My strategy for meeting the needs of advanced writers: personalization. Strategic, pre-planned opportunities, set like a vision trap to capture the imagination of each writer. Once caught, these writers can be reeled in to a level of complexity they had no idea they were ready (and willing) to try.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, probably like many of us, I sought out voices of hope. For me personally, I knew one of those voices would be Cornelius Minor. I knew him to be the kind of teacher with the capacity to help us all see things in a new way during this unfamiliar period of virtual teaching. Fortunately, I was able to reach him by text. We sat down recently on a Zoom call to discuss his views on teaching remotely, his book, and a way forward.
With the volume of students most middle school writing teachers serve, how is one to plan for differentiation? Using a basketball analogy, here is one play you can run…
How a story about babies and bandages helped kids and families differentiate between equity and equality….and what it looks like for everyone go get what they need during writing workshop.
If we’re committed to differentiating instruction, then it’s important to use a variety of mentor texts to meet students’ needs.
If you can’t sketch quickly or jot words quickly, or the lines in on the paper feel too small, or you find it difficult to organize your ideas on a blank page, then perhaps there might be other tools that are a better fit for you.
Coaches of young athletes often offer tips, reminders, and suggestions from the sidelines in hopes of eliciting the best possible performance from the team. As teachers of writing, we can borrow this structure in our small group settings.
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.
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 … Continue Reading Some Issues to Consider: Homework and the Writing Workshop
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?
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…
It’s great to be prepared when we are conferring with our writers. However, being ‘prepared’ and being ‘present’ are not the same thing…
Sometimes in a busy and chaotic schedule, we inadvertently miss attending to some of our students who like to “fly under the radar.” Being systematic and intentionally positive can make a big difference for some of our writers.
As I opened my classroom door Friday I knew we would be writing a poem for Mother’s Day. I was feeling a bit guilty about the ease and maybe the lack of thought that I had put into the gift this year. As I switched on the lights and straightened books, I thought about Wonderopolis. I entered Mother’s Day in the search box and found a wonder on Mother’s Day and an invitation to dive into Writing Maker Space!
Lucy Calkins, author of many books on teaching writing, often says that conferring is the heart of writing workshop. I once heard her say to a group of graduate students … Continue Reading Tailoring Our Teaching: No Need to Wing It If You’ve Got Great Conferring Notes
If you do a Google image search for a “Teaser Pilates,” hundreds of photos will come back to you. Many of the photos are of a person sitting on a … Continue Reading Differentiation – Pilates & Writing Series: Part 2 of 5