Archive for November, 2018

In the Mood for Reading and Thinking

“When provided with authentic opportunities for close reading that transfer to their real reading lives, students want to keep reading, learning, and thinking as their understanding takes shape.”
—Amy Stewart, Little Readers, Big Thinkers

The Richness of Reading

The Power of Close Reading
Amy Stewart’s new book Little Readers, Big Thinkers: Teaching Close Reading in the Primary Grades showcases ways that close reading can teach even the youngest students new ways to enjoy texts, think about them critically, and share that thinking with peers and adults. You can pre-order here.

What is Regie Routman Reading?
Regie Routman, a voracious reader and author of Literacy Essentials, shares a wide-ranging list of book suggestions and contemplates the power of finely drawn characters in novels, nonfiction, and old favorites.

Literacy Treasures
Ways to teach with children’s and young adult literature is the focus of this blog, co-written by Stenhouse author Katie Cunningham. Explore the trove of book reviews, classroom ideas, book lists, and more. Cunningham is the author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning.

In the Mood?
Thinking about moods is an excellent way to access texts—both written and visual. In this short video, Trevor Bryan, author of The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence, explains his “access lenses,” which prompt students to explore faces, body language, and sound/silence in art and reading.

Overcoming Barriers to Math

Creating Successful Classrooms
We want kids to like math. So why is it that math is often the barrier preventing students from having a rich secondary or post-secondary experience? Geoff Krall tackles that question in his new book Necessary Conditions: Teaching Secondary Math with Academic Safety, Quality Tasks, and Effective Facilitation. Read his additional reflections here.



Advocating for Professional Development
Sometimes it’s difficult to convince your school that professional development conferences are a smart investment. Stenhouse author Paula Bourque, aka “the Lit Coach Lady,” provides the 10 compelling reasons she shared with her school board.

To Know and Nurture a Reader
In the “clean and clear” To Know and Nurture a Reader, Kari Yates and Christina Nosek make conferencing “accessible for those of us who are still struggling to make it ‘just right,’” notes this new Amazon review.

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

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

Add comment November 30th, 2018

Here’s What’s Happening at NCTM, 2018 in Seattle, WA!

Stenhouse authors come to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) annual conference each year bringing new resources and delivering innovative and inspiring presentations. This year will be no different with the release of new exciting titles, such as Necessary Conditions by Geoff Krall and Digging Deeper by Ruth Parker and Cathy Humphreys and an invigorating opening session with Christopher Danielson.

Below is a rundown of the not-to-miss presentations by Stenhouse authors, and don’t forget to go to booth # 415 and preview the new titles!

Wednesday, 11/28

5:30–7:00 p.m. Christopher Danielson, author of How Many? and Which One Doesn’t Belong? and Melissa Gresalfi will kick off the conference with their opening session: “Play is the Ninth Mathematical Practice!” They will explain how mathematicians’ work and children’s mathematical play are connected through exploration guided by curiosity and a pursuit of something interesting and beautiful. (Ballroom 6ABC)

Thursday, 11/29

8:00–9:15 a.m. Geoff Krall, author of Necessary Conditions will host a workshop called “Necessary Conditions: Essential Elements for Secondary Math” where participants will examine the three crucial elements of a successful secondary classroom: quality tasks, effective facilitation, and academic safety. (4 C4)

9:45–11:00 a.m. Allison Hintz, author of Intentional Talk will join two other presenters to host a workshop called “Story Time STEM: Engaging Students in Sense-Making Discussion Through Children’s Literature” where you will think about how to approach literature with a mathematical lens and support students’ sense making through discussion of stories. (608)

9:45–11:00 a.m. Christopher Danielson will present “The Hierarchy of Hexagons: An Example of Geometry Inquiry,” a general inquiry session in which participants will develop hexagon classification schemes, ask about relationships, and maybe even prove a few new theorems! (602/603)

1:30–2:45 p.m. Megan Franke, co-author of Choral Counting & Counting Collections, will explore how attending to the details and partial understandings of children’s thinking can enable teachers to engage students in learning together, making use of the resources that each student brings in her session, “Children’s Thinking (CGI): How We Notice, Support, and Extend to Enhance Equity.” (4 C4)

3:00–4:00 p.m. Michael Flynn, author of Beyond Answers, will explore how to mathematize hands-on science as participants launch rockets, mix chemicals, and program robots in his session “Modeling with Mathematics in Science Class: Maximizing Opportunities to Enrich the STEM Experience.” (4 C3)

5:00–5:30 p.m. Michael Flynn, in this burst session, “Powerful Moments in Math Class: Why Certain Experiences Stand Out and How We Create More of Them” participants will learn how to create memorable mathematical experiences for all students. (613/614)

Friday, 11/30

3:15–4:30 p.m. Elham Kazemi, co-author of Choral Counting & Counting Collections, will work with participants and a team of educators to learn, plan, and rehearse a routine instructional activity, playing out how to respond to students’ ideas and cultural funds of knowledge in the workshop, “Experience the Power of Rehearsals & Teacher Time-Outs to Grow in Our Visions of Teaching for Equity.” (606)

If you are unable to attend the conference this year, be sure to follow us on Twitter @stenhousepub and get live updates directly from the presentations, as well as photos of your favorite authors!

Add comment November 27th, 2018

Raising Student Voice with Stenhouse Authors

Last week, authors, educators, and presenters came to Houston, TX from all over the country to celebrate students’ voices and the impact they make on the world. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference offered a variety of dynamic presentations and workshops that showed us how we can raise student voice in our own classrooms through meaningful conversations, reflective mentor texts, and imaginative writing, empowering them to take an ownership of their learning that they can carry with them year after year.

“We have to start saying a whole lot less if we want our students to start saying a whole lot more,” Kari Yates, co-author of To Know and Nurture a Reader

Stenhouse authors brought thoughtful, actionable ideas to NCTE that showed teachers how they can raise students’ voices in their own classrooms. Here are a few examples.

Tough Conversations Are…Tough

Matthew R. Kay, author of Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom, along with two other presenters, kicked of the conference with a powerful presentation, “Talking Race: Pushing Past the Superficial to the Conversations Our Students Need.” In this energetic presentation where passionate teachers spilled onto the floor finding whatever small patch of space they could, Kay encouraged them to have the tough conversations. “You cannot packet or activity your way into better race conversations,” said Kay. “The tough conversations are tough.” He explained that giving your students a safe place to have uncomfortable conversations about race will only enable them to take pride in their own voices and start to understand that they can impact the world through their words, verbal or written.

The Power of Conversation in Grammar Instruction

At an in-booth mini-session, Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca, authors of Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, showed teachers that grammar instruction doesn’t have to be about worksheets and correcting what is wrong. Grammar instruction can happen through meaningful conversations about authentic literature. “What if we create a world where readers and writers are in awe of language, linger within a text, and draw on possibilities and inspiration for their writing?” Said Anderson. This short, lively, and humor-filled session delivered the clear message that teachers can communicate the conventions of language by guiding conversations that cover meaning making, discovery, effect, and purpose–something you can’t do with a worksheet.

Let Students Lead the Way to Better Responsive Teaching

Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, authors of Who’s Doing the Work? Lesson Sets along with Kari Yates and Christina Nosek, authors of To Know and Nurture a Reader delivered an inspiring presentation called “Responsive Teaching: The Courage to Follow the Lead of the Reader” in which they showed teachers the importance of knowing your students well in order to know how to respond. “We can’t be responsive teachers until we really know what’s going on with our students,” according to Yates who went on to give tips and recommendations on ways teachers can trust students to take the lead, “expertly teaching us about their reading lives.” They reminded teachers that taking time to get to know your students better through meaningful conferences and reading their writing is worth it to become a better responsive teacher. Burkins reminded us that “Being responsive is about seeing students, understanding and responding based on the love and expertise of the teacher.”

This was only a sample of the inspiring and motivational presentations that happen at these national conferences. If, however, you’re unable to attend, you can go to and discover the many books and classroom resources that will enhance your professional learning in the comfort of your own home.

1 comment November 26th, 2018

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Fourteen Gratitude Habits

Are you tired, wired, and running in circles? Are you in survival mode? Lisa Lucas, author of Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers, knows the feeling. And she has a wealth of tips to emerge from the numbness. Cultivating the habit of gratitude is one of her go-to strategies. As we approach Thanksgiving, Lisa shares her take on gratitude, which she thinks of as the essence of presence.

by Lisa Lucas

You become what you think about all day long. The thoughts you think, repeated over and over, become your mind-set. Gratitude opens pathways in the brain that help us become healthier. A thankful thought doesn’t just remain in your mind; it flows, circulates, and expands.

If you could choose just one of these practices, and make it habitual, you would begin to actually rewire your brain to notice what’s good rather than what’s bad.

1. Begin every day by identifying five things to be grateful for. Sometimes I go through the alphabet, each day focused on things that begin with the letter of the day. Or at night, I go through the entire alphabet, thinking of one thing for each letter that I’m grateful for.

2. I’m grateful to Brother David Steindle-Rast, a Benedictine monk for this idea: Each morning, choose a theme for the day. My favorite focus is the sun. Every time I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, see a sunrise or a sunset, I am instantly filled with gratitude.

3. Exchange annoyance for gratefulness. Bring to mind someone at work that you feel annoyed with. Now imagine if the person were no more. It can put things into perspective really quickly.

4. Visit the past and recall a difficult time. If we reflect on the trials we’ve faced, we often realize that it is the difficult times when we grow the most. This can help us savor and appreciate when things are good.

5. Abstain from something that you love for four days. Notice how much more you appreciate it when you reintroduce it back to your life.

6. Say ‘thank you’ when things go right. Mean it, feel it, and even better—record it.

7. Express to others verbally what they have done to make you feel grateful. Be specific. Tell them what they did, how it made you feel, and why.

8. Put your gratitude in writing. Send a short text or e-mail, or better yet, a card or note that is a tangible reminder for someone else that his or her act of kindness counted.

9. Reach out. Hug someone who you feel grateful to have in your life. Touch activates the vagus nerve and can release oxytocin.

10. Find a gratitude mantra, prayer, or sentence—anything that you can repeat throughout the day.

11. Create a happy file. Save any sincere thank you that you receive and revisit them on the days when you are struggling to remember the good in your life.

12. Notice others being kind to one another. This cultivates empathy and activates our mirror neurons, which activate as we observe–as if we ourselves had acted kindly.

13. When you can’t sleep, count your blessings. Substantial research indicates that grateful people sleep better and spend less time awake before falling asleep.

14. End your day by recording in a gratitude journal three things each day that you are grateful for.

Recent research has shown that those who frequently feel and express gratitude appear to enjoy their work more, are more optimistic, and are more likely to help and support others. Sounds like all of us could use a dose of gratitude to kick off the holiday season.

Tune into Lisa’s VoiceEd Radio podcast for more on gratitude and practicing presence.

1 comment November 20th, 2018

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

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