Review: ReadWriteThink

One school where I taught decided to develop an intervention course for students behind grade level in literacy. We decided to create the course ourselves, rather than relying on an expensive program from a publisher – and, while that decision saved us money and provided curricular freedom, it brought with it the challenge of locating free resources to aid in meaningful lesson planning. I wish ReadWriteThink had existed back then! (Who couldn’t use free literacy resources?)
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Review: NowComment.com for Close Reading

NowComment.com offers a no-strings, totally free service to facilitate detailed discussions about texts – and this is a great resource for teachers seeking to engage students in deep analysis. Students can use the interface to do a close reading of a poem, a passage from literature, a historical document, an informational article, or even a math word problem.
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Celebrate Success

When I taught high school English, I spent countless nights waking up at 2am, feverishly thinking about everything I had to do the next day – from making copies to designing lessons to grading papers. I would lie awake, with my mind leaping from topic to topic until I finally gave up on sleep and started my day. I’d even get to work at 5am sometimes. A friend of mine, who suffered the same malady, called this “Monkey Mind” – how we’d just leap from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging on tree branches in the jungle. I learned later this same phrase is also a Buddhist one for “anxiety” or “restlessness.”
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Review: ReadWorks.org

Are you trying to increase literacy across content areas? If so, you probably want to bookmark ReadWorks.org right now! Of the site’s features, this powerful search interface really sets these free literacy resources above the rest.
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Review: CK12.org for Math and Science

If you haven’t clicked on CK12.org for Math or Science content, do yourself a favor and bookmark the site immediately. Accounts are free, and the available content is high quality and dynamic. For me, the beauty of CK12.org happens after I click on a content area and look at the list of available topics. Check out, for example, this link for CK12’s Algebra offerings. The sheer volume of topics from which to choose is quite impressive.
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Recasting the “At-Risk” Student

When I first read this item from Education Week, I immediately thought of a former colleague, an urban principal, who had the same idea a few years earlier: he identified the most “at-risk” boys and girls in our high school, and then invited them to monthly meetings (the “Boys Leadership Team” and the “Girls Leadership Team”). The idea was to see if imagining students in a different context (and if getting them to see themselves in a different context) could lead to a transformation.
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Teaching to the Test Redux

“Teaching to the test,” as commonly understood, strikes me as the ultimate Catch-22: in schools where student performance lags, teachers feel a need to practice test-taking; however, these same schools with an overemphasis on test-taking are the ones with lagging performance. In other words, I’m pretty sure the best way to teach to the test is something radically different from how it is commonly conceived.
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De-escalate situations before they become discipline referrals

It can be easy, as a teacher, to blame students for their misbehavior – specifically when we are talking about broadly defined offenses like “defiance,” or “disrespect.” While students certainly must learn to be accountable for how they act and react, it’s not a bad idea for teachers to consider what role they play in molding student reactions. How can we build a more positive school culture?
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