How to teach sentence variety

A mini-lesson from Gary Provost Copy off the paragraph below from writing guru Gary Provost and read it aloud to your students at the beginning of class or as a mini-lesson. Don’t just read it aloud… make sure they follow along on their own copy. It’s more effective that way. You’ll see the light bulbsContinue reading “How to teach sentence variety”

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.”

“I would write like a dog with hooves it was hard.”

When students reflect, three things happen.   About a week before school ended in May, I asked my sixth- and seventh-grade students to write a 300-word reflection of the progress they made in my language arts class this past year. I find this assignment very valuable, both for me and my students because it provides threeContinue reading ““I would write like a dog with hooves it was hard.””

Here’s the Poem that Won a National Silver Key Award

I’ve posted the poem below that one of my eighth-grade students wrote, which won Gold and Silver Key Awards, respectively, at the regional and national levels of the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Read yesterday’s post here to find out more about the contest, such as guidelines, tips, and how to enter. Hint: it’sContinue reading “Here’s the Poem that Won a National Silver Key Award”

Contest #6 That Works for My Students: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

One of my goals during the 2017-18 school year was to finally enter a student’s work in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. And right before Christmas break, two of my students entered poetry. Brooke S. entered four poems, Ally W. entered two. Brooke earned a Gold Key Award at the regional level, sponsored by theContinue reading “Contest #6 That Works for My Students: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards”

Don’t ever delete anything again

Never ever ever. So many times I have kids in my classroom who will delete sentences, whole paragraphs, or even more of their writing as they struggle through a first draft. When I find out they’ve deleted something, I turn on the drama. I gasp, cover my face with my hands, and plead with themContinue reading “Don’t ever delete anything again”

Memoir Mentor Text: Something I Wrote that I Now Use as a Mentor Text

It’s hard to find mentor texts sometimes, and occasionally I just write one myself when the need arises, or I scroll through my sister blog to find stories I’ve already written. For my students, I define “memoir” as a personal narrative that contains a beginning, middle, and end, plus a lesson learned from the situation. ThatContinue reading “Memoir Mentor Text: Something I Wrote that I Now Use as a Mentor Text”

Here’s what happened when I submitted a student’s writing to a hunting magazine

    Last fall, one of my seventh-grade students wrote an “Expert Advice” article, one of ten assignments in our Writer’s Workshop project list. My students seemed to like this particular assignment. They chose a topic they were familiar with and then wrote a how-to article. “Jared” wrote an article called “Four Ways Novice HuntersContinue reading “Here’s what happened when I submitted a student’s writing to a hunting magazine”

My Seventh-Graders Told Me This: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

The future of the country is in good — albeit small — hands.   Just when you think the country is spiraling out of control due to natural disasters, political upheaval, and lone wolf violence, you read some words written by twelve- and thirteen-year-olds and you realize that kids will carry us through. In short,Continue reading “My Seventh-Graders Told Me This: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”

Six Things I’ve Learned So Far from Using Instagram in My ELA Classes

#workinprogress #experiment  #askmeagaininMay I attended an ed-tech conference over the summer. One of the sessions, Social Media in the Classroom, was taught by a middle school teacher from another district in my area who admins a private Instagram account for her ELA classes. The idea intrigued me. I already knew Instagram was fun, based onContinue reading “Six Things I’ve Learned So Far from Using Instagram in My ELA Classes”