August 14, 2023

3 Ways to Introduce Students to Books for Independent Reading

A book scavenger hunt, a book tasting, and a first line face off are activities that can be used to get students excited about independent reading.

In the first week of school, one of the most important things I do is introduce my students to our classroom library and make sure that they have a book that they love for our daily independent reading. If students are enthusiastic about reading at the start of the year, it so much easier to maintain that enthusiasm rather than trying to create it as the year goes on. 

Some of the activities I use to introduce students to the organization of my classroom library during the first week of school are activities like genre circles, a book sort, and book speed dating as well as a variety of book spine activities.

A few other possibilities for getting books into students' hands are using a book scavenger hunt, hosting a book tasting, and holding a first line face off. What I love about these three activities, all described below, is that they can be used at the start of the school year to get students excited about choice reading, but can also be repeated or used later in the school year when your choice reading routine needs to be reinvigorated.

August 7, 2023

My Approach to Teaching Grammar in Middle School: Reviewing The Basics

At the start of the year, we review the grammar basics: nouns, verbs, and adjectives with a choice writing piece called “Where I'm From."

My view of teaching grammar has changed dramatically over the years and I am on a mission to make it fun and enjoyable (as opposed to serious and tedious as it too often is). To teach grammar in a way that is both engaging and meaningful, I balance examining mentor texts,  going over “rules” of usage, and having students experiment with concepts in shorter and longer writing exercises. You can read more about the key elements of my grammar instruction here.

At the start of the year, we jump right into grammar by reviewing the basics: nouns, verbs, and adjectives with a choice writing piece called “Where I’m From,” inspired by a lesson from Linda Christensen’s book, Reading, Writing, and Rising Up. I usually introduce this lesson the very first week of school.