Hello September!

Writing Corner

Inconvenience...of a broken toe.

As some of you know, several weeks ago I broke my left toe in two separate places. I'm almost embarrassed to say how it happened. I wish it was a romantic story to tell. Like...I was enjoying my evening run and almost home...when suddenly I stumbled on a branch and came tumbling down. But no, instead the real story is I broke my toe in two places trying to move furniture at home. I literally dropped a book case on my big toe. My husband was at work and so this meant I had to drive myself to the emergency room.

This is was not how I wanted to start the school year. I still had plenty to do. The first thing I thought about was...am I going to be able to run? Little did I know not only would it impact my running, it would slow me down completely. I really think wearing a medical boot for a broken toe is silly. It limits your mobility because you can't walk very fast. It's an inconvenience to deal with when you're used to being on the go. I believe everything happens for a reason, and we must go through changes, learn to adapt and grow from the experience. For me, it means slowing down physically, it means having patience.

Trying New Ideas:

This school year as you begin to teach Writers Workshop and settle into routine & rituals, I ask you to reflect on how you've taught writing in the past. Think about your mini lessons, your conferring and how you've assessed your students and try something new. We all have that one lesson we know so well we can teach it with our eyes closed. Try, to let go of it and try something different. Colleen Cruz, a lead staff developer at Columbia University advices teachers to, "lay our best teaching aside and move on, because the next class or the next day, or the next student will most likely need something different. That's not to say that you can't bring some things forward, a gem, a nugget that you can recycle and refashion into something useful." I agree with Colleen, after all every new school year brings a new set of students with different needs.

This year, try something new, attempt a different lesson, conferring group, or assessment piece. I know change and new ideas can be an inconvenience, but be patient, and grow from your new experience. Happy September!


Click on the button below to see a video of Ms. Coffey.

Take a look at Ms. Coffey teaching in Action!

MiniLesson for Response Groups Thank you Ms. Coffey!!

Things to try:

1. Highlight the Process Rather Than the Product. Before kids revise and edit, make a photocopy of their work and save the original. Then, at the end of the unit, create a before/after display of the two versions to highlight the revision work your kids did. When you celebrate revision (instead of copying it over or hiding it), you’ll see an increase in kids’ enthusiasm for revision in next unit of study.

2. Displaying Student Work. Displaying all your students’ work in your classroom or in the hallway is huge. Never underestimate the power of making all kids’ writing public. They might not show it, but this small thing is not small at all.

3. Digital Publishing. Consider all your options for digital publishing. With younger kids, they might not type an entire piece of writing, but they could digitally create a cover, a dedication, or a back-of-the-book blurb to add to their final product. With older kids who are typing, you might consider teaching them how to post their work to a blog or classroom website. Near the end of your genre, you might videotape each of your students as he or she reads his or her work. Then post the video clips on your class blog or website, or burn the video clips to a DVD that you can watch during a writing celebration with your class. Or, if you’re ready to take on a bigger video project, put cameras in kids’ hands and give them a day or two to produce their own video celebrations of their writing.

4. A Real Live Audience. Consider who the audience for your students’ writing might be. Perhaps invite another class, or a few other teachers to come visit your kids as they share their work. Occasionally you might invite families to come celebrate the end of a unit of study. Whatever you decide, be sure to announce this early to your students and mark your classroom calendar so that they can look forward to the day, making it more meaningful.


Teach Minilesson for writing process. Just like we need reminders, so do students.
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Dates to Remember:

Baseline Writing Results entered on Google Drive -September 16, 2015

Baseline writing Samples to me -September 16, 2015



The Unstopable Writing Teacher, by Colleen Cruz