Author Archive

Using Inquiry to Lift Language Conventions

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As middle school teachers, we know grammar and language conventions have likely been taught to our writers in previous years. But why don’t they stick? Here are a few ideas around teaching grammar and language conventions using an inquiry approach…

Why Writing Matters: Reaching Your Writers

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Kids need to know why writing matters. And we need to not only know, but presence that ‘why’, both for our students and for ourselves.

Finding Purpose Before We Write: Making the Most of Planning & Rehearsal

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Writers need a purpose. A foundation.  Yet sometimes we rush kids through the planning and rehearsal phase of writing. What are some ways to support kids in heading into writing grounded in purpose? Read on to learn a few strategies…

On Rethinking the Publishing of Information Writing

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When it comes to writing, a need for writers to have a clear vision is one of the big reasons we provide mentor texts in writing workshop.  Kids need to see not only a goal or end toward which they may aspire, but I would add that they need to be provided models to become inspired.  For we all know the effect inspiration can have on anything we are up to in life, right? It matters.  It helps. And certainly, writing is no exception. Read on to learn about why making a big deal of publishing informational writing is worth considering…

There Is No Finish Line

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Using student work as feedback for our teaching informs us. It empowers us.  In a way, it allows young writers to become our teachers…

Teaching Shares: Ending Strong

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Working within a tightly segmented middle school schedule (or any pre-planned schedule) can sometimes pose a challenge to “fit in” an opportunity for closure. With this special challenge in mind, how can we perhaps be more intentional about this important time in our workshops?

Make Curiosity Your Best Friend

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As a new teacher, I sometimes made assumptions about my students that may not have been based in reality.  Of course, this is human to do so.  We all make assumptions at times. But when it comes to teaching writing, what if we replaced the act of making assumptions with curiosity?  What if we worked to make curiosity our best friend in our teaching?

Spicing Up Revision

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During the revision phase of the writing process, I find that many writers will often ‘tinker’ rather than really revise for meaning.  Perhaps you’ve see similar behaviors in your middle school writers? Read on to learn a few tips for spicing up revision!

Throwback Thursday: Setting Up for Success in the Middle School Writing Workshop

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As each new year approaches, many of us begin thinking about the physical space(s) we create for our writers.  How might it/they be more effective? Inviting? Or different? The spaces we design for our middle school writers can greatly affect how they “view” writing. Check out this week’s Throwback Thursday for ideas on creating space for writing in the middle school writing workshop!

Approximation vs. Mastery: Nurturing Independence from the Start

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As our students write this year, it will be important for us to remember that they are still learners, and as such, they will be approximating. It will be unlikely they will reach mastery. Understanding this can actually improve our teaching…

Launching the Year by Connecting to the Known

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Brows furrowed, I stared worriedly at the red marks on my rough draft.  Shifting uncomfortably in the red leather chair, I brought my eyes upward to meet the gaze of the woman sitting… Continue reading

Taking Stock: Moving Forward

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As teachers, how might we reflect on our own practice in a way that could make a difference for our students next year? Here are a few lenses for setting some goals…

Nurturing a Sense of Optimism Through Vertical Visits

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Although this time of year predictably proves to be extremely busy, creatively scheduling a little bit of time to visit at least some of your next-year’s writers can pay valuable dividends.

Reimagine Notebook Entries Using a Mentor Text

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Using a mentor text can be a little like taking a course from a published writer- we can allow him or her to teach us how to be stronger writers. This can certainly happen with our drafts… but we can also do this work in our notebooks. Oftentimes, doing so can free young writers up to do larger-scale revision. Here’s one way I tried that…

Leading a Professional Book Club: Strengthening Professional Learning

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If the desire to strengthen your professional learning burns strong inside you (and perhaps in some of your colleagues, as well), consider organizing and facilitating a book club! In this post, I offer a simple-to-follow road map on how to make this fun and beneficial experience a reality for you and some of your colleagues.

SOL Tuesday

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It’s Tuesday! Come write, share, give…

SOL Tuesday

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Let’s get together, Slicers! Come write, share, give…

Trust the Kids

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Finding ways to trust kids, it might be said, creates more space for learning. In this post, I offer a few ways trust can be manifested in a writing workshop…

SOL Tuesday

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It’s April! Back to our regularly scheduled Slice of Life Tuesday. With only a one day break, let’s get back together, Slicers! Come write, share, give…

SOL Tuesday

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It’s April! Back to our regularly scheduled Slice of Life Tuesday. With only a one day break, let’s get back together, Slicers! Come write, share, give…