#HappyBookday Falling In Love With #CloseReading!

Kate and I continue to be inspired by all of your wisdom, kindness, and belief in children and educators.

Thanks for making this a special day for us as our book joins your classrooms and conversations.

In the coming weeks look for some more fun:

  • Secret is out! A free, one hour webinar with Penny Kittle, Kate Roberts, and me will take place 10/23! We’ll be talking together and taking your questions and comments about the readers you teach – talking Close Reading, Independence, and most of all building reading Joy. 10/23 from 3-4 pm ET.  Registration is live until all seats are filled: http://heinemann.com/PD/livewebinars/default.aspx.  Groups are encouraged to register with just one seat to allow more educators to join.
    • UPDATE: In less than 24 hours the webinar filled up!  Wow.  Heinemann is collecting a wait list here as cancellations sometimes occur.  

      Also, a little bird *tweet tweet* told me that everyone registered (live or waitlist) will have access to a recording of the webinar aaaand perhaps something else very cool.  It’s a thank you to all of you for the amazing ways you give back to education.

  • Kate and I are busy putting finishing touches on a study guide for the book. Many of you have shared that you are planning to have study groups at your school, so we’re working to support you in those conversations.
  • In November, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts (of KateAndMaggie.com) and I will be presenting on Close Reading at NCTE and then at the CEL convention, both in Boston.
  • Heinemann One-Day Workshops “Fall in Love With Close Reading”: My Dec 6 date in WI has sold out, on Dec 9 Kate and I will be presenting together and there are seats left but going quickly.  A few more dates and locations for spring will be announced soon!
  • Kate and I will be hosting a 3-session webinar on Close Reading in Jan/Feb. Information and the link to register will be announced soon.

Thanks for all you do, everyday, for students and each another.

Falling in Love With Close Reading cover


Archive of this Week’s @LeadAndLearn Webinar – And Upcoming Events

I’ll be totally honest: I speak at public events all the time–I should be used to this–but nothing still gives me more butterflies than the hour before a webinar goes live. I always find myself sorting through things that need not be sorted and texting people that need not be texted.

I will also tell you: the second we start and I get to connect with fellow educators, it feels just like home.

In this post, I’d like to:

I’m looking forward to sharing all of this with you (butterflies and all)!

Archived Webinar: A Conversation About the Common Core State Standards

Thanks to all of you who attended my live webinar with The Leadership and Learning Center.  It was a blast, Tony Flach was a terrific host and Cathy and crew from the center made it very enjoyable.  In case you missed it, it is now archived! Here’s the link or click the image below.

click to be taken to archived video
click to be taken to archived video

I’m also looking forward to providing the first day keynote and joining panel discussions at The Leadership and Learning Center’s conference on the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Assessments in New Orleans, November 5-6. More here.

Upcoming Webinar Series:  Energize Your Classroom: Informational Reading, Writing And Research Are Way More Interesting Than You Think! 

Beginning October 2, I am leading a three-session, live, interactive webinar series on best practices for informational reading, writing and research.

I led a similar series this past winter, and it was so much fun that Heinemann has decided to offer two separate time slots, giving you more opportunities to attend.  Both series will run for the first three Wednesdays in October, select the time slot that works best for you (or perhaps even your team for day-time learning):

Morning 11:00AM-12:15PM ET  (8:00AM-9:15 PT)

Afternoon 5:00-6:15PM ET (2:00-3:15 PT)

For information on group rates call Heinemann PD at 800-541-2086, ext. 1151.

The webinar involves my live video stream, an on-going real time chat box for all attendees to communicate, and options for credits. All sessions are archived for participants.

click for registration page
click for registration page

As always, thanks for all you do for your students and fellow educators. I’m honored to be a small part of your big journey.

Tweets and Slides from WRSA “Write to the Core: #EnergizeResearch”

Yesterday was an awesome day with the Wisconsin State Reading Association who hosted my 1-day Institute “Write to the Core: Energize Research Reading and Writing” in Wausau, WI, based on my book Energize Research Reading and Writing.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 1.25.13 PM

A large group of dedicated educators filled the room to capacity despite the heat wave(!) and talked, tweeted, wrote, shared, and considered ways of re-imagining research instruction to support engagement,  learning, and student independence.

Energize Research Reading and Writing

Here are my slides from the day.

And Storified tweets from participants.

Thanks everyone for all you do for learners–adult and child alike!

Thank You: Energize Research Reading and Writing in 3rd Printing!

I  wanted to send a thank you to all of you for making Energize Research Reading and Writing a part of your classrooms. Whenever a book goes into a new printing Heinemann sends a new copy with a sweet little note, it’s a really special surprise. A mysterious delivery just came and I opened to that very gift–with a note saying the book is now in it’s third printing!

Energize Research Reading and Writing

I know your life as an educator is jam-packed, it is an honor to be welcomed into your instruction.

Please keep tweeting, messaging, and sending your thoughts and photos. They are inspiring!

Research research research!


Christopher Lehman blog sticker-01Follow Chris on Twitter and his Blog. Learn how to have him work with your school or organization.


Two Writing Teachers Guest Post: Informational Writing Can Be Informational Learning

I am honored to be guest posting today at Two Writing Teachers, a fantastic education blog–or perhaps a better description is an education community–led by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz. Two writing teachers, “Teaching Kids. Catching Minds. 565 Miles Apart,” as they say.

Not so long ago they celebrated their 2 millionth hit. Yes, 2 with a millionth after it.

Their blog posts range from the writing lives of classrooms, teaching ideas, guest bloggers, great new mentor texts, reflections on conferences, and a really cool weekly “Slice of Life” invitation in which they are readers to link back to their slice of life writing from their own personal blogs! It invites all of us to keep writing and really brings together the Two Writing Teachers community. Just search their blog for this logo (click this one to go to one of their Tuesday invites):

Here is the link to my guest post. It is on helping students learn to teach through their informational writing–both through their development and structure.


Let’s Study Together: Webinar series

UPDATE: I LOVED working together with teachers from around the world during this webinar series in February 2013!  Look for new dates announced in the Fall.


I’m looking forward to my new webinar series with Heinemann beginning in February 2013 titled “Energize Your Classroom: Informational Reading, Writing and Research are way more interesting than you think!”

The webinar will be four, live, interactive sessions and is built on work from my book Energize Research Reading and Writing (samples chapters here, and a related blog post here).  I’ll be live with you from 6-7:15PM EST on alternating Wednesday evenings to reflect, plan, and share approaches to instruction that bring energy and independence to these important skills.

Here is the link to register and below is the description from Heinemann’s website.  Please share with anyone interested in digging into information reading, writing and research and rethinking the way they unfold in our classrooms.  Looking forward to studying together!

All below text and links from Heinemann.com click for original webinar page:


Presented By Christopher Lehman

Register Now


Four, 75 minute webinar sessions from 6:00pm–7:15pm Eastern Standard Time.

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2013
  • Wednesday, February 27, 2013
  • Wednesday, March 6, 2013
  • Thursday, March 20, 2013

Please note that these webinars are all scheduled on Eastern Standard Time. If you are in a different time zone, please plan your schedule accordingly.


Based on the bookEnergize Research Reading and Writing and his experiences from classrooms around the world, Chris will support you in better understanding the role of informational reading, informational writing, and research in your classroom. In the age of the Common Core State Standards, when we sometimes feel overwhelmed by initiatives, Chris’ humor, care and practical strategies will support you in making the most of these big expectations and do so with energy and joy. This webinar series will not only aim to shift your guiding philosophies about these topics, but will also help you in developing your own practical lessons, unit plans, and even an example mini-research project to use with your students.The following is a description of the learning objectives to be met within each session of this series

Session 1: Who Said Research Instruction Needs to Be Incredibly Boring?: Essential Shifts that Can Energize Teaching AND Learning Right Away

In this first session, we will debunk the myth that informational reading, informational writing, and research need to be yawn-inducing by first studying all the ways we constantly research in our daily lives. Chris will then share essential shifts that came to light in his own study and writing of Energize Research Reading and Writing. You will leave the session with a new vision for instruction and practical steps to take in your classroom. You will also leave beginning your own mini-research project bringing back some links or texts to the next sessions..

Session 2:Session 2: Informational Reading and Note-taking: Common Core versus the Photocopier-Student

In the second session, Chris will draw on his knowledge of the Common Core State Standards from his work writingPathways to the Common Core with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth and Energize Research Reading and Writing, to help you explore the expectations of the CCSS for informational reading and research. He will share strategies for teaching students to take-notes on learning – not just copy books – and help you see the standards as habits of mind towards these goals. You will practice these strategies for your own mini-research project, creating hands-on exemplars you could use with students..

Session 3: Regurgitated Paragraphs Are So Last Season: Informational Writing Practices that Help Students Learn (and Help Teachers Stay Awake While Grading)

In the third session, Chris will share proven methods from Energize Research Reading and Writing for helping your students not just shove facts into paragraphs, but truly write to teach others (and in so doing to better teach themselves). He highlights the fact that the CCSS for informational writing expect students to be independent – not co-dependent – writers of information and help you develop practices for doing so in your classroom. Chris will also take on the ever-frustrating challenge of citing sources, providing a new take on a time honored skill. You will also practice these strategies to draft some of your own mini-research project, one you could use with your students.

Session 4: Planning Short and Long Research Studies that Match the Needs in Your Classroom

In the final session, we will reflect on the work of the webinar series by sharing highlights from our mini-research projects, have a final conversation about Energize Research Reading and Writing, and put our experiences together to develop plans for our instruction. Chris will help you think about approaches to CCSS Writing Standard 7, which expects students to undertake long and short research projects. He will help you see this as both the work of your classroom and the shared work of the school community, with the aim being to energize inquisitive minds and empower students with informational reading, informational writing, and research skills.


Christopher Lehman, author of Energize Research Reading and Writing, A Quick Guide to Reviving Disengaged Writers, and coauthor of Pathways to the Common Core (with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth) is a Senior Staff Developer with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Chris teaches and coaches alongside educators across the country and internationally in elementary and secondary classrooms throughout the year, supporting teachers and administrators in developing rigorous and passionate literacy instruction across content areas. In addition to connecting with educators on his popular blog (ChristopherLehman.com) and twitter handle (@iChrisLehman) he has written articles for NCTE’s Voices from the Middle, SmartBrief’s SmartBlog, Edweek’s The Book Whisperer, among other education blogs. He presents regularly at Reading and Writing Project events, writes curricular materials, leads institutes sections, and has presented at national convention. Prior to joining the RWP Chris taught both middle and high school and was a literacy coach.


Teachers grades 3-12, literacy coaches, principals, curriculum and instructional leaders.


The cost of this Webinar Series is $219.00 per person. If you register a group of 3 or more at the same time there is a discounted rate of $209.00 per person. This includes a certificate of attendance for .5 CEU credits equivalent to 5 class participation hours. Tuition also includes access to the recorded webinar sessions for up to 90 days after the conclusion of the webinar series.


There is no book requirment, however, you are encouraged to purchase Energize Research Reading and Writing (Heinemann 2012). If you do not own a copy you can purchase a copy on our website here.


Participants will receive a series of email correspondence from Heinemann. The first email confirmation will serve as your receipt for the webinar series along with some general instructions on how to prepare your computer for the webinar. The second email confirmation will be sent approximately 2 days prior to each webinar date with a link to the platform WebEx directing you to the webinar class and giving you instructions on how to log in.

We highly recommend you test your computer readiness by clicking on this link.

If your computer needs any software upgrades WebEx will walk you through the updates. We will also be showing video clips so we recommend you also update your Quicktime. You can do so by clicking this link.

Note: Multi-person discount rates will be reflected in your confirmation email from Heinemann.

Listen!: My Education Talk Radio Interview

I just finished my appearance on Education Talk Radio with Larry Jacobs which aired live today at 11AM EST on Blog Talk Radio.

I will admit at about 10:48 I was reeeeally nervous. Way more nervous than I am used to. I present frequently and honestly love to talk (as those who know me know all too well). But 12 minutes before the show my stomach was in knots. The first great help was tweets and messages of love and support coming from so many of you. THANK YOU. The other great support was that Larry was a terrific host – funny and thoughtful.

Here is the link to the archived interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edutalk/2012/11/12/common-core-and-re-energized-research-instruction

We talk about my book Energize Research Reading and Writing, why I love Library/Media Specialists, the Chris Lehmann/Chris Lehman confusion (with a shout out to Kate Roberts), seeing the CCSS as habits not check-boxes, with a backdrop of laughter throughout the show.

If you don’t follow Education Talk Radio’s blog, you really should. No really. Larry has AWESOME guests. Wait, that wasn’t big enough…


Here are just a few podcasted shows with people you love:

Thanks for listening! Happy researching!

I Broke Twitter. And it was Worth It.

Thanks everyone who was able to join me and @meenoorami for #engchat tonight when I guest moderated “Teach Students to Research, Not Regurgitate.”

…To be completely accurate, I guest moderated until this happened:

Twitter Jail

Yes, my friends, with around 15 mins to go… I found myself in twitter jail!  (Which I find hil-arious).  Twitter sort of kind of explains what this mystical place is here. A place I had never heard of until deep into moderating a popular chat.

So, note to self: Day of hosting a chat = barely tweet.

Still Worth It (Check Out the Archive)

It was still worth it, however, because I love #engchat and tonight’s sharing of ideas was another great night of learning.

If you couldn’t join us live check out the archive.  Start from the bottom and work up (it’s only 74 pages!) …And laugh as you notice me suddenly disappear… 

Or as @thereadingzone explains in a way that makes me feel less embarrassed and more proud of everyone’s work tonight:

In closing:

  • Join #engchat every week, Mondays at 7 pm ET.
  • And finally, hoard some Get Out of Jail Free Cards. You never know when you’ll need ’em.

Research Instruction: Who Decided It Should Be A Tremendous Bore?

Please transport me back to the exact moment and exact person who thought, “I know, let’s make teaching research skills the most awful experience possible.” I’d like to give that person a piece of my mind.

What are we doing? Research is incredible. Look around yourself right now: every single thing you own, are wearing, are eating, are talking on or tapping on, came from someone or some group of someones researching, studying, communicating new findings with one another, and developing all of it. All. Of. It.

Research is tremendously empowering. Don’t like the price of that used car the salesperson is offering you? Research. Wondering if there are other ways of dealing with a disease? Research! Baby on the way? Research. iPhone-this or Galaxy-that? Research. Where to eat, where to go, how do I unclog this drain, what song is on this commercial, what do mosquitoes do anyway, what good book should I read next, flipped classrooms are what exactly, how do I help my readers,… Research!

So why, then, is the first image that pops into many people’s minds (and I have asked a lot of people): students, or themselves as students, recopying book information onto little cards (e.g. photocopying) and then recopying the information from those little cards onto paper and doing so in the approximate shape of paragraphs (e.g. photocopying), ending in a horrific inferno of last minute final draft making, that–when all is said and done–results in the answer, “I dunno,” to the question, “so what have you learned about this topic?”

We are better than this, people. Rise up teachers. Rise up.

I undertook this mission, to rescue research, and began in an obvious (and Dr. Suess-ian) way: by researching research to rescue research by teaching kids researching in the way we all research. This resulted in my new book: Energize Research Reading and Writing. In researching for, and during the process of, writing the book I came to some new understandings of what we are mostly doing now in the name of research and what changes we can make (or some are making) that can dramatically transform both how we teach and students’ relationship to these skills. I would like to share three essential moves in this post:

1. Stop Handing Out So Much Stuff

The Common Core has devoted an entire strand of the Writing standards to research (7, 8, 9):

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

and the tests that are chugging on down the track toward us aim to make research skills a big portion of how students are assessed (PARCC-one of the three performance tasks and SMARTER Balanced-see page 17-18). Meaning, students will be expected to be independent with these skills, not co-dependent. Not expecting us to dole out each bit.

So one place to start is actually to stop. To stop assigning specific topics or ways those topics should specifically unfold (“on page three describe the state bird and draw a picture of it, on page four write three facts about the state’s agriculture…”). Also, stop handing out the sources students should use. Instead teach them the very habits you use when you think, “We’re having a baby… now what??”:

  • You start broad, let your possible topic guide you to possible sources.
  • Then let those sources guide you to a more specific focus.
  • Repeat as necessary.

The start of research is like dating: you really only know what you are looking for after you have been looking for awhile.

Chapter 2 of my book describes this in way more detail and is a free read here.

2. Take Notes On Your Mind, Not Your Book

We need to cure the I am pretending to take notes but actually I am just copying everything disease or its related strain I am mostly just writing down numbers I come across but I don’t know why virus.

A way to do this is to shift students’ perceptions away from taking notes on books to taking notes on our minds. More specifically:

  • First, read and focus on what you are learning
  • Then, stop and look away from the text
  • Next, take notes on your learning, ideally without looking at the book at all
  • Finally, perhaps, look briefly back to see if there is something really essential you missed such as “domain specific language” you could use in place of other words – a la Common Core.

It takes a bit of practice, even sometimes an overly exaggerated policing-coaching, “nope, nooooo notes now, just read.” or “now before you write any notes, teach me about your topic, tell me what you just learned….. …great! now right that down in the same way.” I call this strategy Read, Cover and Jot, Reread. It’s cousin is Read, Cover and Sketch, Reread for students that just won’t stop copying: if they are reading text, take notes in sketches and labels; if looking at a diagram, take notes in words.

3. Add a New Process Step: Teach-Through-Writing

Lastly, to counteract dry, dull or I didn’t really learn anything even though I wrote 8 pages research writing, I argue that we need to add a new step in the research writing process.

  • What Happens now: students tend to jot notes [from books], then write a draft.
  • Instead: we need to jot notes [from our mind], then experiment with a variety ways of teaching those ideas and facts through writing, ONLY THEN draft–drawing on the best experiments.

One example is you have a fact or few – say “cuttlefish subdue their prey by making their skin flash” – you can experiment with how you will teach that fact:

  • try making surprising comparisons: “If you have ever been around a strobe light, perhaps in a haunted house or at a school dance, you know how they can both mesmerize and disorient you. Cuttlefish use a similar technique to make their prey freeze long enough to be caught. They actually make their skin pulsate a lot like those lights.”
  • try teaching instead by creating a story: “A cuttlefish swims slowly through the ocean, a small crustacean crawls into view. Lunch! The cuttlefish approaches slowly, but cannot let the fast moving crustacean escape. So, he extends two large tentacles and starts flashing. The small prey looks up and is instantly so confused it freezes in place. Just long enough for the cuttlefish to SNAP! Catch it.”

These are just two examples of this type of teaching-through-writing. In working with students, I was amazed at how this shift in the process not only lead to students doing better and more interesting writing, it also helps them continue to learn about their topic because they continue to manipulate it in a variety of ways–all with their readers in mind.

Let’s Talk More About Rescuing Research

On Monday, Oct 1st at 7PM EST I guest moderated #Engchat (YAY!) with the topic “Teach Students to Research, Not Regurgitate.” The archive (and a funny story) is at my post: “I Broke Twitter. And It Was Worth It.”

My book on this topic, Energize Research Reading and Writing, is available at book sellers like Heinemann, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

As always, leave comments or tweet me, I’d love to hear ways you are helping students have the excitement and deep learning that real research provides.

Chartchums Guest Post: Charting a Course to Deeper Learning

Visit my friends over at Chartchums, and while you’re at it check out my guest post from July 2012: http://chartchums.wordpress.com/2012/07/