A yearlong plan will help you teach (all the) writing; it will save you time and energy — and help you remain accountable for what you’re expected to teach this year. The yearlong plan – your map Your district or school may provide you with a year-at-a-glance (yearlong plan) that provides you with quarterly writing teaching goals.  That means, you’ll be provided with a list of concepts to teach and when they should be taught. Your school has provided you… Read more »

6 Reasons your students should write their own works cited page (rather than use an online app)

I teach my students how to create a works cited page from scratch — or the old, fashioned way as they like to tell me.  I know there are online tools that will do that for them, and I’m thrilled that they can use those tools … in other classes, not mine. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not living in the dark ages — I love technology!  So why do I “torture” my students like this? 1.  Why is a… Read more »

Get your students excited about research with these seven steps.

              Research should be fun!  Yet it often involves restricted topics, rules, and requirements that can limit a student’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm.  Encourage students to follow their questions by implementing simple, small research activities about topics they are curious about. Go Old School:  Use Research Notebooks I loved making these upcycled notebooks from my last post, and I decided to use one of them to create what Cal Newport describes as the “Feynman Notebook.”… Read more »

Upcycle school supplies to create a fun notebook or journal.

    The end of the school year is wonderful and exciting …except for the waste. Rather than having students chunk their partially used notebooks into the recycling bin, have them upcycle them by creating new notebooks.  Students can create their own reading journals for the summer! Earth Day was just a few weeks ago, so students just need a gentle reminder that one of the 3Rs is “reuse.”  This project can reuse a cardboard box (like a cereal or… Read more »

Create a fun journal jar for your students.

A journal jar is a great way to offer students choices during writer’s workshop or journaling time. I’ve always loved using a journal jar.  In the past, my journal jar consisted of topics written on strips of paper and stuck into a jar.  Students could pick a slip, glue it to the top of their journal page, and write. That was great except that I had to remember to replenish the jar.  Even though it sounds easy, it was one… Read more »

Use a Writing Scheduler to keep writing projects under control.

Remember September?  When the school year stretched out before you — lots of time to do lots of teaching. Then, suddenly, it’s January.  Testing (might be) looming in the near future, you have a pile of standards to get through…why are there so many daily distractions that keep us from teaching content material?!  And let’s not even talk about flu season! If you’re an ELA teacher, you may be looking at the modes of writing your students need to master… Read more »

An easy way to organize writing projects.

There are a few things you can count on for January:  resolutions (made and broken!), the flu season, and ads promising ways to (finally) get you organized. The organizational promises are the ones that are always so tempting.  Who wouldn’t like their closet/garage/pantry to look like something worthy of Pinterest?! Classroom organization is no different.  Keeping track of handouts, extra copies, lessons, books, student work… Today I want to share just one, simple organizational technique I’ve used with great success.  It involves… Read more »

Why should you teach poetry all year? The whys and hows are all here!

If you love National Poetry month and feel sad when it’s over, consider teaching poetry all year! I’ve written a guest post for Rachel Lynette’s blog Minds in Bloom that includes ten reasons why you absolutely should teach poetry all year — and seven simple ways how to do it. My favorite strategy I like to just share a poem with students by reading it and asking them what their favorite part is…and then moving on to our lesson of the day! It’s… Read more »


Ready to Simplify Grading? Are you ready to put away your red pen?  I use a simple tool that helps me simplify grading and increase the the productive time I spend with student writers. I wrote a guest post for the Middle School Mob blog on using my “Notes from your Teacher” product to help speed up grading and create differentiation in your writing workshop. Pop over there to read the post and leave a comment as well! Hoping you… Read more »

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”freedom”] After finishing the last post about how a writer’s notebook differs from a writing journal, I was thinking about how choice is so important to students. It’s difficult to allow students to choose what to write when we have to teach a narrative, a persuasive essay, an argument, comparison contrast, etc. etc. Not to mention, students need to learn how respond to a timed writing prompt. It is often easier to just give the assignment and move… Read more »