Emily Kissner teaches fourth grade in rural Pennsylvania. In her 15 years of teaching, she has worked in preschool, middle school and elementary school. She is the author of the Heinemann books Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling and The Forest AND the Trees: Helping Readers Find Details in Texts and Tests.

Articles by Emily

Leave Exclusion Out of the Group Dynamic

For the second week in a row, I was left partnerless in my graduate class. It was my own fault, I guess. I didn’t feel like moving. As I scanned the room, no one made eye contact with me or motioned toward me. It was clear that I would have to make the first move to ask to be included in a group—and, after a day filled with hundreds of tiny setbacks, I just didn’t feel like it.

Mix It Up at Lunch Gets Staff Talking

As we planned for Mix It Up at Lunch Day last year, I felt a deep sense of nervousness. I wasn’t worried about getting the kids to talk and chat. I teach at a small school, and the students are usually friendly with one another.

Caterpillars Teach Lesson in Friendship

In the course of the day, sometimes, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices and decisions to be made, I miss the big moments. Take a day last fall. We were coming from lunch when I noticed that Brendan was crying. “Malia, why is Brendan crying?” I asked. “Oh, he’s sad that his caterpillars got let go,” she said.

Indoor Recess: A Time for Unifying Games

On rainy, dreary days, an announcement breaks into my class around 11 a.m. “Please excuse the interruption. Recess will be held indoors today.” From around the room, there are scattered cheers. My students are often happy to have indoor recess. I’m happy, too, because I see this as a positive time for my students to build friendships and interact. It wasn’t always this way.

Tadpoles Lead My Students Across the Social Divide

As a fourth-grade teacher, sometimes I feel like the social director on a cruise ship. On the playground, I try to match up students with peers. “Why don’t you go and see what Alanna is doing?” Or sometimes, “It looks like Daniel and Hunter are having fun playing tag—let’s practice how you could go and ask them if you can join in.” Then in the classroom, I pair students up to accomplish tasks. “Melanie and Jorge, you’ll be working together to read for science today.”