Literacy Links – Volume 15

literacy links


I hope everyone had a great break from school! Whenever I travel, I make a point to visit literary locations: bookstores, libraries, authors’ homes, etc. Over break, I visited my old stomping grounds in NYC and checked out the public library and Books Are Magic, a Brooklyn bookstore. It was, indeed, magical. The children’s section in the back had a hexagonal book nook that my two year-old thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait to go back!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:


Literacy Links – Volume 14

literacy links


Students as content creators is my jam. This week, my WINners (OMG, I’m totally calling them that from now on!) are working through the writing process to develop book recommendations of favorite books from their childhoods. On this WINners desk, we see a marked up text full of his reading thinking, pre-writing using a graphic organizer of his choice that we modeled, a flash draft, and a personal revising and editing checklists for himself, a partner, and the teacher. The WINners’ recommendations are going to be published in a book that will be on display in the library along with all of the books. We’re also giving a copy of the book recommendations to each kindergarten class to inspire their independent reading selections.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 13

literacy links

IMG_9854Fifth grader’s picture book recommendation pre-writing.

In our last two weeks of this WIN rotation, fifth graders are taking a break from the test prep version of writing about reading and, instead, focusing on a more purposeful, engaging form of writing about reading: telling their kindergarten buddies about their favorite picture books. They have each revisited their favorite picture books from their single digit age days to share with their buddies. They still have to provide reasons, evidence, and elaboration, but having a true audience has been so much more motivating. I can’t wait for students to collect their book recommendations and deliver the student-written book to each kindergarten classroom!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 12

literacy links


I love this series from Hey, Kiddo by local author, Jarrett Krosoczka, of Lunch Lady and Star Wars: Jedi Academy fame. I can’t help but think about students who *need* reading and writing as outlets, too. Are we providing them opportunities to express themselves? How can we incorporate more open-ended tasks in our jam-packed, short school day? Lots to consider.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 11

literacy links


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays? Nah–it’s the BOOK FAIR! There are SO many amazing titles being offered this round; I’m pretty sure my wishlist totals over $200. So many books, so few funds.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

HQTS: Making Literacy Toolkits

announcements, creating, literacy, professional resources, reading, writing


At the last PD day a couple weeks ago, the literacy coaches organized a variety of stations focusing on writing about reading. Teachers spent the majority of the morning exploring resources like the Literacy Continuum and Learning Progressions, analyzing student work, and calibrating assessment. They collected tons of ideas about what students need to be able to do as writers about reading and data about what their students were showing them. So what next? Here is where a toolkit will be a lifesaver.

If you’re a member of the Units of Study Facebook groups (if you haven’t joined them yet, DO IT!), I’m sure you’ve noticed people sharing ideas, asking questions about, and creating meetups for these toolkits. It’s a notebook, binder, or any kind of collection of tools you can use to support students’ literacy skills and strategies.

Based on your students’ demonstrations and understandings and your knowledge of what gets tricky for your unit/topic, you create a set of tools to support small group or one-on-one instruction. These tools are your teaching focuses, often a skill or strategy from a whole group minilesson with more scaffolds in place. The tools might get used during a small group lesson for which you’ve planned or you might pull one specific tool out to support an individual student that you noticed needing additional support during a conference. They are flexible and adaptable, which makes them incredibly useful.

Our HQTS Work



During our HQTS, we’ll explore resources, materials, and ideas to inspire us before getting into toolkit creation. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options, so I’ll be sharing the best of the best so you don’t have to weed through a bunch of Teachers Pay Teachers nonsense.

There will be so many things to consider: the focus of your toolkit (Reading fiction? Writing nonfiction? Theme? So many options.), the best tool for the job (Mini anchor chart? Microprogression? Leave-behind for students? Demonstration text?)  A toolkit that covered all of reading would be an inefficient beast. Instead, consider making a toolkit for nonfiction and fiction or even each unit. Whatever focus you choose, I’ll have sample toolkit pages for you to adapt, and as you create more, we’ll add to our Padlet to continue inspiring us.

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The thing I love most about starting a literacy toolkit is that it inspires you in so many new ways. When our HQTS is over, you’ll have at least one toolkit ready to use with students. However, I know it will also change and grow over time, and you may even leave with ideas for so many more toolkits.

Interested? Sign up here.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. 🙂


Literacy Links – Volume 10

literacy links

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I’m so grateful to be in a district that supplies its teachers with a classroom library. A teacher will always buy specific books that are popular or might interest particular students, but to have a foundation library is such a rare gift. Thank you, Longmeadow Public Schools.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 9

literacy links

This past Tuesday, the LPS literacy coaches led teachers in grades 2-5 in a morning of PD on writing about reading, and it was my favorite PD ever! As always, we used the Workshop Model structure, so that teachers had the most time to explore their choice of resources. So after a twenty minute minilesson to build some background knowledge on writing about reading, they floated from station to station as needed. The stations we planned included unpacking literacy resources like the Literacy Continuum and the Learning Progressions from the Units of Study, thin slicing student work samples, calibrating assessments, analyzing student work, and making a writing about reading toolkit. I, of course, left their 3-2-1 reflections in my car before I left for Seattle, but I can’t wait to review their reflections, provide feedback, and begin our coaching follow-up work.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Toolkit Ideas for Writing About Reading

literacy, professional resources, reading, test prep, writing

Made with Padlet

A quick search for “toolkits” in the Units of Study Facebook groups will yield dozens of posts with requests for and pictures of various toolkits. They are certainly a hot topic. However, I haven’t seen many that focus on writing about reading, a component of balanced literacy that students are expected to do throughout the year in a variety of contexts. As a result, we’ve begun gathering and creating some sample toolkit pages on this Padlet. Browse for inspiration, and post your writing about reading toolkit pages, too!

Literacy Links – Volume 8

literacy links


Nancie Atwell at Literacy for All 2018. Note the overhead projector. 😉

There’s nothing quite like meeting an literacy idol. I’ve loved Nancie Atwell’s ideas and school since I read In the Middle as part of my writing methods class in grade school. I’ve practically been counting the days until LFA 2018 since I saw the poster ad at the end of LFA 2017. So you know I sat in the front row of her session on writing conferences. My favorite line? “You get 15 exclamation points to use. During your whole life. Use them wisely.” I don’t think I’ve used one since. 🙂

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment: