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Courtney’s Teacher Tips

Cultivate Conversations, Engage Students, Build Fluency, and So Much More!

Courtney Lofgren

By Courtney Lofgren, Senior Topic Editor, Editorial and Instructional Design

Hi there! I’m Courtney Lofgren and I’m part of the editorial team at Learning A-Z. I taught kindergarten for eight years and first grade for three years, then worked as an instructional coach supporting elementary teachers, so I understand what teachers deal with, and I remember the questions I asked and the challenges I faced as a teacher.

I’m here to help you with useful teacher tips that you can try in your classroom today! I’ll share my tips on social media once a week and we'll collect them all here with updates each month on the Breakroom blog, so check back soon to get new tips!

Learning Centers

How do you keep students engaged while you’re leading small group instruction? I hope you’re using learning centers! As you plan your instruction for the week, incorporate learning centers to help students practice new skills and reinforce previously learned skills. Invite your students to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups to complete the activities in each learning center. Hold students accountable by having them talk or write about the work they do in their centers.

Composing Emails

Your students may be familiar with the steps required to write a letter, but do they know how to compose a friendly email? With laptops and tablets available to many students from any early age, don’t forget to prioritize teaching the elements of appropriate digital communication. Show your students the steps involved in creating a variety of emails. Highlight the important parts to include when composing an email. Invite students to practice writing and sending emails to fellow classmates, the principal, or another member of the school community. Find Writing Process Guides for Friendly Emails and many other forms of writing on Writing A-Z.

Writer’s Response

Interested in helping your students gain more meaning from the texts they read? Try incorporating writer's response prompts into your literacy instruction. These prompts help students make inferences, synthesize text, and construct their own meaning from the text. One of the great things about writer's responses is their flexible ability to be used with nearly any text. Learn about your students’ background knowledge, experiences, and overall reading comprehension by adding writer's responses to your instruction.


Comics are a fun way to engage readers and writers of all ages in literacy activities. Share a comic from the newspaper and have students practice reading the speech bubbles with appropriate accuracy, rate, and expression. Provide a blank comic template for your students, so they can tell or write their own comics with colorful illustrations and corresponding dialogue. Incorporate comics in your classroom in any way and you’ll be delighted to see your students develop more proficient reading, writing, and language skills!

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