Author Archive

Seeking Prize Donations

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The 11th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge is right around the corner! Currently, we are seeking readers of our blog who are willing to donate a prize for the participants of the SOLSC. notebooks, pens, or any other writing-related gifts that SOLSC participants would appreciate.  

Lanny’s OLW for 2018

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In watching Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s video, posted by Kathleen this week, I became inspired by the notion that we all ought to try to make the most of our time here on earth…

Teaching Small Groups in the Middle School Writing Workshop

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For many middle school teachers, planning and teaching small groups in writing workshop feels a little like the Rubik’s Cube; like this famous puzzle, there is a sense that small groups are doable (somehow, maybe?), yet the orchestration of all the many parts can make them feel overwhelming and perhaps even insurmountable.  If you feel this way, know that you are not alone.

What’s the Keynote of the Unit?

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Hurriedly making my way through the front door of the majestic Riverside Chapel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I glanced at my watch.  Late, I thought to myself.  Oh well, I’m sure I… Continue reading

Some Issues to Consider: Homework and the Writing Workshop

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Pushing the dance studio door open, I watched my two daughters and their two best friends bound playfully out to the parking lot.  Walking next to me was Jamie, their mother.  “Sorry,” she… Continue reading

Fitting It All In: Solving Predictable Problems

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For many of us, especially in middle school, trying to fit all the pieces of writing workshop into, say, a 41-minute schedule, can feel daunting. How can we teach a minilesson, get our kids working, confer with individuals and small groups, provide a mid-workshop interruption, and facilitate a teaching share…all in that tight time frame?

The Power of Language Revisited

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When it comes to the teaching of writing in a writing workshop, language is everything.  It is through the words we teachers choose that writers are created, built up, encouraged, and inspired.

Lights, Camera, Action! 3 Tips for Creating Maximum Effect During a Writing Lesson

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Walking ourselves through and rehearsing what we will model for young writers so as to create the desired effect(s) can be extremely helpful.  Whatever curriculum we are using, it’s just so important to walk through the big steps of our teaching ahead of time so that we plan for maximum learning impact. But what type of “effects” might be desired?

Putting the Large Stones In First: A September Check-In

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Nervously lowering myself into a chair, I scooted myself closer to the table.  Around me sat three new colleagues.  My new 7th grade teaching team.  Having moved from my familiar home in small-town… Continue reading

Not All Writers Are the Same! Ideas for Differentiating in the Writing Workshop (Part 2)

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The fact is, just like athletes that show up to the first day of practice, writers bring different skill sets.  Some arrive to middle school not knowing where to put a period, while others already know how paint vivid pictures with words that knock our socks off.  How do we plan for such a wide variety of writers?

Not All Writers Are the Same! Ideas for Differentiating in the Writing Workshop (Part 1)

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Celebrating differences among our writers can sometimes be difficult for teachers of writing. But by expecting and planning for differences, we can set our students on trajectories more matched to who they are as writers. Here are a few ideas…

Risk-taking in the Writer’s Notebook

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We learn when we experiment and take risks. The writer’s notebook could be a place worth considering as a place to do some risk-taking!

Conferring: Writing Workshop Fundamentals

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“Lift the ball with your right hand, and pretend your right knee is tied to your right elbow.”  Placing the orange ball uncertainly in my right hand, I glanced over at Mr. Brown,… Continue reading

Blog Series: Fundamentals of Writing Workshop

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Growing up as a young person, I devoted a great deal of time to playing sports.  Now, I didn’t participate in a lot of different sports — I played primarily soccer, with short… Continue reading

Building a Community of Writers: Creating the Emotional Space

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Building a community of writers is likely a goal for all writing workshop teachers. But what are some ways to be intentional about bringing such a goal to fruition?

Writing Celebrations…But Why?

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With all the pressures imposed by a segmented, unforgiving middle school schedule, why make time for writing celebrations? Are they really that important? Yes!

Connecting Through Story

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“Story is the basic unit of human understanding.” – Drew Dudley, Day One Leadership. We have been learning through story for thousands of years.  Our innate fascination for wanting to know what happens… Continue reading

SOL Tuesday

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It’s Tuesday…Consider allowing nature to be your inspiration this week. Write, share, give feedback to other writers!

SOL Tuesday

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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday…come share a slice. We’d love to have you write, share, and give feedback to other writers!

SOL Tuesday

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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! Those of you feeling withdrawals from the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, breathe a sigh of relief. Come one, come all, come slice…