My students are deep in the planning stages of NaNoWriMo, which means they have crafted their main characters and plotted some main events. But we are all a bit foggy about where our stories might go. Brainstorming ideas and bouncing them off our friends only takes us so far. So today we tried something new, and my students (and I) were so excited about the … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Ask & Suggest
I told my husband that he needed to come with me for an evening canoe ride. We were vacationing at our cabin, and although I was working very hard at not working, I was also working on a piece of writing that had to get done. And I needed to bounce some ideas off of him. We paddled up the lake a bit, the late … Continue reading Teach writing? Then you’d better BE writing.
I’ve never published a novel of my own, so it’s intimidating to ask my students to write a novel under my tutelage. But since the answer to just about every question can now be found online, I decided this year to ask my students to search the web for writing advice from those most qualified to give it: published writers. Much of the wisdom they found echoes … Continue reading #NaNoWriMo: ask the experts
I know I’m not the only teacher who struggles to meet the needs of all her students, but after 25 years, I am still surprised by the wide range of responses I get from my students and their parents. The following comments come from parents of students (and students, too) who have been in the same class period with me this year: “Thank you so much! I think you are … Continue reading Thank you (so much) and I’m so (very) sorry.
Oh, these crazy days of May! As sure as the weather gets warmer, our students get antsy, lose their focus and challenge our well established rules and expectations. Attention spans wither and distractions bloom. But thanks to the engaging nature of PBL and student choice, I love my classroom in May. Although my students know the year is almost over, they are (for the most part) fully engaged in … Continue reading Loving the homestretch: meaningful work and active engagement
The first time I read Billy Collins’ poem “On Turning Ten,” I thought it would be wonderful if my 8th graders wrote poems about the nostalgia of childhood and the uncertainty of growing up, since they were kind of in the middle: finished with elementary school and looking forward to high school. We watched a video of Collins reciting the poem, and I distributed it on … Continue reading Brainstorm backwards, then look ahead
Blogging isn’t new. In fact, blogging came on the scene a full decade before my current students were born. But have our students discovered the power of their own blogging? If your students are writing, I challenge you to move that writing to blogs. And if your students aren’t writing, blogging is one way to change that. When students move their work from paper to blogs, they: publish … Continue reading Read > blog > discuss > repeat
What’s the #1 complaint from teachers when attending a conference, workshop, training, or professional development session? Besides not enough chocolate, near the top of my pet peeve list is presenters who are not classroom teachers. Even trainers who were once in the classroom lose a bit of their credibility when I find out they’ve been out of the classroom for a few years. Today’s classroom is an ever-changing … Continue reading Our best ideas = your best lessons
The first time I introduced National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) to my 8th graders, I was terrified. One of my teacher friends had said, “They’ll run screaming from the classroom in tears!” Some students did later confess to a brief moment of panic (“I almost lost my lunch!”), but the end result was resoundingly the most powerful and successful writing project I have ever … Continue reading It’s beginning to look a lot like #NaNoWriMo!