Ruth Ayres is the editor of the Choice Literacy site and director of The Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. Ruth’s background includes work as a middle and high school language arts and science teacher, a k-12 instructional coach, and writing books, articles, and lots of blog posts. She wrote Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers (Stenhouse, 2019) and other books. When not writing professionally, Ruth collects stories of adoption, faith and whimsy. You can follow her at Ruth Ayres Writes or on Twitter.
This week’s newsletter is a special issue highlighting our courses.
The Choice Literacy Book Club discusses Neville by Norton Juster and G. Brian Karas.
Leigh Anne Eck provides a guide to customize an end-of-year reflection for students.
End-of-Year Reflection is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Jen Schwanke shares insights about leading a school with hope and grace during COVID.
Hidden Treasures During Pandemic Teaching is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Dana Murphy candidly discusses keeping a positive mindset and approaching her students with an abundance of grace.
Hidden Treasures During Pandemic Teaching is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
The Choice Literacy Book Club discusses Little Brown by Marla Frazee.
Building Empathy Through Reading is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Matt Renwick discusses empowering readers on the podcast.
Sara Kajder discusses empowering readers on the podcast.
Empowering Readers (Part 2) is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
The Choice Literacy Book Club discusses The Barren Grounds on the podcast.
Empowering Readers (Part 1) is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Bitsy Parks discusses celebrating writers on the podcast.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills discuss mentor texts for argument writing on the podcast.
Ruth Ayres suggests four notebook pages to help students balance facts and emotions when writing persuasively.
Heather Fisher discusses planning for professional learning and finding meaning in reading on the podcast.
Finding meaning in reading is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Gretchen Schroeder discusses recognizing bias on the podcast.
Christy Rush-Levine discusses meaningful conversations on the podcast.
Meaningful conversations is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Ruth Ayres observes a writing workshop that is remote. She reflects on the ways students offer feedback and how their community of writers is established.
Nawal Qarooni Casiano shares how to empower choice in kids leading minilessons on the podcast.
Honoring Student Identity is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Author studies are the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Humor in Literacy Workshop is the theme of this week’s Big Fresh.
The place of humor in literacy workshops is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Building better book clubs is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Strategic small groups is the theme of this week’s newsletter.
Giving feedback online is the focus of this week’s newsletter.
This week we look at how to build and sustain remote learning communities.
We look at how to help students differentiate between fact and fiction in this week’s newsletter.
We look at building kindness and community in this week’s newsletter.
We help teachers move from teaching retelling to theme in this week’s newsletter.
Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Reagan about writing she is revising for publication about a class trip to the zoo that included her grandmother. Ruth introduces her to the concept of frames in illustrations, using an example from a picture book.
Ruth Ayres eavesdrops on some moms complaining about homework assignments, and finds the experience leads to reflection on the dangers of forcing students to make themselves vulnerable in classrooms.
Ruth Ayres shows how one first-grade teacher saves precious time by not ending minilessons with lots of directions for independent work.
Ruth Ayres is interrupted during a busy day by a first-grade teacher who enthuses over the details in a student draft. This leads to some reflection on the importance of taking time to marvel.
Ruth Ayres encourages her son to use the web for assistance when doing homework, and then has to ponder whether what she is advocating qualifies as cheating.
Do celebrations matter? If you know Ruth Ayres, you know her answer is always a resounding YES. Here are her best tips for sharing writing in a class celebration.
Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops.
Ruth Ayres wonders if the pencil still has power, taking readers through a whirlwind history of the writing tool in her life, schools, and the world.
Ruth Ayres explains why we can’t assume children who have experienced trauma understand the foundations and routines of how school works
Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma.
Ruth Ayres explains why conferring records that stay with kids are the most useful for teachers.
Ruth Ayres catalogs her favorite types of share sessions (from old favorites to creative innovations) in writing workshops.
Ruth Ayres explains how data can make students and teachers feel empowered or deflated—so much depends on what you are looking for and how you present it.
Ruth Ayres shares some of the powerful connections between stories and writing workshops.
Ruth Ayres explains why writing a manifesto may be the best way to learn what you truly believe about teaching, learning, and literacy.
Ruth Ayres shares how she was always someone who wrote — until she became a teacher. Getting back into writing was all about motivating her reluctant students.
Ruth Ayres answers a question from teachers, Do I really have to keep conferring notes? Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.
Ruth Ayres finds there can be a difference between questions in writing conferences that inspire an enthusiastic response, and those that foster more reflection and independence.
We are wired for story, and sometimes children living hard lives need to learn how to rewrite their story. Ruth Ayres shares the teacher’s role in the process.
Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Nicole and reinforces advice from her mom about capitalizing proper nouns, as well as the importance of applying what you know about conventions in first drafts.
Ruth Ayres gives her best advice for honing your conferring skills with this succinct list of tips for better conferences.
Ruth Ayres shares her grid notes sheet, and takes teachers step-by-step through the process of using this assessment tool in conferences and instruction.
Ruth Ayres shares some of her favorite mentors and mentor texts for developing good writing processes and habits.
Ruth Ayres confers with a first-grade writer early in the year. This brief conference with a simple text is all about building a rapport in September and celebrating illustrations.
Ruth Ayres writes about the messiness of analyzing needs, celebrating achievements, and thinking about what’s next with writers in workshops.
Ruth Ayres gives a step-by-step process for closing out the school year with a meaningful writing celebration that welcomes the entire community
Ruth Ayres challenges Grant to add paragraphs to his “finished” piece.
Ruth Ayres explains why filtering is one of the most important concepts writers need to understand in this social media age, and she shares a simple lesson and chart for teaching students how filtering works.
Ruth Ayres meets with Zoey, a quiet writer who is drawn into the conversation through family stories and a mentor text with vivid illustrations.
Ruth Ayres confers with sixth grader Connor about constructing a thesis statement.
Ruth Ayres draws out the story-writing possibilities with first-grader Kendall by conferring over her illustrations.
Ruth Ayres finds storytelling is at the heart of social media, and describes how teachers and students might work together to find a place for social media in classrooms.
Ruth Ayres helps a fourth grader reflect on whether she is finished with her personal narrative, and how Ruth might assist her.
Ruth Ayres finds the brain research is grim when it comes to the needs of neglected children, but there is still much that teachers can do to support healthy growth in students from challenging home environments.
Ruth Ayres considers what's essential in writing workshop routines.
Ruth Ayres finds it is helpful for teachers and students to sort through different types of writing techniques lessons in planning for instruction and revision.
Ruth Ayres uses a student text to demonstrate the importance of paragraph breaks in this second-grade minilesson.
Ruth Ayres confers with Izzy to help her create an organizer in her writing notebook.
Ruth Ayres provides a ready reference guide for the typical length of everything from a minilesson to a conferring session.
Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Ty about his personal narrative, and works to move him away from a “bed-to-bed” approach in his writing.
Ruth Ayres confers with Bode about the difference between personal narratives and memoirs, and the value of mining the writing journal for topics.
Ruth Ayres encourages a young writer to emulate a favorite illustrator.
Ruth Ayres has tips for organizing desks, tables, chairs, and materials to support literacy learning.
Ruth Ayres has advice for effective peer feedback in writing workshops.
Ruth Ayres gives fourth grader Allie an organization tool for brainstorming memoir possibilities early in the year.
Ruth Ayres confers with fifth grader Wesley about his personal narrative on scouting.
Ruth Ayres confers with five-year-old Abby about her apple illustration early in the school year.
Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Braden about the importance of inviting cover art for the book he's written about a vacation.
Ruth Ayres confers with first grader Alexis about her visit to the doctor for a shot. The conference focuses on illustrations and labeling.
Ruth Ayres tells the story of Noah, a brave first grader with a hard home life who has few happily ever afters as a writer.
Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Max about the drama of losing his dog, and the value of using two-page spreads to tell a story.
Ruth Ayres develops a words chart in this brief minilesson with second graders.
Ruth Ayres has advice for moving forward, staying positive, and focusing on what’s important.
Ruth Ayres confers with first grader Rebecca about perspective and illustrations in her writing.
Ruth Ayres presents a minilesson on capital letters to a second-grade class.
Ruth Ayres confers with Ezra about revision — using a mentor text to help him move from reporting to crafting in his writing.
Ruth Ayres explains how deciding the purpose of conferring in advance can lead to more powerful conferences.
Ruth Ayres confers with kindergartner Dalton early in the year, focusing on his illustrations to build storytelling skills.
Ruth Ayres answers the question of why writing matters for busy teachers who struggle to find time for their own writing notebooks.
Ruth Ayres and her colleagues use a marriage analogy to help middle school students and their families understand the research process. The article includes a nifty example of a pamphlet to share with parents.
Ruth Ayres and Heather Rader draw on their work as literacy coaches and teachers to explore the complex connections between choice and structure in writing workshops.
Ruth Ayres finds that keeping a word count is a potent way to increase writing quality over time.
Ruth Ayres considers elements of the writing process that are common to all, and which ones vary according to the needs, interests, and quirks of writers.
We can’t forget the importance of being kind to ourselves. Ruth Ayres explains how small pleasures add up to big delights.
Big lists can be intimidating, especially when our to-do lists are long and never quite finished. Ruth Ayres explains the power of big lists in other contexts, especially writing, and how they might actually provide comfort and security when tackling big projects and ideas.
Ruth Ayres explains how she sets realistic goals for her own learning during the year.
A persistent seven-year-old has some powerful messages about confidence, patience, and sending writing out into the world.
Writers’ Notebooks are an important tool for writers. Ruth Ayres designed a field experience to showcase how elementary teachers use notebooks with young writers.
Compassion and understanding are as important to workshop instruction as strategies and routines. Ruth Ayres compiled a field experience to highlight the way understanding the social-emotional needs of students (and ourselves) allows for safe learning environments.
This field experience invites us to consider a handful of craft moves to teach young writers in minilessons, conferences and share sessions.
Spend time noticing the details that reflect beliefs and influence instruction. Ruth Ayres set up room tours for a field experience focused on more than trendy spaces.
Small group reading instruction is an important part of elementary literacy. This field experience is a sampling of a variety of examples.
The value of picture books with older students is often questioned. Ruth Ayres assembled this field experience to allow insight into the depth and power of picture books for older students.
This field experience invites us to consider the routines of opening the day, workshop norms, meeting areas and transitions to make workshop run smoothly.
Ruth Ayres describes her own experiences as an author, blogger, and teacher. She shows how possible and essential writing is for even the busiest educators.
Ruth Ayres explains how teachers might put less focus on big, showy events, and more on the daily small pleasures and joys of writing success in classrooms.
Ruth Ayres inspires us to develop the habit of writing on a regular basis by taking a bite out of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
Helping students learn to choose books and develop stamina are important to developing independent readers. Ruth Ayres designed a field experience with opportunities to see minilessons, small group instruction, team meetings and a share session that support independence in readers.
Spend time with the youngest writers and you will be mesmerized by their writing processes. Ruth Ayres assembled a field experience focused on kindergarten writers.
Ruth Ayres leads a minilesson in second grade on inside/outside views — what’s happening objectively (on the outside) vs. emotions (on the inside). The terms are a good starting point for helping young students distinguish between facts and opinions.
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