KG issues a challenge, one I had yet to consider in ethical terms.
How much reading should a teacher do each year?
How much should teachers be expected to read up on their craft?
It’s here: the step-by-step guide for teachers who want to get maximum instructional value out of the Writer’s Notebook. Even though it’s six weeks past my self-imposed deadline, the practical help the book provides is still relevant, and there is plenty of school year left to implement the practices described inside.
Founded on the Writer’s Notebook practice introduced in Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers and Aimee Buckner’s Notebook Know How, and drawing on over decade of teaching experience, I present a convenient way to set up and run the Writer’s Notebook in the secondary classroom.
Included are tips for:
More than just providing a teacher’s guide for prompting students to fill a notebook with first draft writing, I take teachers through a step-by-step guide that helps students to:
Out of my failures and successes over the past 13 years, I have put together a straightforward, “no nonsense” approach to teaching writing with The Writer’s Notebook.
Get your copy on Kindle today!
I just had 170 students revise a piece of writing, and none of them complained about it. Let me qualify that. None of them groaned aloud obnoxiously, as if the assignment was causing them physical pain. For the most part, they completed their second draft with ease and some even expressed a mild delight that they made their writing a little better. A few voluntarily asked me for suggestions about how to word certain phrases. A few students expressed grave concern that they had exceeded the word limit (the accidentally wrote more than they were required).
This is a dramatic contrast to how my former students used to behave when they were presented with the notion that their writing needed to be fixed. Typically, the mere suggestion that they were not yet done with a piece of writing was met with sneers of derision. I had to drag them a long through what they thought was an agonizing process of revisiting a piece of writing they believed they had completed.
Not this time. Actually, not in recent memory.
What, you may ask, has made the difference?
My students used to scoff, sneer, or ignore my efforts to make them revise their writing. And almost every one of my attempts at getting students to take a second look at their own writing usually ended in discouragement.
For me, not too long ago, lightening struck. I made a change. I started to get my students to approach revision in a fresh way, and their attitudes completely changed. They spent real, invested time making their writing better. They stopped complaining about revision. And, wouldn’t you know it, their drafts got better. Many students even started inquiring, on their own, how to adjust their first draft writing to avoid making their usual first draft mistakes.
What did I do? The answer was surprisingly simple. Actually, anyone can do it. And it only requires a little extra energy to make it happen in your classroom. All you have to do is change one little thing and prepare for dramatic results. Continue reading “Teaching Revision: The One Change You Need to Make Right Away”
In a previous post about my top Outside Reading nudges, I said I was going to try and use a reading progress chart. I am beta testing it right now, and I am excited about the results that I am getting!
You see two things in the photo at the top of the post. One, the public sign up sheet where students declare a commitment to read a certain title for their outside reading assignment. Two, the Outside Reading Progress Chart — it’s the one that looks like the bar graph.
On day one of posting the progress chart, students were already saying the kinds of thing I was hoping to hear:
The centerpiece of writing instruction in my classroom is the Writer’s Notebook. And that begins with the students getting a composition book at the store at the start of the school year.
More specifically, I make them get a 100 page composition book. Not 70, not 80. 100. Since I have the students do a lot of writing, and a fairly decent amount of writing about writing, they need quite a bit of space for their words. I also want them to feel comfortable with all of the composing they will be doing, so I make sure to tell them to get wide-ruled–college-ruled is too tight, and doesn’t allow room for students to take notes in planning their revisions.
I also make sure that the Writer’s Notebook stays simple. One of the key features of the the notebook is that the writing is low-stakes. I will never put pressure on my students to write according to a rubric or scoring guide. They just need to write. Thus, I only give them 3 rules and guidelines. Continue reading “3 Rules and Guidelines for the Writer’s Notebook”
As a teacher, setting up the year has to be one of the worst parts of the job. I mean it. I don’t like it. At. All.
I like that point in the year when things are already moving. I think it would be nice if I could have some sort of assistant, maybe a clone, who started up the year for me, and then right when everything was running smoothly, I come in and get to the part of teaching I like most.
Think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk into your classroom and . . .