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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…

Thanks to the immediacy of the web, learners of all ages and experience levels have access to audiences that print-only spaces have previously denied them. Digital publishing dominates all industries, and today’s learners need an entirely different skill set in order to be influential there. This creates new opportunities and challenges for every teacher and the learners they support. It’s not enough to master today’s content or design solutions for today’s problems. Learners must be…

Earlier this month, I began sharing the four ways I notice making enriching writing in the workshops that I facilitate and coach in. In my work, that’s what I’m constantly watching for and trying to inspire–making that enriches writing and moves writers forward rather than tempting them to evade the process entirely. This is why I love fire starters: Creative constraints that I bundle together and light at the start of each session. Each fire…

Like many educators, I reserve July for relaxing, reading, and research that will fuel my learning and work throughout the new year. And like many educators, August turns my attention back to the teachers and students that I support. It’s been a good break, but I’m happy to be blogging again and eager to share some exciting news! First, I’ve signed two new Hack Learning author agreements with Mark Barnes, and I’m hard at work on each manuscript. The…

Integrating making and writing experiences may not seem very difficult, but in my experience, making this marriage worthwhile requires some careful planning. It takes nothing to dump a pile of loose parts on a table and challenge kids to build, but I wonder: How many of them would build straight through an entire class without pausing to compose a single line, though? Those who are responsible for teaching writing are wise to consider this reality. Many…

This year marks my twentieth year keeping notebooks with writers. I’ve only been satisfied with the quality of our notebook keeping for about two years though. This is how that happened: Thanks to this pin, elementary writers at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio now divide their notebooks into categories, reserving a specific number of pages for their work within each. It’s making for far more intentional use, and even more importantly, it’s enabling even our…

“A notebook is a very special thing,” I told them. “It’s so special that we should take care to plan the cover carefully. No pictures of pizza please, and don’t just scribble your name across the front. Take your time. Think on it for a while. You will want to create a cover that will inspire your writing ideas. Your cover can help others understand who you really are and what matters to you.” WNY…

This chart was designed for yesterday’s session with intermediate level teachers who are just beginning to implement writer’s workshop. They are unpacking the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing written by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project this year, and the chart provided a tidy snapshot of the anatomy of a quality mini-lesson.

In my work with teachers, and in our fellowship programs at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio, I become closely acquainted with kids who absolutely hate writing. What’s worse is that they believe they aren’t capable of it. Why? Well, mostly because they are unable to sit silently before a screen or page and push words out of the end of their fingers in a coherent fashion until every inch of white space is covered in…