It’s hard to believe that this is the second to last episode of our Mentoring New Teachers podcast–we hope you have enjoyed it thus far! In our last episode, Laura and I discussed what she might do to help her kindergarteners gather the courage to practice decoding and encoding words as they become more and more aware of the variety of ways that letters and sounds combine to form words. In the interest of not adding anything more to her plate as a classroom teacher, I offered some suggestions for how she might encourage her students to take “healthy risks” with their words by modifying some of what she already does with them. In addition, I suggested some simple ways that Laura might incorporate additional multisensory work within her literacy stations as a fun way to help her students create even more neural pathways in the brain than they’ve already created as developing readers and writers.

In this episode, Laura and I talk about the power of using mentors–both professional mentors and student mentors–to inspire students to write while also opening up a world of possibilities for how they might make decisions as composers of text. While teaching students to write by focusing on specific genres or forms of writing can be useful, teaching them to notice and ask questions about the kinds of craft, organization, and illustration moves their mentors make–while also encouraging them to envision making these “moves” in their own work–can ultimately transcend any genre or form that students might compose. Because this kind of “noticing” and “wondering” work can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed by possibilities about where to go next in their teaching, we also briefly discussed how to then build responsive curricula for their student writers.




Coppola, Shawna. 2015. “Math, Literacy, and the Need for More Blank Paper.” The Educator Collaborative Community Blog


Dorfman, Lynne and Rose Cappelli. 2017. Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6 (Second Edition). Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse


Eickholdt, Lisa. 2015. Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing As Mentor Texts. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Ray, Katie. 1999. Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.


Add comment September 21st, 2018

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