Top Teaching > Ruth Manna

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Digging Into the Common Core

Commoncorepic What do we all have in common this year?

The Common Core State Standards. Because these new standards are being implemented nationwide, we're all in this together. We'll have opportunities to read and reflect together on what we teach as we get familiar with these new guiding documents. Read on to learn about activities our district teachers are planning to help us get acquainted with the math standards.

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Greetings From Top Teaching Advisor Ruth

Manna_Ruth_Promo_xlg I’m always excited as a new school year approaches. It’s the time of year when all the pencils are sharp and none of the crayons are broken and I’m filled with a sense of hope and possibility. It’s an annual “do-over.”

I’ve been an elementary teacher for 25 years in New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts. During that time I’ve taught many diverse students in urban, suburban, and rural schools.

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Saying Goodbye

BusWaveBye2TH[1] Over the years I’ve noticed that things tend to fall apart, socially speaking, at the end of the school year. Maybe you’ve noticed this phenomenon, too. This social disintegration is marked by short tempers, unkind words, and increased sensitivity and rejection. Rejection is one way students separate from and prepare to leave their classmates. We’re all exhausted and ready for a break, but it’s up to us to ensure that all students feel safe and accepted through the last day of school.

Here are several suggestions for helping students transition peacefully to summer vacation and to their next grade.

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Redwall Day!

IMG_6858On the first day of school, eager 2nd graders ask, "Are we reading Redwall this year?" and beg, “When can we start Redwall?"

Throughout the year, my students continually bring up Redwall by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes). I explain they'll need to build listening stamina for long books before we can read Redwall. I want to give my students most of the year to mature. From past experience, I know Redwall will work best with 2nd graders who have become strong listeners and thinkers. I usually start this read-aloud in mid-March, hoping to complete the 300+ page book by the end of the school year. More than just a book, Redwall Day has become part of 2nd grade mythology.

Read on to find out about this book and  celebrating Redwall Day.

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For Moms Who Are Teachers

Bryn mawr parent weekend 2010“Every child should have at least one parent who’s a teacher,” my son, Dante, said recently. He meant that every child should have a parent who enjoys reading and books and who spends time teaching his or her child to ride a bike, play soccer, and memorize multiplication facts.

I’m writing this post on Mother’s Day for those of us who are both moms and teachers. Being both a mom and a teacher gives our children an advantage in school. To find out how, keep reading. . . .

With my daughter, Julia, on Parents' Weekend.


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Planning for Next Year — Hogwarts' Houses

Hogwarts%202[1] Right now we’re immersed in state tests that will run through the end of May, leaving just enough time for field days, class plays, and an all-school meeting before students board their buses for the last time. Many of us are thinking ahead to next year as we discuss class lists, consider groupings, and receive room assignments. Some of us will move to a new grade or school.

So now seems like an ideal time to share an idea about setting up small groups for next year. Keep reading to find out more. . . .

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

MEXC0001[1] Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, is a Mexican-American holiday celebrated in the southwestern states and in U.S. cities with large Mexican-American populations. It's a much bigger holiday in the United States than in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a surprise victory of the Mexican Army led by Benito Juárez over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Sometimes we confuse this special day with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated throughout Mexico on September 16.

Read on for easy ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at your school.


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A Visit to Bronx Arts

P4130042 This week I visited Bronx Charter School for the Arts in Hunts Point, a Bronx, NY, neighborhood. I was there to attend their Arts Education Conference, which coincided with the school's Arts Week. During our visit, the other conference attendees and I got to see the arts in action.

In this post, read about a few of the discoveries I made at the Arts Education Conference that might interest you, whether you're an arts educator or a classroom teacher. I’ve also included links so you can find out more. 

Photo: Art gallery with aboriginal-style paintings.


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Overcoming Spring Slump

Gardenpartnership[1] Every April, with the end of the school year looming like a black storm cloud, I experience a feeling of letdown and quiet panic. I suddenly realize all the wonderful plans and ideas I had last September aren’t going to happen because I’m running out of time. The challenging student I wanted to reach, the science unit I promised myself I’d improve, and those math games I was going to make: all will have to wait until next year. There just isn’t time.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling overwhelmed with the end of the year in sight. Over the years I’ve worked out ways of coping with Spring Slump. If, like me, you tend to experience end-of-year blues, I hope these coping mechanisms will help. Read the strategies in this post, and write in with your own ideas and solutions.

Photo: Spending time outdoors helps.

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Big Ideas and New Books! Highlights From the ASCD Conference

ASCD At the ASCD Annual Conference last week in San Francisco, I gained new perspectives on education from educators all over the U.S. and the world — and discovered big ideas and new books. Here are four samples of my newfound knowledge. I hope you’ll read on, post your thoughts, and share your insights.


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