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Back to School Week: Bursting With Excitement About Writing

Last week Literacy Spark posed this question:

I’m always interested in how I can reach the kids at the two ends of the writing spectrum. i.e. addressing kids who struggle with writing, or the freedom of the writer’s workshop format, as well as those kids who are so far above grade level expectations that I feel like they don’t even need me. I would also be interested in more publishing options, ones that the kids may have a real chance of getting into. I’ve explored some of the ones you guys have talked about but it would be nice if we could all work together to find more. Sheesh I’m about ready to start my own at this point. Organization and Assessment are ALWAYS on my mind.

Rather than try to answer everything all at once, I wanted to focus on how we differentiate for our students who cannot get enough of writing, since they’re often the ones we overlook in our classroom.  Last month I heard M. Colleen Cruz speak at the TCRWP Writing Institute.  She said something that really resonated with me, which was:

“Every student is worthy of and needs instruction.”

Hence, since we often pay less attention to the most talented writers in the room, since we feel that they can go it alone, without as much conferring, I wanted to dedicate this post solely to the kids who need extra challenges, beyond the regular in-class writing they’re doing.

First, if you haven’t already read Cruz’s Book about independent writing, I highly suggest you get a copy of it.  Her book inspired me to help my former fifth grade students’ work published in 2007. Second, once you see kids are writing independently, and are ready to get published, there are many venues for them.  Here are some publishing options to which you can point students who are bursting with excitement about writing:

Make sure to read your local newspaper, union newsletter, instructional magazines, professional journals, and literary websites which often post or advertise submission calls, which you can pass along to your students.  Additionally, be sure to seek out any young authors competitions in your state or local organizations that are sponsoring writing contests.

For more information about the other things LiteracySpark mentioned (above) you can:

  • Click here to view our presentation that we gave at NCTE last November about reluctant writers.

  • Get more information about organization and assessment, by clicking here and here, respectively.

4 thoughts on “Back to School Week: Bursting With Excitement About Writing

  1. Oh, and thank you for the new publishing ideas! I also just remembered something Nancy Atwell had said that she did with her students was have them post their book reviews on


  2. As you are blogging about back to school, I wondered if you have any hints/tips for a parent presentation or handout to be use on Back to School Night? We are transitioning into Writer’s Workshop using Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study in the upper grades from a more activity driven 6-Traits based model. Teachers are anticipating that parents who are interested in what their kids will be facing in middle school will have “issues” with this move. We want to be able to answer those concerns while exciting parents (because we are excited 3 weeks into school!) about the love of writing their kids are about to experience as we move to UOS.


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