Archive for March, 2012

Wanted: A few good Tweeters

If you are heading to IRA this year and you are planning on attending a session by a Stenhouse author, we’d love to hear from you! Share your “aha! moments,” great quotes from authors, and ideas that come to you during these sessions with those who can’t be there in person.

Stenhouse authors presenting at IRA:

Janet Allen (Wednesday, 1-2 p.m., “What Should Common in the Common Core Standards?”)
David Booth (Tuesday, 3-4:15 p.m., “Celebrating the Arts in the Reading Classroom”)
Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, “The Sisters” (Wednesday, 1-3 p.m., “The Daily 5: Fostering Independent and Enthusiastic Readers”)
Anne Burke (Tuesday, 9-11:45 a.m., “Technology in Literacy Education”)
Harvey Daniels and Jim Vopat (Wednesday, 9-11:45 a.m., “Exceeding the Standards with Nonfiction Writing and Text Sets”)
Cheryl Dozier (Monday, 10:30-noon, “Teacher Preparation and Professional Development”)
Debbie Diller (Wednesday, 9-10 a.m., “Use What You’ve Got: Creating Literacy Work Stations That Meet the Needs of All Readers with Rigor and Relevance”)
Charles Fuhrken (Monday, 4:45-5:45 p.m., “Making Comprehension County — in Reading Classrooms and on Tests”)
Kelly Gallagher (Tuesday, 1-2:30 p.m., “Write Like This: Teaching Real World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts”)
Kathy Ganske (Monday, 11-noon, “For the Love of Words: Engaging Elementary Students in Active Word Study”)
Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (Tuesday, 3-4 p.m., Comprehension Intervention: Targeted Small Group Instruction for Active Reading and Thinking”)
Peter Johnston (Monday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., “Big Ideas, Literacy Needs, and National Priorities”; Wednesday, 9-10:30 a.m., “Engaging Books, Engaging Talk, and Engaged Readers: The How and the Why”)
Steve Layne (Tuesday general session keynote speaker; Monday, 11-1:45 p.m., “Readin’, Writin’, and ‘rithmetic Revisited Through the Common Core Standards”; Wednesday, 9-10 a.m., “Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers”)
Kate Messner (Monday, 4:45-5:45 p.m., “Collaborating to Engage Readers: Learn How Librarian and Teacher Partnerships Can Increase Reading…”)
Mark Overmeyer (Monday, 3-4:45 p.m., “Writing to Meet the Language Arts Common Core Standards”)
Shelley Peterson (Monday, 12:30-2 p.m., Poster Sessions: “The Teaching of Writing in Canadian Middle Years Classrooms”)
Tony Stead (Wednesday, 9-11:45 a.m., “Strategies for Success in Reading and Writing Nonfiction”)
Alfred Tatum (Monday, 3-5:45 p.m., “Concerned Educators of Black Students: The Implementation of Innovative and Enriching Strategies”; Tuesday, 2:30-4 p.m., “Expanding the Lens of Literacy for African American Male Adolescents”)
Cris Tovani (Wednesday 9-11:45 a.m. – with Kelly Gallagher: “Beyond the Common Core: Pathways to Lifelong Literacy”)

So, if you are attending any of these sessions, send an email to by April 20. We need one Tweeter for each session and sessions will be assigned on a first-come basis.

You will be expected to send Tweets live from the session using a hashtag that we will assign.

Each guest Tweeter will receive one free Stenhouse book that you can pick up at the Stenhouse booth during the conference. Three lucky winners will be invited to attend the Stenhouse Author Party on Monday, April 30, where you will be able to meet your favorite Stenhouse authors in person.

Add comment March 29th, 2012

Now Online: Small Steps, Big Changes

Does progress toward high-quality mathematics instruction in your school or district proceed in fits and starts or lack a coordinated and sustained effort? Read about how principal Marco Ramirez and instructional coach Chris Confer broke out of old habits to create a successful model that produced lasting change in student achievement at their high-poverty school and schools across the country.

Small Steps, Big Changes tells the story of teachers who gradually shift their beliefs, build confidence, collaborate, troubleshoot problems, and enhance positive attitudes about math. Chris and Marco challenge teachers and administrators to become problem solvers and researchers as they build communities of mathematical excellence. And they distill “what it takes” for all students to be successful in mathematics and to sustain that success:

  • setting goals that translate high-level standards such as the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics into actual classroom practice;
  • creating a school culture of mathematical thinking, problem solving, and research;
  • using “knowledge packages” that organize staff thinking and help students clarify and connect mathematical ideas through concepts, skills, representations, strategies, and language;
  • fostering instructional habits such as embracing complexity, keeping math visible, encouraging student talk, and structuring lessons consistently.

Print copies of Small Steps, Big Changes are now shipping, and we’ve just posted the full text of the book for preview online.

Add comment March 28th, 2012

National Poetry Month is in April — are you ready?

We posted a wealth of resources on the Stenhouse website for National Poetry Month. Click here to download a Poetry E-Book Sampler that includes a collection of classroom ideas, lessons, and other tools for bringing poetry into your classroom. The sampler includes chapters from 14 books, including Debbie Diller’s Literacy Work Stations and Ann Marie Corgill’s Of Primary Importance.

You can also browse our selection of poetry-related books.

Add comment March 26th, 2012

News from the blogosphere

Here are a few tidbits we’ve found interesting around the blogosphere recently:

Herb Broda, author of Moving the Classroom Outdoors, wrote a guest post on the Children & Nature Network’s website recently. A recent study examining images of nature in children’s books found that those images are slowly disappearing. “Is that a concern? Absolutely! Picture books for children mirror the priorities and interests of society. In education we talk about the concept of the null curriculum—that which is taught because it is never mentioned. If children are seeing less and less of nature in what they read, the message being conveyed is that nature really isn’t an important part of day-to-day living,” writes Broda.

You can read the full article here. Moving the Classroom Outdoors was also mentioned in this article about a trailblazing principal in Pennsylvania.

– – –

Erik Palmer’s recent book Well Spoken received a fun and informative review on the blog RAMS English. ”

“Who hit the mute button on public speaking in the English classroom? Seems there’s less and less of it, and when teachers do send their students to the front of the class, they quickly give up the practice for the very reasons they should be redoubling their efforts — the students’ propensity for whispering, mumbling, fidgeting, forgetting what to say, and stringing together unconscious fillers like “um,” “uh,” “and,” “so,” “then,” and (Odin help us) “like.”

It’s, like, maddening.”

Read the full review on RAMS English.

– – –

Our very own Mark Overmeyer was recently honored as the 2012 Catherine Canny Award Honoree at the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Luncheon . He’s been a teacher at Cherry Creek for over 20 years. Congrats, Mark!

– – –

Amanda Villagomez, a middle-school teacher in Oregon, recently reviewed Kelly Gallagher’s book Write Like This. “Kelly Gallagher’s Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling & Mentor Texts made me even more excited to be going back to my 6-8 language arts classroom next fall. As with his other books I loved his voice and convictions related to teaching.”

She was also inspired by Living the Questions by Brenda Power and Ruth Shagoury.

Add comment March 21st, 2012

Inside Notebooks — Lynne Dorfman

In the latest installment of our Stenhouse author notebook series, Lynne Dorfman shares pages from her writer’s notebook. Why do you keep a notebook? Upload a photo to our Facebook page and you could win a free Stenhouse book!

I love to write ideas down in different colored pens and watch the words spill onto a notebook page.  It’s both comforting and energizing to watch the flow from brain to hand to pen to page!  I use my notebook to write about people, places, and objects that I love or that I find unique in some way. My notebook is filled with snapshots of friends, relatives, and pets.  Rich descriptions of Long Beach Island, the Poconos, my grandma’s house, the stables, and my East Mt. Airy neighborhood are some of my favorite entries.

My notebook is always a place to store lists.  For example, after reading Names for Snow by Judi K. Beach I had the urge to brainstorm a list of names for autumn.  I came up with names such as Leaf Dropper, Best Dressed Gal, and Masquerader.   I love making lists because they often help me find a topic I want to write about or research.  My notebook is a place for memory chains, my heart and hand map, and my neighborhood map.  I put photos, ticket stubs, and clips from magazines and newspapers that will serve as memory joggers or topics I want to explore.  A running theme in all my notebooks is my grandfather, Alexander William Sulima.  I have so many snippets about all the things he taught me to do and to appreciate.

Finally, I use my notebook to study the work of other authors.  I explore their writing using the advice of Katie Wood Ray in Wondrous Words. Mentor texts are imitated here before I use them in classroom communities where I  write for and with talented, young writers.  I could not imagine a writer’s workshop without the notebook as a central part of how  writers live their daily lives.  I am grateful to Ralph Fletcher, Aimee E. Buckner, and Katie Wood Ray for all their advice and inspiration they have provided in their professional publications about writer’s notebook!

1 comment March 20th, 2012

Poetry Friday: Two poems by Nick Flynn

Award-winning poet and playwright Nick Flynn, coauthor (with Shirley McPhillips) of A Note Slipped Under the Door, is getting a lot of attention lately: his memoir describing a chance reunion with his estranged father is the basis of the new film Being Flynn, starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano. We spoke with him this week via telephone and he graciously agreed to read two of his poems for us:

1 comment March 16th, 2012

Inside notebooks: Rose Cappelli

I am sure that Rose Cappelli is not the only one who has quite a collection of notebooks. She shares a picture here along with some thoughts about how notebooks are like “pockets.” Rose is the coauthor of Mentor Texts and Nonfiction Mentor Texts.

I remember reading A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You and thinking about how Ralph Fletcher compared notebooks to different objects, each with a different purpose. I knew right away that my notebook was like a pocket – a place where I stuff lots of things, including ideas. In any of my notebooks you might find newspaper clippings, copies of poems, letters, emails, scraps of paper scrawled with book suggestions, even a fortune from a fortune cookie stuck between the pages. And, there are lots of lists – lists of books, lists of words, lists of memories.

You can see several of my notebooks in the picture. I only write in one at a time, but I love looking through the old ones to see where I’ve been, what I’ve tried from mentor texts and authors, and what I may look at again from a fresh perspective. My notebooks help me move forward in my writing and my thinking, but they are always a place to come home to.

1 comment March 14th, 2012

Inside notebooks — Liz Hale

We continue our Stenhouse author notebook series with an entry from Liz Hale, author of Crafting Writers, K-6. Don’t forget to upload a picture and a description of your notebook for a chance to win a free Stenhouse book! Just visit our Facebook page to upload your photo.

Before I start a new chapter for a book, I always take out my white, legal notepad where I write out and sketch my ideas. Even though I type faster than I write, I much prefer the freedom that comes with a notebook.   These lined pages have no expectations of me and they match the messy process of brainstorming and planning.  I can spill out my ideas and see them all in front of me like a dumped bag of pick-up sticks.  Then, by adding phrases, crossing out sentences, and drawing arrows and stars, I can start making sense of what I want to include in the chapter.

Technology, of course, also offers these features of moving, crossing out, and highlighting text.  But there is something about using a pen on paper that, for me, can’t be replaced for this kind of thinking.  I like the feel and purity of the ballpoint pen on paper and the simplicity that involves no batteries, software or electricity.  Unlike the Word document pages of my laptop, which have a crisp, hurried New York City feel to them, my notebook pages offer a space away from that place where the product reigns supreme.  With my pen and paper, I am not rushed.  My hands slow down, my thinking slows down and the simple, unassuming paper doesn’t mind.

Add comment March 13th, 2012

You are never too old for read-aloud

We hope you enjoyed the World Read Aloud Day celebrations yesterday and that you had a chance to read or listen to a story.

To wrap up the read-aloud day events, we want to share a lovely blog post by author Kate Messner (Real Revision).

“…I believe read-alouds have special powers.  They do. Powers to bring us together and create a shared reading experience that’s different from the one we have, even if we’re reading the same novel on our own, at the same time.”

Read the full post on Kate’s blog and find out why you are never too old for a read-aloud!

2 comments March 8th, 2012

World Read Aloud Day

Welcome to World Read Aloud Day!

We are very excited to participate this year and we are even more excited to bring you some of our own authors reading from their books and poems. Visit the LitWorld website and Twitter page for other happenings around the country and the blogosphere and share with us how you have celebrated this day.

We are going to start out by sharing a blog post written by Mary Lee Hahn (Reconsidering Read-Aloud) about the power of read aloud. After you read the post scroll down to see Ralph Fletcher, Carolyn Coman, Jennifer Jacobson, and Georgia Heard read their own work. It’s like having them right there in your classroom!

I have been considering and reconsidering read-aloud in print for ten years and in classroom practice for almost thirty years. When I attempt to distill the power of read- aloud, it always comes down to community.

Read-aloud builds a community of readers.

Read-aloud is the common thread that ties together all of the listeners in the classroom. It gives them books in common, authors in common, stories in common, and characters in common. Read-aloud is when we think together, laugh together, and sometimes cry together.

Read-aloud is the dock where we tie up all of our reading canoes, the airport where we land our reading airplanes, the parking lot where we park our reading cars.

Read-aloud is a movie theater where everyone in the audience hears the same soundtrack, even though the screen and the pictures are inside each head.

Read-aloud is what solitary readers can do together. It’s a book club, only better, because the conversations don’t just happen after everyone has read the book in isolation. We talk about the book all the way through. Sometimes there’s no time left over to read the book because we’ve spent so much time talking about it. And that’s okay, because read-aloud has a permanent spot on the classroom’s daily schedule. The book will be there, waiting for us tomorrow. We can plan on read-aloud. We can depend on read-aloud.

Read-aloud builds readers.

Read-aloud is the constant in the changing swirl of classroom content. It’s the learning time that demands both the most and the least of a learner. It’s a time, I was told by a student once, to “learn without trying.” The listener takes from the read-aloud what he or she can or will on a day-to-day basis.

Read-aloud might be the book that none of the listeners would ever read independently. Read-aloud provides a life vest, a climbing harness, a parachute, a safety net to support readers through topics or ideas or genres or events in history that they could never or would never attempt on their own. Read-aloud stretches minds. Read-aloud opens doors. Read-aloud breaks down barriers.

Read-aloud cannot be measured or programized or standardized or equalized or regimented. It is organic. Everything depends on the teacher, the book, and the listeners.

Read-aloud can never be the same thing twice. Read-aloud is an art, not a science. The reader paints meaning with book choice, inflection, intonation, sound effects, pauses, and discussion. The listener begins by viewing the reader’s paintings but often ends up inhabiting the paintings—becoming the characters, experiencing the settings, living the story.

Build can mean “construct,” “establish,” or “increase.” Read-aloud builds community, and read-aloud builds readers.

ANDY SHANE AND THE VERY BOSSY DOLORES STARBUCKLE. Text copyright © 2005 by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Abby Carter. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
THE MEMORY BANK by Carolyn Coman is used by permission of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.  Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Coman.  All rights reserved.

2 comments March 7th, 2012

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