Monday, August 10, 2015

Start your school year with success and informational text

We know many of you are already planning exciting new lessons and units, while some of you are already back in the classroom. Either way, our resources can help you start your new school year with success.

IF YOU ARE TEACHING TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and wrestling with how to make sense of it alongside Go Set a Watchman, the first volume in our series, Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird, can help. Our classroom-ready units on the relationship between Calpurnia and Scout and whether Atticus is a hero will help your students think critically about the characters and the complex world of Maycomb that Harper Lee presents in both novels.

IF YOU ARE TEACHING A RAISIN IN THE SUN, the second volume in our series will be available in October and can be pre-ordered now. After the events in Ferguson and Baltimore, this summer’s Supreme Court decision, and recent studies on the persistence of housing discrimination, Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark play is more relevant than ever. Our forthcoming book includes ready-to-use units on housing discrimination past and present, the violence surrounding housing desegregation, the politics of African-American women’s hair, and more. In the meantime, check out our post on the New York Times Learning Network or this New York Times article on housing discrimination in Ferguson.

IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT HOW TO REVAMP YOUR CURRICULUM, check out our website and our blog for strategies for finding great informational texts and for setting your students up for successful engagement with them. We also offer ideas for teaching key vocabulary in meaningful and engaging ways and how to use multimedia together with written informational texts in the classroom. Check out our sample units based on Mockingbird, as well as our “Text to Text” feature on Lord of the Flies on the New York Times Learning Network, for models.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO COLLABORATE WITH YOUR CONTENT-AREA COLLEAGUES to develop your students’ disciplinary literacy skills, read our blog posts on collaboration and share our strategies for using high-interest informational texts with a teacher with whom you’d like to work. Our materials can provide the basis for rewarding collaboration among members of your PLC and/or grade-level teams.

IF YOU’D LIKE HANDS-ON TRAINING IN OUR APPROACH TO USING INFORMATIONAL TEXT, contact us about scheduling a professional development session in your school or district. We offer a range of hour-long and day-long workshops for both English and content area teachers. If you are in northern New Jersey, join us at Barnes & Noble in Clifton on October 14, from 4pm-6pm. If you are in Illinois, we hope to see you at IATE in October. Otherwise, you can also find us at NCTE and CEL in Minneapolis in November.

We hope our resources will be helpful to you in getting ready for the new school year. As always, we welcome your feedback!

This text takes all the intricacies of the Common Core State Standards and packages them neatly into a format that actually works in a real classroom. With a strong focus on vocabulary building, challenging non-fiction pieces, and digital media to which our secondary students can connect, these units turn A Raisin in the Sun into a cultural, political, analytical learning experience--without taking away the literature. —Meaghan W. Freeman, middle- and high-school English teacher, Willsboro Central School, New York

A reader's understanding of a text is only as comprehensive as the previous experience he or she brings to it. What, then, happens, when the landscape of a reader's life doesn't provide sufficient context? If you feel the impulse to shrug your shoulders and sigh, squelch it. Fisch and Chenelle have created a series of relevant formative activities and assessments to prime the pump for student inquiry. No more flying blind or feeling trapped within the four corners of a text -- students can engage in literature study through a research-informed, "real-world" lens. —Oona Abrams, ELA Teacher, Chatham High School, New Jersey

Propelled by rich, probing questions, this book invites teachers and students to explore a classic text with fresh eyes. The authors’ approach fosters a disposition for deeper reading and will inspire a sense of wonder in your students. —Carol Jago, long time English teacher and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English

Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird is the resource I’ve been waiting for! Teachers don’t have nearly enough time to research informational texts to go along with every unit they teach; therefore this book is going to be perfect for the teacher who wants to take her lessons to the next level. I can’t wait to use these lessons in my classroom. —Amanda DeAngelo, high school English teacher, Secaucus High School

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