#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Time for Titles

Returning from Fall Break this week, my students have four more days before NaNoWriMo ends. We have two class periods together, plus they will write at home. Our focus this week, after months of planning our stories, collecting writing advice from authors, working through writer’s block, and figuring out how to conclude our novels, is to just get to our word goals. We know the … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Time for Titles

Put the kids in charge

There’s nothing quite like the intensity, the chaos, the one-crisis-after-another, the sorry-I-can’t-help-you-go-find-someone-who-can, the exhilaration, jubilation and exhaustion of the first day of production in a middle school broadcast media class. My brand new group of 7th and 8th graders had met six times in the first couple weeks of school (90 minutes, every other day) and our audience was antsy for a show. Our news … Continue reading Put the kids in charge

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Houses & Hamburgers

The first few years that my students and I wrote novels with NaNoWriMo, I neglected settings. This wasn’t intentional, but my main concern was helping my students plan enough of a plot that they would be able to keep writing for the full month. My lack of novel-writing experience caused me to miss the fact that settings make a big difference in adding more story, … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Houses & Hamburgers

#NaNoWriMo: ask the experts

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

Sticky post

Always a learner; also a teacher.

Greetings! I have been teaching middle school since 1988: first English Language Arts, then Digital Design Lab and Broadcast Media, and now as the K-12 Ed Tech Teacher on Special Assignment in Petaluma, California. I present workshops for teachers on technology in the classroom, project-based learning and writing; plus I work with Edutopia, PBS and KQED Learning. I love to connect with other educators, so please enjoy … Continue reading Always a learner; also a teacher.

Loving the homestretch: meaningful work and active engagement

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

Brainstorm backwards, then look ahead

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

Read > blog > discuss > repeat

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