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What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Have you ever felt like you wanted to apologize to your past students for what you didn’t know how to do when you were a newer teacher?? I certainly do! So, in lieu of trying to find my thousands of past students to apologize, I’m going to pay it forward by giving you the information I wish I had back then.

I wish I’d told my kids that authors set up texts in a way that highlights the most important information. Then, I would have given my students some clues as to how to find it: 

  1. Look at the dialogue. The author usually uses dialogue to give the most important information.
  2. Look for repeats. The author usually repeats information again and again. That is the most important information.
  3. Want to find out where the thesis is? Look at the last sentence or last two sentences of the first paragraph, it’s usually found there.

These are the kinds of tools we need to arm our kids with so they can take a piece of text, break it down, and fully understand it. 

If you found this helpful, and want more tips to dig deeper into this work better unpack this for your students, check out these books:

  • How to Teach Students to Write Informational Text
  • How to Teach Students to Think Critically about Text

Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Warning: (gentle) rant coming! 

A phrase that I hear a lot in education is “it’s just good teaching.” Ugh. 

Not only do I find that phrase super annoying, but it’s also totally inaccurate! To me, it shows that whoever says that doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

Here are just a couple of reasons as to why I think “it’s just good teaching” is the worst thing that we can say in education:

  • First of all, good teaching is an actual thing! And it looks like this: 
    • Explicit instruction
    • Teach and model
    • Guided practice
    • Application
    • Feedback throughout

That is good teaching. That is teaching explicitly. That works!

  • Second, when we say things like “it’s just good teaching,” that gives cover for some questionable teaching techniques. If you have a technique that really works, call the technique by name! 

Don’t diminish good teaching and don’t dismiss the hard work of good teachers! 

Okay, rant: over. 

For more help and tips on how to dive into more explicit and research based teaching practices please check out all of our books online. Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Differentiating Writing Instruction | For Teachers & Coaches

Differentiating writing instruction is a huge topic for educators these days. If you see that a student is struggling to write either to get the words on the page or get the ideas down, ask yourself this guiding question to get started troubleshooting: 

Is it a content issue, or is it a mechanics issue?

If it’s a content issue, that means the students are struggling with either too many ideas or not enough ideas. In that case, go back to their brainstorm or outline! Most content writing problems start there. They either didn’t have enough to begin with, or they had way too much and they didn’t narrow it down. 

If they’re struggling with mechanics, then you need to figure out how to isolate which mechanical piece that they’re missing. For example, if I see that my kids are struggling with the introduction, go there first. 

For more tips on how to make writing easy and accessible for your students, please check out all of our books online. Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Restating the Thesis in the Conclusion | For Teachers

Confession: when I was a student, I never knew how to end my essays, so they always ended very randomly and abruptly! 

I don’t want that to happen to your students, so let’s give them some help. Here are three simple ways to restate the thesis in a conclusion paragraph or statement:

  1. Answer the question, ‘so what?’ In light of what I’ve told you so far, what are you going to do about it?
  2. Consider telling the reader what they should do next. Given what I’ve told you, here’s what you need to go out and do.
  3. Remind the reader why the topic or the information is important. Present a sense of urgency to the reader! 

Those are three ways students can restate their thesis in the conclusion to make it more interesting for the reader. Now, go give it a try today! 

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books.

Books can be found at amazon.com or at https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Teach Kids to Develop a Writing Topic | For Teachers

Today’s topic is something I’m very passionate about: how to teach kids to write informational text! We’ve done a lot of research on this, which led us to realize: 

Whoa, we have made writing super hard for kids! 

If I were to ask 10 teachers what it means to “develop a topic,” I would probably get 10 different answers. So let’s talk about what it really means to teach kids to develop a topic.

  1. Add details! When you add details to what you write, you establish yourself as an expert.
  1. Add definitions! Definitions give background knowledge to the reader.
  1. Add quotes! Quotes show that your topic is newsworthy.

The next time you’re asking kids to “develop a writing topic,” be sure to tell them that means to add details, definitions, or quotes.

For more help and tips on how to teach students to write, take a look at the following book:

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books.

Books can be found at amazon.com or at https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

What I Wish I Had Taught my Students | For Teachers

Has Close Reading Lost All Its Power? | For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders

Today, I have a bone to pick about close reading. Everywhere I look these days, it seems like virtually everyone is talking about “close reading.” And I realized that we’re calling just about everything close reading and by doing that, it’s at the point where it’s lost so much of its power! 

So I want you to ask yourself: Do I know what close reading ACTUALLY is, and am I replicating that process in my classroom?

Let’s look at the true step-by-step process of close reading, to make sure we’re keeping its integrity and power when using it with students. 

Close reading is: 

  • 1st read – get the gist of what I’ve read
  • 2nd read – understand how the text is organized
  • 3rd read – read, analyze, and think deeply about what I’ve read

If we’ve taught close reading well, we’ve actually given kids a skill that they can take to any text they read! That is the sign of successful, close reading.

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books.

Books can be found at amazon.com or at https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/