I can shake off everything as I write. My sorrows disappear; my courage is reborn.
[Now you can listen to the Big Fresh as a podcast.]
It is late September and we are at the point of the new school year when I remind myself to stop and breathe. There is so much to do and it often feels impossible. Recently I spent time in a school where 75 percent of the staff are new teachers. I was modeling demonstration lessons, conferences, and share sessions for launching reading and writing workshop. One teacher asked, “How did you know what to say so that student would write?”
I paused, taking into account the magnitude of everything we, as teachers, set in motion at the beginning of the school year, as well as the weight of learning a new job. I considered the simplest response and reminded the teachers that I’ve conferred with thousands of children. It isn’t something I learned overnight, but have honed over time. Still, a practical answer was needed.
“I always respond in a way that I think will lift their energy. You might not know what to teach next, but you know how to keep readers and writers full of energy. Do that thing. Even if it is a simple sentence of encouragement to keep going. The best thing you can do is to help students feel excited about reading and writing.”
It was this advice that lingered in my mind as I put together this week’s Big Fresh issue. There is so much we are putting into motion as the school year begins. It is not a surprise that I believe writing workshop is essential, and this issue offers practical ideas through articles, videos, courses, and downloads to help you build energy for writing.
This week we look at getting started with writing—plus more, as always.
Ruth is the editor in chief of the Choice Literacy site and the director of professional learning for The Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. Ruth previously worked as a middle and high school language arts and science teacher and a K-12 instructional coach. She is the author of Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers (Stenhouse, 2017) and other books for teachers of writers. When not writing professionally, Ruth collects stories of adoption, faith, and whimsy. You can follow her at Ruth Ayres Writes or @ruth_ayres on TwitterorInstagram.
This month’s featured contributor is Heather Fisher. Heather is a K-4 instructional coach at Mulready Elementary in the Hudson Public Schools in Massachusetts. She also has experience as a first-grade teacher, second-grade teacher, reading specialist, and literacy coach. In her everyday coaching practice, she seeks to radiate positivity in her mission to celebrate the small things as students and teachers continue in their daily growth.
Join the Choice Literacy Book Club! Heather Fisher selected So You Want to Be an Owl by Jane Porter and Maddie Frost as our September read. Grab a copy, and join the conversation using the hashtag #ChoiceLiteracyBookClub.
The Choice Literacy Book Club discusses So You Want to Be an Owl by Jane Porter and Maddie Frost on the Choice Literacy Big Fresh Podcast.
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. This article was first published in 2018.
Melanie Meehan shares how everything from transitions to clutter can provide clues for how to increase student output and enjoyment. This article was first published in 2017.
Field Experience Course: Writer’s Notebooks: Writer’s notebooks are important tools for writers. This field experience showcases how elementary teachers use notebooks with young students. Free to members and available to purchase.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Tammy Mulligan promotes independence in her student writers by supporting them in creating writing plans. A download of a planning template is included so your students can create writing plans, too.
Jen Court gives ten ways for students to share and celebrate their work as writers. Two downloads are included for you to use in your classroom.
In this video, Austin reads his writing and shares his next steps by self-recording a video to upload to the Learning Management System. (This is a companion video to Tammy Mulligan’s article.
In this Quick Take video, Ruth Ayres shares different ways writers can enter a writing project.
Ruth Ayres leads us in developing confidence as teachers of writers through watching students work as writers. A printable observation and reflection form is available to download.
Don’t forget our downloads! Stephanie Affinito presents a simple and smart activity to help literacy coaches reflect on what they do well and develop plans for growing stronger. Included is a guided reflection download.
Megan Mathias creates a preparation guide for what to do if a student video-records you with malicious intent. This is important information for school leaders to share with teachers.
Virtual Coaching: Working with Individuals: As we continue to adapt our work to be safe, this course offers ways for coaches to work virtually. Experienced literacy coaches led by Ruth Ayres share their strategies for adapting their one-on-one coaching techniques to remote environments.
Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.
That’s all for this week!