March 25, 2020

I trust we all love Ferris Bueller and remember the “life moves pretty fast” advice? Well, there’s no doubt that right now, life is moving pretty fast… and stopping makes a lot of sense. Not because we don't want to miss a moment of this experience, but instead because when life feels like it’s speeding up, slowing down can relieve some of the anxiety and panic we are feeling. This brings me to th...

March 31, 2017

I’m Jack McGee and my mom, Patty McGee, wrote a book. I asked if I could be first to tell you all about it, and proudly, I write this post to announce its release. Though I am only 16, in my totally biased opinion, the book that she has created, Feedback That Moves Writers Forward: How to Escape Correcting Mode to Transform Student Writing, is one of the most powerful and informative texts for tea...

March 26, 2017

Here’s what it used to sound like when I used mentor texts in my writing workshop early on in my teaching:

Me: Take a look at this piece from Cynthia Rylant. Do you see how she used figurative language in her writing? You should use figurative language just like Cynthia Rylant. Off you go!

My students: I don’t get it (a glazed look in their eyes and a wrinkle of confusion above their noses).

I realiz...

March 4, 2017

One of my heroes, Katherine Bomer, has reminded us over and over that writing is one of the most vulnerable acts for students in school. They must lay their thoughts and “imperfections” out there on paper to be exposed to their peers, their teachers, and sometimes the entire school community. This is terribly scary for many students. It is a wonder so many are still willing to even try. The right...

February 24, 2017

The words we use hold power-- the power to nurture, inspire, and teach. A small adjustment to our wording can turn what sounds like corrective feedback into appreciative, hopeful feedback. Consider these two statements:

You added dialogue to your story but you need to add inner thinking.

Because you added dialogue to your story, you are ready to add inner thinking.

These two statements are identical...

How do we get our students to continue to take risks that really matter?

We are born curious. We ask questions. We explore possibilities. We are undeniably interested in all that surrounds us. As we dive deeper into our school year, it is our responsibility to continue creating opportunities for students so that they are able to access that thrill of wonder. We want to build a space where students...

March 1, 2016

This post was written by first grade teacher Heather Frank.

Among first grade students and teachers, our realistic fiction unit is one of our favorites! After being immersed in realistic fiction mentor texts, students created a new first grade friend who is the focus of their writing pieces.

Using a graphic organizer, the children brainstormed and made decisions about their character’s out...

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