December 18, 2019

We’ve wondered about it, discovered patterns around it, modeled it, taught it, and supported it. Yep… now, it is time to take another step backward, and help that “we go” become a “you go.” Let me be clear. This is not you go because I tell you to- but an empowered you go because you choose to go and know how to go! This is often the hardest step for both teachers and students in the gradual relea...

December 11, 2019

Conventions aren’t icing and confetti sprinkles we apply to a piece of writing as a final flourish. Conventions are baked into the cake! I learned this truth the hard way, of course, as a new teacher. My fall from innocence to experience story goes like this: It was early in my career and I moved into my new classroom to find that I had no wall place to put my beloved “linear writing process” char...

December 6, 2019

“You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” Ah, yes, this proverb is so true when it comes to teaching, hoping, praying that students will apply the taught conventions to their own writing. There have been many times I have done a quick “well check” in my head that goes something like this:

  • Have I generated curiosity around language? CHECK

  • Did I bring a healthy dose of i...

November 6, 2019

Imagine you have been handed a 1,000 piece puzzle… in a plastic bag. There is no helpful picture on the outside of the box to provide vision for how these pieces fit together. You start fumbling, trying to remember the few puzzle strategies you know. It all results in feeling frustrated, defeated, and ready to give up. You don’t have enough to go on.

When we provide explicit grammar instruction (pu...

October 8, 2019

People (and even some animals!) have used the stars as a navigation tool since prehistoric times. Likewise, in the modern world of education, with complex networks of mandates, standards, and curriculum, educators still know the wisdom of being guided by the stars—students— and using students’ strengths and interests (in conjunction with standards and district curriculum) to navigate each year of...

February 28, 2019

(Pixabay: Mabel Amber)

In my last blog (here) I shared my own slightly scandalous journey of being a young teacher trying to find meaningful methods for teaching the language standards in ways that stoked student transfer. Now, let’s take a journey together, and invite students along. Here are two easy routes that help learners get out of landlocked, passive stances about word learning and into sai...

December 18, 2018

When I was first hired as a teacher, I excitedly walked into my classroom to find… the “goods” had been pillaged. There was a teacher’s desk with drawers askew, mismatched student desks, and a wall of faded, bulletin board paper covered with last-week-of-school graffiti. I wandered around, opening closets and drawers, discovering again and again that they were empty. But, there was one shelf with...

March 15, 2017

I hope my daughter never reads this post until she is a parent herself! She will uncover one of my favorite parenting techniques--offering choices. It helps diffuse tension while also creating agency. Let me explain. One of our biggest challenges at home is getting ready in the morning, specifically selecting what to wear. She loves to wear her brother’s too-big-for-her clothes or his hand-me-down...

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