Tag Archives: writing toolkit

#TCRWP: Day 3 Writing Institute 2015

writing workshop

This is the third in a series of posts about my learning at the Teachers College June Writing Institute.  Day 1 is available here.  Day 2 is available here.


Developing a Narrative Writing Toolkit (K-2) Celena Larkey

Writing Workshop

Goal:  Writing drafts using all we know about powerful narrative.


  • Read through the examples in my notebook.
  • Mark one to explore again.
  • Reread that one.
  • Box out a line or phrase to use.

Begin with that phrase or line.  Close my notebook and then draft. (YES, close the notebook, begin with that small moment and draft AGAIN!)  Focusing on this idea of revision will keep students from “recopying when they are in the revision step” of the writing process. Students CANNOT copy when the notebook is closed.

While Writing – Tell a little, draft a little (rinse and repeat) . . . and then find a spot to stop and reread your own writing. Ask yourself, “Am I including conflicting emotions (happy and yet bittersweet moment) that fit my plan for writing?” (If check while writing, development of both flows more evenly.)  IF yes, continue on; IF not, go back and add in to your writing NOW.


  • Write on one side of the paper.
  • Write on every other line.
  • Use colored drafting paper (Very visible – feels important and very special!).

Tips for Narrative Endings (Choose one):

  • End it quickly (most narratives last two pages too long)
  • End it with a strong emotion
  • Leave the reader wondering
  • Set the reader up for a surprise ending
  • Circular ending – weave back to the first line of the story

Stop / Pause / Think

What are you going to do differently in writing workshop?

How will you know if it’s working?

Using the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts:  Support Sky High Writing (3-8)  Shana Frazin

Today’s Big Learning Points centered around Crafting Teaching Points and Mini-Lesson Tips

Crafting Teaching Points 

crafting a teaching point

Further Development and Planning

Consider the question that precedes the prompt that was listed in the chart above:

  • What – What is the skill, habit or quality of good writing? “Today I want to teach you that . . .”
  • How – What is the step by step process? – “We can do this by . . .”
  • When / Where – Students may be doing this but not at the right time so you may use “Writers usually do this when . . .”
  • Trouble – What is the predictable trouble that I envision for my class? ”Remember . . .”  or “One thing to pay attention to . . .” “When I do this . . .”
  • Why – What is the purpose for this mini-lesson? – “This matters because . . .”

It’s summer time and it’s time to re-examine your mini-lessons.  How effective are they?  How do you know?  Consider the use of a “Demonstration Sandwich”!

Quick mini lesson tips


Engage …in the work!

Connect – this year, previous years, life

Name the TP


Demonstration Sandwich (Before the demo“you need to watch me do …”(bread), demo – really do it (meat/protein), and then “Did you notice how I . . .?”(bread))

Active Engagement

Set-Up – How students will practice the skill from instruction

Monitor and Coach – “A teacher on her feet is worth a hundred teachers in their seats.” @drmaryhoward


Assignment, Repertoire, Managed Choice – The three most important words are “Off you go!” It’s the practice that students need. Remember “under – practiced” from last year!

Stop / Pause / Think

How does this  match up to your teaching points?

How does this match up to your mini-lessons?

What might you consider doing differently?


Closing Workshop:

Raising the Level of Literary Essays by Raising the Level of Interpretation (6-8) Katy Wischow     @kw625  

I had a hard time choosing a closing workshop as there were several that I REALLY needed to attend.  But last week during a class, we really struggled with defining a thesis so I thought this might be a good place to grow my knowledge.  GUESS what?  Literary Essays and Raising the Level of Interpretation does NOT have to be BORING!!! So helpful to have some easy and energizing ways to get middle school students (and their teachers) INTO the work.

Poem Used:

To a Daughter Leaving Home

Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

  • Has the trajectory for literary essay flattened at grade 6 or 7?

  • Are kids phoning in their essays?  (on autopilot?)

  • Do you get a 10 page retell of Harry Potter?

Then you will need strong reading work in order to get strong writing work.  “Three big problems kids tend to have with literary interpretation…That drastically impact their literary essay work

  1. Kids have nothing to say about the text.
  2. Kids have cliches to say about the text.
  3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text.”

Use a common text that is accessible for the students.  All of our work was done with the above poem.  Here are some possible solutions for those three big problems:

1. If nothing to say:

  • take away the requirement for paragraph responses
  • show students other visual representations – let them “choose” another way to show understanding
  • use a write – around focusing on a quote or picture that represents the poem
  • dramatize with frozen scene – act it out

2. Kids have clichés to say about the text

  • create metaphors from pictures the teacher has collected from google images
  • use pictures to create new images
  • lift a line and connect the line to your big idea

3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text

  • Choose cards from the writing craft techniques
  • Choose goals cards
  • Use the language from the cards to annotate the text
  • Explain how the author used a technique to support a goal

Stop / Pause / Think

What fun, easy, and effective way will you use to raise the level of literary essays?

tcrwp three

Thank you for reading #TCRWP:  Day 3 Writing Institute 2015!

#TCRWP and A Teacher’s Toolkit for Teaching Writing

How many notebooks can a person have?  Readers notebook .  .  .  writers notebook .  .  .  conferring notebook  . . .  toolkit?  The name is not the most important thing . . . but in the interest of full disclosure, this blog is about the “toolkit” that the teacher would consider using during writing conferences with students OR in small group instruction.

If you want to learn more about toolkits, check out Anna’s post this week – “A Writing Teacher’s Summer Project Building a Teaching Toolkit” or Stacey’s “A Master’s Writing Notebook in Evernote” for some great ideas about “Why?” and “Should I plan to use tech?”

I began a teacher’s toolkit last year and have many of my favorite charts from #tcrwp and #chartchums drawn on the pages.   It has four sections:  the writing process, argument/opinion, informational/explanatory, and narrative.   The toolkit garnered some “oohs and aahs” from teachers and was a great first draft but it is now ready for an upgrade.  I’m mulling over my process (paper as in artist sketchbook or 3-ring binder or to bravely and boldly go electronic) as well as purpose (demonstrations for teachers in PD as well as classrooms) and I am at a crossroads.

And then I attended Katie Clements’ (@clemenkat) session at #tcrwp entitled, “Don’t Teach Empty Handed:  Toolkits that Can Help You Teach Explicitly, to Scaffold, and To Keep Track” and I knew that I would have even more questions before I could begin to assemble my toolkit.

Katie said . . .  “we can create a writing toolkit to take into our classrooms that has one replicable process that will LIVE in our writing.”  She quoted Brian Cambourne and how we need to make sure that learning from our demonstrations sticks.  That means that we need to check for high levels of engagement.  We often demonstrate writing as well as revision.  But sometimes the demonstrations seem to live only in the mini-lesson of our workshop.  Many writers would benefit from demonstrations on their own level so the purpose of a toolkit is to help students and provide additional demonstrations at their level.  (Clements, 06.24.14, Teachers College Writing Institute)

We interrupt this blog post . . .


This week on Twitter – these 3 tweets from Hareem:

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 11.58.46 AM

Hareem is an author in the Up the Ladder series and a TCRWP Staff Developer.

Repeat:  “The teacher’s brain is the only real “toolkit.””

Back to 2014 . . .

So how do we do this?  Here was the process that Katie demonstrated.

Four Steps to Creating a Writing Toolkit

Step 1:  Study Student Writing and Determine Predictable Needs
Step 2  Create a Demonstration Text by Mirroring Student Writing
Step 3: Name the strategy that will move the writer and design the page
Step 4:  Use the toolkit to teach

Three predictable needs for narrative writing are:

  • Draft is swamped with dialogue
  • No tension (nothing changes between events)
  • Telling instead of showing (reporting)

Where would this list of predictable needs come from?  Conversation with your teaching peers, reviewing your conferencing data, and considering the needs of your students in previous years.  And then the key is to develop the resources in your toolkit for these predictable needs.  Consider setting up multiple demonstrations at different levels so that you have the just right example to move the student forward with the appropriate amount of scaffolding!

So what do you do with those predictable problems?  Here are examples of Katie’s toolkit pages.


This page includes demonstration text, chart, and place to practice strategies to move from repetitious ping – pong dialogue!



Paragraphing – always someone who needs a bit more practice.



Again, demonstration text, chart, and paper for immediate repeated practice,

Are you considering a toolkit for teaching writing?  How are you planning to use it?

(PS. Information writing predictable patterns were included in Monday’s post here. )


August 8, 2014  – A great new blog about teacher toolkits by Ericka Perry is available here.  Check it out!

TWT Blog and Toolkit link

Steph Scrap Quilts

"Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads..."


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

Tim's Teaching Thoughts

Ideas and Reflections on Teaching

Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Teachers | Books | Readers

Literacy Leaders Connecting Students and Books

Dr. Carla Michelle Brown * Speaker * author * Educator

We have the perfect words. Write when you need them. www.carlambrown.com

Curriculum Coffee

A Written Shot of Espresso

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

Noticing and celebrating life's moments of any size.


Seeking Ways to Grow Proficient, Motivated, Lifelong Readers & Writers

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers


adventures in multiple tenses

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson