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?

immersion · middle school

Shaking Up Immersion: Reimagining Playful (& EFFICIENT) Ways to Launch a Unit

It’s hard to work with purpose and intention when you do not have a clear vision or context for what you are trying to create. Immersion is an easy - and JOYOUS - way to provide students with full-color clarity of the unit ahead.

middle school · social studies · Voices from the Community

Integrating Social Studies into Reading and Writing Workshops

For Shaista Ashraf, the thought of teaching social studies not just as social studies, but through the minilessons of reading and/or writing workshop was daunting to start. But with some collaboration, sharing of ideas, and a thorough understanding of the units and sessions she taught, it became clear, lucid, and even enjoyable!

adolescent literacy · middle school · writing about reading · writing workshop

Writing About Reading: Resource Toolkit Part Two for Middle School

Calling all middle school teachers! Today I’m sharing a ready to use set of lessons, resources, and a digital notebook for adolescent readers and writers featuring some of my favorite books in verse.

challenges · middle school · writing process

Supporting Writers Across the Writing Process

For every writer, the writing process is a little bit different. As teacher writers, we all struggle at different points and our students are no different. Today I offer a few tools for supporting writers at different points of the writing process . . .

middle school · partnerships · writing process

Building Stronger Writing Partners

As schools begin to restart, I have been thinking a lot about ways to begin building community within our new COVID reality. Specifically, I have been thinking about ways we as teachers might harness the structure of writing partnerships as a means by which to help create meaningful, supportive connections between writers. Here are a few ideas . . .

back to school · conferring · COVID-19 · middle school · routines

Writing Together in Remote Spaces

One of the many changes brought about by the pandemic, whether we are returning to school in-person or remotely, is the ability to gather together in close proximity to learn and write together. I have been thinking a lot about this: How might we as teachers replicate or create the emotionally safe space normally held by a warm, close classroom in a digital space?

middle school · remote learning · teaching tools · technology · toolkits · writing about reading · writing prompts · writing workshop

Writing About Reading: Building a Resource Toolkit for Middle School

Calling all middle school teachers! Today I'm sharing a ready to use resource toolkit for adolescent readers and writers featuring the book, Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds.

assessment · authentic assessment · data · feedback · formative assessment · giveaway · goals · growth mindset · high school · middle school · monitoring student learning · peer conferring · personalization · reading-writing connections · record keeping · reflective practice · Sarah M. Zerwin · self-assessment · standards · student engagement · Student ownership · writing workshop

Point-Less by Sarah M. Zerwin: A Review and Giveaway

Sarah Zerwin is workshop to her core, and she has found ways to ensure that her assessment practices are not sending conflicting messages to kids. Point-Less will challenge readers to reflect and inspire them to advocate for change.

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. 

conferring · differentiation · middle school · small group

Planning for Independent Writing Time: A Middle School Solution

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...

argument writing · genre · middle school

The Argument Scavenger Hunt

Although I'm not typically a fan of stand-alone activities, this exercise, presented at last year's NCTE Conference, incorporated many positive elements aimed at supporting writers working doing argumentative work...