Creating opportunities for frank and healthy student conversations about social issues is especially significant as we face a global pandemic that affirms our humanity. Middle grades teacher Nancy Costanzo’s read alouds and writing ideas can help online and in class.
After 17 years Mary Tarashuk finds her memory-laden purple bookshelf can no longer carry the load. As she moves her read aloud novels to a brightly lit window shelf, she checks in with her collection to determine which 4th grade favorites will star in the new school year.
Teacher think alouds are great for grades 4-8, says author Molly Ness. “The goal is to provide less savvy readers with a play-by-play of what you – as a skilled reader – think while reading.” The secret is planning. They may sound spontaneous but must be choreographed.
How can we help students build understanding and empathy for people and cultures outside their own experience? Librarian Rita Platt launched the Books Without Borders reading challenge at her school. See how she does it. Materials and tips on acquiring books included!
Teacher read alouds work with middle graders, too. Literacy specialist and ELL coach Valentina Gonzalez describes why and how reading fiction, nonfiction, even picture books, aloud to young adolescents can advance learning. Included: specific strategies and resources.
Trying to “fit it all in” can lead to frustration and lost opportunities for new educators. As 4th grade teacher Mary Tarashuk looks back to her own first year, she recalls her preoccupation with the ticking clock and how she learned to take time for what matters.
As teens respond en masse to the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, the story of a girl who chooses suicide, Mary Tarashuk considers how difficult topics can be part of learning for her 4th graders and how their read-alouds and personal writing can build empathy.
Mary Tarashuk has been so involved in deadlines and paperwork she’s barely had time to reconnect with the reasons she loves teaching. But here in November she finds a way to recapture the classroom magic and “Do Something Meaningful” with her fourth graders.
Mary Tarashuk looks beyond her formal annual review to consider her personal assessment portfolio. Her students have learned “a bit about compassion, sympathy, empathy, the importance of friendship and community. This is the true measure of my Affectiveness.”
Students’ success in making connections – whether listening, writing, or linking ideas with bits of yarn – is essential to learning. Mary Tarashuk sees those connections in her 4th graders’ notebooks and in their eyes. But can PARCC prompts capture them?