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January 10th, 2012
From this week's newsletter:
I’m eager to try something new this year. From time to time, I will present student writing in this newsletter. I'll demonstrate one way I might respond to the writer in a conference, and then list mini-lessons designed to help this student (and others Read more »
April 7th, 2011
After a visit to High Bridge Elementary School in New Jersey, teacher Lucille Arnold shared this fifth-grade student essay with me (reprinted here with permission). I know you will be as impressed with Maddie's ability to articulate her love of writing as I was:
Maddie Kearney March 7, 2011 ILA Read more »
October 26th, 2010
Perhaps you have heard of NaNoWriMo. During National Novel Writing Month authors give themselves the challenge of writing a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Many a writer has accomplished a first draft in this time.
I thought it would be fun to establish our own writing Read more »
October 12th, 2010
Learning to write is as complex as learning to read or to understand mathematics. It requires a good deal of exposure to exemplars and practice, practice, practice. Learning to write teaches us how to think. The stronger we become in our abilities to communicate a message in writing, the more we are Read more »
September 28th, 2010
Sometimes. But with writer’s workshop we assess our students’ application of skills on a daily basis. Here are some of the ways in which we assess:
1. We plan interactive mini-lessons where students show us what they know
September 21st, 2010
This is a common question teachers ask when transitioning from traditional writing lessons to writer’s workshop. Let’s take a look at these two formats.
Traditionally teachers have had students write many products (all students writing on the same topic) and graded most of them. Or, over weeks, teachers Read more »
July 24th, 2010
I recently spent a week in Omaha, Nebraska conducting writing workshop inservices. The Omaha teachers were fabulous and had so much to offer! It was a high-energy, roll-up-our-sleeves week in which I was definitely both the teacher and the learner.
I was reminded of what a gift a two-day inservices can be. (I worked with teachers Read more »
May 23rd, 2010
As promised, I want to share another lesson I presented at High Bridge Elementary. Lynn H. requested a lesson that would help her fourth graders write the middle of their stories or personal narratives. There are oodles of lessons for teaching beginnings and endings, but how do we guide students through Read more »
May 13th, 2010
Last month I was back in High Bridge, NJ, one of my very favorite places to be, demonstrating writing lessons and student conferences in the classroom. Now here is a school (dedicated principal, talented and highly committed teachers, engaged students) that can’t help but make me look good. Nevertheless, I will admit it, I am always nervous Read more »
March 4th, 2010
I’m recently back from presenting a school inservice and an author day at the Kateri School in the Kahnawake Mohawk Reservation in Quebec. Second graders in Ms Fran’s class created a stunning welcome banner — my first in the Mohawk language. I just have to share:
Read more »
January 24th, 2010
I just learned the meaning of this word, decalogue, this week. First I stumbled across the website of NNWP Teacher Consultant, Corbett Harrison who provides wonderful mini-lessons to use with mentor texts. He recommends reading chapter four of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie, which contains a wonderful decalogue — a list Read more »
January 11th, 2010
I received an email from a teacher this week who wrote:
I work with a great group of 2nd grade students who love to write. However, their spelling needs improvement. Do you have any suggestions?
Formal programs help students to see spelling patterns and to learn spelling rules Read more »
April 9th, 2009
Those who have heard me speak know that I’m a huge proponent of audiobooks for children. So it is with enormous pleasure that I announce that the first two Andy Shane books are now out on audio by Live Oak Media. Check out the Kirkus review.
Why audiobooks? Read more »
March 23rd, 2009
“Teaching voice is easier than I thought,” a fourth grade teacher recently said after watching a modeled lesson. I knew exactly what he meant. Voice is the hardest trait to define, but even very young writers recognize it when they see it.
I introduce voice through art, and begin with Read more »
January 17th, 2009
So once you’ve introduced students to the pattern of three in literature, and they come to you regularly pointing out the pattern in the books they’re reading, how do you help them to use this pattern in their own writing?
I introduce this graphic organizer from Reading Response Read more »
January 6th, 2009
Perhaps you think of it as a circular ending, but one favorite technique for ending pieces – particularly short pieces – is by having the ending reflect the beginning. Here are three of my favorite examples.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox Beginning: There was once a small boy Read more »
December 30th, 2008
So, we’ve arrived at the topic of conclusions. Endings are hard. Let me say that again: ENDINGS ARE HARD!
Last week I wrote the ending of my newest middle grade novel. Observe the writer at work: she’s fidgety, she’s irritable, her brain feels incapable of functioning. She paces, she eats (no, not fruit and veggies), and if Read more »
December 16th, 2008
Okay, so your students have come to recognize that, yes, story often begins with a character who wants something. Does this mean the character gets what he or she wants right off the bat? No way! (Not unless the character, like King Midas, is meant to learn to Read more »
December 9th, 2008
Allow me to model my writing process for a moment. Every time I begin a new piece, I ask myself two questions:
1. What do I want to write about? 2. How am I going to organize my writing?
Once I know the answer to these two questions, I can go confidently Read more »
November 29th, 2008
Rose mentioned “Quiet Ten.” Today, after the abundance of Thanksgiving (food, conversation, catching-up, laughter), Quiet Ten seems like a perfect topic.
What is Quiet Ten? It’s a technique I developed while teaching first grade that works beautifully for all ages. (Though in Kindergarten, it tends to be Quiet Five!) Read more »
November 14th, 2008
I recently heard from Nancy, a teacher in Bangor, Maine, asking what types of resources I’d recommend attaching to fourth grade writing folders. Knowing that action brings energy to writing, I suggested she attach a list of lively verbs. It turns out that this is not an easy list to Read more »