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Curriculum & instruction

Teaching and managing the kindergarten classroom

Suzanne, a friend and neighbor, just started her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom. She's a career switcher, having gone back to school after 15 years as a nurse and a Mom to 4 kids, including one with special needs. Student teaching is turning out to be a ton of work to juggle on top of being a Mom and a wife. Long days of teaching and long nights of homework and planning. Remember those early days of teaching?

Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

That's one powerful line from a guest post written by fifth-grade teacher Lisa Parisi of Lisa's Lingo. at The Answer Sheet from the Washington Post.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

N is for No Letter of the Week

We can all agree that classrooms are busy places, with little time to spare. As teachers, we have to get the most we can out of every instructional minute. Doing so enables us to structure the day with time for more exploration, discovery, invention, and dare we say play?

There are few things that sap more instructional time than teaching a Letter of the Week (LOTW). I'm sorry to my preschool and kindergarten teacher friends who use these programs, but it's the truth. Teaching a letter of the week is too slow. Too isolated. Too painful to watch.

Dramatic science, and a calendar too!

There's always good stuff going on behind the scenes here at Reading Rockets. For example, right now we're working on a series of new Ed Extras.

Unlearning learning styles

I read with interest this list of 10 things teachers should unlearn from What Ed Said. The post generated lots of conversation, especially on the "Technology integration is optional" and "Students are obliged to respect teachers" points.

You had a lot to say about...

Happy New Year! January is a great time to look ahead, but I also like to revisit the past to remember some highlights. Several blog topics seemed to resonate with readers (using comments as a barometer), and for me that provides guidance about other topics I should write about in the coming year.

Managing instruction when kids are sick

Molly went back to school Monday morning after being out sick all last week. She had the double whammy of H1N1 and strep throat. It was a loooong week for her and me! She was miserable, feverish, and missed five days of school.

Flu-related absences present a real instructional challenge for teachers. After all, it's hard to run a reading group with half the group out sick. And what about that new science unit, or the concept in math you planned to teach? Should you hold off new content, or go ahead and teach it and plan to teach it again when the sick kids are back?

Accelerated Reader is not a reading program

My friend B called yesterday to talk about her second grader. A former teacher herself, B was worried because she hasn't seen any language-arts related papers come home. When she asks her daughter about reading groups at school, her daughter simply says, "We don't do reading groups. I take tests on a computer."

Could've, should've, would've taught these contractions?

My friend's third grader came home with her word study list this week. On the list were the contractions could've, should've, would've and might've. My friend brought the list over to talk about it, and had real concerns about those contractions being taught. "I challenged [her daughter] to find any of those words in print. I know we use them when we talk, but I don't think of them as being real words that should be used in writing."

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss