Prepping for the Coronavirus break

Paper paper everywhere. Distance learning doesn’t mean high-tech for me. Yesterday at 3:35 pm, my school released until April 1st in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus. The night before, I was sitting at my dining room table preparing plans for students to accomplish over the break. Just because we’re not inContinue reading “Prepping for the Coronavirus break”

Treasured Object Poems: A favorite poetry activity for all grades

In this post: Treasured Object Poems mentor texts and lesson tips Need a fun poetry activity to use with your students? One that will also hone their sensory language and revision skills? Show them how to write a short free-verse poem about an object they value. Paying tribute to a precious personal item encourages themContinue reading “Treasured Object Poems: A favorite poetry activity for all grades”

“Exploding a Moment” with Barry Lane

This year, we wrote out an exploded moment instead of just watching one be narrated in a video. Last Tuesday, I planned an activity for my seventh- and eighth-grade classes that worked so well, I knew I had to share. We exploded a baseball moment. “Exploding a moment “ is what writing teacher Barry LaneContinue reading ““Exploding a Moment” with Barry Lane”

Where have all the “thank you” notes gone?

Here’s what happened the first time I taught the “thank you” note Okay, where are the thank you notes? Who said they were no longer necessary? Someone must have, because I often don’t receive one anymore. And it’s not as if I’m expecting one, but I would like to at least know that the giftContinue reading “Where have all the “thank you” notes gone?”

Here’s the 7th Grade Missouri State Winner in the 2018 DAR American History Essay Contest

Plus: How I used this contest to teach blended-genre writing Every fall, my sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders enter an essay in the Daughters of the American Revolution’s   American History Essay Contest. Last fall was the fourth year my students entered the local contest, which is sponsored by the Taneycomo Chapter of the DAR, Forsyth, Mo.Continue reading “Here’s the 7th Grade Missouri State Winner in the 2018 DAR American History Essay Contest”

A good thing: Weekly in-class awards

I enjoy recognizing students for their on-time, on-target writing Last year, sometime during the second quarter, I decided to start awarding students for their hard work on their weekly written homework assignments. I came up with four awards to recognize students for being on-time and for doing a good job. The awards and the skillsContinue reading “A good thing: Weekly in-class awards”

2017-18 VFW Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay Contest Results

Finally… here’s that follow-up post I promised plus the winning essay entry Photo: Pixabay Last winter, I wrote a post about a contest that my seventh-graders enter each fall: the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. At the conclusion of that post, I wrote that I would update youContinue reading “2017-18 VFW Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay Contest Results”

Words are things that are beautiful to picture, things that glow in the world.

Today’s post: Sixth-graders reflect on their writing Today, I’m posting some responses from a reflection assignment I gave to my sixth-graders the last week of school. I asked them to write a 300-word reflection of the progress they made in my language arts class this year. Read more about the assignment and my seventh-grade reflectionsContinue reading “Words are things that are beautiful to picture, things that glow in the world.”

Worth the wait… fifteen students are now published writers!

  Last spring, many of my students entered their “Where I’m From” poems in Creative Communication‘s Spring 2017 Poetry Contest. Fifteen are now published writers with the printing of the anthology shown in the photo. I am so proud of them! I’ve also shared these photos and posted them on my class Instagram page… IContinue reading “Worth the wait… fifteen students are now published writers!”

It’s hard to teach middle schoolers this: grammar rules exist to bring readers on your journey

Part 4 of 4   In my classroom, I stress that writing is so much more than just knowing a bunch of grammar and punctuation rules. Writing is really about expressing oneself, your dreams, your beliefs, your hopes, your imagination.  Writers don’t write to show off to readers that they know how to avoid vagueContinue reading “It’s hard to teach middle schoolers this: grammar rules exist to bring readers on your journey”