Saturday, 31 January 2015 02:16

A Super Bowl-Themed Tip (Teaching Tip #125) Featured

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Because novelty is such a powerful learning catalyst, I'm always on the lookout for unique (even off-the-wall) objects, images, and ideas that have the potential to capture student attention and help important learning "stick" in their minds. Typically, I will choose the instructional objective or larger life lesson first and then search for a novel way to convey it to children. That's how it worked when I created the "Tower of Opportunity" to express the idea that education is the key that opens doors and when I came up with the movement, song, and story activities that would later comprise the book Rock It!. Sometimes, though, the order is reversed. That was the case a few Sundays ago when I was watching an NFL football game and saw a fan in the stands holding up the "D-fence" sign shown in the accompanying image. For years, crowds have been chanting "Defense"…
Friday, 26 December 2014 18:32

Best Picture Day Ever Featured

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Recently, my school held its annual picture day. Traditionally, each class begins its turn by lining up in the auditorium to take individual snapshots and then heads outside to the risers to take the group photo. Usually, I line up first for the individual pictures so I can be available to lead the transition outside to the risers and minimize any behavior that arises due to the fact that the early finishers need to wait a while for the rest of their classmates. I forgot to do that this year, and I ended up sixth or seventh in line. After I took my individual photo, I noticed that the kids who preceded me were not in the auditorium, and I was a bit worried that they had made their way outside unsupervised and were fooling around. When I walked outside, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Six kids…
Saturday, 13 December 2014 23:22

Enter to Win the Chase for Home "4-Pack" E-book Giveaway Featured

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Enter today to win 4 e-book copies of Chase for Home, the latest installment in the Chase Manning Mystery Series for kids 8-12 and the sequel to the award-winning Chase Against Time. To enter, visit my "Teaching the Whole Child" Facebook page and complete the simple steps shown below. (The steps should take you no more than a minute.) The giveaway ends Sunday, December 21st. That evening, I will randomly select a winner, who will be able to enjoy one copy of the e-book and share the other three with family and friends. 1) “Like” my “Teaching the Whole Child” Facebook page. 2) Click the “Join My List” button to subscribe at 3) Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment under the giveaway announcement with the words “Count me in.”
Saturday, 06 December 2014 21:19

Take 89% Off My Mystery Writing Course for Kids Featured

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To celebrate both the holiday season and the recent release of my children's mystery book Chase for Home, I would like to make my mystery writing course for kids on available to you, your children, and your students for just $10. Description The course is designed for children 8-12 years of age who are interested in writing their own mysteries. In the easy-to-follow videos and detailed handouts that comprise the course, I take young writers step-by-step from the beginning of the writing process to the end and help them craft stories that keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats! It doesn’t matter whether students are already seasoned mystery writers or brand new to the genre. This course promises to take young writers to the next level. Latest Course Review "The Creative Writing Teacher You Wish You Had. The single best mystery writing class I've tried anywhere.…
Saturday, 22 November 2014 21:53

Bring Chase Manning into Your Classroom Featured

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Thanks for the wonderful response to last week's book release announcement. It's been an exciting time. In this post I would like to share a few of the ways you can incorporate the Chase Manning Mystery Series into your instructional program.  • Chase Against Time and Chase for Home are Level Q on the Fountas & Pinnell scale and appeal to both boys and girls who are seeking fast-paced, engaging independent reading books.  • Both books are ideally suited to be used as read alouds and mentor texts during Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop units on mystery and “edge-of-seat” fiction because they include numerous examples of end-of-chapter cliffhangers, red herrings, suspects, motives, and other important mystery elements. • Please contact me if you are interested in arranging a school visit (Los Angeles area) or Skype visit. Over the past few years, I have conducted numerous book talks in which I…
Saturday, 01 November 2014 19:47

Accomplish More During Your Parent-Teacher Conferences (Teaching Tip #124) Featured

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A few weeks ago I began preparing for my school's annual parent-teacher conference week. I realized that each meeting basically consists of two parts: 1) the time I spend providing general information about the items on the conference agenda (e.g., class policies, units of study, scoring systems, rubrics) and 2) the time I am able to focus on the progress of each child (e.g., strengths, improvement areas, goals, work samples). To minimize the time I needed to spend on the former and maximize the time I could spend on the latter, I decided to make a short video, and I asked each family to watch it before they arrived at their conference. The video contains the general information that I would normally mention during each meeting. By having everyone watch the video prior to the conference, I was able to jump right into the information that pertained to each specific…
Saturday, 25 October 2014 19:50

A Simple Way to Give Students More Personal Attention (Teaching Tip #123) Featured

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Every Friday morning before recess, I select a popsicle stick with a student's name on it, and that child becomes our Student Leader for the following week. This ritual has become a class favorite, and the kids love having the opportunity to perform the various responsibilities of the job, such as leading our morning movement warm-up routine and standing at the door after recess, lunch, and P.E. to greet everyone as they enter the room. I think it's important for children to have meaningful opportunities to develop leadership skills, and I also appreciate the fact that choosing a weekly Student Leader allows kids to have their turn in the spotlight. I set aside a bulletin board in the corner of the room for a certificate and invite each Student Leader to post photographs of family members, friends, trips, and other activities so we can get to know that child on…
This week I share with you the third and final visual in the set that my students and I have been using during our Reading Workshop to help us improve our comprehension. This visual focuses on the skill of predicting and includes three main teaching tips. 1) Readers can use their knowledge of the characters to predict what will happen next. 2) Readers can use their knowledge of story structure to predict what will happen next. 3) Occasionally, readers need to revise their predictions as they read. In case you missed the first two visuals, you can click on the following links to access visuals focusing on the strategies of envisioning and inferring. I hope you and your students enjoy these tools and find them useful. Click here for a jpeg copy of the predicting visual.
Saturday, 27 September 2014 01:06

Help Students Improve Their Reading Comprehension, Part 2 (Teaching Tip #121) Featured

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Last week, I shared a visual that my students and I have been using during our Reading Workshop to help us bring to life the strategy of envisioning. This week, I share the visual that we have been using to help us with our second reading comprehension strategy, inferring. As children progress to higher levels of independent reading, they need to be able to combine their own knowledge with clues that authors provide to produce inferences. Student understanding of inferring increases even more when they perform the following chant while referring to the visual. This chant, along with several others, can be found in my book Rock It! Transform Classroom Learning with Movement, Songs, and Stories. This "call and response" chant begins when children say the words "story clue," put their palms together, and then open the hands as if opening a book. Next, they make the addition sign with…