Melanie Meehan is the Elementary Writing and Social Studies Coordinator in Simsbury, Connecticut. She began her educational career over 20 years ago, teaching reading and writing workshops in a self-contained classroom of emotionally deprived students. She stayed home for ten years, serving on the local Board of Education and raising her four daughters, before returning to the classroom. In addition to learning with both students and teachers, Melanie loves to spend time with her family. She has many fictional works in progress and blogs with Melanie Swider at Two Reflective Teachers.
The zone of proximal development (or ZPD) is the sweet spot for learning—just enough challenge with just enough support to take on the challenge. Melanie Meehan shares how teachers can create scaffolds in their classrooms that help students find their own ZPDs.
Melanie Meehan helps students see the craft moves in mentor texts by tucking brief guides into many of her favorite children’s books in the classroom library.
Even eight-year-olds are expected to master a dozen or more conventions. Melanie Meehan shares a process for helping students focus on the small steps needed to master any convention with peer support.
Want students to become more independent? Melanie Meehan recommends that you take each student through a reflective process to figure out what learning processes and habits work for them.
Finding time for writing share sessions may begin with trying out a few different options to see what works in your classroom. Melanie Meehan presents some of her favorites.
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.
Every teacher wants to be more inclusive. But where do you begin? Melanie Meehan presents three practical starting points.
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.
Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.
Melanie Meehan shares two of her favorite games for teaching grammar, including templates and web resources.
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, 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.
Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.
Melanie Meehan shares questions and reflection prompts to make the “turn and talk” strategy more effective.
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.
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.
Melanie Meehan coaches a fourth-grade teacher who is trying to improve his grammar instruction.
Melanie Meehan uses revision strips to move young writers beyond "I'm done!" and into expanding and editing their writing.
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 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.
Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.
Melanie Meehan gives three quick management tips for tackling the challenge many teachers face — keeping minilessons short.
Melanie Meehan shares how everything from transitions to clutter can provide clues for how to increase student output and enjoyment.
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.
Melanie Meehan works with a small group to talk through how nonfiction text features might enhance their informational writing.
Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals.
Melanie Meehan shares the value of assessing what students know first, and then tapping into this knowledge in new units.
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.
Melanie Meehan shares four important tips for using mentor texts effectively with students of any age.
Melanie Meehan explains why your own writing, however imperfect it is, might enhance your teaching tremendously.
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.
Melanie Meehan helps elementary students move from narratives to realistic fiction by beginning with “facts” about their fictional characters.
Melanie Meehan shares a wealth of ideas for better goal-setting with students.
Melanie Meehan has tips for keeping students engaged during minilessons.
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.
Melanie Meehan shares strategies and prompts for helping easily distracted young learners focus in conferences.
Melanie Meehan discovers that the spare form of poetry is especially useful for teaching conventions.
Melanie Meehan chats with second-grade teacher Nadia Egan about her ingenious use of table charts to enhance conferences and whole-class instruction.
Melanie Meehan talks with a third-grade teacher about how she helps students focus on craft elements in nonfiction mentor texts.
Melanie Meehan explains why a baseline assessment at the start of any writing unit is well worth the time.
Melanie Meehan explains how helping students deepen their questioning strategies leads to more thoughtful research projects.
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.
Melanie Meehan works with third graders to develop personalized conventions checklists.
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.
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders who are struggling to elaborate on themes in their opinion writing.
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders to help them create their own set of indicators of success in a writing unit.
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.
Celebrations are the pause that refreshes between writing units for many teachers. Melanie Meehan shares suggestions for creative celebrations.
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.
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.
Melanie Meehan shares a minilesson using student writing as a model for experimenting with leads.
Melanie Meehan works with a third-grade teacher to rouse interest from a class of compliant students who lack engagement.
Melanie Meehan finds read aloud is a great time for children to connect opinions and experiences.
Melanie Meehan recommends linking goal setting to small celebrations as a great way to build community and skills at the same time.
Melanie Meehan finds third grade is a good age for helping students develop paragraphing skills.
Melanie Meehan encourages teachers to build a video collection of students at work to use with next year’s class.
Melanie Meehan presents a fun activity for late in the school year that uses the format of The Voice television series.
Melanie Meehan finds a notebooks tour is a terrific minilesson for helping students expand the ways they use notebooks.
Melanie Meehan suggests some favorite classroom games for building literacy skills.
Melanie Meehan works with a new teacher to develop and administer a writing pre-assessment early in the school year.
Teaching parts of speech is viewed as dreary work for most teachers. Melanie Meehan shares how you can infuse some fun into it with a little bit of humor.
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.
Get full access to all Choice Literacy article content
Get full access to all Choice Literacy video content
Receive member-only discounts on books, DVDs and more