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Blackbird & Company

The Rhythmn of Routine

SorenWasn’t June yesterday? According to the calendar it’s October! I look out the window to confirm that fall has arrived and that we are moving delightedly, albeit amazed by the passing of time, into another school year. Looking back, as the school year wound down and I felt myself slipping into the usual panic wondering if we had accomplished enough, I took a deep breath and engaged my eyes to assess the situation. All around was evidence of accomplishment, a 275-page volume of original prose and poetry, a short film, a mountain of completed math lessons, history binders bulging at the seams, the remnants of a science fair, and a stack of fine literature. Taking in the scene, amazed as usual, I wondered how this accomplishment was possible. "Routine," I whispered aloud. The accomplishment, and it is significant, happens each year, day by day, as the students in my cooperative engage in the framework of our routine.

Fast forward, here I stand preparing lessons on the threshold of a brand new school year. Why do I look back? I look back to remind myself that routine is not the enemy, routine is the hero.

Last week I had a conversation with a friend who teaches at a public high school in Los Angeles. As I was discussing the plans I have for my cooperative this coming year, specifically the literature we will explore, her bright countenance dimmed, "I only have the opportunity to read one novel per year with my students." We both stopped to acknowledge this very sad truth. This past year, my middle school literature circle read and explored eight novels. This coming year I have at least that amount slated to explore with my high school group.

This past year my middle school literature group was able to explore all those books because their routine for approaching literature is firmly established. I see snapshots in my mind: Working with my students to overcome the struggle to take notes, the task of teaching the value of using vocabulary from the reading in a new context, reminding them to respond to comprehension questions with a complete sentence, and encouraging young writers to value their voice. Looking back I see that practicing and applying these elements to each book we tackled allowed my students to move easily along the academic spectrum. Looking back I see that it is not simply routine, but the right kind of routine that matters.

The comfort of routine, once established, will set roots deep into soil, establishing a framework for the tree to grow strong. When a routine rhythm of reading and exploring great stories is established from an early age, students will value the work of exploring books. So as I ready myself for a brand new year, here's a nod and a great "Hip, Hip, Hurrah" to the hero of the day: Routine.



Celebrate Fall!

AndrewFall is finally in the air! Introduce your youngest students to the wonders of the season with our Earlybird Fall 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. You may purchase the guide alone or as a bundle with all five books.
Visit our website for more information.

Fall Stories books include:


Resources on our website

We've been busy adding resources to our website to help you get the most out of our products. Explore these links:

We will continue to add more as time goes on, including sample work pages, video, and photos. Check back often to see what's new.


Join our flickr group

We've created a place where you can share projects 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/


“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

—Benjamin Franklin   

NEW! poetry guide

Our brand new guide, Exploring Poetry, gives students an opportunity to delight in the reading of great poetry and discover the craft of writing poems, incorporating both analytic and creative exercises to spark the poet inside of your student.

Exploring Poetry Unit

Created for middle and high school students, Exploring Poetry is appropriate for 5th grade and beyond and is designed to work for a range of writing abilities. The bundle includes a seven-week poetry guide that can be expanded to 14 weeks, a personal journal, art cards and required books.


new titles

LEVEL 1 (Grades 1-3)

Stone Fox
Will little Willy beat Stone Fox?

LEVEL 2 (Grades 3-5)

The Magician's Nephew
What happens when Digory and Polly get transported to a new world?

The City of Ember
What will happen when the generator finally fails?

LEVEL 3 (Grades 5-8)

How will Misha continue to dream?


call for entries!

Is your jr. high or high school student a budding writer, musician, or artist? Visit CollectiveBanter.com a place for young creators.


The Collective Banter Salon is an online community where students can post their creative work and receive critique, encouragement, and inspiration from fellow students.

The Collective Banter Challenge is a biannual creative arts competiton where students must respond to a specific directive with their chosen art form.

Fall 2009 Challenge:
Communicate the concept of freedom within boundaries.

Cash prizes will be awarded for short stories, poetry, instrumental compositions, songs, drawing, painting, mixed-media, 3-Dimensional works, photography, and computer generated artwork. Visit CollectiveBanter.com for more details.


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about us

We love books! Reading is a passion in our families and classrooms and we believe that great stories have the power to instruct, inspire and enlighten. With beauty and clarity, we desire to provide tools that will foster your students' delight in learning and encourage them to become lifelong readers!

Blackbird & Company Educational Press

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

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