Literacy Links – Volume 54

after school activities, book list, creating, graphic novels, literacy links, writing

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Each time the Reading Ambassadors enter the Reading Lounge for our meetings, they will answer the question of the week displayed on a table and then stick their responses on the window outside the room. I have loved reading their responses, but seeing other students stop and chat about the responses has been even better. Some visitors to the Reading Lounge have even asked if THEY could fill out a response to the question of the week. The display started with these seventeen responses, and now there are twenty-three.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 53

literacy links, professional resources, reading

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Two of my clubs are starting soon: Reading Ambassadors and Harry Potter. Reading Ambassadors group is a service and leadership club and Harry Potter is a fan club. They’re both so special to me because they’re a combination pep rally, time for self-expression, and community building. Reading Ambassadors is full and there’s a waitlist, but there are a couple more spots in the Harry Potter Club for students in grades 3-5. Register here.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Four Things to Do at the Halfway Mark of the Year

professional resources, reading

With the start of the new year, resolutions abound. This time of year is perfect for trying out something new in the classroom, too. If you’re not sure what you could experiment with, consider any of the following ideas.

Reading Marathons

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If you haven’t hosted a Reading Marathon, now is the perfect time to have your first. As testing season approaches, we want to make sure our students have the stamina to attend to a lengthy task, but we need to explicitly teach them some strategies. Hosting a Reading Marathon is the perfect event. The teacher teaches students how to maintain their stamina by doing stretch breaks and power poses, creating positive self-talk, and setting goals before students are tasked with reading for as long as they can. I have students create a stamina four-square in their reader’s notebooks so they have a record of what they think will work for them.

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You can keep the Reading Marathon simple, or you can have props and costumes: racing numbers, athleisure attire, a whistle, etc. During the Reading Marathon, teachers can assess students’ stamina by tracking behaviors.

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This chart provides such great information, and if you host your first Reading Marathon soon, you’ll have time to support students who struggled with stamina before the end of the year!

Visit the Reading Lounge

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This space would be a great place to host a Reading Marathon! Reserve the space using our school’s Google Calendar (click on “other calendars” if you haven’t added it to your calendars yet).


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It’s so common to give students surveys at the beginning of the year with students. I’ve always been a fan of Jennifer Serravallo’s “What Can I Work on As a Reader?” self-reflection tool. These surveys help teachers get to know students and help students set goals. At the halfway mark of the year or the end of the first term, why not administer the same survey? If you return students’ surveys from the beginning of the year, then they can do some great reflecting about areas of growth, needs, infer some possible reasons, and make new goals with different action steps. You could even have students record a video of themselves reflecting on their growth if you use a video tool in See Saw, Class Dojo, etc.

Classroom Library Audit

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You might think your classroom library is in good shape because you have full, maybe even overflowing, shelves. Most students don’t seem to have any trouble finding books for their independent reading. But when was the last time you took a close look at what is actually occupying your precious shelf space? Scholastic’s 11 Essentials for a Highly Effective Classroom Library is eye-opening! I’m guessing there are a lot of outdated books that aren’t being read and a serious lack of multicultural, #ownvoices books. If we classified books by publishing year, I think we’d find that our collections are dated. I’d estimate that less than 20% of the books were published in the last five years. This is the perfect time of year to Marie Kondo your collection. Talk with your administrator to see if there are any funds to acquire new books. If they see pitifully bare the shelves are after a thoughtful purge, then they may be more inclined to replenish your books using a low cost book suppler like First Book. In fact, many administrators don’t think there’s a need to fund teachers’ classroom libraries because they see stocked shelves.

These activities can take place any time of year, really, but the halfway mark is a natural transition time for everyone. When students hear teachers’ thoughts about experimenting with their teaching practices, I think students are more likely to show flexible, responsive thinking as well.

Happy experimenting!

Literacy Links – Volume 52

book list, literacy links, writing

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Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite authors. He’s even more special because he’s also the illustrator of his and others’ books. He does an illustration every New Year’s Eve, and I love 2020‘s! Here’s to the journey!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 51

book list, literacy links

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Writing Clinic #3 focused on exemplars last week, and a teacher ALREADY posted the tool made! Having a visual tool to support students’ writing is SO helpful. It’s a guiding light for students as they complete the writing process, and it also provides teaching points for minilessons and small group instruction. Exemplars could be part of the launch of every unit so that there is no doubt what the work of the unit will look like!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Writing Clinic #3: Exemplars

professional resources, writing

This month’s Writing Clinic focused on exemplars. Exemplars are models of student work that guide students’ performance. Providing an exemplar of the final product benefits students *and* teachers because it eliminates any doubt about what the work of the unit should look like.

During the workshop, I ran through WHY we should use exemplars, WHAT we can use for exemplars, and HOW we can use exemplars to support students.

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Teachers spent their tinker time of the workshop making tools to use with exemplars. Most decided to make their grade level’s version of this huge display I saw in a post on the Facebook group for the Units of Study for Writing:

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for the Units of Study for Writing

The language for each section comes from the writing checklists available in TCRWP’s Writing Pathways or in the online resources. After printing out their chosen genre’s checklist, teachers started making their tools.

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Other teams made small, toolkit-size versions of the same tool.

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I’ve really loved every Writing Clinic I’ve hosted so far, but this one might’ve been my favorite. Digging into the topic with teachers, especially during their tinker time, is such valuable PD for everyone. They often ask questions I hadn’t considered, and I love thinking through trouble-shooting options with them: What might that look like? What else could work? What are the possible effects of that? The best part of these Writing Clinics, though, comes in the days afterwards when I see the work being used in classrooms with students. These teachers waste now time testing out new ideas. I’m such a proud coach. ❤

The next Writing Clinic will be focus on Revising Toolkits on January 27th. Hope to see you there!

Literacy Links – Volume 50

creating, graphic novels, literacy links, technology


There’s been a lot of tinkering in Writers’ Workshop since Writing Clinic #2! Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact, I worried. Would students “get” it? What if they were *still* stumped for writing ideas? What if it got out of control? But over the past week, I’ve seen or heard about tinkering in three classrooms, and students have blown me away! They’ve been so respectful and CREATIVE in their builds! Now, I’m so eager to use tinkering throughout the writing process.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 49

book list, literacy links, poetry

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Last week, I hosted my second Writing Clinic for Center’s teachers. This clinic was about pre-writing with a focus on talking and making. The making was inspired by Angela Stockman’s work. Since you can refer to the brain dump I did on a lot of her make writing ideas in Literacy Link – Volume 48, I’ll introduce the talking as pre-writing ideas now. When I worked in a kindergarten room to help launch Writers’ Workshop in September, we made sure to introduce writing partners as part of the pre-writing process to give students a chance to orally rehearse their writing before drafting. Since then, the teacher has turned to writing partners again and again, sometimes giving students several days to orally rehearse. Their output has been incredible. What a difference talking makes before drafting!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 48

creating, literacy links, professional resources, writing


My standard introduction at a conference is, “I’m a literacy coach looking for daily doses of creativity and joy,” so when I read Angela Stockman’s Hacking the Writing Workshop: Redesign with Making in Mind, I knew it was going to be a just-right book for me. Boy, was I right! It inspired me so much that I created a Make Writing cart just waiting for Center teachers to use with their students. Contact me if you’re interested! Happy making!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Family Writing Night

after school activities, writing

I’m THRILLED to be hosting an All-Ages Family Writing Night on Wednesday, December 11th from 6:00 to 7:30 in the Center School Community Room. I will run it as a Writers’ Workshop, so if you’ve ever wondered what that looks or feels like, you’ll get to experience it firsthand alongside Center cardinals!

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In this workshop, families will craft a poem together based on George Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From” (listen to the author read her poem here!). After noticing the poem’s elements and modeling pre-writing and drafting with revision throughout, families will use the patterns and structure to craft a “Where We’re From” poem about their family. Teachers will be available to support families as they work through the writing process before we meet together at the end for the share. I have no doubt that every family will leave with new memories and a treasured keepsake.

If your family is interested in attending this event, please register here.

Questions? Contact me: