Category Archives: Literacy

Book Commercial vs Book Talks

Challenge your students to create a Book Commercial. Use the tools outlined in this Jesse Buetow Blog.

MLA 7 vs MLA 8 – changes

View the webinar from Easybib to get a run down of the changes in MLA citations. You will be pleased with the changes – one format for all sources. The webinar includes lesson ideas.

Visit Easybib for more examples and the MLA 8 Handbook Guide.

Download the complete MLA 8 guide.


Natalie Babbitt – Tuck Everlasting

Natalie Babbitt, the author of Tuck Everlasting and many other books, died on Monday at 84. The New Your Times outlines her life and her writing.

Babbitt says about her book-

“Actually, I don’t think of ‘Tuck’ as being about death,” Ms. Babbitt said in 1982. “The tale is concerned with life — its finiteness, what this means and whether or not, ultimately, it is preferable to immortality.”

Anne Tyler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, described “Tuck Everlasting” as “one of the best books ever written — for any age.”


MLA 8 vs MLA 7

Have a look at the changes in citations using the new MLA guide. There are many changes that make citing sources more consistent and wide reaching with the ability to cite online resources such as twitter and urls.

Non-fiction texts for history teachers

The Canada’s History site offers teachers a wealth of non-fiction, primary source documents to use with your students. There is very interesting reading about the POWs and internees of the First World War.

Read about the ingenuity of POWs and how they requested items using hidden messages and code words to help with their escape attempts from POW camps in Germany.

Use these articles as mentor texts with groups of students to work on strategies to decode the text.



Inquiry is on classroom agendas each day. Visit the Wonderoplis website daily with your students as ‘Bellwork” to start their day with an  inquiry. Or you could use the site as text for a non-fiction mini-lesson. Daily Wonders are provided. Each Wonder includes a short video, a text passage on the daily topic, Wonder Words from the passage, content specific weblinks to support further inquiry, and a Test Your Knowledge Quiz. The past Wonders are posted here. You can subscribe to the Wonders of the Day and they will arrive in your inbox each morning for quick reference.

Register for Camp Wonderoplis as a counselor. Once this is done, you can add campers to your list. They then can investigate a variety of topics. Their progress is tracked.

Teachers can join the Wonder Ground to be a part of an educators network. You will receive a teacher’s guide by email once you register.


Books for Teachers: Classroom Management Advice…

An earlier post introduced you to a book by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. I want to outline another Fountas and Pinnell book that you want to have — Guiding readers and writers Grades 3-6: Teaching comprehension genre, and content literacy. ISBN 0-325-00310-6

You may have just been placed in a class after a school reorganization and now are trying to get your class working independently so you can expand your Balanced Literacy Program to get to the essential guided reading lessons with your groups. There are many topics in this book, but do take time to read through Chapter Nine- Getting Started: The first twenty days of independent reading. The lessons outlined in this chapter show you how to do just that. They outline minilessons on 1. Lessons on management, 2. Lessons on strategies and skills, and 3. Lessons on literacy analysis. (Fountas & Pinnell, pg. 128, 2001)

The First 20 Days (Adapted from Guiding Readers and Writers, Grades 3-6, by Fountas & Pinnell)

Wonderopolis- Where the wonders of learning never cease

Interesting content is found daily on Wonderopolis where teachers can engage students first with a short video on the a new topic each day, then students can read more on the topic. Teachers are provided with a vocabulary list. Students can use the words to take “The Wonder Word Challenge” online.  The ‘wonders’ are archived. This could be used first thing in the morning as bell work or a reading piece for centres during your literacy block.

Books for Teachers

I will be reviewing books for your professional library as a regular post. As a teacher-librarian I often had the opportunity to suggest resources to teachers. These books are at the top of my list for teachers.

All elementary teachers need to have ready access to titles by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas. The Continuum of Literacy Learning, grades K-8: behaviors and understandings to notice, teach, and support is a book that you can use to develop your literacy program. Pinnell and Fountas have written many books to guide your literacy practice. They address the components of the balanced/comprehensive literacy program:

  • Interactive Read Aloud
  • Shared Reading
  • Writing
  • Oral, Visual and Technological Communications
  • Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study
  • Guided Reading (Levelled Books)

Most schools use levelled reading as the basis for their reading program. Take particular notice of the Guided Reading section for their information they provide for each reading level. They address: Genre/Form, Text Structure, Content, Themes and Ideas, Language and Literacy Features, Sentence Complexity, Vocabulary, Words, Illustrations, Book and Print Features. Each school district has their own curriculum to follow and this information dovetails quite nicely with your learning goals and expectations/ Common Core Standards.