Archive for January, 2012

“Old” skills for a new century

Visual literacy, technology savvy, and keeping up with new technologies are all necessary skills for students. But Erik Palmer, author of Well Spoken argues that in the meantime we should not forget the traditional skills of reading, writing, and speaking, as skills that are vital to success in and out of the classroom.

He just published an article in the Colorado Reading Council Journal, where he writes that “new skills are needed in the 21st century, but few students will succeed if they don’t master letters—reading, writing, and speaking them. Of those three, speaking has become far more important as technology has advanced. If you ask people what skills they consider to be “cutting edge,” it is unlikely anyone would mention speaking skills. Yet in the new decade and beyond, a seemingly retro skill like verbal communication actually is cutting edge and is becoming more crucial to success.”

Read the full article here, and then check out two other pieces by Erik in AMLE’s e-newsletter and in the CATE journal.

3 comments January 31st, 2012

Preview clip from Mark Overmeyer

We just posted a preview clip from Mark Overmeyer’s upcoming video How Can I Support You? Strategies for Effective Writing Conferences. In his new video you can watch Mark as he conducts six individual writing conferences and one group conference with students in grades three and five. Mark describes how he uses conferences to meet the needs of all writers, including beginning English language learners, advanced students, and students who struggle to develop their ideas. A bonus section includes a peer conference with Mark’s comments about how to help students support each other.

Add comment January 25th, 2012

Now Online: Living the Questions — Second Edition

Gardening rather than agriculture is the analogy for education.
—Lawrence Stenhouse

For many years, teachers have criticized education research for not being relevant to their needs, or for being written in a way that fails to connect with classroom practice. Teacher research—an extension of everyday teacher inquiry and reflective practice—starts with a pressing question or problem, and the solution can produce immediate benefits in the classroom.

Thoroughly revised and expanded, the second edition of Living the Questions takes you step-by-step through designing and implementing research projects that inform instruction. Presenting a variety of rich examples of real projects from teachers across the country, Ruth Shagoury and Brenda Power help you hone your inquiry skills and better understand your students, while developing your own community of researchers.

The new edition incorporates new technologies for conducting research, analysis, and sharing/networking; offers more short examples from a greater diversity of teacher-researchers; and provides many more research designs.

Living the Questions will inspire you to take the leap into a rewarding and fulfilling process of discovery. Preview the entire text online!

Add comment January 23rd, 2012

Spring into our new titles!

We just posted our exciting lineup of new books and videos for spring 2012! Several of these books are already available to order, the rest will be arriving in our warehouse soon.

I See What You Mean: Visual Literacy K-8 (Second Edition)
Steve Moline
Now available!

What Are you Thinking? Conferring in Reader’s Workshop (DVD)
Patrick Allen
Now available!

What Every Middle School Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests (From Someone Who Has Written Them)
Charles Fuhrken
Now available!

Living the Questions: A Guide for Teacher-Researchers (Second Edition)
Ruth Shagoury and Brenda Miller Power
Now available!

Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics
Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez
Available in March

Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives
Peter Johnston
Now available!

Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay
Kimberly Hill Campbell and Kristi Latimer
Available in April

How Can I Support You? Strategies for Effective Writing Conferences (DVD)
Mark Overmeyer
Available in February

Add comment January 20th, 2012

A welcome from Lynne and Rose

We mentioned earlier on this blog that Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, authors of Mentor Texts and Nonfiction Mentor Texts started a new blog and website recently. Lynne and Rose wanted to personally welcome Stenhouse readers to their new venture, so here is a brief message from them:

Setting up a website and blog was something we have wanted to do for a long time. We have met so many wonderful teachers in the past few years that have come to our conference presentations or workshops in schools and who asked for ways to keep in touch with us. So, with a little help from colleague Kate Tiedeken, we have taken the dive into technology.

At the heart of Mentor Texts with Lynne and Rose ( is our blog. Each of us has a separate blog space where we can share our thinking on a variety of topics and let readers in on our current personal and professional experiences. We hope this space will help us dialogue with teachers to share ideas and reflections.

Two of the most popular features of our books, the Your Turn lessons and the Treasure Chest of Books, are also a part of our site. In Books Too Good to Miss we will be reviewing new books we come across and discussing how they might be used for writing or reading lessons. Of course, new books (and even some old ones we look at with new eyes) lead to new writing lessons that we will share with our readers as well. From time to time we will also review professional books on the teaching of writing or reading.

From time to time we will also give readers a glimpse into our writing notebooks – memories that are sparked, writing we are trying out, thinking we are engaging in or reflecting on.  Hopefully, our writing will spark an idea or thought that our readers can write from or try out themselves.

We hope you will visit our site to gain practical tips for writing workshop and be encouraged to write in your own notebooks. Teachers of writers are teachers who write. Please join us in our conversations!

Add comment January 19th, 2012

Now Online: Opening Minds

A child asks a question. Do we answer it? If so, how? How long do we wait before we answer it? If not, what do we say? A child successfully accomplishes something—or fails to. We have another opportunity to say something, but what? My intention with this book is to offer a basis for choosing more productive talk—how to make the most of those opportunities children offer us.

Expanding on the ideas in his groundbreaking book Choice Words, Peter Johnston explores the lasting impact that subtle differences in teacher language can have on children and their view of the world in his new book, Opening Minds. You’ll discover how your words can:

  • encourage students to view their abilities and traits as dynamic and malleable rather than hopelessly fixed;
  • portray change, mistakes, uncertainty, and disagreement as a normal part of learning and accomplishment;
  • invite conversations that are focused on problem-solving and learning processes;
  • create a classroom culture of feedback that avoids the pitfalls of personal praise and judgment;
  • encourage classroom dialogue and collaborative inquiry through engaging questions;
  • enhance social imagination and moral development.

Filled with concrete examples, Opening Minds will change the way you think about talk in your classroom and guide you toward more effective interactions with students. It’s available now, and you can preview the entire book online.

Add comment January 18th, 2012

A few bits from around the web

– Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, authors of Mentor Texts and Nonfiction Mentor Texts, used their winter vacation wisely and set up a new website and blog. At Mentor Texts with Lynne & Rose you can find information about their books, upcoming presentations, a link to their blog, and a peek inside their writer’s notebook.

– If you are an EdWeek Book Club member, you probably already received information about the upcoming book club discussion of Kelly Gallagher’s new title, Write Like This. Here is some information about the book and details of the discussion. It’s not too late to sign up!

– Are you a book nerd? It’s OK! We all are! So check out this new blog started by Donalyn Miller, book whisperer extraordinaire, along with teachers Colby Sharp and Cindy Minnich. But the blog includes contributions from many, many like-minded readers, teachers, writers — all book nerds, just like you!

– If you have a bit of a notebook obsession — collecting them, writing in them, smelling their pages — head over to Ruth Ayres’ blog Ruth Ayres Writes where you can watch a fun video she put together of all of her notebooks. (Ruth is the coauthor of Day by Day.) What does your notebook look like? Did you start a new one with the new year?

1 comment January 10th, 2012

Now Online: What Every Middle School Teachers Needs to Know About Reading Tests

How can you empower your students to do well on standardized reading tests without sacrificing quality instruction?

In his new book, What Every Middle School Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests, Charles Fuhrken shares his behind-the-scenes insights as a test writer, demystifying tests and saving you valuable time.

Following the same format as his previous book, What Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests, Charles provides a host of strategies and activities for mastering test items across all of the commonly assessed reading standards. He demonstrates how students can learn the language of tests and apply their knowledge on test day.

This is a resource that you’ll turn to again and again as you integrate test prep into everyday reading work, enhancing your teaching of vocabulary development, literary techniques, interpretation, comprehension, and more. It’s available now, and you can preview the whole book online.

Add comment January 9th, 2012

New Year, New Goals

We begin 2012 in very good company: As the first blog post of the year, Teri Lesesne shares her new year’s resolutions for staying active as a reader and writer. To mark this occasion, we are offering a special package of Teri’s two books, Making the Match and Naked Reading at a special price. Check out the package here and then visit us again in February and March, when Teri will talk about her LOVE of reading and will lead us in a MARCH into books.

So tell us, what is your new year’s resolution when it comes to reading and writing?

New Year,  New Goals

I am a list maker.  There is something satisfying about making that list and then checking items off as they are completed.  Of course, no list is ever complete; it simply morphs into a new list.  As the new year opens, my first list centers on some New Year’s Resolutions.  My professional goals are simple and to the point.  I resolve to read more and to write more.  Now, for the tough part:  how to accomplish these goals?

Reading More

  1. Set aside the time: As I wait for the coffee to finish brewing in the morning, I sit down with a book. Generally, I can read a chapter before coffee is ready. Sometimes I manage a few more pages as I sip that first cup. In fifteen minutes a day, a person can read an average of more than a million words a year or about 20 books.  If you are a commuter, add audiobooks to your drive time.  Make sure your devices have books loaded for that time when you are kept waiting somewhere.
  2. Join a reading community: Paul W. Hankins, a high school English teacher in Indiana formed a Facebook group a couple of years ago.  Those of us who joined the community pledged to read 100 books that year.  We posted our progress monthly. This was sort of like a support group for us all.  It kept us on track. So, gather a few colleagues around you who will join in your resolution to read more.
  3. Make a realistic goal: My personal reading goal each year is to read one more book than I read the year before.  So, if you have been dormant for a while, start small.  If 100 books seems daunting, settle on a number that is realistic for you and your situation.
  4. Monitor your progress: Goodreads can help you monitor your progress once your goal is set.  Once you set up an account, you can enter your reading goal and Goodreads will monitor your progress for you.  Basically, I keep an open  file on my desktop each month where I enter the titles of the books I have read.
  5. Save for that rainy day:  I love a rainy weekend.  It provides just the excuse I need to sit and curl up with some books.  I have a separate TBR (to be read) stack for those days: books that I want to read in one huge gulp instead of tiny sips.  Sometimes I have a big stack of picture books for those rainy days.  At an average of 32 pages per book, I can knock out quite a few picture books on a dreary weekend.  And I have found there are many picture books that work across the grade levels.

Where does the writing come in?  I write daily on my blog. Most of the time I write about the books I am reading.  However, from time to time another topic presents itself.  My blog is informal and personal.  It is also, though, a place to explore ideas and issues that might later evolve into longer pieces of writing.  You might opt for a notebook.  Even annotating a text by jotting notes and comments in the margins (or using these features with an e-reader) is writing.  Readers and writers do not operate in a vacuum; they are part of a larger community.  I hope you will join me this new year as I resolve once more to be active in my development as a reader and a writer.

16 comments January 3rd, 2012

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