Great Picture Books to Use for Contrast & Contradictions – Notice and Note

Looking deeper into how to begin teaching using the strategies of Notice & Note.

One of of the main texts we use to guide our reading instruction is the amazing Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  This book provides us with the foundation for having deeper reading conversations and a common language as we develop our thoughts.  While the book has excellent text ideas to use as mentor texts, I thought it would be nice for my students  to use picture books on the very first day of a new strategy before we delve into the longer text excerpts.  I have therefore looked for picture books I could use with the different strategies and will publish posts as I have them for the 6 different strategies since I cannot be the only one looking for ideas.

First up, “Contrast & Contradictions.”  Here are a few picture books I have used or will use with the kids.

Tuesday by David…

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Please Love More Loudly

Crawling Out of the Classroom

Today there was tragedy.

At least 50 people killed, over 50 more injured, while they danced and celebrated at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Today, as we grieve, there are familiar messages filling our walls on Facebook. Love conquers hate. Love is greater than hate. Love will win in the end.

Today, these messages feel shallow to me. I know that they are supposed to express support. I know that they are supposed to fill us with hope. But, today, for me, they just aren’t cutting it.

Today it feels like hate is winning.

And I know what everyone wants to say about that. I know. I get it.

But today, for this moment, it just isn’t enough. Not for me. Not right now.

Because today it feels like we might be using those cliches to allow us to sit back and wait for things to get better. I worry…

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Happy Numbers

Thinking Mathematically

In my head there are two things at odds:

  1. Practice is important in the consolidation process
  2. Mathematics is about thinking and reasoning… making sense of things.

So finding ways to practice a skill, while continuing to develop our ability to reason mathematically is a goal of mine.  While there are lots of ways to do this (problem solving, games, open-middle …), I thought I would give an example of how we can do both do problem solving that requires thinking and reasoning and practice a new skill at the same time.  So here is a problem that I give students that have recently started learning about square numbers.

Happy Numbers

A happy number is a number defined by the following process: Starting with any positive integer, replace the number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until the number either equals 1 (where it…

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Voices from the Middle article: Listening and Speaking Demystified


Voices from the Middle, Volume 22 Number 1, September 2014

The Forgotten Language Arts:
Addressing Listening & Speaking

Erik Palmer


The Forgotten Language Arts: Addressing Listening & Speaking


Common Core State Standards include listening and speaking standards yet those receive little attention. All teachers need to become aware of the requirements of the standards and need to specifically teach students the skills needed to master the standards. There is much more to the standards than the words “listening” and “speaking” suggest. Students must learn how to collaborate with diverse partners, evaluate information from diverse media and in diverse formats, evaluate speakers’ rhetoric, construct and deliver presentations, incorporate multimedia in talks, and adapt speech to varied contexts. This article introduces the standards and suggests approaches to mastering them.


The Forgotten Language Arts: Addressing Listening & Speaking

Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National…

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Flipped Feedback

Pondering how to make this happen when the doors are opening up for my students.

Ed Tech Enthusiast

I’m going to try to keep this blog post short. I don’t want a bunch of words to get in the way of one of the most exciting things I have done with my teaching in the last 12 months.

For students, giving meaningful feedback has to be one of the most important things that we do. Feedback takes many forms, but often that feedback is given on drafts or on diagnostic exams.

The red pen (or green for the anti-redders) is splashed on the page as we attempt to give meaningful feedback in the written form. Take a look at this page for instance.

red pen feedback.PNG

So, perhaps you can decipher from above that the circled thing shouldn’t be there, and the word “cash” should be there instead.

  • Why is it like this? I don’t know.
  • Is this mistake related to others I made? I don’t know.
  • How can I make…

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Keep It Simple Standards-Based Grading


Keep ISimple Standards-Based Grading (K.I.S.SBG.)

This post will probably raise the ire of SBG purists. If you are considering switching to SBG, I say go for it. Even if it means you keep it simple the first year, as you and your students figure it all out for the first time. Here’s my K.I.S.SBG. story…

Last spring, I taught a section of conceptual chemisty. Brand new subject for me. To make my life easier, I initially told the students that I would be using the same points-based grading system as their teacher from the fall semester.

And then I sat down to grade their first quiz.

How many points was each question worth? Should some questions be worth more than others? How many points in total? How should I give partial credit? And how is any of this providing helpful feedback to…

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Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Sustainable Teaching

Updated Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Google Classroom is awesome. Teachers can take it beyond substitution to redefine teaching and learning in their classroom. I have posted ten strategies to help teachers do so on the BAMNetwork Radio blog.

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 1

  • Anchor Activities in the About Tab
  • Create a Question for Class Discussions
  • Easily Find All Google Classroom Files by Student
  • Google Classroom as Backchannel for Students to Help Each Other
  • Make it All Accessible to Absent Students and/or Convert to Blended Learning

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 2

  • Google Forms for Do Nows and Assessment
  • Hyperdocs
  • Choosing a Theme Image
  • Make a New Google Classroom for Each Class Unit
  • A Strategy for Differentiation

Thank you for reading these suggestions. I hope they help you go deeper with Google Classroom. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would like to chat more about going deeper…

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