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Posts by Janna Robin

Teaching Transparently

Transparency: See-through. Clear. Unambiguous.

We often keep learning a secret and expect students to read our minds. Why do we make our expectations murky and ambiguous (and then grade them!)

Is it worth considering giving students the definitions of challenging words before they encounter them? Is it a good idea to post around the classroom examples of sentence starters? Is it good practice to list the steps to take to solving a word problem? Setting up a lab? Reading a timeline? Determining the elements of plot?

Where does

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Uncovering Academic Literacies

The definition for literacy I accepted was based on all the research I struggled through. It is: competency in different contexts. This definition allowed me to understand the concepts of multiple literacies. But such a broad understanding of the complicated ideas seems like a cop out to some other teachers I’ve talked with.

“Well, then aren’t you saying everything is ‘a literacy?’” they ask.

And I have to answer, “Yes, I am.” If successful communication is all about competencies and if we all strive for successful 

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Teaching Reading Strategies So Students Develop Reading Skills

In their comprehensive and invaluable book, Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement, Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis posit 8 tenets of good reading.Read More ›

Research: Making Room for the Process and the Product

Teaching Research skills to 6th graders was one of my more daunting tasks and one with which I struggled the most.  When I realized that my frustration level (why weren’t they getting this?) matched my students’ (Why is she making us do this?) I knew I was doing something, if not everything, wrong.

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Literature Circles: An Authentic Way to Make Room for Every Student Voice

Leading with the Punchline

I’m going to lead with the punchline, which isn’t really to a joke -- more to a poignant, endearing story about student wisdom, and how much we can learn from listening. And the power of the Literature Circle.

In Literature Circles, students in small groups  take on a number of different roles that allow them to explore and talk about the text in conversational ways that clarify and deepen comprehension.

So here’s the end of the story:

Andy said 

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It is OK if They Stare at You: Creating Comfort with Silence in the Classroom

30% of a Given Class of Students is “Silent”

Imagine the alienation those 30%  of students in a given classroom must be feeling. One third of a class! Imagine too, the effect that has on your classroom instruction: you are missing out on those chances to get feedback, measure comprehension and make adjustments.

Wait Time

I was in a meeting recently in which the long, thoughtful silences reminded me of the “Wait Time” I used when I taught 6th grade Social 

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