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Don’t Forget to Marvel

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.

Google It!

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.

Sharing Writing in a Class Celebration

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.

Being a Teacher Writer Is More Than Being a Teacher Who Writes

Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops.

Does the Pencil Still Have Power?

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.

Confusing Children

Ruth Ayres explains why we can’t assume children who have experienced trauma understand the foundations and routines of how school works

Wounded Warriors: Trauma and Literacy Routines

Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma.

Conference Records That Stay with Kids

Ruth Ayres explains why conferring records that stay with kids are the most useful for teachers.

A Variety of Share Sessions

Ruth Ayres catalogs her favorite types of share sessions (from old favorites to creative innovations) in writing workshops.

Meaningful Data

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.

Is Writing Essential?

Ruth Ayres shares some of the powerful connections between stories and writing workshops.

Creating a Manifesto

Ruth Ayres explains why writing a manifesto may be the best way to learn what you truly believe about teaching, learning, and literacy.

Get in the Pool: Teachers Who Write

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.

Do I Really Have to Keep Conferring Notes?

Ruth Ayres answers a question from teachers, Do I really have to keep conferring notes? Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.

 

Conferring Questions

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.

Everybody Wants to Be a Hero (and Needs a Guide)

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.

Best First Drafts

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.

Top 10 Conferring Tips

Ruth Ayres gives her best advice for honing your conferring skills with this succinct list of tips for better conferences.

How to Keep Conferring Notes

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.

Mentors for Process and Habits

Ruth Ayres shares some of her favorite mentors and mentor texts for developing good writing processes and habits.

Conferring with Ashley: Pink Hair

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.

A Joyful Mess

Ruth Ayres writes about the messiness of analyzing needs, celebrating achievements, and thinking about what’s next with writers in workshops.

Five Steps to Meaningful Formal Celebrations

Ruth Ayres gives a step-by-step process for closing out the school year with a meaningful writing celebration that welcomes the entire community

Conferring Over “Finished” Writing

Ruth Ayres challenges Grant to add paragraphs to his “finished” piece.

Student Writing, Filters, and Social Media

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.

Making Home Connections While Conferring

Ruth Ayres meets with Zoey, a quiet writer who is drawn into the conversation through family stories and a mentor text with vivid illustrations.

A Thesis Statement: Conferring with Connor

Ruth Ayres confers with sixth grader Connor about constructing a thesis statement.

Back to Basics: Choice

Ruth Ayres explores the boundaries of student options in writing workshops.

Stories from Illustrations: Conferring with Kendall

Ruth Ayres draws out the story-writing possibilities with first-grader Kendall by conferring over her illustrations.

Figuring Out Social Media Together

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.

“How Can I Help?” Conference

Ruth Ayres helps a fourth grader reflect on whether she is finished with her personal narrative, and how Ruth might assist her.

Why I Stopped Asking, “Where’s Your Pencil?”

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.

Back to Basics: Routines in Writing Workshops

Ruth Ayres considers what's essential in writing workshop routines.

Sorting with “Kinds of”: Technique Minilessons

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.

Second-Grade Minilesson on Paragraphs

Ruth Ayres uses a student text to demonstrate the importance of paragraph breaks in this second-grade minilesson.

Space to Draft

Ruth Ayres argues against lockstep approaches to the writing process.

Conferring with Izzy

Ruth Ayres confers with Izzy to help her create an organizer in her writing notebook.

How Long?

Ruth Ayres provides a ready reference guide for the typical length of everything from a minilesson to a conferring session.

Moving Away from Bed to Bed: Conferring with Ty

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.

Personal Narratives and Memoir: Conferring with Bode

Ruth Ayres confers with Bode about the difference between personal narratives and memoirs, and the value of mining the writing journal for topics.

Conferring About Illustrations

Ruth Ayres encourages a young writer to emulate a favorite illustrator.

Effective Organization

 Ruth Ayres has tips for organizing desks, tables, chairs, and materials to support literacy learning.

Effective Student Writing Groups

Ruth Ayres has advice for effective peer feedback in writing workshops.

An Organizing Tool for Writing

Ruth Ayres gives fourth grader Allie an organization tool for brainstorming memoir possibilities early in the year.

Fifth-Grade Memoir Writing: Conferring with Wesley

Ruth Ayres confers with fifth grader Wesley about his personal narrative on scouting.

Conferring About Illustration in Kindergarten

Ruth Ayres confers with five-year-old Abby about her apple illustration early in the school year.

Conveying Messages with Cover Art

Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Braden about the importance of inviting cover art for the book he's written about a vacation.

Visiting the Doctor: Conferring with Alexis

Ruth Ayres confers with first grader Alexis about her visit to the doctor for a shot. The conference focuses on illustrations and labeling.

Brave Noah

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.

Drama and Two-Page Spreads: Conferring with Max

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.

Collecting Ideas in the Writer’s Notebook

Ruth Ayres confers with third grader Jade about the importance of the “collecting” phase for writers.

Words Chart Minilesson

Ruth Ayres develops a words chart in this brief minilesson with second graders.

Keep Going

Ruth Ayres has advice for moving forward, staying positive, and focusing on what’s important.

Inside and Outside Views: Conferring with Rebecca

Ruth Ayres confers with first grader Rebecca about perspective and illustrations in her writing.

Second-Grade Minilesson on Capital Letters

Ruth Ayres presents a minilesson on capital letters to a second-grade class.

Reporting and Crafting: Conferring with Ezra

Ruth Ayres confers with Ezra about revision — using a mentor text to help him move from reporting to crafting in his writing.

Powerful Conferences

Ruth Ayres explains how deciding the purpose of conferring in advance can lead to more powerful conferences.

Illustrations in Kindergarten: Conferring with Dalton

Ruth Ayres confers with kindergartner Dalton early in the year, focusing on his illustrations to build storytelling skills.

Why Write?


Ruth Ayres answers the question of why writing matters for busy teachers who struggle to find time for their own writing notebooks.

“We Gather Together”: On Research and Weddings

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.

Symbiosis: Choice and Structure in Writing Workshops

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.

Word Count

Ruth Ayres finds that keeping a word count is a potent way to increase writing quality over time.

The Writing Process . . . and Processes

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.

 

Nourishment: Making Time and Space for Little Joys

We can’t forget the importance of being kind to ourselves. Ruth Ayres explains how small pleasures add up to big delights.

Make a Really BIG List

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.

On Perfection and Goals

Ruth Ayres explains how she sets realistic goals for her own learning during the year.

Dear Eve Bunting

A persistent seven-year-old has some powerful messages about confidence, patience, and sending writing out into the world.

Write Today

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.

Respond, Reflect, Rejoice: The 3 Rs of Writing Celebrations

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.

What Can You Learn From Slice of Life Writing?

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.

Inside and Outside Views Minilesson

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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