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Keep, Change, Turn for the New School Year

Teaching requires a lot of hard work but the most important thing it requires is a reflective practitioner. The peace and slow pace of summer is a great time to sit at the pool or at Starbucks and think about what went well, what didn't go so well and what didn't work at all. I've been thinking about my teaching practices a lot over the last few weeks since school has been out because I know there are things that I need to change, keep, and do a 180 turn for the upcoming year to improve upon what works in my classroom. 
This past school year was a learning curve for me since it was my first teaching middle school coming from a high school setting and I had been out of the classroom for some time as a literacy coach. To understand my thought process, I need to front load what my typical demographics include: students with and without out a learning disability reading from K-4 reading levels all in the same class with a scripted program that doesn’t satisfy their needs. I als…
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Must Read When Setting up Literature Circles in Classrooms

Hands-down this book is a perfect starting point if you are interested in doing literature circles or book clubs in your classrooms. Daniels and Steineke have written numerous books on this process so they would be the go- to in the field when learning how to start this necessary activity with your students. I say necessary because there are too many classrooms that teachers are forced to teach tests and skills and fail to teach the love of lifelong reading. The first chapter of the book impresses upon readers the idea that our ultimate goal should be that. Literature circles allows students to be involved and committed namely because they are allowed to have choice and voice.
I like how the book not only focuses on the Why but also How. Some of the mini-lessons discussed are tried and tested in ELA classrooms such as book passes and book talks but the book gives you how to do it correctly and why it is important to be done.

The chapters are divided into How to get started, How to get…

Teaching Middle School Writers by Laura Robb Review

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I have hit the ground running with my professional development Books To Read (#BTR) list starting off with Laura Robb’s “Teaching Middle School Writers.” Even though I am a reading teacher, I am not sure how you teach reading without incorporating writing. My goal for the upcoming school year is to figure out how to best do it. Truth: I do not think my current model is the best. But reading this book has allowed me to fine tune, plug holes, and create a game plan for what will work best in my classroom for my students and their needs. This book covers a lot and is an easy read with ready to go strategies and lessons. It even includes a DVD of resources!  Robb starts out by looking at research. Research that she and others have performed to understand the reasons why middle schoolers write and the gaps betw…