Happy Thanksgiving from Rourke

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Thanksgiving Blog Photo


We want to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. Many people have special family traditions. What are yours? Maybe you can try out one of these and start a new tradition:

– Each guest writes what they are thankful for that year. Clip them together, write the year, and save the memories.

– Create a thankful box, vase, tree, or turkey. Each guest writes on a piece of paper, tag, or paper turkey feather what they are thankful for and adds it to the box, vase, tree, or turkey.

– Design a holiday table cloth. Using a white table cloth have each guest write their name and what they are thankful for that year. Later go over the names and comments with embroidery cloth. You can create a new one each year or add to the existing one.

– Play a game that is close to home! Create a family trivia game for everyone to play. The questions can be about things that year or related to your family history or culture.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Don’t forget you can read all about Thanksgiving with our book available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook formats.

ISBN: 9781615904792


Science Through Literacy

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NGSS bins picHow is your district addressing the changing science standards? The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as their national standards. The move for professionals comes with the support for the investigating. modeling, and experimenting portions of the standards.

On the NSTA Blog, Cynthia Passmore explains how framing your classroom is just as important as what you do in it. Teaching the kids to ask the right questions and working together are vital. Read more about it here in her blog post.

At Rourke we can help even the non-science enthusiast address the skills and concepts found within NGSS. Our Next Generation Science bins address science through literacy. Connecting science concepts with literacy skills by incorporating the 7 E’s of science inquiry, experiments and hands on activities, home school connection, and, of course, literacy through informational text. Our bins are available for kindergarten through 5th grade in English and Spanish. Contact Rourke to learn more!

Celebrate Veteran’s Day

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What are your plans with your students this Veteran’s Day? Nowadays, many students know someone or have a family member who has served in the armed forces. You can have them honor the soldier by writing a poem.  Invite a veteran into your classroom to speak to the students. There are many activities found here and here that can be used to discuss what Veteran’s Day is and what symbols have a significant meaning to many veterans.

Don’t forget about Rourke’s Freedom Forces series. These titles discuss each branch of the military with stunning photographs, content sidebars, and additional resources. Available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook. These are sure to be a hit on Veteran’s Day and any other day!


Colleen’s Classroom: Addressing Exceptional Writers

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I recently completed a week of conferencing with the parents of my fifty students. With that many conferences, you would think I would have encountered some bumps along the way but they actually went smoothly. There was one conference however, that has given me pause for much reflection. It wasn’t a conference about a struggling student or a child with behavior issues that kept my mind churning. The conference that kept creeping into my thoughts was about a child who is achieving excellence.

I am convinced that this particular student came from the womb clenching a pencil in one hand and paper in the other. She uses dialogue tags, demonstrates appropriate usage of figurative language, is spot on with conventions, understands the importance of revision, and has a grasp of craft beyond her nine years. How can a gifted writer be a problem?

My writing toolkit is full of great tools when it comes to providing strategies for students who struggle with writing. I have plenty of ways to differentiate and scaffold learning for those who need extra support. Unfortunately, my toolkit for the exceptional writer is not nearly as full; probably because I haven’t encountered many students who are truly gifted writers.

While talking to this student’s parents, I discovered that her entire family loves to read. They shared that watching TV isn’t the norm in their home, but reading is. Her parents also stated that not only does their child read for hours on her own; she also listens to them read to her… classical favorites no less!

As a result of her immersion into literature, my student has picked up on the many ways an author can use words to engage an audience. With authors acting as her mentors, she has developed her own rhythm, voice, and desire to create meaning through words.

In the upcoming weeks, I will provide this student with strategies that will continue to help her develop her skills. By intentionally using her love of reading, my writing conferences with her will allow this young writer to stretch and take risks by moving her beyond benchmarks and grade level targets

  • Author studies – Matching specific writing skills will specific authors for student at home and in school reading
  • Advanced vocabulary building, including the origins of words
  • Examining the use of audience, purpose, and context
  • Looking at revision in new ways
  • Providing books about writing such as, How to Write a Life Story and Live Writing by Ralph Fletcher
  • Providing opportunities for publishing – contests, coffee shop displays, and online publishing
  • Examining and studying genres beyond those used in the classroom

These strategies can be used in different degrees with all writers of course, but as they stand, they will definitely be added to my toolbox for exceptional writers.

– Colleen

“Keeping Libraries Relevant” SLJ Webcast

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Join us on Tuesday, November 4th at 3 PM Eastern Standard Time as we discuss ways to keep libraries relevant. We will discuss the importance of informational text and technology to improve literacy. Each guest will receive a code to claim 500 points for Rourke’s Frequent Buyer Program. Register here.

See you there!



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