Why I write:
To deepen my understanding
To check my understanding
To analyze my thinking
To share my learning
To be a model for teachers and students and
To experience the JOY of a community . . .
Those are some of the reasons I write.
(And as soon as I hit “publish” I will think of at least 10 other “better”reasons that I wish I had thought of during the three days that I worked on this draft!)
Do these steps look familiar?
But do they match your current reality in your writing?
Do they match your current reality in your writing instruction?
I’ve been spying on my writing for over a year . . . literally in search of patterns that I could identify in my own writing. Trying to decide on that next big goal for myself – ambitious or “doable”? . . . lofty or practical?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as finding a pattern, setting up some demos and “off you go” because writing is complicated.
Steps are added or revised . . .
If I have to stop and research.
If I have to completely scrap my draft because it is really so pathetic.
If I have to continue my “search for a topic”.
If I have to . . .
So here are some resources,
Quite literally, some food for thought!
Because all of these relate to just one simple standard in writing and yet this standard (and its intent) are often overlooked in a search for a priority or a way to reduce/simplify the writing standards!
“CCR. W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”
A previous blog post that connected to this standard is in the 2014 archives here!
Planning – Where does an idea come from? – my blog post
Celebrate Celebrating – a blog post from Julieanne Harmatz (grade 5)
Learn by Writing – Lynne Dorfman’s blog post
Helping Students Plan their Writing – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Using Technology for a Kindergartner’s Writing Process – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Introducing a Hierarchy of Writing Goals – a blog post by Jennifer Serravallo
Goal Setting – my blog post
Drafting: Beginnings (somewhere – trying more than just one beginning – trying a new approach
The Beginning – my blog post
Strong Leads – Jennifer Wagner (2nd grade)
Drafting – Endings
Behind the Books: The Perfect Ending – blog post by Melissa Stewart
The Ending – my blog post
Drafting – Telling a Story Bit by Bit
Celebrating Story – blog post by Julieanne Harmatz
Drafting – Organization, Elaboration, and Craft
Elaboration Strategies for Information Writing Dig- Two Writing Teachers
Text Structures – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Specific Examples of the Power of Three – Stacey Shubitz
First Graders Get Crafty – Dana Murphy
DigiLit Sunday: Craft – blog post by Margaret Simon
Revising as part of the Process – blog post by Melanie Meehan
No Monkeys, No Chocolate: 10 year Revision Timeline – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Editing as a part of publication
Editing Sticks – my blog post
Editing – my blog post
- Editing stations for upper grades – Shana Frazin informed
- Daily light editing – Shanna Schwartz informed
Revising or Editing? – my blog post
Fun tool – Eye Finger Puppets (Amazon or craft stores) – Make editing time special and reminds the reader and the writer to pay close attention to the work!
Reading Units of Study Mini-Lessons
MiniLessons are strong invitations to learning! (TCRWP_
Reading and Planning MiniLessons – Rachel Tassler
A Short and Sweet MiniLesson Format – Two Writing Teachers
How to Plan a MiniLesson from Scratch – Two Writing Teachers
There are More Ways than One to Plan a MiniLesson – Two Writing Teachers
How to Read a Unit of Study – Two Writing Teachers
Fundamentals of Writing Workshop – Two Writing Teachers Blog Series August 2017
Share Time in Writing Workshop – Lynne Dorfman’s blog
Choice in Writing Workshop – blog post by Tara Smith
(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Partnerships I Learned in Kindergarten – blog post by Shana Frazin
Why I Write – Stenhouse Blog
Banned Books – NCTE – 2017
Mentor Texts – Books that would be nice to have as Resources
Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts – Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse)
Writers are Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities – Lester Laminack (Heinemann)
Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (2nd etition)- Dorfman & Cappelli (Stenhouse)
Learning from Classmates: Using Student Writing as Mentor Texts – Lisa Eicholdt (Heinemann)
What;s Your Plan?
What are you going to do NEXT?
Today’s best draft, (Kelly Gallager)
This post I wrote to organize!
Digital Design: What is it?
I love this word cloud as the words that I immediately see that match my definition and / or understanding are “text, creativity, photoshop, palette, copy, and color. There are many more words to explore but those immediately aligned with my thinking.
But visually, is digital design
Because it is a phrase, dictionary.com has no definition for “digital design” so I resorted to asking “the Google” “What is digital design?” and choosing answers to browse.
This one made the most sense:
“Digital design is the branch of graphic design that uses computers, graphics tablets and other electronic devices to create graphics and designs for the Web, television, print and portable electronic devices.” (Reference.com)
Graphics, pictures, the use of white space . . . the purpose of all of these is to deepen understanding. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And yet when does a teacher need to proceed with caution . . .
- If the quest for a picture to add to a page of 10 words takes 2 hours, is that time well spent?
- If the quest for a specific background takes three days of writing workshop while the student searches for the “perfect app”, is that time well spent?
- If the idea is never revisited, revised, or re-framed but now becomes cemented into a constant image, is that the goal?
When is design the goal?
I love this quote from Deb Frazier’s first grade classroom: “If the tool is telling you what to do, you aren’t in charge of your learning. You tell the tool what to do!” See this blog post for the context.
Isn’t this the ultimate goal?
The best of all worlds, expressing yourself!
When do you need words?
When do you need graphics and/or video?
When do you need both?
When does the “cost benefit” in terms of time/energy of design outweigh its use?
My #OneLittleWord for 2016 has been JOY and this past weekend at #NCTE16 was packed with joy every minute of every day. Surrounded by professionals that I know, admire, and constantly learn with, it was quite easy to forget the policies, problems, and politics that have rocked the U.S. landscape lately.
See how many “Slicers” you recognize at the Saturday dinner.
(Bonus: How many of the blogs can you name?)
The JOY began with a #G2Great meetup Thursday night at Max’s Coal Pizza. This group chats online on Thursday evenings with Mary Howard, Amy Brenneman, and Jenn Hayhurst as co-moderators.
Do you know which 4 are in both groups?
Can you name the states represented?
And of course another night of conversation and JOY.
On Sunday we actually found time to visit before leaving Atlanta!
One of the highlights of my travels was my great roommate, Dani Graham Burtsfield, from Kalispell, MT. Thanks so much for all your great work as our “historian”!
Joy with some of the audience members for the poetry session are found here!
And even MORE JOY with some of the presenters!
Have you checked in on your “One Little Word” lately?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
New York City
This rural Iowa dweller says thanks for all the opportunities:
for face to face meet ups with friends from Twitter, Twitter chats, and Voxer,
to be able to chat excitedly with fellow Slicers, bloggers and authors,
to dine in all sorts of fabulous places,
and in such great company.
Attending the musical “Fun Home”in the Round was magical.
Ahh, the bookstores
Jazz at Smoke
So much to see and do
While in NYC
For #TCRWP’s Writing Institute
Because the learning does NOT stop when the sessions end!
The conversations, the questions, the talk about “What are you reading?” and “What are you writing?” continues into the night!
A glorious week long adventure!
Thanks to you, my friends
And Lucy and ALL at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
And what about the learning on Day 4?
I begin, again, at the end,
the eloquence of Pam Nunoz Ryan
who brought us to tears with her harmonica rendition of “America the Beautiful”.
Thanks to Fiona Liddell and Twitter for this picture.
What an eloquent author and so nice to hear the backstory, see the grids of characters and plot, as well as the research that went into Echo – a MUST READ book for your #TBR (To Be Read) list.
- Find your passion.
- Thank those who help you find your passion.
- Writing a novel is hard but rewarding work.
- Stories matter, stories matter, stories matter!
- Rereading stories is important!
Have you read Echo?
Please reserve it at your local public library NOW!
Choice Workshop – Colleen Cruz
Editing Does Matter: Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary in a Writing Workshop
To think about when teaching Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary:
Teach into developmental level so it will stick. What do they know? What are they trying to approximate? We looked at a student piece of work. What can this student do?
- Curriculum and standards What should we teach?
What do my standards say that the students need to learn by the end of the year?
Just as revision is not taught only once in the writing process; editing is taught more than once in writing process. First time – teach in editing (comma in clause) in order to lessen the cognitive load for the students. Then the second time teach comma in clause during revision. And for the third time, the student can focus on the comma when generating ideas in his/her notebook. The repetition will be helpful for students!
Each time we revisit the skill, our methods may vary – or not! The typical methods are:
b. Apprenticeship – Mentor author – Example
c. Inquiry- let’s see what we find in the world and then find patterns (bio, /er/ was/were)
The tools can either be Teacher created or Student created. For grammar it may be a series of books to cover the variations in journalism grammar, grammar for fiction writer, or grammar for academic writing. It may be fun grammar books, vocabulary picture books, mentor texts, or student examples. Or it may be editing pens, gel pens, or other irresistible editing tools. Quite literally, physical tools like Mini editing checklists with 2 or 3 things they are checking for! Whatever they are into! Students can make their own reminder sheets! Work with grammar, spelling and vocabulary should be in the spirit of FUN and Exploration. NO RULES for number of spaces after a period. Talk about conventional understandings. How do people expect it to go?
- Perfection in writing is not the goal for 9 year old students. The New York Times allows four errors per page with page writers and paid copyeditors. No published piece of writing in the world has ever been 100% perfect.
- If you are writing with passion and focusing on content, writing will slip when you are“letting it rip”. Errors are a good sign because they indicate risk-taking.
- Post “not perfect” student work on the hallway bulletin board. Make a huge label and Celebrate – “Check out our capital letters and end punctuation. We’ve been working hard on them and ALMOST have them!”
- Kids fall into automatic, manual, wrong – if kids aren’t automatic, it does not mean they are lazy , not trying, or don’t care. It just means they haven’t mastered that skill YET.
- Conventions, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary work should be FUN and PLAYFUL!
How does your instruction in Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary match up?
What’s one change that you would consider?
So what do you see?
- Is the glass half full?
- Is the glass half empty?
(Or does it only matter when you know what is IN the glass?)
Perspective matters. It matters every second of every minute of every hour of every day . . . you know the rest.
Like many bloggers, I was in search of my #OneLittleWord when Thanksgiving break arrived. I was searching, checking out the thesaurus, reviewing blogs from last year and YES, fretting about that poor little word that would focus my actions and thoughts for the next year.
Where did #OneLittleWord come from? You can read about it here from Ruth Ayres (2008) and even see how Margaret Simon used it with her students in 2015 here. You can also read some early announcements of words here, here, here, here, and here.
My word found me as I was making decisions about wrapping Christmas presents. Presents were everywhere. I had diligently removed the price tags. I had organized them by recipients. Then I added post-its (yep, color-coded) by the “recipient” as I considered those individuals who would be at multiple, multiple Christmas exchanges: my son, my daughter-in-law, and my grandson.
Easy Part – all gifts had to be prepared to travel.
However, there is a difference between gifts that travel two hours on a balmy 50 degree afternoon and those that had to be prepared to travel more than 8 hours without being crushed, torn, or so disheveled that they would need “re-wrapping”. This was an organizational nightmare.
And to compound the issue, the not so distant past included being “called out” by the blood relative (who shall remain nameless) who received about half as many gifts as the family newcomer at a previous Christmas. But names are not included in order to protect myself! 🙂
Hmmm . . . what to do?
As I surveyed the gifts and thought about every logistical concern. (How do the gifts get home? Is there really room for big gifts? What if some gifts really need to be exchanged before leaving town?) Simple questions. Multiple issues.
Gifts for the Iowa family Christmas would basically be wrapped individually in their “own” paper and too bad, so sad but the 7.5 month old grandson would have more gifts than his parents. Equal number of gifts for all three was not the major goal because after all Fair Isn’t Always Equal according to Rick Wormeli.
Then the gifts that were traveling to Kentucky would all be gift-bagged. One bag per person with the collection of gifts to be basically “tissue-wrapped”. WHEW! Major decision! I believed that DISASTER was averted and I had a wonderful plan. (Truth in blogging – Gift cards for books for nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews were not included in this decision.) All other gifts for Kentucky Christmases would also be gift bagged.
Seriously, what did this have to do with #OneLittleWord?
Well, it was all about my perspective.
What solution allowed me to designate the gift locations and collections and fill my needs?
It was all about my JOY at finding a solution that met both my needs as the giver and (I hoped) the needs of the recipients!
Joy is truly in the eyes of the beholder – whether it is the gifter or the givee! And my heart was so full of JOY at finding a solution that I knew JOY needed to be a part of my personal and work life every day for the next year.
This Christmas gift to me said it all.
My life every day this year will include: happiness, success, delight, gaiety, bliss, or the source of delight – wonder! (And see how sneakily seven other words fit under this umbrella of JOY!)
Schools and learning need to be filled with Joy, happiness, success, delight, gaiety, bliss, and the source of delight – wonder! And I will be looking for Joy in all its formats every day in schools and in my own learning.
So I will be looking for JOY each and every day and with my “half-full” perspective, I am sure that I am going to find it!
Have you found your #OneLittleWord?
Has your #OneLittleWord found you?
P.S. [Truth – three days of wrapping and organizing (after one day of LOCATING) and I was close to buying/repurposing boxes in order to scrap the bag idea. I had a hard time getting the exact number and sizes of bags that “matched” the recipient. New Solution: I just bought extra large, medium and small bags. After all my gifting, I used 31 bags and that was more math than my JOYOUS brain could handle.]
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.
What is a teaching point?
In literacy, a “teaching point” is often that behavior/learning that the teacher will demonstrate and then ask the students to use in their own work. Examples might include:
- Readers use punctuation to express meaning when reading.
- Readers think about how this book may be like another book they have read.
- Readers notice when something does not make sense. They may reread the
sentence to help them.
- Writers use figurative language to make their point.
- Poets use line breaks to change the pace of a poem.
- Authors think about their audience and how the audience will respond.
Not to oversimplify, but quality teaching points include work that is transferable to real life, the reason WHY students need to know/do this, AND demonstrate HOW to do the work. The teachers who are masterful at crafting teaching points have practiced the use of those skills in their own reading and writing so that demonstrations clearly explain how the work moves readers or writers forward. Check out this post by Stacey Shubitz of Two Writing Teachers for some quality information on teaching points.
Teaching points in classrooms are often easy to spot. But what about “Teaching Points” in the rest of our lives . . .
Where have I found “Teaching Points”?
At my local tire shop . . .
“Tires need to be rotated and balanced so they wear more evenly . . . ”
At the hospital . . .
“Hand sanitizer needs to be completely dry on your hands before touching baby’s skin so the alcohol doesn’t transfer . .”
At the bank . . .
“Informing us of your location makes it easier for use to check on validity of transactions . . .”
Where, in life, do you find “Teaching Points”?
Where, in life, are you creating “Teaching Points”?
Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
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:
How can a mentor text help you “pull back the curtain” and reveal the craft in the writing?
It’s March 1st and that means it’s the first day of 31 days of writing and posting blogs here. This will be my second year of participating in the March Challenge and I am looking forward to growing even more as a writer and a teacher of writers! Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.
How will you begin? What will you write?
Respond to a quote . . .?
Which of these two quotes will help you plan for the remainder of your school year?
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates
“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius
I love the “positiveness” of both of these as I think about my role as a literacy coach. I often have to do both as we look to see where to ignite the passion for continuous learning as we review the data of the past. What can we do differently? What must we do differently? What is our end goal?
Write a poem . . . ?
posts about family
Will you be writing?
Take the plunge . . . .
Invest in yourself
Invest in your own writing!
It’s the end of January, the temperature is in the 50’s and it’s also the week of annual district-wide writing assessments. I.AM.SO.EXCITED! This is the week that we celebrate student writing as we score 3rd grade narratives, 8th grade persuasive/argument letters in social studies, and 10th grade persuasive/argument letters to legislators.
I wrote about this last year in a post titled, “Orchestrating Writing Assessments“. Check out the link for the details. It’s an amazing week of learning.
One of the sections of the 1.25 hours of professional development that start the day is about the writing process. I could go on and on and on and on about the writing process and its importance to students and teachers, but I won’t. Instead I am directing you to an amazing blog post by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, “What the Writing Process Really Looks Like“. The squiggly diagram of the “real” process is so intriguing that I’m keeping track of my process and will report on that soon (in another post – I believe I need more than ONE data point before reporting – LOL).
A second related post is, “How do we know that students are making progress in writing?” as well as this one, “Do I have to teach writing?” You can also search in the box at the top right to locate additional posts about writing assessment and instruction because, of course, quality instruction would be aligned with quality assessment. This week Two Writing Teachers have a series titled, “Aim Higher”. and it is filled with promise!
Dana opened the series today with a post titled, “Aim Higher: Setting goals for editing” where she effectively describes the individualized editing checklists that she used with 5th grade students! For Throwback week, Betsy chose another of Tara’s posts, “Student Self-Assessment: Introducing the Writing Checklist” and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, “Work Smarter: Use Student Checklists Throughout a Unit of Study . . . and Beyond“. You will be inspired to take action after checking out these masterful resources because assessments should not just be summative in nature!
And from the west coast Julieanne wrote about student responses to assessments in “Celebrate: The Power of Assessments, Part 2”, She built on Melanie’s ideas for cutting up rubrics in order to make them more “student friendly” as well as to challenge students to reach for higher levels!
One final thought on assessment: What is the information that you will gain from the assessment that you are planning? Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers have this thought-provoking post, “Redefining Assessment” as they use Lucy Calkins definition “Assessment is the thinking teacher’s mind work.” (Because we should know so much more about these students beyond the score on a test!) What do we know that guides our instruction?
Is writing a priority in your district?
How would an “observer” know?
How have you added to your knowledge of assessments and their use?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.
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:
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?
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