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This week’s post is written especially for those who are making writing with their students and eager to elevate the quality of what writers build, before they help them transition to print. What do I mean by MAKING writing? Well, this is what I mean.  And why would we do this, anyway? I offer some brief thoughts on this here. —————————————————————————————————————————– If you’ve been experimenting with making inside of your own writing workshop or classroom,…

One of the funny things about parenting as an educator is that often, your children teach you a great deal about things you think you already know a few things about. Take, for instance, protocols. “We’re doing these things called modules in my English class,” my daughter Nina explained over dinner one autumn evening at the beginning of her eighth grade year. And I’ll admit, my stomach clenched. I wasn’t well acquainted with the New…

In Make Writing, I share the three layer design process that I’ve used each time I’ve set up my own makerspaces or helped school districts develop their own: First we establish the substructure of the space, which is prepared before we open the doors of the space. Then, we assess the needs and interests of the makers we serve during the start-up phase, which begins when the kids walk in the door. As individual writers begin to…

Pedagogical documentation enables us to capture learning made visible and assess our students’ strengths and needs without disrupting the learning process. One potential anecdote to the testing mess, documentation inspires us to create rich narratives that deepen our understanding of learners and their experiences. This is a beautiful thing. Experience is teaching me that pedagogical documentation is also incredibly complex work that is not without its challenges. For instance, helping teachers and students choose the…

The Backstory: I’ve spent the last week helping Heather Bitka and Rachel O’Sheehan launch a brand new makerspace in Roy B. Kelley School in Lockport. This project began with solid visioning work that challenged all of us to think about and then rethink about what would happen in that space, how, and most importantly: why. This week has been an incredible learning experience for me, as I’ve tested new professional learning approaches and protocols while…

I’ve really enjoyed working with animated shorts in a variety of ways this year, and I promised the teachers that I support that I’d share some of our favorites here, where they can access them easily. These are our three favorite ways to use quick clips like these in the classsroom, and for the record, my favorites are Lifted and Papa. If you have favorites to share, let me know. I’ll add them here. Text…

As an education consultant, I know all too well how easy it is to stand before teachers and speak to best practices. This is enjoyable work, when I can get it. I meet wonderful people who are hungry to know things that I’m particularly passionate about. And pretending to know things? Well, that’s quite an ego boost. It’s also delusion. I’ve been a follower of Steve Shann’s work for many years, and I was thrilled…

Many say that the mini-lesson is the heart of writer’s workshop. I’ve always felt that reflection is equally important, though. Perhaps more so. Coaching writers to reflect is tough stuff, but I find that when I prompt writers well and provide them the time to do so, they discover very important things about themselves, their needs, and how we can work together to meet them. They also identify their strengths, and this helps me position…

Standards based grading entered my little corner of the world on the winds of a perfect storm: teachers were acquainting themselves with a new set of challenging standards, they were eager to create a culture of learning after witnessing how our historic fixation on performance was influencing their kids, they recognized inconsistencies in their assessment and grading practices, and their report cards did not align well with their curricula. In short, their grades were meaningless at best and…

When I think back on initial conversations that took place surrounding standards based grading in the schools that I serve, I remember that the same questions kept rising to the surface. Establishing clarity and resolving dilemmas on the spot was critical, but often, issues were raised by representatives of grade levels or buildings, and I knew that the potential for the responses to reach everyone quickly and consistently wasn’t as high as we needed it…