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Are you looking for strategies to close the reading gap? Middle School Cafe: A Podcast for Secondary ELA teachers is a podcast specifically for middle and high school ELA teachers who want to see their students grow as readers.Each week I will discuss strategies to help all students develop as readers starting with where they are today. I will share real-world examples and ideas from my own experience and show you how you can implement the workshop model giving your students more control ove ...
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One of the most essential aspects of teaching ELA is nurturing a lifelong love of reading in our students. In this episode, we'll explore how to help students discover that elusive "just right" book – the one that not only matches their reading level but also aligns with their interests. Listen in as I uncover the secrets to creating a reading expe…
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In a world filled with distractions like video games, social media, and viral TikTok videos, inspiring a love for reading in students can feel like an uphill battle. However, in this week's episode, we dive into a powerful tool that can captivate even the most reluctant readers: teacher book talks. Think of teacher book talks as the trailers of the…
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Today, we are exploring the importance of establishing consistent routines and procedures in the classroom and how they will help us in building a classroom community. While focusing on middle school students, the ideas provided are relevant to all grade levels. Discover how well-defined routines and procedures create a thriving learning environmen…
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This episode explores the importance of building strong teacher-student relationships that extend beyond getting to know you activities. I discuss the misconception that teachers need to be friends with their students, emphasizing instead the value of creating a professional and caring connection. These relationships foster a sense of belonging, in…
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Imagine turning your classroom into a hip coffee shop or observing your students actively browsing through your classroom bookshelves to create poetry. This is exactly what we are talking about in this episode! Katie Saj from Mochas and Markbooks stops by for a fun interview about creative ideas she uses to engage her students in reading! Katie sha…
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Escape rooms are inclusive and engaging activities that consist of games and puzzles aimed at fostering critical thinking and creativity. In this week’s episode, Lyndsey from Lit with Lyns shares her experience in both creating and presenting digital escape rooms in her secondary ELA classroom. Escape rooms can be tailored to introduce or review va…
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In this episode, we explore the benefits of book talks and their impact on students' motivation as students promote books they loved to their peers. Join me as I interview Mary Pat from Just Add Students, who shares her firsthand experience with implementing book talks in the classroom. Unveiling the secrets of effective book talks, Mary Pat unrave…
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The pandemic has left many middle school students with learning gaps in their writing abilities. Join me this week as I interview Lisa from Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, who has developed a writing program created specifically for middle school students that focuses on addressing those gaps. Discover the transformative power of Leveled Writing Labs,…
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Reading is a fundamental skill that forms the foundation for all other academic subjects and is an important life skill! In this episode, I’m joined by Jennifer from Books, Babbles & Bows. We explore several strategies to promote reading and discuss practical methods for holding students accountable. Strategies such as assigning regular reading tim…
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When students are given choices, their engagement and output increase, leading to a sense of ownership in their learning. Join me this week as I interview Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog about the importance and benefits of student choice. In this episode, Kristy and I discuss the power of student choice in the classroom and its impact on engagement a…
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Centers, also known as learning stations, offer a structured approach to self-directed learning activities in the classroom. In today’s episode, Rachel from Uniquely Upper highlights several benefits of incorporating centers, with one key advantage being the ability to provide differentiated instruction for all students. In a classroom with diverse…
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Today is launch day for the book, Motivating Readers: Teaching in the Post-Pandemic Era! In today’s episode, I share why I wrote the book and what I hope you will gain by reading the book. Motivating Readers: Teaching in the Post Pandemic Era, is written for secondary ELA teachers. It acknowledges the challenges faced during the pandemic and emphas…
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In today’s episode, I’m sharing with you my reflections on this past school year. I share both the positive things I implemented that I’ll be keeping and a few areas where I want to make some changes. It is important to take some time at the end of the school year to reflect on the past year as it allows me to ponder the ideas over the summer and b…
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In this week's episode, I'm discussing independent reading in your secondary ELA classroom by answering five thought-provoking questions submitted by listeners. Join me as I share practical strategies and insights to make independent reading a more positive experience for both you and your students. In this Q&A episode on Independent Reading, I sha…
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Summer break is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time to rest, recharge, reflect, and invest in some relevant professional development. In today’s episode, I’m sharing books that have changed and inspired my own professional practices. If you're looking for ways to enhance your teaching skills and inspire best practices in reading instr…
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In this episode, I share the idea of productive struggle and its significance in education. Productive struggle is all about allowing students to tackle challenging tasks with limited adult intervention, enabling them to develop problem-solving skills, build confidence, and cultivate critical thinking abilities. Throughout the episode, I highlight …
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In this episode, I explore the importance of teaching students how to reflect on their learning and the impact it can have on their educational journey. By encouraging students to reflect, we shift their mindset from viewing education as something that happens to them to realizing that they have control over their learning. Reflection helps student…
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A classroom library is important for improving literacy as it provides access to books and reading materials that are essential for developing reading skills. In this week’s episode, I discuss the value of having a classroom library and tips for keeping it updated by spending time reviewing it each year. Having a well-stocked classroom library is c…
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In this episode, I share some end of the year tasks for teachers that will set you up for a smoother back to school in the fall. Teaching is stressful and there are many things to manage before you leave for summer break. I talk about how to close out the year, review your library, make copies of activities you'll use in the first few weeks, and re…
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Teaching has significantly changed in the past few years! Students returned to the classroom with large learning gaps and teachers are left to pick up the pieces. The traditional methods of teaching are no longer as effective as they once were, and teachers are struggling to find ways to motivate students to engage. To help address these issues, I’…
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Do you have a subject you struggle to teach? That subject for me would be poetry, but I’m not afraid to seek advice from others. This week’s episode is an interview with Lesa from SmithTeachers9to12 who I have dubbed the Poetry Queen! Lesa shares with us where her passion for poetry came from and how she turned a struggle into a passion! In this ep…
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In this episode, I cover a range of activities that incorporate technology, collaboration, and choice to make learning more enjoyable and interactive for your students. From choice boards to literary field trips, student-led book talks to silent debates, there's something for every teaching style. Some of these activities may seem intimidating to p…
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Yes, it is that time of year already - state testing season! Although it is state testing season that doesn't mean teachers and students need to feel overwhelmed by the pressure. In this week's episode, I'm sharing how I approach state testing with my students. Testing season can be stressful for both students and teachers. That's why I wanted to s…
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In this week's episode, I am sharing an amazing strategy I learned from attending a professional development led by Kelly Gallagher—writing in front of my students. Instead of just showing students an example of the end product, this strategy provides students with unique insights into the thought process and struggles I go through as I write in re…
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In this episode, I explore the unique challenges of teaching writing to students who have returned to classrooms after learning online during the pandemic. I reflect on how online learning has affected their skill level and ability to write at grade-level expectations - recognizing that transitioning "back to normal" may not be enough for our curre…
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Samantha from Samantha in Secondary joins us on today's podcast to share her passion for choice reading with her students - you know I'm all about that! She shared how she incorporates choice reading units in addition to her regular curriculum. If you are looking for enrichment reading activities, Samatha shared many with us such as book tastings, …
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This episode focuses on how teachers can use student-led book talks as an alternative to traditional book clubs. This episode provides a plan of action for implementing this type of discussion in the classroom, as well as additional resources and ideas for getting students thinking and talking about literature. By having students lead discussions, …
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Book clubs can provide a great way for secondary ELA students to engage in discussions about life and literature. When planning and implementing book clubs, teachers should take into consideration the time needed to plan the unit, the interests of their students, and how to facilitate student led discussions. In this week’s episode, I share how to …
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Are you the kind of teacher that loves hearing students engage in authentic conversations about books and life? Then this week’s podcast episode is for you! In this week's episode, I'm taking a deep dive into the power of using book clubs to teach reading. Through authentic conversations, book clubs offer real world experiences and allow students t…
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We know that vocabulary instruction is essential to helping students comprehend more complex texts, but it doesn’t have to be boring. In this episode, I share ways to get creative with vocabulary review. I share how you can include students in determining which vocabulary words are necessary for a unit or lesson. Students don't always enjoy learnin…
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In this week’s episode, I’m continuing our discussion on teaching vocabulary. Teachers know that vocabulary instruction is a key component to increasing students’ ability to comprehend text, yet they struggle to find the time to teach it. This episode will be exploring three ways to include vocabulary instruction through Word Walls, the Frayer Mode…
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Does vocabulary instruction sometimes take a backseat to other standards? This week’s podcast episode discusses the importance of including vocabulary instruction in every unit. We know that vocabulary is a critical component for reading comprehension, yet for years, vocabulary instruction has not been the priority it should be. Join me as I discus…
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In this episode, the last episode in the 4 part miniseries, I’m discussing four activities you can use to help hold your students accountable for their choice reading books. The activities I’m sharing today include a one-pager, task cards, letters of advice, and reading response journals. These activities ask students to think critically about what…
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This week on the podcast we are talking about setting reading goals with students that focus on the number of pages read. We will discuss why it is important to use a more individualized approach for goal-setting rather than expecting all students to read the same amount of pages. We will then look at how to determine what a realistic goal number i…
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Do you use reading logs to hold students accountable for their reading outside of class? Is it producing the outcome you were hoping for when you assigned the reading? Yes, it's important to hold students accountable for the work we assign, but without a purpose beyond recording page numbers or number of minutes a student reads, is it really helpin…
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December got you stressed? Although there are only a few teaching weeks in December, they can feel like some of the longest weeks of the year! That is why it is so important to unwind during the break. In today’s episode, I will share with you some ideas that have worked for me to rest, recharge and regroup over Winter Break so that you can start J…
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In Reader's Workshop, students take turns talking about what they are reading. This is one of the components of workshop that help students build confidence in their reading, speaking, and listening skills. When students share about their reading, it helps them stay actively engaged with their book. In today's episode, I share 4 ways you can get yo…
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Reading Conferences is where the magic happens! When you are able to sit one-on-one with students, listen to what they have to say, and correct any academic misunderstanding in real time - students will soar! Today's podcast episode is all about getting started with Reading Conferences. Once the most intimidating part of workshop (at least for me) …
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In all my years of teaching, I’ve never heard an ELA teacher say they have too much time to cover the standards. We have no control over the length of our class period, but we do have control over how we spend that time. By strategically structuring our day/week, we can create time for students to read, practice and develop their skills. In this po…
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Student motivation is an important issue in every teacher's career. Even veteran teachers face challenges in motivating their students, and it can be especially difficult for new teachers. There are, however, a few things that can help get students reengaged in learning. In this episode, I will be sharing with your some ideas I've earned throughout…
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It's just three weeks until winter break! These three weeks can be long and stressful, but don't worry, this week's episode is full of ideas you can use with your class. I'll share some easy, low prep ideas that will change up your routine just enough to entice our students to participate in the learning opportunities you present. It can be tough t…
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Did you have a chance to listen to episode 1 where I talk about what reader’s workshop is and why I’m so passionate about it and episode 2 where I talk about how to build a culture of reading in your classroom? If not you won’t want to miss those! If you did listen to those episodes and you are ready to begin incorporating reader’s workshop into yo…
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Do you find yourself trying to convince students that reading is fun? Do they groan out loud when it’s time for independent reading? Join me today as I talk about how I built a culture of reading in my classroom, which in turn has fostered a love of reading in my students. I’ll walk you through how I set up my classroom library as well as the mista…
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How would your classroom look if your students' reading levels increased, or if you began hearing from parents that your students were voluntarily reading at home, or they arrived at your classroom asking to read. This was the experience I had when I moved to a new school district that had implemented Reader’s Workshop. I was initially skeptical th…
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This podcast has been a dream of mine for years and I’m so excited you are joining me on this journey! I’m Carolyn Wahl and my passion is teaching middle school. I’ve been in education for more than 20 years and I’ve taught ELA in all grades from 6th - 12th. And if you’ve taught these grades I’m sure you’ll agree they are the best! I started this p…
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