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Making Something Together: Shared Writing Online

Teaching emergent readers online brings a few new challenges. In the middle of listening to a student reading a book, I hear, “Wait, I’ll be right back.” Before I can...

It’s Not Wrong. It’s Almost Right.

As I was reflecting this summer about returning to the classroom, my mind wandered to spelling. I shunned the 20-word pretest on Monday with results mirrored on Friday’s “real” test,...

Using Humor to Teach Language Standards

Upon first exposure, language standards don’t seem to offer many opportunities for play and laughter. Punctuation and conventions? Not terribly funny. Parts of speech? Important but pretty serious. But maybe...

Preparing for Book Club Discussions

“When do we start book clubs?” “Who’s in my book club?” Book clubs are a much anticipated and loved part of our literacy curriculum. Most of our kids love the...

See Your Students

I saw the widely acclaimed author Jason Reynolds at Nerd Camp in Michigan. He delighted the participants with a story about his childhood. He told us about an event called...

Varying Workshop Structures to Meet Student Needs

I just feel like I have so many students who need help. I end up sitting with just a few students and never see the rest.  There’s never time for...

Sparking Ideas for Realistic Fiction

When we ask our young writers to come up with ideas for realistic fiction, we start by immersing them in stories about how real authors come up with their ideas....

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Accountability for Young Writers

“I don’t remember how to do that!” “We talked about this before. How we can make our characters come alive by adding conversations in our writing? Or using speech bubbles...

Student Ownership of Literary Analysis

I am a longtime fan of the reality television competition Project Runway. My favorite part of the show is when the judges critique the fashion designs, sharing their expert opinions...

Getting Students in the Learning Zone

Many times when I meet with teachers, our conversations wend their way to the struggle of engaging students in their own learning. “They expect us to unscrew their heads and...

First-Grade Writing Share: Highlighting Craft

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.  

Dealing with Lists in Style

I love lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, book lists. I make them all the time. Name a type of list and I’ve probably made it. When it comes to writing,...

Studying Craft and Punctuation in Sentences from Read Alouds

As avid readers and literacy teachers, we’re always reading with our eyes wide open, not just to the plot of the stories we read, but to the beautiful work that...

I’m Done! What’s Next?

If I had to choose one quote to sum up my writing life, it would be Dorothy Parker’s words: I hate writing. I love having written. I repeat this quote...

Making Paper Packets for Distance Learning

For many districts and grade levels, distance learning is harnessed through recorded minilessons. As coaches, we see many benefits to this. It’s an opportunity for teachers to hone their minilesson...

Journals or Writers’ Notebooks?

I did one of those end-of-the-year PD sessions. You know the type. The school administration realizes that they have money left in the PD budget and need to spend it...

Building Primary Writing Skills Through Character Study

There is no greater power on this earth than story.                                                                  Brandon Sanderson We often ask students to write true stories, to look inside their lives and dig up small...

Minilesson: Revising Writing

Dana Murphy leads a minilesson in fifth grade on revising narrative writing.

Teaching Transition Words

The second-grade team was teaching the unit on writing fairy tales for the first time, and emailed us because they noticed they didn’t have a lesson in the unit that...

Writing Partners

“This is good.” “I like your details.” “I think you spelled this wrong.” “You need a period here.” For many years this is the kind of talk I overhead from...

Writing Partner Feedback in Fifth Grade

In this video, partner teams in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class share their drafts and ask for specific feedback on their opinion-writing pieces.