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The Big Fresh from Choice Literacy April 9, 2011 Out and About

Brenda Power

April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go. 
                                                Christopher Morley
As a kid, I remember field trips in school were usually a letdown.  I brought to them too much pent-up energy and anticipation about everything from whom I would sit with on the bus to what would be packed in my special lunch.  And like Christmas or Halloween, I ended most of the trips vaguely disappointed.  The reality never lived up to the hype.  I know I went on scores of field trips as a child, but I honestly remember nothing that I saw or learned.
But oh, that grass sprouts green, the calendar takes a hard turn towards summer, and we all want to be outside the classroom for at least a bit of the day. With budgets for field trips being cut or eliminated altogether, teachers are getting more creative about making use of the landscape right outside the window.  Those trees (or even the cracked sidewalks with ants running through them) are ripe for some close observation, writing, and wondering.  This is also the season for service in many schools and communities.  There are lots of examples in children's literature and on the web of kids who have made a difference to inspire your students.
This week we're featuring some articles and links to take you and your students beyond the classroom door with books and writing journals.  Plus more as always - enjoy!

Brenda Power
Editor, Choice Literacy

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Science notebooks are a wonderful tool for building outdoor observation and writing skills.  Andrea Smith explains how writing in the notebooks leads students to explore different nonfiction text features like infographics and lists:
Spring is a time in many schools for volunteer work and community service projects.  Making a Difference:  Examples from Children's Literature is a booklist that will inspire your students:
Stephen Hurley at Edutopia explains how outdoor writing is a powerful tool for developing attentiveness in his students:

In a new podcast, Sharon Taberski shares her latest thinking on comprehension instruction:

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Sometimes the most important work for writers takes place before any actual drafting. In Prewriting is a Party,  Heather Rader shows how a simple metaphor can help students understand the importance of planning and organizing drafts:
What are the best books for helping students build inferring skills?  This week's video is a new edition of the Book Matchmaker, with Franki Sibberson sharing her favorite picks for building student awareness of how inferences work: 

Many of us face the dreaded Spring Slump at this point in the year, with antsy students that make us wonder what progress we've made over the past few months. Audrey Alexander takes a close look at a couple of the students in her self-contained resource room, and finds the observations renew her flagging energy:
Video Updates:  We continue to repost many videos in new formats and players (with higher resolution and full-screen options).  As we make these improvements, we'll announce them in the newsletter. Here is an updated video you may want to revisit -
Just in time for spring cleaning, Joan Moser and Gail Boushey (The Sisters) help a young teacher reorganize her classroom library: 
That's all for this week!

Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.