Discovering Language: Field Guide Entries that Explore the Language That Means the Most

Here’s my first post in this series that will give you some background on Language Field Guides as well the foundation of choice word field guide entries. Language field guides are a place where readers + writers make discoveries about the language they explore. It’s how I approach vocabulary instruction in a way that’s meaningful, […]

Language Exploration That Changes Writers in 30 Minutes Per Week

In sixteen years of teaching, I have only had less than one handful of students who truly, thoughtfully attended to word choice. It’s gritty and granular — the work of scrutinizing each and every word, turning it over in your mind, considering every other possibility, and landing on the very best word.  Few middle or […]

Talking Through it All: Conferring Through the Toughest Year

Conferring with students about their reading and writing is one of those things I never feel like I will completely master. There will always be new ideas for simplifying, streamlining the process + making those conversations even more productive for students. Especially this year. Fortunately, Hattie + Mike love this stuff + are sharing ideas […]

How Reading Responses Have Saved My Life This Year (+ how they can save yours, too)

Ever since Marilyn Pryle’s Reading With Presence I have kept her book on the edge of my desk and picked it up every single week. The simplicity and elegance of Marilyn’s reading responses unlocked something for me — something that streamlined and systematized reading instruction, something that made my goals clear to me and clear […]

What Comes After Mentor Texts? Student-Created Mentor Text Rubrics

I’ve been on a journey this fall to think about ways to move students toward increasing writing independence. We know mentor texts benefit writers of all ages. We know that isolating the moves writers make helps newer, less-experienced writers demystify the writing process and take their own work to new heights. But we also want […]

What Comes After Mentor Texts?Building Mentor-Text-Infused Reading Rhythms

I’ve been obsessively watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, the true-ish story of Beth Harmon, American chess champion. Like everyone binging the Netflix show, I now fancy myself a minor chess expert. To work her way to higher and higher levels of chess mastery, Harmon studies past champions’ games. And then she plays past champions’ […]

What Comes After Mentor Texts? Defining Each Writer’s Signature Style

My 8th graders are just starting to embark upon their high school application journey. In terms of writing, this means short answer application questions and longer essays in admissions tests. You know the kind. The kind that lure students into giving vague, voiceless answers to questions like, “What inspires you about school?” and “Give three […]

12 Writing Experiences for Processing the Election

If our feelings as we approach the election are complicated and anxiety-ridden, then certainly our thoughts and feelings will be equally so in the days and weeks that follow this particular election. If this is true for us, it’s certainly true for our students. The team has been working this week (at Hattie’s inspiration!) to […]