Everyone who writes for Choice Literacy loves teaching writing, because we all write ourselves. We know it is "hard fun," as Donald Murray famously said—exasperating and exhilarating at the same time. The writing workshops you will read about here and see in our videos are busy, noisy, vibrant places. And most days, we wouldn't want to be anywhere else than in the midst of 'em! Here is where you'll find our latest discoveries, insights, and occasional boneheaded mistakes in teaching writing.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills give guidance and support for varying the structures and routines in literacy workshops.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they use examples from YA authors of how to mine everyday life for powerful ideas. They then help students move from ideas to blurbs as they start their realistic fiction drafts.
Stella Villalba teaches young writers about writer’s craft. So how come evidence of learning from the minilessons isn’t showing up when she confers with her students? She decides to develop a plan to help students link craft lessons with their writing.
Christy Rush-Levine shares the strategies she uses to help her middle school students take ownership of their literary analysis essays.
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.
Bitsy Parks leads a writing share early in the year, presenting three student examples of writing and highlighting different aspects of writer’s craft linked to minilessons.
Polysyndeton, asyndeton—if you are a writer and a word nerd, you will love Gretchen Schroeder’s suggestions for helping your students create lists with style in their writing.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the power of teaching writer’s craft in bite-sized chunks, through careful study of mentor sentences in read alouds.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills write about the challenge of creating meaningful print-based packages of materials for students who don’t have internet access for remote learning.
Journals? Writers’ Notebooks? Shari Frost shares tips and strategies for explaining the difference between the two for teachers, as well as professional development resources.
Jennifer Allen upends the normal routines in a primary writing workshop to introduce students to a compelling character.
Dana Murphy leads a minilesson in fifth grade on revising narrative writing.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with a second-grade team to think through how best to teach transition words during a fairy tale unit, especially to students who are English learners.
Partner work is an essential component of many literacy workshops. Dana Murphy explains how she is intentional in building thoughtful routines and expectations for partner work in her fifth-grade classroom.
Fifth-grade writers in Franki Sibberson’s classroom encourage each other and suggest revisions to their opinion-writing drafts in partner teams.
Tammy Mulligan considers the rituals she has for preparing to write, and then uses what she learns in classroom writing workshops.
Bitsy Parks uses the short stretch before the holidays for a quick and fun how-to writing unit with her first graders.
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.
Dana Murphy meets with a group of fifth graders to help students develop paragraphing skills, using a peer’s mentor text.
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.
The start of the school year is often all about building reader identities in classrooms. And then October comes, and many of the activities that help students celebrate their reading histories and preferences are forgotten. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share ways teachers can continue to help students define, refine, and expand their reading identities all year long.
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.
Max Brand uses the “big table” in his kindergarten classroom as a communal spot for writing. You can see how he interrupts students naturally to make quick suggestions, and allows some interruptions of his own writing as he works with his students.
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.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share many of their favorite anchor charts for helping students connect writer’s craft to mentor texts.
Max Brand demonstrates basic drawing strategies early in the year, and then has his kindergartners attempt similar pictures. He explains how the exercise builds basic skills both in literacy and hand/eye coordination.
Shari Frost remembers how she inadvertently stifled the creativity of one of her most enthusiastic first-grade writers. Her story has important lessons for all of us about the importance of voice and choice for learners of all ages.
Melanie Meehan shares activities that help students talk about their characters before writing about them in a realistic fiction unit.
Dana Murphy discovers that what works for one student doesn’t work for another when it comes to note-taking. She provides options and then hosts a gallery walk so everyone can discover what works best for them.
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