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Writing

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Alignment matters. Defining the standards we expect students to meet, making them accessible to the kids we serve, and assessing and supporting progress toward them–this matters. Much. I’m not merely referring to state standards, either. I’m referring to the standards that our best practitioners–the experts in our field–have defined for us, based on decades of research. I’m referring to our personal standards and the ones that our school communities hold dear. I’m referring to the…

I’d just wrapped a mini-lesson on using evidence to support a claim. The writers that filled up the room were shifting away from our meeting spot and toward the back of the room, where an assortment of loose parts awaited them: blocks and marbles, LEGO and clay, buttons and string, paint chips and paper clips. Pebbles. Acorns. A deck of cards. Markers. There were other things as well–a wide assortment of materials for students who…

What does revision look like beyond your writing workshop? Have you thought you about this? I don’t think that I ever did when I still had a classroom of my very own, but I’ve been wondering about it often, lately. Who expects writers to revise other than their writing teachers? And what does that experience entail? How do other teachers expect writers to approach revision, and how do their practices influence the way writers treat…

I’ve spent this entire week traveling all over Alberta, Canada. I’ve worked with primary and intermediate level teachers, and I’ve worked with middle and high school teachers. I’ve worked with English and Science and Social Studies teachers. I’ve worked with French teachers. I’ve worked with Math teachers. And I’ve also worked with ELL teachers. They support the Hutterites who live in their communities. Those children were born and raised in Canada. German is their first…

This photo was taken last fall, as I led a week-long lesson study on argument writing at the middle level. It’s interesting: Many teachers tell me that narrative is difficult to teach, but personally, argument writing has inspired a great deal of my own growth over the last 25 years. Doesn’t that sound sweet and super positive? Yes. Argument writing has been an inspiring teacher. But y’all, you KNOW how that growth happens. It…

“If we want to understand better the complex world of the classroom, and if we want our scholarship to have an impact on the work of teachers, it’s important we find a more central place for story.” Steve Shann I’ve been moved by Steve Shann’s work for quite some time, as an educator, a writer, and a story lover. Steve knows the importance of this form. He understands its ability to change minds and lives. And…

What if, instead of complaining about the possibility of certain writers using text messaging language in their academic writing, we expected them to text with a purpose and even include it in multi-genre writing? What if we expected them to investigate, define, and honor the conventionality of text messaging language? What if, instead of teaching conventions from the front of the room, we invited writers to study how punctuation, mechanics, and usage function differently…

Two weeks ago, I invited writing teachers far and wide to share their biggest workshop dilemmas with me! Okay, if I’m being honest, I asked a bunch of people who recently read Make Writing to share their biggest workshop dilemmas with me. BUT! They did not disappoint! I also think that their responses will leave some of you nodding your weary heads. “My mini-lessons go too long,” many told me. “My feedback is mess,”…

This year found me recommitting to the work of daily documentation as a writer, a writing teacher, and a professional learning facilitator. This was a challenging and even overwhelming endeavor at times, but so very much worth the effort that I made. In fact, this project was so rewarding that I’ve already created new intentions for my documentation practice in 2019. These were my greatest moments of professional learning, and I wonder: If you were…

October found me in classrooms in and around New York State, facilitating lesson studies for writing teachers at the elementary and middle levels. This is some of the most rewarding work that I do, because the learning that happens is the result of studying kids and teachers at work together. Everyone is a learner in the context of lesson study, and this makes a difference. Whenever I lead lesson studies, my intention is to design…