In the past week, I’ve managed to squeeze-in some time to read through two professional books, both of which I picked up while I was at NCTE.
Writing to Persuade: Minilessons to Help Students Plan, Draft, and Revise, Grades 3-8, written by Karen Caine, is a resource I wish I had four years ago when I began teaching persuasive letter writing to my students. I’ve been winging it, somewhat successfully, for the past few years. However, thanks to this new resource, I have elaborated minilessons and a variety of fresh graphic organizers to use with my students to supplement the lessons I’ve already created. Janet L. Elliott’s new book, Using the Writer’s Notebook in Grades 3-8: A Teacher’s Guide, provided me with greater clarity on ways to lift the level of instruction when it comes to using writer’s notebooks in the classroom. As I read this text, I found myself taking notes rapidly and saying, “Mmm-hmmmm, I agree!” on nearly every page. Elliott’s thinking truly aligns with mine.
Additionally, Elliott didn’t do something that many professional book authors are doing lately; she didn’t try to reinvent the wheel by coming up with new terminology for the work kids do around notebook writing. (I’ll refrain from going off on the diatribe Ruth had to listen to from me at NCTE regarding the way some authors are trying to re-package lingo that already exists so they can claim it as their own. This seems unethical to me, but I guess that’s what gets books sold…) Elliott wisely quotes the best-of-the-best thinkers (e.g., Bomer, Calkins, Fletcher, Portalupi, Ray) who’ve written about using notebooks in the past. She combs the best practices together in a text that has quickly become my new favorite text on ways to inspire kids to become lifelong writers by using a writer’s notebook during their year with you.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).