academic choice · choice · middle school · process · units of study

Designing Writing Units Where Students Choose the Product

Many of today’s students crave choice, freedom, and the excitement of exploring something new. This year, as you prepare to roll out your writing units, you may also want to reconsider the level of constraints within each unit. How and when might you invite students to choose the product that best fits their personal preference and intended audience?

academic choice · agency · authentic writing · choice · freedom · Resetting Our Workshop Practices Blog Series

Graphic Organizers Limit Creativity: Resetting Our Workshop Practices

Many teachers assign graphic organizers to help students learn about structure and organization. But do these organizers actually impede authentic writing and student agency? Read about why Leah chose to stop mandating graphic organizers, and some tips for letting go!

agency · authentic assessment · choice · formative assessment · Joy · student engagement · writing process · writing workshop

(Re-)Launching our Writing Workshops With Joy in January

As I think about returning to school, I want to be excited about the week to come. I want students to feel happy to be back together. Writing workshop is my favorite part of the day, and it’s the perfect place to infuse some intentional joy for all of us. I have a two part plan to do just that.

authentic writing · choice · voice · writing workshop

When Writing Feels Right: Exalting Choice and Purpose in Workshop

When writers feel empowered to write for their own personal catharsis, it matters. When writers know they will have the opportunity to strengthen their writing alongside peers, it matters. When writers have greater degrees of choice around topic and genre, it matters. And when, at times, there’s a wider audience for writing, beyond classroom walls or the teacher’s eyes alone, there is often deeper motivation.

At-Home Learning · choice · family · handwriting · Reflections and Shifts As We Move Forward Blog Series · spelling · stamina · volume

Family Resources for At-Home Learning: Reflections and Shifts As We Move Forward

This post is a look back at the resources I created to support families with at-home learning throughout the pandemic, and some ideas for supporting families in the future.

choice · community · Distance Learning · Freewriting · guest blogger · Voices from the Community · writing workshop

Becoming Writers Together: The Joyful Writers’ Club

Carving out space and time for experiences that honor student agency and their diverse writing lives is not only empowering but also gifts them with the habit of writing and the identity as writers. We can write our way through this pandemic, together and emerge as writers.

At-Home Learning · choice · writing workshop

At-Home Learning Resources Teachers Can Share With Families: Choices for Writing

Now's our time to shine workshop teachers! Hasn't independence and transfer always been the goal of workshop teaching? Haven't we always strived to teach in a way that allows students to carry on without us? Here are some resources to collaborate with families and caregivers to make this year successful.

Belief Statements · choice · feedback · middle school

Beliefs Guide Actions

Right now, we really do not know how school will look in the coming year.  Will it be virtual?  Will it be physical? Will it be a hybrid model?  Who knows?  But if we agree that our beliefs are implicit, and that they guide our intentional actions, then perhaps not only reading this post but also examining and identifying your own will help you be the best you can be... whatever the circumstances you find yourself in next year. 

choice · COVID-19 · craft · demonstration · dialgoue · SOLSC Classroom Challenge · writing workshop

All Aboard! Virtual Field Trips and Writing Experiences

In these days where we are home so much, take your class on a virtual field trip or two and allow them choices of what they will write about! This post includes 6 trips all ready to go with writing menus for each trip. Many thanks to Clare Landrigan and Pernille Ripp who both inspired what I am sharing here with you today.

choice · COVID-19

Passion Projects During COVID-19

During the Teachers College Virtual Teaching Institute a few weeks ago, staff developer Natalie Friday introduced an idea for learning during the current global pandemic: Passion Projects.  With schools now closed, several of them for the remainder of the academic year, some students (and teachers!) may feel like they are actually living the movie, "Groundhog Day."  So with this gift of time (if we can see our way to interpreting it that way), why not encourage students to pursue a passion they have or would like to grow?

choice · middle school · volume

Make Curiosity Your Best Friend

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?

audience · choice · feedback · goals · Mary Ehrenworth · middle school · response · time for kids

Taking Stock: Moving Forward

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...