Margin Notes



Aaron Blabey’s ever growing popular graphic novel series, The Bad Guys, released its 12th edition called, “THE ONE,” in November, 2020.

The Bad Guys series is based on a group of animals destined to be bad, trying to prove they are indeed good. This series captures the reader with the funny, hilarious, and sometimes insulting dialogue between the characters that is sure to bring belly laughs from the reader.

In the 12th Bad Guys edition, readers that are fans of this series will question what they have known about Snake prior to now and wonder what is going on with him. Readers will also be very surprised to find out there is more than meets the eye with Agent Fox! (the BAD GUYS: THE ONE, by Aaron Blabey. Published by: Scholastic In, 2020)



What child doesn’t lose it when they hear the word “butt”? Jonathan Stutzman is sure to capture any student’s attention with his triumphant celebration of the tushee. 

Although the subject matter of this book is comical, children will learn more about their “hind-end” than they realize!  Who knew these powerful muscles had such purpose or that, as Jonathan would suggest, “The gluteus really is the maximus!

This over the top hilarious book is sure to bring a smile to anyone that reads it and evoke much followup conversation.



In All Because you Matter, Tami Charle captures her audience with this heart felt story that serves to remind children that they matter.  While this story was written to tell, “especially those [children] from marginalized backgrounds, that no matter where they come from, they matter”, any child can benefit from this lyrical tribute.     

The pictures of this story by award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier’s do not go unnoticed, with each page carefully illustrated.   

This is a must-have for your classroom library! 



New York Times best-selling author of The Reading Strategies BookJennifer Serravallo, has just released a new book called, “Connecting with Students Online (Grades K-8), based on her own and other educators experiences’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Jennifer’s book offers more than 55 step-by-step teaching strategies and videos showing conferring, small groups, messages for caregivers, student conversation and collaboration.  In addition, her book addresses deeper topics on assessment and progress monitoring, student engagement and accountability, supporting students’ social and emotional needs, getting books into students’ hands and avoiding teacher burnout. (Heinemann, 2020) 

Jennifer’s book gives educators a “how-to” not only in building relationships with students but also building relationships with caregivers during remote teaching environments.  Additonally, she offers a “how-to” in adapting to the new online setting, focusing on the social and emotional learning needs of students.   

This rescource also guides educators to consider priorities that matter most during online instruction and how to schedule the day to maximize the teaching and learning.  Also included are suggestions for highly engaging short lessons and tips for conferring with small groups of students.  

Whether you are in a home learning situation now or have the potential to move to a home learning situation, any teacher would benefit from the section, Connecting Goals Across Reading and Writing in Chapter #3, where she offers a side-by-side chart to give you a visual of how simple it is to connect goals across subject areas.   




Cece Bell, author of Newbery Honor Book, El Deafo, has taken the stage with her new, “Chick & Brain” series for children learning to read. Egg or Eyeball? is the second book in Cece’s series. Not only is she the author of this book geared to generate many laughs from its readers, but she also boasts the illustrator title for this series too!

What I particularly love about this title and the previous book, Smell my Foot, is that Cece captures the audience with comedy about manners gone wrong with the characters Brain, Chick, and Spot.

So, what is this mysterious discovery?  Chick and Spot say it is an egg with supporting facts, and Brain says, “eyeball.” Sit down, relax and judge for yourself. You may be surprised with the outcome!



Oh, the great debate on learning to spell!  Here is what we know: memorization alone by writing the word repeatedly is not the answer. We have come along way from the days of spelling tests and spelling bees to the advantage of all our learners. One thing we do know is that words are tricky and, while it is important for students to learn to spell, we must do better.  As educators, we need to change our thinking and teach our students strategies to learn to spell words.

Miriam Trehearne is a bestselling author and has written several teacher’s resource books for Grades K-5.  In her Grades 1-2 Teacher’s Resource Book, Miriam shares the importance of supporting students in what they know about a particular word, identifying what is tricky about the word and a strategy to help support the students in remembering the word.

Miriam, suggests that guiding students when asked, “Teacher, how do you spell….” with questions such as, “Show me what you know about the word,” or asking “How does it start,” encourages students to practice effective spelling strategies and allows teachers to coach their students to use the spelling prompts they have learned as they attempt to write the word.

Here is a great visual that Miriam provides in the teaching resource on page 226 that you can provide for your students to support them in their spelling:




Jennifer Seravallo’s The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades K-2, 3-6 sheds a new light on turning assessment data into goal-direct instruction. Often we rely so heavily on formal products such as assignments, benchmark assessments, or exit slips that we forget to use the moment in many everyday opportunities to gather information to help guide our instruction. One way to triangulate data is to pay particular attention to the conversations going on in our classrooms.

Jennifer suggests that “student conversations give teachers a window into student’s understanding… by transcribing these conversations and reflect on them through the lens of comprehension we are able to reveal what a student understands or doesn’t understand.” Jennifer also reiterates how essential, “It is that we provide opportunities across the day for our students to engage in meaningful conversation: about topics of importance to the classroom community, a bout books read together as a class and independently with partners and clubs, about their writing, about math, and so on.  As students speak and listen, it’s just as important for us as teacher to listen and assess.

One tool Jennifer uses to record whole class conversations is by drawing a quick sketch of a circle with students initials placed in reference to where they are seated around the circle.  As the conversation takes place in her class, Jennifer takes notes about what the students are doing, records who speaks and who stays silent (note the check marks around the circle in the diagram below) and includes a brief transcription of what was said.  Jennifer “uses these notes as assessments from which to craft goals and develops teaching and learning opportunities for students.”

Here are two samples shared in The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook:

Engagement inventories are a quick strategy you can try tomorrow in any grade!



Author and illustrator, Chris Saunders shares a tale of true kindness, and friendship through a compelling story about Rabbit who has unexpectedly been granted three wishes.

His touching story takes you on a journey with Rabbit who has never had a wish before as he seeks out the advice of others of what they would do if they were granted a wish. Rabbit selflessly grants each of his friends wishes giving him more than he expected when his friends then share their wishes with him.