Melanie Meehan has been the Elementary Writing and Social Studies Coordinator in Simsbury, Connecticut since 2012. Melanie wrote Every Child Can Write, published by Corwin Press in October 2019, and, The Responsive Writing Teacher, co-written with Kelsey Sorum, published in March 2021. Connect with Melanie on Twitter @melaniemeehan1.
Melanie Meehan shares how a short dip into fan fiction can be a wonderful way to inject some play and raise engagement in writing.
Melanie Meehan uses A Day’s Work as a mentor text to help fifth grader Emily develop setting in her writing.
Teaching parts of speech is viewed as dreary work for most teachers. Melanie Meehan shares how you can infuse some fun into it with a little bit of humor.
Melanie Meehan explains how she takes students step-by-step through the process of creating realistic fiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every teacher wants to be more inclusive. But where do you begin? Melanie Meehan presents three practical starting points.
Melanie Meehan finds narrative mini-charts are a powerful tool in her coaching arsenal as she works in classrooms with teachers to help students develop storytelling skills.
Melanie Meehan explores research findings on homework, and provides a series of prompts for thinking through with teachers how to revise homework practices to be more relevant and helpful for students and families.
Melanie Meehan details how different paper options can be a powerful scaffold for students as they explore different writing genres. She includes many sample scaffolds to download for use in an opinion writing unit.
Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.
Melanie Meehan shares two of her favorite games for teaching grammar, including templates and web resources.
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.
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.
Melanie Meehan shares her agenda items and strategies for productive regular meetings between literacy coaches and principals.
Melanie Meehan shares some of her favorite templates for flexible lesson planning with teachers.
Melanie Meehan personalizes learning for teachers by helping them develop chartbooks to use in workshops.
Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.
Melanie Meehan shares questions and reflection prompts to make the “turn and talk” strategy more effective.
Melanie Meehan uses reflective questions and video to build a library of materials at the end of the year to use with next year's class.
How do you help students who are far behind their classmates in tackling writing projects, and have had years of learned helplessness in approaching complex tasks? Melanie Meehan takes on the challenge with a backward-chaining model.
Melanie Meehan uses revision strips to move young writers beyond "I'm done!" and into expanding and editing their writing.
Melanie Meehan looks at the issue of engagement through the lens of student questions during read alouds, and shares a strategy to provoke more thoughtful student participation.
Asking students to assess and grade their own work cements learning and deepens understanding for many students, but only if it is done in a thoughtful, collaborative way. Melanie Meehan takes you step-by-step through the process in a fifth-grade classroom.
Melanie Meehan opens her coaching notebook to show how she helps teachers slow down and avoid trying to teach too many writing skills at once.
Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.
Melanie Meehan gives three quick management tips for tackling the challenge many teachers face — keeping minilessons short.
No time for social studies is a common lament. Melanie Meehan helps teachers find ways to integrate reading and writing into social studies instruction.
Melanie Meehan explains how she creates videos to enhance the skills of paraprofessionals and volunteers working in classrooms.
By early in the new year, literacy workshops should be humming with productivity. If you're in one that isn't, Melanie Meehan has suggestions for working with the teacher to find and solve problems together.
Melanie Meehan shares how everything from transitions to clutter can provide clues for how to increase student output and enjoyment.
Sometimes a student just. won’t. write. Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tools in her bag of tricks to get the pencil or pen moving across the page.
Melanie Meehan finds that a simple process early in the year that gives teachers more control over the professional development plan builds excitement for new learning.
Melanie Meehan shares some practical suggestions for helping teachers (and literacy coaches) build a writing habit and get over their feelings of inadequacy as writers.
Melanie Meehan works with a small group to talk through how nonfiction text features might enhance their informational writing.
Melanie Meehan moves from a cart to a bag to a small baggie . . . and then back to a cart again. She explains how the tools she brings to classrooms and the thinking behind them have changed over time.
Melanie Meehan shares practical tips for keeping the focus on students in coaching sessions.
Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals.
Melanie Meehan shares a simple coaching tool she uses to rev up young student writers.
Melanie Meehan shares the value of assessing what students know first, and then tapping into this knowledge in new units.
Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tool for leaving a bit of her coaching behind in classrooms, one student at a time.
Melanie Meehan shares some ways teachers can press the pause button in the midst of teaching to assess whether they are teaching the right lesson at the right time.
Melanie Meehan tackles a professional development session scheduled at a tough time of year by turning it into an opportunity for participants to share their growth and learning.
Melanie Meehan shares four important tips for using mentor texts effectively with students of any age.
Melanie Meehan explains why your own writing, however imperfect it is, might enhance your teaching tremendously.
Melanie Meehan finds that including choice and reflection in professional development options leads to more classroom changes over time.
Melanie Meehan finds that the effectiveness of the charts she uses in coaching is magnified by shrinking them down and sharing them with many teachers.
Why not poetry? Melanie Meehan asked herself what genre might work best for a summer writing academy for students. She explains why poetry is the perfect summer genre for students who might be reluctant to receive extra support.
Melanie Meehan uses focus questions for teaching students to start at the right place in their writing, moving them beyond the bed-to-bed stories that plague so many literacy workshops.
Melanie Meehan helps elementary students move from narratives to realistic fiction by beginning with “facts” about their fictional characters.
Melanie Meehan shares a wealth of ideas for better goal-setting with students.
Melanie Meehan has tips for keeping students engaged during minilessons.
Melanie Meehan shares the importance of considering data with teachers at the start of a coaching cycle.
Melanie Meehan finds that the five different principals she works with have different needs and work styles, but using a common agenda template in meetings ensures good communication for everyone.
Melanie Meehan gives a “tour” of her chartbook, explaining how she organizes the sketches to use in her classroom coaching.
Melanie Meehan explains why erasers can be problematic in writing workshops, beyond just eliminating the ability of teachers to see the progression of revisions in a young writer's work.
Melanie Meehan shares her best advice for a new coach who is just beginning to forge relationships with teachers.
Melanie Meehan takes on the challenge of designing a bulletin board to help parents support writing at home.
Melanie Meehan explains why perfectly designed lessons aligned with standards are useless if they aren’t at the level of the students in front of you.
Melanie Meehan explains how she changed her demonstration lessons to include more of her own process in creating learning targets, and how sharing this assessment with students helped them focus their work.
Melanie Meehan describes the power of developing strategy tool kits for coaching, and presents some of the tools in her kit for teaching revision strategies.
Melanie Meehan shares some practical strategies for keeping students engaged that she often uses in demonstration lessons.
Melanie Meehan shares strategies and prompts for helping easily distracted young learners focus in conferences.
Melanie Meehan explains how she uses a bulletin board to spread resources and teaching ideas throughout a school.
Melanie Meehan discovers that the spare form of poetry is especially useful for teaching conventions.
Melanie Meehan chats with second-grade teacher Nadia Egan about her ingenious use of table charts to enhance conferences and whole-class instruction.
Melanie Meehan chats with second-grade teacher Nadia Egan about creative strategies for helping struggling writers.
Melanie Meehan talks with a third-grade teacher about how she helps students focus on craft elements in nonfiction mentor texts.
Melanie Meehan coaches a third-grade teacher who is transitioning between information- and opinion-writing units, emphasizing how charts might be used in the class effectively.
Melanie Meehan meets with kindergarten teacher Katie to talk through the needs of two children who are just beginning to learn how to transfer their stories from home to the page.
Melanie Meehan explains why a baseline assessment at the start of any writing unit is well worth the time.
Melanie Meehan explains how helping students deepen their questioning strategies leads to more thoughtful research projects.
Melanie Meehan meets with kindergarten teacher Hayley to examine student work and talk about how to help young learners who are still in transition from home to school environments.
This is the time of year when many teachers are getting new grade assignments for the coming year. Melanie Meehan shares a tool kit she's designed to help each teacher make the shift.
Melanie Meehan shares a series of thoughtful questions to help students reflect on their process as writers, and what they need as they move into the summer and new classrooms.
Melanie Meehan works with third graders to develop personalized conventions checklists.
Melanie Meehan finds that a flexible conventions checklist that students develop according to their own needs is the best way to ensure conventions are taught in the context of authentic student work.
Melanie Meehan shares some of her favorite prompts, strategies, and tools for effective conferences with students.
Melanie Meehan shares her bedraggled baggie—the essential tools she carries with her when she confers with students.
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders who are struggling to elaborate on themes in their opinion writing.
Melanie Meehan opens her coaching bag to share her favorite on-the-go resources.
Melanie Meehan explains the value of recording minilessons when coaching, and also shares some tips if you are new to the practice.
In this brief video, Melanie Meehan shares the simple cards she gives to students when conferring. These cards document compliments and challenges to guide the student after the conference is over. They also give the classroom teacher a sense of what was discussed in the conference.
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders to help them create their own set of indicators of success in a writing unit.
Melanie Meehan shares her coaching cycle evaluation form and why it is helpful in this quick video tip.
Melanie Meehan and a coaching colleague transfer lessons from their children participating on sports teams to their coaching sessions.
Melanie Meehan uses a conferring card in her writing conference with Cara to ensure she has a record of the strengths and revision possibilities they discussed.
Melanie Meehan talks about the importance of developing assessment forms for coaching cycles that focus on student work and integrating analysis of the work into plans for instruction.
Celebrations are the pause that refreshes between writing units for many teachers. Melanie Meehan shares suggestions for creative celebrations.
How do you scaffold students for independent work? Melanie Meehan finds Wonder and React is a great strategy to use with fifth graders during an information writing unit.
Melanie Meehan is coaching a first-grade teacher struggling with management. She shares her top four strategies for focusing students during minilessons.
Melanie Meehan shares tools and tips for integrating more reflection into coaching cycles.
Melanie Meehan writes about how teachers in her state are dealing with the time-crunch issue in social studies instruction by naturally integrating more social studies into the language arts program.
Melanie Meehan shares a minilesson using student writing as a model for experimenting with leads.
Melanie Meehan reflects upon what went well in a full-day professional development session early in the year as she plans for follow-up midyear.
Melanie Meehan works with a third-grade teacher to rouse interest from a class of compliant students who lack engagement.
Melanie Meehan and a fourth-grade teacher develop a lesson to help a challenging class of students reflect on their learning.
Melanie Meehan looks at how expectations for curriculum and professional development have changed with the Common Core, and not always for the better.
Melanie Meehan shares her best advice for new coaches, hard-won from experience.
What's in your bag? Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tools and how she organizes them in her bag for on-the-go coaching in writing workshops.
Melanie Meehan considers how coaches, teachers, and students can build a range of strategies they know how to access easily for independent learning.
Melanie Meehan finds read aloud is a great time for children to connect opinions and experiences.
Melanie Meehan explains why she made the shift from focusing on teacher skills to student needs in coaching, and how that has led to more reflective practice for everyone.
Melanie Meehan recommends linking goal setting to small celebrations as a great way to build community and skills at the same time.
Melanie Meehan finds third grade is a good age for helping students develop paragraphing skills.
Melanie Meehan encourages teachers to build a video collection of students at work to use with next year’s class.
Melanie Meehan identifies a crucial step in assessing student needs: asking students to think through where learning breaks down for them.
Melanie Meehan presents a fun activity for late in the school year that uses the format of The Voice television series.
Melanie Meehan gives advice for coaching teachers on student notetaking skills.
Melanie Meehan finds a notebooks tour is a terrific minilesson for helping students expand the ways they use notebooks.
Melanie Meehan suggests some favorite classroom games for building literacy skills.
Melanie Meehan brings together her recent observations in classrooms to identify five things that get in the way of students moving forward as writers.
Melanie Meehan has suggestions for helping teachers reconsider and refresh the anchor charts in their classrooms.
Melanie Meehan works with a new teacher to develop and administer a writing pre-assessment early in the school year.
Time is precious in classrooms, so Melanie Meehan shares strategies to ensure it isn't wasted at the start of new writing units by teaching skills students may already possess.