Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This article on resilience in learning parallels the writing conference thinking process. Courtesy of theguardian. Enjoy

The science of resilience: how to teach students to persevere 
Neurologist and teacher Judy Willis shares three simple techniques to help teachers build resilience in their students|By Judy Willis

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reflections from the Wrting Committee - 2015-2016

Thinking about our work on Narrative Writing Samples, as well as the reading we have done in Calkins' Writing Pathways, please take a few moments and reflect on ideas you have had about using the rubrics, benchmark papers, data, suggested teaching tools, and suggested teaching ideas in your classroom.  Please describe what you are planning on implementing and why.  If you have already implemented some changes or "tweaked" some practices, please include these.  

Choose what you think is most important to share with us.

Please complete them by January 18, 2016.

I look forward to reading these reflections.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Notes on Writing Committee meeting on December 12, 2015.

The writing committee met on December 14, 2015.  Prior to the meeting, teachers collected narrative writing samples K-12 and chose a high, medium, and low example using the rubric.  As a committee, they reviewed writing samples using Calkins’ rubrics.  The trends identified early on (see below) were concerns throughout the writing we reviewed, as well as the last two bullets.
Students need to:
  •  be able to write a complete sentence early on.
  • be able to create a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • be able to write for sustained periods of time.
  •  be able to revise their work.
  •  be able to use upper case and lower case letters correctly.
  • be able to use transition words.
  • be able to write using correct grammar.
  • be able to write a paragraph.

Teachers need to:
  • consider administering the assessment to small groups so they can scribe as the students write, as well as observe writing behaviors included in the rubrics.
  • consider using three pieces of paper for writing stories – one for the beginning, middle and end of a story.  This might help students understand the concept.
  • Use a common vocabulary when discussing writing.
Helana shared high school samples with the committee as well as her first draft of her rubric for grades 10-12.  In response to the directive to create consistency across the grade levels, she is revising the rubric.  Thank you, Helana.

The writing committee will meet on January 21, 2016.

Thank you all for your hard work.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Energizing Writing Workshops courtesy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
November 7, 2015 - Issue #457
If you are having trouble reading this newsletter, click here for a Web-based version.
Little Notebooks

Memory is a complicated thing -- a relative to truth, but not its twin.

                                                                                 Barbara Kingsolver

On the table where I sit each morning with my coffee -- thinking and dreaming, writing and reading -- is a small stone engraved with these words:

The biggest lie that I tell myself daily is ”I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.”

It’s a reminder to me of all the good ideas, large and small, I’ve lost because I haven’t written them down.

Beau Biden died tragically young earlier this year, while he was serving as the attorney general in Delaware. One of the memories shared at his funeral was of Beau listening intently whenever any citizen accosted him with a concern, and then pulling out a small notebook to write it down. I love that image of a notebook always on hand, a physical reminder that he would literally carry someone’s concerns with him.

It’s a stress reliever for me to write things down. It takes any idea or issue out of mental space and into physical space to deal with later. I keep little notebooks in the car, next to the bed, and in many coat pockets. But writing ideas down when they come is easier said than done. The problem is that ideas often come when we are on the move -- something about getting up and walking across the room, or taking a shower, or driving in the car shakes and loosens the mind. It’s this reverie that allows thoughts to mingle in new ways, and inspiration to emerge.  And then we scramble (because we aren’t at a desk or table) for any scrap of paper to write it down.

That’s why I probably have at least a half dozen notepads and notebooks in use at any given time -- it’s impossible to keep track of all of them as they are moving from car to house, coat pockets to coffee tables. I no longer worry about any kind of order to them, or finishing one before I start another. What matters most is to tell myself the truth -- if I don’t write it down when inspiration strikes, it is likely to be lost forever.
This week we look at ways to energize writing workshops. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Mary Lee Hahn finds 15 minutes of writing on Friday builds fluency and confidence in her fifth-grade students, and gives her a wealth of formative assessment data at the same time:

Shari Frost shares children's picture books that are about characters who write. These are wonderful mentor texts for writing minilessons:

The Sharing Our Notebooks blog from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is a terrific resource for teachers or anyone interested in how writers capture and hone ideas in notebooks:

Ruth Ayres is leading a new Choice Literacy online course on the fundamentals of writing workshops in December. This 12-day course includes readings, videos, webcasts, and personal response from Ruth. Details and registration guidelines are available at this link:


Create a DVD professional library instantly by ordering the 24 DVD Collection and save 50% off the list prices of individual titles. The bundle includes over 40 hours of video and features Jennifer Allen, Aimee Buckner, "The Sisters" (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser), Clare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Franki Sibberson, and many other master teachers working in classrooms with children. Choice Literacy members receive an additional discount of $100 off the sale price: