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.
Louise Wrobleski uses video clips, children’s literature, and newspaper articles to teach middle school students new ways to craft persuasive writing.
Students can claim who they are as readers and writers by designing and presenting minilessons to their peers. In this week’s video, fifth grader Reagan from Franki Sibberson’s classroom presents a lesson on annotating reading with sticky notes.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills show how to break down mentor texts into brief excerpts for step-by-step scaffolding of writers in the intermediate grades.
Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.
Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.
If your students are equating revision with proofreading and final cleanups, Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have some practical revision strategies you might want to try.
Jennifer Allen has been fascinated with helping boys write for years, ever since her own son insisted on writing on the same topic over and over again. She shares her five favorite strategies for boosting interest in writing among boys.
Gigi McAllister helps fourth grader Griffin re-engage with his writing by pointing out some of the unique qualities of voice and style his piece possesses.
Fifth-grade writers in Franki Sibberson’s classroom encourage each other and suggest revisions to their opinion writing drafts in partner teams.
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.
Do struggles with handwriting matter? They do when a student can’t even decipher his own words. Katherine Sokolowski confers with fifth grader Sauvi to help him find solutions to the problem.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why short-term writing goals can help students reset expectations for their writing on a daily basis, and how they make these goals an integral part of their writing workshops.
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.
Katrina Edwards begins her conference with first grader Allen by celebrating all he is doing well in his writing. She highlights his language and details in writing, before moving on to new strategies to try.
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.
If you want stronger poetry from students, a good starting point might be to explore how to write a powerful simile. Gretchen Schroeder explains how she helps her high school students play with and create better similes.
Shirl McPhillips shares a poem she’s written about her grandmother Eva, and the fragments of memory that inspired it.
Matt Renwick describes the process of paying attention to telling details, and gives practical advice for teaching this skill to young writers.
Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops.
Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.
Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.
Gretchen Schroeder’s high school students are surprised to see a deck of cards on their supply list. The cards are a tool for teaching the vocabulary of tone in creative ways.
Franki Sibberson helps Lucas plan his minilesson for his fifth-grade classmates on how to connect words and facts from two different sources.
Lucas leads a minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on connecting facts from different sources.
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.
Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.
Tara Smith covers all the basics of how to get organized in middle school for the first days of literacy workshops.
One way to keep your instruction fresh in a required writing unit is to take on the tasks and topics yourself. Dana Murphy finds completing the assignments herself is well worth her time, and gives her a treasure trove of notebook entries to use in her conferring.
Shari Frost finds she has to do required, on-demand writing for a new job, and in the process develops a new appreciation for how teachers struggle with rigid reading and writing programs.
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