Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AASL Conference

The following story on the School Library Journal webpage discusses, among others, the picture book biography panel that Mary Ann chaired at the American Association of School Librarian's annual conference in Hartford, Connecticut. The story focuses on the many ways in which school librarians are involved, or can be involved, in implementing the Common Core State Standards in authentic ways:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Looking Forward to the Finnegan Lecture with Steve Jenkins and NCTE

Such an exciting week! On Thursday, November 21we will welcome author Steve Jenkins to Lesley for the Evelyn M. Finnegan Children's Literature Lecture Series. In celebration, we have a special Classroom Bookshelf entry featuring three of Jenkins's recent books. We are also looking forward to our presentation at NCTE on Friday, November 22, at 4:00 p.m. In a session titled Multimodal, Multigenre Text Sets Across the Grade Levels, we will share current work teachers and literacy coaches are doing across grade levels using the text set models. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

We're Back

It has been a very busy start to the school year for us! Not only are we busy teaching our literacy and children's/ya literature courses at Lesley University, but we are also busily writing what we consider a "prequel" to Teaching with Text Sets. It's a book that provides a bit of a back story to our Chapter Three ("Building a Text Set") and serves as a primer for the process of selecting texts for the classroom based on their quality, complexity, role in the curriculum, and the reader(s). We are looking specifically at Standard 10 in the CCSS but also addressing the larger context in which we have always talked about what makes books easier and more difficult to read. We will let you know when we know more about a release date. 

In September, we flew out to Park City, Utah to meet with educators, librarians, speech therapists, and children's book authors at the "Engaged Reading" conference sponsored by Utah Valley University. It was an honor to spend a few days sharing ideas with so many people invested in children, including authors Sara Pennypacker, Jim Murphy, and Loreen Leedy and illustrator Marla Frazee. Our thanks to our host, Nancy Peterson and the whole UVU team. 

This year, Mary Ann is continuing to write with Myra Zarnowski for School Library Journal. You can find our October column on teaching primary grade science using a text set approach at: Finally, we are looking forward to seeing some of you at the following annual conferences this fall: Literacy for All, American Association of School Librarians, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Learning from Nonfiction Authors

Since the advent of the Common Core Standards, we have been saying to our students and the teachers with whom we work that there is a great deal that K-12 teachers and students can learn from the process nonfiction authors use to research and write their books. While everyone works differently, there are patterns to these authors' approaches that we can identify, examine, and harness for authentic classroom reading, writing, listening, and speaking that feels purposeful and interesting to children. The nonfiction authors and illustrators at the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (I.N.K.) blog are considering this very question this summer, as you can read in this June 25th post: We are very excited to see what they come up with, and encourage you to share your ideas with them. This summer, Mary Ann is using the I.N.K. blog in her graduate course Exploring Nonfiction in the Elementary and Middle School Classroom. For one assignment, students (all practicing teachers) will  explore nonfiction as a mentor text for student writing. Using posts in the INK blog as a research site, students will to examine the different ways that authors focus on their writing style and make that focus transparent in their blog entries. Students will then explore a specific book in-depth, mining it for all of the ways it can serve as a mentor text from big the picture (disciplinary writing, structure, point-of-view) to the smaller elements (use of figurative language, questions, comparisons, etc.).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thinking About Summer Reading for Your Students?

Here's the latest (and last) School Library Journal that Mary Ann has been co-authoring this year. Reading this might help you think about the role nonfiction may play in the summer reading lists you share with your students' and their families. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teaching with Text Sets Hits the Big Apple

Yesterday, New York City's Department of Education's School Library System sponsored Exploratorium 2013, a professional development workshop for teaching librarians from throughout the system.

We were honored to have two sessions devoted to Teaching with Text Sets! It was thrilling to talk with librarians about the many ways that teachers and librarians can collaborate with one another in shared curriculum development.

It was also exciting to learn about the new ways in which the New York Public Library is partnering with the public school system. Teachers who want to create original text sets will soon have access to the public library collection. Text sets will be delivered directly to their schools! The public library will also digitize pieces of its unique and expansive collection of manuscripts, art, and realia at the request of teachers and librarians developing new curriculum. In the Big Apple, there is great support for the creation of multimodal, multigenre text set, and we are thrilled.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day 2013!

We had the opportunity to celebrate early this year, with a group of special education teachers at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Help Your Students Write with Style

Mary Ann's co-authored School Library Journal column for this month focuses on the ways in which teachers can use nonfiction trade books as mentor texts for student's writing style. In this short article, we discuss different aspects of nonfiction writing style in various picture books and chapter books, to help you and your students identify writer's craft. You can find the article at:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Do You Explore the "Approach" Nonfiction Authors Take with Your Students?

What are some of the ways you can use nonfiction books for children and young adults as a mentor text for student writing? How do nonfiction authors shape the substance of their books? To find out more, take a look at the April School Library Journal column Mary Ann coauthored with Myra Zarnowski and Marc Aronson.

Monday, April 8, 2013

NCTE Links to Mary Ann's Co-Authored SLJ Column

Last Wednesday, The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) shared the March "Curriculum Connections" column from School Library Journal via the NCTE Inbox digital newsletter. The March column focuses on inquiry and nonfiction. You can find the April 3rd NCTE Inbox here:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Teaching with Text Sets at MRA

We had a great day yesterday at the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference! Both of our sessions, "The Nonfiction Picture Book: Classroom Catalyst" and "Teaching with Text Sets" gave us the chance to spend time with really interesting teachers, librarians, speech and language pathologists, literacy specialists, and school administrators from throughout New England. We were also delighted to learn that Teaching with Text Sets sold out at the ALRAN table!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Looking for Children's Books to Explore the 10th Anniversary of the War in Iraq?

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In May of 2010, as the United States approached the draw down of troops from Iraq, Mary Ann did an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" show, discussing picture books and chapter books of all genres that have addressed the war. To learn more about this text set and listen to the story, go to:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thinking About Biography and the CCSS?

Award-winning author Barbara Kerley was interviewed by School Library Journal this month, and she has some really interesting ways of looking at her nonfiction books in the context of the Common Core State Standards. Barbara also discusses the panel on nonfiction books and the CCSS that she and Mary Ann were on together this fall. You can read the full interview at:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Teaching with Text Sets at the Carle

Mary Ann (L) and Erika (R) in front of an Eric Carle original.
Here are a few pictures from the workshop that we did at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art last Saturday. 

Teaching with Text Sets for sale at the museum bookstore!

The event was sponsored by the Carle, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Lesley University, where we teach, and the "Classroom Bookshelf" blog that we co-author with our teaching colleague Grace Enriquez.
Erika's panel on picture book biographies with illustrator Holly Meade and authors Leda Shubert and Tonya Lee Stone.

It was a really exciting day, with wonderful conversations about the different roles children's books of all genres can play in the classroom.

Friday, March 22, 2013

There's Still Time to Attend: Saturday, March 23rd at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

There is still time to attend the workshop we are sponsoring tomorrow at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. Join the authors of "The Classroom Bookshelf" blog and authors and illustrators of recently published fiction and nonfiction picture and chapter books as we discuss "From the Creative Process to Curriculum Connections." It is only $25 for this daylong workshop for teachers and librarians. To register, and to obtain copies of the handouts after the event, go to:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snapshots of Authentic Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking

Are you trying to provide more of a range of authentic reading, writing, listening, and speaking experiences for your students? Follow the link below to read more about using text sets towards that end in Julie Casaro's interview with Mary Ann for Novelist. 

Wondering How You Can Teach Using More Children's Literature?

Would you like to incorporate authentic children's literature in language arts and the content areas? This short article we coauthored with our blogging and teaching colleague Grace Enriquez for Lesley University's webpage can give you some way to start:

What Can You Learn About Teaching from Nonfiction Authors?

With the Common Core State Standards' new emphasis on nonfiction literature and reading and writing across a range of texts, we think there is much that teachers can learn from authors and illustrators of nonfiction picture books and chapter books. One place to start might be this article about the School Library Journal Leadership Summit panel, “Nonfiction at the Forefront of the Common Core," that Mary Ann led in October.

You can still sign-up for and listen to the School Library Journal webinar from January 2013, which recreated the panel in order to read a wider audience. You can register for "on-demand" access through April.

How Can You Help Your School Learn More About Nonfiction Trade Books?

Feeling overwhelmed about the new expectations the Common Core State Standards place on reading nonfiction? Are you and your colleagues struggling with how to incorporate more authentic, trade book nonfiction written for children and young adults into your curriculum and instruction?

This school year, Mary Ann has been coauthoring articles for the "Curriculum Connections" newsletter for School Library Journal. Here is a round-up of previously-written articles that may be helpful to you as you consider transitioning to text sets and using nonfiction trade books across the curriculum: 

September: Cultivating Collaboration

October: Creating Community 

November: Content Over Coverage

December: Clustering and the Common Core

January: Deconstructing Nonfiction

February: Talking About Nonfiction

March: Inquiry and Nonfiction