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Talking Through Characters

Melanie Meehan shares activities that help students talk about their characters before writing about them in a realistic fiction unit.

Becoming More Inclusive

Every teacher wants to be more inclusive. But where do you begin? Melanie Meehan presents three practical starting points.

The Power of Paper

Melanie Meehan details how different paper options can be a powerful scaffold for students as they explore different writing genres. She includes many sample scaffolds to download for use in an opinion writing unit.

Revising Dialogue in Narrative Writing

Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.

Grammar Games

Melanie Meehan shares two of her favorite games for teaching grammar, including templates and web resources.

The Importance of Correct Examples

Melanie Meehan explains why it is important to mentor students who are struggling with correct examples, and why she cautions writing teachers to avoid “find the mistakes” exercises.

When Students Set Intentions

When students set intentions, reflection and celebration go hand in hand. Melanie Meehan explains how teachers can help students become more explicit about intentions with practical cues from bulletin boards and index cards.

Content and Context

Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.

Improving Turn-and-Talks

Melanie Meehan shares questions and reflection prompts to make the “turn and talk” strategy more effective.

Looking Forward with Students

Melanie Meehan uses reflective questions and video to build a library of materials at the end of the year to use with next year's class.

Backward Chaining

How do you help students who are far behind their classmates in tackling writing projects, and have had years of learned helplessness in approaching complex tasks? Melanie Meehan takes on the challenge with a backward-chaining model.

Grammar Instruction in Fourth Grade

Melanie Meehan coaches a fourth-grade teacher who is trying to improve his grammar instruction.

Inspiring Students to Revise

Melanie Meehan uses revision strips to move young writers beyond "I'm done!" and into expanding and editing their writing.

Questioning Within Read Alouds

Melanie Meehan looks at the issue of engagement through the lens of student questions during read alouds, and shares a strategy to provoke more thoughtful student participation.

Asking Students to Grade Themselves

Asking students to assess and grade their own work cements learning and deepens understanding for many students, but only if it is done in a thoughtful, collaborative way. Melanie Meehan takes you step-by-step through the process in a fifth-grade classroom.

Bulletin Board of Independence

Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.

Keeping Minilessons Short

Melanie Meehan gives three quick management tips for tackling the challenge many teachers face — keeping minilessons short.

More Productive Writing Workshops

Melanie Meehan shares how everything from transitions to clutter can provide clues for how to increase student output and enjoyment.
 

Tools for Striving Writers

Sometimes a student just. won't. write. Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tools in her bag of tricks to get the pencil or pen moving across the page.

Exploring Text Features

Melanie Meehan works with a small group to talk through how nonfiction text features might enhance their informational writing.

Student-Designed Development Cards

Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals.

Tapping into What Students Know

Melanie Meehan shares the value of assessing what students know first, and then tapping into this knowledge in new units.

Assessing Instruction in the Midst

Melanie Meehan shares some ways teachers can press the pause button in the midst of teaching to assess whether they are teaching the right lesson at the right time.

Mentor Texts and Important Reminders

Melanie Meehan shares four important tips for using mentor texts effectively with students of any age.

Teachers Who Write

Melanie Meehan explains why your own writing, however imperfect it is, might enhance your teaching tremendously.

Teaching Students to Start at the Right Place

Melanie Meehan uses focus questions for teaching students to start at the right place in their writing, moving them beyond the bed-to-bed stories that plague so many literacy workshops.

Getting the Ball Rolling in a Realistic Fiction Unit

Melanie Meehan helps elementary students move from narratives to realistic fiction by beginning with “facts” about their fictional characters.

Goal-Setting Ideas for Students

Melanie Meehan shares a wealth of ideas for better goal-setting with students.

Increasing Student Engagement During Minilessons

Melanie Meehan has tips for keeping students engaged during minilessons.

Why I Don’t Like Erasers

Melanie Meehan explains why erasers can be problematic in writing workshops, beyond just eliminating the ability of teachers to see the progression of revisions in a young writer's work.

The Importance of Their Words

Melanie Meehan shares strategies and prompts for helping easily distracted young learners focus in conferences.

Teaching Punctuation with Poetry

Melanie Meehan discovers that the spare form of poetry is especially useful for teaching conventions.

Table Charts in Second Grade

Melanie Meehan chats with second-grade teacher Nadia Egan about her ingenious use of table charts to enhance conferences and whole-class instruction.

Mentor Texts for Crafting Nonfiction

Melanie Meehan talks with a third-grade teacher about how she helps students focus on craft elements in nonfiction mentor texts.

The Value of Pre-Assessment

Melanie Meehan explains why a baseline assessment at the start of any writing unit is well worth the time.

Digging into Research Questions

Melanie Meehan explains how helping students deepen their questioning strategies leads to more thoughtful research projects.

End-of-the-Year Reflection

Melanie Meehan shares a series of thoughtful questions to help students reflect on their process as writers, and what they need as they move into the summer and new classrooms.

Developing Individualized Convention Checklists with Students

Melanie Meehan works with third graders to develop personalized conventions checklists.

An Individualized Conventions Checklist

Melanie Meehan finds that a flexible conventions checklist that students develop according to their own needs is the best way to ensure conventions are taught in the context of authentic student work.

Strategies for Elaboration in Opinion Writing

Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders who are struggling to elaborate on themes in their opinion writing.

Student Self-Assessment Strategies

Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders to help them create their own set of indicators of success in a writing unit.

From Compliments to Challenges: The Conferring Card

Melanie Meehan uses a conferring card in her writing conference with Cara to ensure she has a record of strengths and revision possibilities that were discussed.

Getting Creative with Writing Celebrations

Celebrations are the pause that refreshes between writing units for many teachers. Melanie Meehan shares suggestions for creative celebrations.

Wonder and React

How do you scaffold students for independent work? Melanie Meehan finds Wonder and React is a great strategy to use with fifth graders during an information writing unit.

The Intersection of Social Studies and Language Arts

Melanie Meehan writes about how teachers in her state are dealing with the time-crunch issue in social studies instruction by naturally integrating more social studies into the language arts program.

Debating How to Begin Stories

Melanie Meehan shares a minilesson using student writing as a model for experimenting with leads.

Engaging a Room Full of Third Graders

Melanie Meehan works with a third-grade teacher to rouse interest from a class of compliant students who lack engagement.

Provoking Young Readers

Melanie Meehan finds read aloud is a great time for children to connect opinions and experiences.

Setting Goals During Mini-Celebrations

Melanie Meehan recommends linking goal setting to small celebrations as a great way to build community and skills at the same time.

Choices for Paragraphs

Melanie Meehan finds third grade is a good age for helping students develop paragraphing skills.

Video for Last Days of School

Melanie Meehan encourages teachers to build a video collection of students at work to use with next year’s class.

Celebrating “The Voice” of Writers

Melanie Meehan presents a fun activity for late in the school year that uses the format of The Voice television series.

Setting Goals with Students

Melanie Meehan shares anchor charts and strategies for goal-setting.

Giving Students a Notebook Tour

Melanie Meehan finds a notebooks tour is a terrific minilesson for helping students expand the ways they use notebooks.

Three Classroom Games for Literacy Learning and Laughter

Melanie Meehan suggests some favorite classroom games for building literacy skills.

Guiding Principles for Conferring

Melanie Meehan shares what’s essential in conferring.

Boosting the Confidence of Writers

We can teach students craft moves for their writing and how to punctuate. But how do we build their confidence? Melanie Meehan helps Aaron see his needs as a writer, but even more importantly, his strengths.

Administering a Pre-Assessment

Melanie Meehan works with a new teacher to develop and administer a writing pre-assessment early in the school year.

Talking Through Characters

Melanie Meehan shares activities that help students talk about their characters before writing about them in a realistic fiction unit.

Maximizing Instructional Time at the Start of a New Unit

Time is precious in classrooms, so Melanie Meehan shares strategies to ensure it isn't wasted at the start of new writing units by teaching skills students may already possess.

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