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Blackbird & Company

Finishing Well

Even though we’re midstream in the school year, with a solid four months ahead of us, it’s not too late to reach beyond basic academic standards and charge into change. Our resolution this year is a commitment to help you inspire your students to recognize that books are worth reading and to provide support in the use of our guides. Used to their full potential, Blackbird & Company literature guides will provide your students with regular opportunities to practice a myriad of academic skills while instilling in them an unquenchable passion for reading and writing. We’ve seen it happen!

Digging into great stories provides limitless opportunities to develop many important language arts skills including:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary development
  • Note taking and outlining
  • Purpose, organization, and focus in writing
  • Point of view development
  • Writing domains and expanded paragraphs
  • Story and sentence structure
  • Punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and spelling
  • Evaluation, editing and revision
  • Penmanship and publishing

Beginning this month, we will be going step by step through the different components of our guides, giving you insights and tips for what to expect and encourage in your student. This information will be added to our web site so that it will be easy for you to access and reference. As always, we invite you to email or call us with any questions or if you just need encouragement.

Here’s to finishing the school year well!


Why Take Notes?

Taking NotesTaking notes is a foundational skill that will accompany your student through their entire educational journey and beyond. Even though there is no right way of taking notes, it is important to learn how to extract relevant and pertinent information from a text in a neatly organized, concise manner. This takes practice. When students are encouraged to practice note taking, and engage in the work of capturing the most important facts from their reading, they will begin to recognize how all the parts of a story fit into a larger picture. Learning to take notes helps to lay the foundation for rich, clear, and organized writing.

When readers take note of character development, trace a setting, and watch a plot thicken, they are learning more than just the skill of recording facts, they are actually beginning to realize the potential of storytelling. Teaching students to dig into a story, to do the work of reading for meaning, enables them to discover how language has the power to communicate significance.

Some might argue, when faced with a classroom of 30 students, or even when faced with one student sitting at a kitchen table stubbornly refusing to write, that teaching from a textbook that tells the student what to learn is an easier method than pulling teeth trying to nurture the independent skill of note taking. We would argue that learning to extract information from a story trains students to do the hard work of, not only attending to the details of reading, but more importantly to develop the skill of integrating knowledge into life outside of the book. As students discover the details and framework that make a story great, they will apply this new-found knowledge to broader academic pursuits in all subject areas.

Click here to visit our website for the following:

  • Expanded version of this article
  • Guidance specific to reading levels
  • Examples of student work

Next Month: Vocabulary and the Wonder of Words


Explore the Resources on our website:

We will continue to add more resources throughout the year, including sample work pages, video, and photos. Check back often to see what’s new.


snow sale

Enjoy 25% off of our Snow Stories bundle through the end of February. Code: SNOW

Snow Stories Bundle

While there is still some snow on the ground, explore the wonderful season of winter with your youngest students using our Earlybird Snow Stories Thematic Unit. Share five read aloud books with your little ones, then work together on exercises that start teaching them how to mine for the treasure in great stories. Learning tools that inspire hearts and nourish minds.

Birthday Cupcake



february literary birthdays

Noteworthy birthdays offer great opportunities to extend and enrich your teaching. Learning about real people will often inspire students to connect with and dig deeper into a subject. Whether it be history, science or language arts, learning can come alive as students discover the lives of influential people who have left a mark on our world.

Langston Hughes
American poet, novelist and playwright known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Author of the well-loved Little House series which chronicles her childhood on the American frontier with her family.

Charles Dickens
Important Victorian era social campaigner and writer of Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

Victor Hugo
French Romantic author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

John Steinbeck
American writer of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men whose works examine the lives of the working class during the Great Depression.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American educator and poet whose works include Paul Revere’s Ride.

Visit the New York Public Library's website and find your favorite author, or see who shares your birthday.

join our flickr group

We’ve created a place where you can share all the wonderful things your students are creating as they explore and are inspired by great stories! It’s a great place to catch some inspiration and it’s easy to join. Check us out and upload your photos to the group pool at www.flickr.com/groups/blackbirdandco/

Blackbird & Company Educational Press

11613 Washington Place, Los Angeles, CA 90066 | Visit our website blackbirdandco.com

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