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Teaching Writing

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Paper is one of my favorite love languages. It’s different from clay or LEGO or watercolor or wire. If you’ve been around for a bit, then you know how much I adore making writing with natural elements too, but paper? Let me tell you why paper is so special to me. First, it’s everywhere, and it’s free. It’s also incredibly dynamic. We can crumple, tear, fold, and stain it. Paper has texture, and when…

Last week, I started a conversation that I promised to continue throughout this month, one post at a time. It’s about privilege, power, and print inside of our writing workshops and classrooms. Where we’ve been, where we need to be going, and what I’m trying to do, in order to help people get there. My ideas are a small contribution. I know this. I have much more to learn and others have so much more…

An important note, ahead of today’s post: There are different kinds of writing workshop teachers, in my experience: Those who are wanting a clearer path, those who are walking one (often in very good company), and those whose rich and varied experiences have called them to wander a bit, even as they carve a careful course for their students. And in an ideal world, with their students.  Those are the workshop teachers whose wisdom inspires…

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…

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my purpose lately. In September, my nest emptied. I miss my kids, but anyone who knows me well knows that I am crazy about my husband. We have an awful lot of fun together, and life feels much like it did when we first started dating again. I also love my work and the people that I get to do it with. Who gets to say…

When I wrote Make Writing in 2015, I’d just finished a lengthy action research project that focused on engagement in the writing workshops that I led. That project began long before the maker movement took the education world by storm, but by the time I was culminating the findings, the connection was clear: inviting kids to make in workshop was a powerful game changer. More than mere distraction or a path away from the writing process,…

I’ve spent much of the summer working with teachers who are eager to integrate making and writing but uncertain where to begin. This is what I tell them:  I tell them that making must elevate writing, otherwise it will merely replace it. And writing matters. I tell them that we need frameworks that help us see how making and writing can connect inside of our classrooms and workshops. Making writing looks like play, but it’s purposeful.…

  This year, I’m supporting teachers across several districts as they work to implement the new Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Text created by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. In each district, it’s been important to bring teachers together regularly to unpack each unit and plan for future instruction. Debriefing has been just as important. The chart below is one that I used…