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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.  

Writers Make Plans

Before I began writing this piece, I collected what I needed—my laptop, a comfy seat, and a hot cup of tea. I opened my digital sticky note of topic ideas...

A Quick How-to Writing Unit in First Grade

I love squeezing in a how-to writing unit when I feel like my students need something a little different from our regular book-making writing. Instead of using how-to books as...

Mentor Text Craft Guides

As a writer, I explore and examine mentor texts all the time for inspiration and understanding about how to improve my own craft. Most of my writing friends do the...

Fifth-Grade Small Group: Paragraphs

Dana Murphy meets with a group of fifth graders to help students develop paragraphing skills, using a peer’s mentor text.

Mastering Conventions

“You’re not stepping into the ball,” Kurt said as he hit another tennis ball my way. A hundred other directions marched through my brain as I concentrated on moving my...

Helping Students Understand What Works for Them

While playing tennis with my youngest daughter and my husband, I was surprised by how much Cecily liked Garth’s constant stream of suggestions, pointers, and coaching. “He’s always right,” Cecily...

Building Reading Identities Across the Year

It was November, and a new intervention cycle was beginning. “What kind of reader are you, Giselle?” Kate asked the student who was new to one of her third-grade intervention...

Finding Time for Writing Shares

“I never seem to get to the share,” a teacher said to me in a recent conversation. We talked more, and it became clear to me that part of the...

Big Table Writing

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...