Tag Archives: Ralph Fletcher

#SOL17: Discovery


joy write fletcher.JPG

What do I want to discover this summer?  

What’s my goal?  

How will I grow and learn?

I plan to continue to grow my writing skills.  I will work on narratives but I also want to discover or uncover additional ways that informational writing can be fun.  I want to practice with Weebly, infographics, and video.  My journey is sparked by a 2ndaryELA facebook post that led me to this weebly created by a junior as a result of a semester long genius hour project.  Whitefish Point

I want to deliberately and purposefully take the same information and write it in several different ways to see whether graphics or text structures make it more understandable.  I want to know when I “really own it”!

Topic – not yet chosen

My fascination with weebly . . .

What is Weebly?  print

Review with Pros and Cons of Weebly

Differences between Weebly and Word Press

What is Weebly?  (video)

I believe that I will actually be creating a “multi-genre report” as I simultaneously work on

1) writing stamina

2) becoming more familiar with my chromebook

3) documenting my learning

4) digging into writing craft and standards simultaneously

What do you plan to discover this summer?  Where will you find joy?  What will you own?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      

Why?  Teachers’ Writing Matters

Storytelling

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#DigiLitSunday: Craft


Check out the links to other DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog here.

Craft:  What is it?

A woodworker has many tools that may range from hand tools like chisels. planes and mallets to power tools like saws, drills, and presses that can aid the process of turning out finely crafted projects.

Is the craft in the “Doing” or is the craft in the “Final Product”?

In writing there are many sources of craft.  Some of my favorites are:

art of writing calkins.jpg

Lucy Calkins,

Ralph Fletcher,

Lester Laminack, and

craft-moves

Stacey Shubitz to name just a few.

So many sources of craft information exist. Do I need craft information along the way as I draft or do I need the information as I revise and improve the clarity, anticipate a reader’s questions, and add additional information to make the work more interesting?  I believe that writers need both skills. The more that a writer knows and anticipates in the drafting process, perhaps the revision will become less burdensome.

What is a teacher to do?  Where should the teacher begin?

Many strategies and craft moves can be and are taught, but at some point the choices used by writers will come down to the individual authors.  Strategic use of those moves needs to fit within the piece of writing that the author has undertaken.  A wide repertoire of moves that fit into a grade level range of writing will come from mentor texts.  Those mentor texts are often published texts, teacher written texts or student written texts.  What a student will use will depend on the applicability to this piece.  Teaching students to “self-assess” and even to “self-reflect” on their use of craft will be important.  That’s one of the  reasons why I believe these items in a fifth grade opinion writing checklist that students can use are absolutely critical!

Development . Elaboration and Craft.jpg

Writers make many decisions as they draft and revise about their own writing.  Tools with visible examples that students can use when talking about their writing or matching to a checklist or a rubric will put the power of writing choices in the hands of students.

Have you equipped your students to be able to make their own decisions about writing craft?  What low-tech and digital tools have been helpful?

How do you make decisions about your own craft moves in your writing?

#SOL16: #NCTE16 Friday Takeaways


Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .

are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words.  Words Matter.  Words matter whether spoken or written.  Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more.  That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!

FRIDAY at #NCTE16

The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration.  I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work.  From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced!  Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.”  Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)

Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)

The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action.  The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”!  This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher.  Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!

One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use.  Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!

Vocabulary Matters!  – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock

How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary?  How do students become invested in their OWN learning?  Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?

Step 1.  Listen carefully.

Step 2.  Wait.  

Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!  

Step 3.  Think.   What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”

Step 4.  Audition what you know.  Try it on.  Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true?  (or True for me? True for us? True for you?)  Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!

Step 5. Revise and rename.  What assumptions changed?

Step 6. Spread the word.

This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”.  Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.”  If  we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words.  And then Katy  illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .

“Wow guys,  you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”

Some activities take time:

  1. Sentence game
  2. Grid game  – person and question
  3. Play with words –  Beck’s Bringing Words to Life  (Would you rather?  How much would you like to ?  Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
  4. Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
  5. Other work – paintings or artwork.

Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students.  Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!

The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher 

Fun

Laughter

Advice from students

“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”

Metaphorically

Like a big balloon…

Real choice

Audience (beyond the teacher)

A sense of fun and adventure

Teachers  who value

Invention, originality and voice

So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?

Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.

Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.

There is a battle between freedom and discipline

But teachers do have choice and must be

BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)

  • Free Choice Fridays
  • The Writer’s Notebook
  • Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
  • Classroom blogs
  • Slice of Life Challenge
  • Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
  • Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
  • FERAL writing
  • Study Driven Writing (Source  Katie Wood Ray)

Recklessly wonderful writing.

Students choose to work on writing because

The ideas of writing give them energy.

Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning – 

(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)

What do you think of when you hear professional development?  Who is it for?  This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!

Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination  – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins

Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot.  Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor.  Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered.  How do we help them revise their thinking?  Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead!  Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers.  Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire?  That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so

“Privilege all texts”

” Our attention shows what we value!”

“Show reading identities.”

“Elevate the book.”

“Elevate the readers of the book.”

Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?

At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins!  Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!

So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?  

When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!

#TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 2


 

Celena Larkey

Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2)

Our 30 minute writing workshop felt like heaven. Time to write, time to think, time to talk with our partners!

“When we revise for meaning, we ask, “What’s this piece for?”  Do I want the reader to feel a certain way? What do I want them to do?  After I figure out that meaning, I scan my writing piece quickly. Any part that doesn’t match, I cross it out with one line. Any part that matches the meaning, BLOW it up ad I make sure that I tell it bit by bit.”

With that, Celena demonstrated in her text, had us read our own pieces and we were off revising. And it felt very comfortable and very doable.

Meaning – Development / Elaboration Strategies

  • Jump into the moment & tuck into details later
  • Make time matter
  • Find heart of mater and add details, thoughts!
  • End in the moment
  • Stretch the moment across the pages!
  • Show don’t tell – use describing words.
  • Make characters talk.
  • Make the characters move – add action words
  • Add feelings
  • Add thinking
  • Find the important part – say more

SHARES

  1. Symphony share.

   Find one revision.

   Put your finger on it.

   Read just that revision for a single share.

 

  1. Museum share.

   Physical revision.

   Walk around and look at the revisions.

   Don’t take work to carpet. Quick.

   Works in primary.

   Can quickly see a variety of types of revisions.

Choosing a Mentor Text

choosing a mentor text

We are using this format to study our mentor text.

Title and Author of Mentor Text

What do we see?

What do we call it?

Why would we use it?

Takeaways:

  1. The standards (CCSS.W.5) can be a guide for revision with vertical teacher conversations about the expectations for each grade level. CL
  2. Revision is not like moving day where the big truck backs up to the door and EVERYTHING is loaded at one time. Choose one lens – meaning and revise. It will take practice. CL
  3. Use teacher written mentor texts to model how to “revise” so students can see the marked up copy. CL
  4. “A tool is only as good as the tinker’s hand in which it is!” CL
  5. Two ways of quickly sharing revisions are symphony or museum shares. CL

Consider: How do we make revision a part of every day’s work?

How and when do teachers study mentor text in order to really KNOW it?

Colleen Cruz

Power Tools, Methods and Strategies:  Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)

Tools:   What should students write with?

Is this teacher preference?  Student preference or both?

Write with Pencils Write with Marker / Gel Pen
First problem with volume

Hard to “push” a pencil – slows writer down

Great for sketching

“Are you writing volumes with #2 pencil?

Cannot erase

Edit/ Revise with one line through previous text

Cannot lose data

Flows when writing

What most adults use in real world

(Skills list – draft by genre – not all inclusive)

Narrative Skills (fiction, historical account, personal, etc.)

  • Generate story ideas
  • Structure plot (sequence)
  • Dramatize action
  • Summarize
  • Make meaning evident
  • Develop characters
  • Imbue voice

Information Skills (all about, lecture, article, etc.)

  • Generate topics
  • Structure content
  • Elaborate on information
  • Summarize
  • Develop central idea
  • Imbue voice

Persuasive/Opinion/Argument Skills (essay, lit. essay, speech, editorial, etc.)

  • Generate ideas/opinions/arguments
  • Structure piece
  • Support with evidence and reasons
  • Summarize
  • Prove thesis/idea/opinion
  • Imbue voice

Takeaways:

  1. A skill is cooking; a strategy is the way you do it (boil, bake, fry, sear, broil, etc.) CC
  2. Skill? Strategy? Leads could be both – just like a square can be a rectangle! CC
  3. “I have to write a novel.  Where is my #2 pencil?” says NO published author ever!  CC
  4. Consider the physical demands on writing when a student uses pencil vs. pen. CC
  5. Make decisions about organization of notebook based on what students need and less on what is neat and tidy for the teacher. (If the organization  of the notebook is a constant battle to get students to do it, are there more options / possibilities?) CC

To consider:  Is the big question – Is this a skill or a strategy? Or is the big question – What can the student do over time in multiple pieces and with multiple genres?

How do we teach for transfer?

Closing Session

Mary Ehrenworth – Studying Mentor Texts for Possible Small Group Lessons – Read like a teacher of writing, considering:

Structure

Craft

Conventions

What is the rationale for using mentor texts?

  1. Even in the Units of Study in 18-20 days, you can only teach about 6 new things.
  2. Mentor Texts – so you aren’t the only source of information about narrative writing.
  3. Mentor Text – opens up to 3-12 other things kids can be exposed to.
  4. Don’t wait until they are GOOD at it – not waiting for this work to be perfect!
  5. Mentor Text is important. Study.  Incubation period may be long. You may not get the benefit of student learning this year.

Mary began with a demonstration text, “Brave Irene” and showed us how to look at Structure  in terms of a movement of time. If it starts right away in one moment, when does time change? And then we did the same work in “Fly Away Home”.

Strong writers in small groups:

  • Find things.
  • Name them.
  • Are they repeated?
  • How would that work in our text?

Process that we used:

  1. Come to any text that we have and ask any questions by looking for most accessible text.
  2. Visual cues and language for a tool to help students. . . academic discourse.
  3. Sometimes I will do this work in video – engaging
  4. I try to demonstrate in my own writing – in the air.

 

Takeaways:

  1. Teacher “shows” mentor text but doesn’t try it out is often the biggest problem with mentor texts.
  2. The teacher must know the mentor text very well.
  3. Students can make decisions about what to look for in mentor texts when the author’s repetition of structure, craft, or conventions is used.
  4. Mentor texts are the best way to study grammar “like an author”.
  5. Use of mentor texts should be engaging – and that might be why you consider video.

To consider: What if students were in charge of more “noticing” and determining what can be found in mentor text?

Is this the reciprocity that you would get from reading workshop?

 

Closing Keynote

Ralph Fletcher

Rethinking Mentor Text

Ralph Fletcher began with sharing letters from students, quotes from authors and many “craft” moves in the mentor texts. He also had us write during his keynote speech.

Using Ralph Fletcher’s mentor text, “The Good Old Days”, (keeping first and last stanzas), here is what I wrote:

The Good Old Days

Sometimes I remember

the good old days

 

Riding bikes on Sundays

Playing baseball games in the evenings

 

A carefree family life

Living on the farm

 

I can’t imagine

Anything better than that.

10 Tips for Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing

  1. Read what we love ourselves
  2. Take advantage of “micro-texts” that can be read in one sitting (Picture Books, Poems, Paragraphs)
  3. Talk about the author behind the book. What itch made them write that story?
  4. Don’t interrupt the first reading of a text
  5. Leave time for natural holistic responses
  6. Reread for craft
  7. Design a spiral of Mini-Lessons that cycle back to teach craft
  8. Use the Share to reinforce the craft lesson from the Teaching Point – showing students in the class who did the craft move in their writing
  9. Invite (don’t assign) students to experiment with craft element
  10. Be patient – The student may not be able to do the craft this year but instruction was not in vain.

Bonus Tip – Don’t kill the book!

Take Aways:

  1. Understand Means “To stand under”
  2. A writer MUST read!
  3. Mentor texts are available everywhere!
  4. There are many places to start but these institutes grow you personally and mentor texts will grow your classroom.
  5. Collect a lot of writing, including student writing, for mentor text use.

To consider:  What if more teachers were writing?  What supports do readers need in order to be better writers?

THANKS, Readers!

 

#Digilit Sunday: Intent


This weekend the Twitter stream provided many insights about Literacy, Literacy Instruction, and “Intent”.  A powerhouse line up was present at the New England Reading Association conference (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine. You can see the speakers and topics here. This post celebrates the Twitterverse that allowed me to curate these ideas from afar.

What is reading?

what is reading glover and collins NERA 2016

At #NERA2016 Saturday, Matt Glover and Kathy Collins proposed this expansive definition.  Many questions immediately came to mind.

Who does the work of reading?

What is the intent of reading?

What does this require of a teacher?

This quote from @chrisclinewcps says so much about some of the characteristics of “INTENT”!

intent one Chris Cline chrisclinewcps

At the opening session of #NERA2016, Ralph Fletcher fired an early shot across the bow with this slide.  Think about these three questions as you read the content on his slide.

What was his intent?  

What is the message for teachers?  

What is the message for students?

intent nera 2016 more choice ralph fletcher

As a reader, what was Ralph Fletcher’s message?

How important is choice?

Is choice just for students?

Is choice also for teachers?

And that connected to Paula’s tweet:

intent four vicki vinton beliefs

And during the panel for The Teacher You Want to Be, Vicki Vinton also said,

intent three vicki vinton kids CAN do it!

What does this mean in writing?

Paula also tweeted out this learning from Jeff Anderson (@writeguyjeff) about the role of grammar in writing.

intent nera 2016 write guy jeff

Is the intent to have students do the work?  

Are students doing the thinking?

intent nera2016  dan feigelson

Dan Feigelsen is crystal clear in his intent.

Are you?

Pernille Ripp asks this question:

intent pernille rip

Her May blog post here addressed specific steps to create writing communities.

How do your students know the intent of your writing instruction?

Empowering students to do the work is the basis of Jan and Kim’s book. If you have not yet checked out this book, you need to do so!

work

According to the #NERA2016 program, Vicki Vinton’s session was

Vicki Vinton: Beyond Book Choice: What Student-Center Reading Instruction Can Look Like

According to the educator John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” And in this interactive session, Vicki Vinton will share ways of ensuring that the activity of students and their thinking—versus curriculum and standards—are at the center of your reading instruction, whether you’re working with a whole class, a small group or one-on-one conference. You’ll see how to become a creator of learning opportunities, rather than a teacher of strategies and skills, which in turn will help students become powerful and insightful meaning makers, thinkers and readers.

The intent of “student-centered reading instruction” is for learning to be at the center of student work. How do you work towards this every day?

intent five vicki vinton student-centered reading

What do you notice as a reader?

What do you DO with / or make of what you noticed?

intent vicki vinton thinking opportunities for Ss and Ts

Because the intent is reading deeply, thoughtfully, and authentically!

intent vicki vinton and meeting the standards

What are your beliefs?

What is your intent?

digilit

Check out other thoughts about “intent” on #DigiLit Sunday with Margaret Simon here.

And special thanks to all who tweeted from #NERA2016 and especially to their Twitter Ambassadors:  @LitCoachLady, @literacydocent and @guerrette79.

 

#SOL16: Chatting about Mentor Texts


#TWTBlog  had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there?  Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?

Twtblog 5.9.16 chat mentor texts

This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:

“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)

Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier

Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz

Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski

Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy

Sunday, May 8: When to Use Mentor Texts by Betsy Hubbard” (5/9/16 link)

 

Previously I’ve written about mentor texts here, here, here, here, and here.

So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?  

Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves:  Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can preview it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!

So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?

I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!

Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft.  I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades.  But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing.  Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing.  I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.

Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.

What did I learn from tonight’s chat?

The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”

Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:

  • Ralph Fletcher
  • Lynne Dorfman
  • Rose Cappelli
  • Ruth Culham
  • Kim Yaris
  • Jan Miller Burkins
  • Lisa Eickholdt
  • Shana Frazin
  • Cornelius Minor
  • Emily Butler Smith
  • Dr. Mary Howard
  • Tara Smith
  • Catherine Flynn
  • Melanie Meehan
  • Jessie Miller
  • Leigh Anne Eck
  • Lisa Keeler
  • Margaret Simon
  • TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey

The storified chat is available here.

But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .

power of mentor text

power of mentor text two

and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:

tweet

The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!

Who are your writing mentors?

What are your favorite mentor texts?

How would we know?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 

 

#SOL16: Sharing Writing


Last night during the “Discovering the Writer’s Life” #TWTBlog chat (Storify here), I paused at this tweet by Ralph Fletcher.

ralph fletcher quote

Take a leap of faith. Write it. Share it.  It doesn’t matter whether it is innocence or arrogance.  It is worth writing.  It is worth sharing. Write!

It’s what we ask of our students. That same leap of faith is needed by all teachers of writing.  What you say matters and is worth writing/sharing!

When should you share?

Sharing options exist at each and every step of the writing process.  As you write your next piece, deliberately stop and have a conversation at every step.  Consider how that feels for you as a writer.  Consider the effect on your writing.

Instead of this:

writing process

Consider a more recursive process!

Maybe this?

writing process two

What would be the benefits for your students and their writing if the talk/sharing time was more than quadrupled?

Would revision be seen as a “more natural process” if talk/sharing has been included at every step of the process?

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Get ready to share your writerly life with the March Slice of Life Challenge!

Mentor Texts for Writing


How do you use mentor texts?

There are so many options for mentor texts in both reading and writing.  A search at Two Writing Teachers gives you all of these posts to consider.  You can also check out Rose and Lynne’s website here with many ideas from their two Mentor Text books.

At the 88th Saturday Reunion, Carl Anderson (@conferringcarl) began with a story about coaching his son’s baseball team for six years and yet still needing a mentor.  He went on to explain that mentors could be found in Greek mythology and as a friend of Odysseus and adviser of Telemachus actually in the “Odyssey”.  A mentor was a “wise and sage co-teacher” – who wouldn’t want one for life?

Ralph Fletcher explains that mentor texts are, “…any texts that you can learn from, and every writer, no matter how skilled you are or how beginning you are, encounters and reads something that can lift and inform and infuse their own writing. I’d say anything that you can learn from – not by talking about but just looking at the actual writing itself, being used in really skillful, powerful way.”

One role of a mentor text according to Carl Anderson is:

pull back curtain

How can a mentor text help you “pull back the curtain” and reveal the craft in the writing?

Focus: Informational Mentor Texts


Mystery_clip_art

What are informational texts?

The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:

biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).

That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:

Research and Policy:  Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer

6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke

The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke

Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?

Award winning lists include:

Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12

Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People

Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)

This list supports writers’ workshop.  Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.

What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?

There are many books that you can easily access.  Some of my favorite “go to” books are here. nonfiction mentor texts the writing thiefWrite Like This mentor author mentor textsFinding the Heart of Nonfiction

Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)

The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)

Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)

Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher

Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard

and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.

What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?

Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like.  And then your second task is to  read these books from the lens of a writer.  Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully.  Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts.  “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers:   mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3:  Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing  – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14:  Writing Techniques and Goals

This was a Topic Focus:  Informational Texts; Not a Compendium of all available resources . . .  Do you have a better idea of the “types of writing” included in the informational category? Did you find some new ideas?  Or revisit some old ideas with a new purpose in mind?

Slice of Life 27: Summers


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

 

I am building on Anna Gratz Cockerille’s post from yesterday, based on work by Ralph Fletcher at #tcrwp last summer.  (Don’t take my word for it!  Go read the post so you know exactly how to write this kind of poem!)

 

Image

SUMMERS

Sometimes I remember
the good old days

Walking the bean fields to remove
the cockleburs and corn

Playing baseball with the cousins
in front of the barn

Eating Muscatine melons
and celebrating the summer

Swimming lessons at the park
grocery shopping after

Bike rides around the block
some days, all the way to Riverside

I still can’t imagine
anything better than that.

What do you remember about your childhood summers?

(Check out Anna Gratz Cockerille’s post from yesterday for more information about creating this type of poem!)

 

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