Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

Ideas for Learners:

A resource for students,
parents, and teachers

to encourage deeper, richer discussions
about texts, problems, and ideas

By: Jamie | April 22, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week is drawing near, and while I hate to violate etiquette by appearing to anticipate gifts, I see online questions like this all the time: what is a good gift for the teacher(s) in your life?

Time and money are precious, and, while any gift is a kind gesture, I hate for families to have to spend either on objects that may go unused. It's understood that not everyone has the means or inclination to buy or do anything, and that people will make choices that best suit their beliefs and situations. Here, without pressure or expectation, are my recommendations for gifts teachers love.


1) School Supplies – The Good Stuff

Dry erase markers in fun multi-color packages (maybe it’s just me, but somehow cerulean and te...

Category: Teachers 

Tags: Teacher Appreciation 

By: Jamie | January 10, 2018

As part of our poetry unit, my fifth graders and I read a great book called The Best Part of Me. We discussed different poems from this book and why they did or did not necessarily speak to us, and looked at elements like repetition and figurative language that the authors used. It wouldn't have been any fun if we hadn't tried our own! Here, used with permission by the authors, are some of our poems. What strategies do you think these authors have they used successfully?

Category: Writing 

Tags: Poetry 

By: Jamie | November 14, 2017

As our language arts class began a poetry this term, it was clear that students knew quite a bit about poetic elements, including the use of figurative language and how poetry's format and structure might differ from other kinds of texts. However, our students don't always know how to make inferences, especially when the language and the format are less familiar to them, because it requires closer re-reading and often a meaningful session of questioning and discussion - even about eight lines of text.

Accordingly, we began by studying a poem by Robert Frost, reading it together once, and self-checking understanding after a first read-through. Then I invited students to go back and notice things about the poem - just like we might notice thin...

Category: Writing 

Tags: Poetry 

By: Jamie | August 04, 2017

I've always been an indoor person. As my Fitbit will tell you, there are many days I sit for long blocks of time, primarily because I enjoy reading, writing, talking, scrolling for teacher ideas, and creating lesson activities. I'm able to sit for long periods and concentrate on these things.

Of course, I know that students, particularly young ones, typically do not have that same level of concentration, and that some of them - most of them - are more physically active than I am. I never expected my students to sit quietly for hours. However, I resisted large motor movement breaks until about five years ago. It seemed like a waste of time to me to interrupt a long lesson block to get kids up and moving - that was something I preferred to do ...

By: Jamie | July 19, 2017

My primary goal is to encourage students to read widely and to think about what texts mean, and why the ideas matter. Do book projects support this goal?

As a motivated reader who knows countless motivated readers, I can tell you that I have never once had or overheard a conversation like this:

"I just finished the most incredible, powerful book!"
"Great! Hey, we should create a diorama to represent the climactic scene!"

I worry that the creation and assessment of book projects during reading time is more about art - or even about a family's ability to spend money at Michael's - than it is about reading comprehension. I worry that book projects take valuable time that could be spent reading, discussing, and considering impor...

Category: Reading 

Tags: Book Projects