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 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:

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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Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 6.31.52 PMFinished look of the minilesson’s anchor charts

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:

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 1.49.16 PMA teacher generously shared her display in this post on the Facebook group
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 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:

Writing Clinic #1: Conferring and Small Groups

literacy, professional resources, test prep, writing

Once a month, LPS teachers have a “teacher-led” staff meeting. Teachers must be in the building from 3 to 4 working on anything of their choice. After going to the Saturday Reunion at Teachers College and Literacy for All, I was desperate to share all of the new ideas I’d learned. I’d been considering lots of different sharing options, and I realized I could offer it during these teacher-led Monday afternoons! So on Sunday morning, after getting permission from my principal, I started brainstorming my first Writing Clinics. The first task was to brainstorm the sessions and create an advertisement to share with staff. Thanks to Mr. Shu, I used Canva, and the graphic design was a piece of cake! 

In general, I use the Workshop Model to plan my PD, so I created my agenda on conferring/small group work using the same workshop components that I use with students: book talk, minilesson, work, and share.

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Book Talk and Minilesson

After a quick book talk on Carl Anderson’s, A Teacher’s Guide to Writing Conferences, I launched my minilesson. I decided a flow chart would be the simplest way to break down the conferring process.

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For each part of the Conferring Cycle, I asked myself, “Is there a meaningful tool that could support teachers’ work with this step?” Although I considered possibilities for each step, I decided to focus on the latter half of the Conferring Cycle because I thought they’d have the most impact on students and teachers. So I created a tool for the following steps of the Conferring Cycle: Assess, Craft a Teaching Point, and Create a Tool. By the end of the minilesson, I’d taped all of the possible tools teachers could make to the board as models of what they could create during the WORK portion of the WORKshop.

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Work Options

Here’s a close-up of all of the tools that teachers had the chance to make at the first Writing Clinic along with how to use each one:

IMG_4342 2“Assess” Tool: Formative Assessment using Checklists from the Units of Study

How the Assess Tool, Formative Assessment Using Checklists from the Units of Study, Works: Teachers cut up an illustrated checklist from the online resources for the Units of Study on Heinemann for the unit’s genre of writing and paste the criteria on the left hand side of an opened file folder. The three white blank labels at the top are for different categories: ✓+, ✓, ✓- or Meeting, Progressing, Emerging or Yes!, Starting To, Not Yet. The green sticky notes are for writing students’ names according to the level of the work they’re sharing during conferences. Tip: Laminate!

IMG_4341 2“Craft a Teaching Point” Tool: What/How/Why Planning Template

How the Craft a Teaching Point Tool, What/How/Why Planning Template Works: I’ve noticed that many of the anchor charts from the TCRWP Units of Study lay out rigorous goals of what students should do, but they don’t tell HOW to do it or WHY it should be done. The same goes for the teaching point, so I created this scaffold to get teachers in the habit of planning the what, how, and why of the lesson, whether it’s for the whole class or small group. Of course, like all good scaffolds, this tool would become obsolete once the teacher develops this frame of mind for lesson planning. Tip: Laminate!


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Create a Tool” Tool: Checklist Sorting Mat (inside)

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Create a Tool” Tool: Checklist Sorting Mat (back)

How the Create a Tool, Checklist Sorting Mat Works: This tool, again, uses the checklists. This is a tool that encourages student self-reflection. They take strips of the checklist and decide if they are showing evidence of that work or not. Anything that lands on the “Not Yet” side turn into writing goals and can even be stored in a handy pocket in the student’s writer’s notebook. Tip: Laminate!

Every teacher left with a tool to use with students or to plan with right away.

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After the Clinic, I decided to display all of the materials in the teachers’ workroom so that all teachers had access to the information and materials in case they wanted to DIY the tools.

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There’s also a Google Classroom for this work; email me if you want to join.

I can’t wait to hear how the tools work in teachers’ classrooms!

Literacy Links – Volume 45

creating, literacy links, writing

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Last week, I hosted my first Writing Clinic. Its focus was conferring, which I believe is the heart of Writers’ Workshop (looks like the blog, Two Writing Teachers, agrees with me in the latest post, “Conferring Notes: The Key to Unit Planning”). Entire grade level teams attended the first clinic, and everyone left with a tool to support their conferring. Some even realized the tools could be transferred to other content areas as well! That’s what I call high leverage tool action! After the clinic, I displayed all of the materials and supplies in the teachers’ workroom in case they missed it and wanted to DIY the tools. Can’t wait for the next session on November 25th!

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

Literacy Links – Volume 42

Just for fun, literacy links, writing

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I’m devoting a lot of my thinking and attention to writing this year. How can I support students’ independence in writing? How can I encourage their transfer of skills from one unit to the next? How can I improve their awareness of themselves as writers? Reflection is a tool that I turn to again and again in my writing instruction. I want students to think “I’m here. This is where I need to be. This is how I will get there.” If they can navigate that metacognitive process independently, then I have no doubt that they will improve as writers.

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

Literacy Links – Volume 40

creating, Harry Potter, professional resources, writing


I have been obsessed with Dr. Rudine Bishop Sims’s quote about books as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors ever since I first heard it. So true. So powerful. When I saw Grant Snider’s print inspired by the quote, I knew I had to get it. After the reading specialist at my school transformed a long hallway into a magical, Disney-like space, I jumped into transforming some of the new, diverse texts I’d gotten for the book room into my own hallway display. It’s hard to have a favorite metaphor from the display, but I love this last part:


I overheard some students saying that “Books are music!” I hope they submit it for the display!

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

Literacy Links – Volume 37

literacy links, writing


Having students pick book nooks is one of my favorite lessons in Readers’ Workshop launch! We read aloud You Can Read and discussed the good book nooks in their classroom. One of my goals for my lessons this year is to plan the what, the how, and the WHY. WHY is it important for readers to have good book nooks? Sometimes I’m even explicitly listing the WHY on the anchor chart.

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