Posts in Best Practices
Starting the School Year with Literary Analysis Writing- Why I Do It, and Why You Should Too!

I frequently ask students to show their understanding of the various texts we read through a literary analysis paragraph or essay. I prefer this method of assessment over the traditional standardized, multiple choice tests to assess reading. Within a literary analysis, students are required to think deeply about a given text, then make inferences and provide evidence to support that inference. Not only does the skill of drafting a quality literary analysis response support students in high school English classes, but will essentially define much of their English coursework in college.

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9 Ways to Get Secondary Students to Enjoy Writing

How can teachers help older students enjoy writing? Negativity and reluctance is a mindset that is established early on. However, in middle and high school, certain teaching approaches and strategies can help to change the way students view themselves as writers. Create a positive writing culture and maintain it through the year. These nine approaches can help.

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Prompt Sticks Reflection Game: An Interactive Way to Reflect Back on the School Year

There are lots of creative ways to facilitate reflection at the end of the school year.  Integrating novelty into any lesson makes it more interesting, and the same concept applies to reflection questions.  So I set out to create an interactive "Prompt Sticks" Reflection Question game to get students more interested in assessing their learning at the end of the school year. 

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Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Being able to decipher the tone of a piece of writing is crucial to being able to decipher the thematic message of a text.  This is absolutely true for analyzing poetry. 

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5 Collaborative and Interactive Games to Practice Argument Writing!

I yearned for a way to practice skills such as evaluating the sufficiency of evidence and seeing multiple perspectives on a topic. I wished to help them in creating rich and effective arguments with elements of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Finally, I needed to find a way to help students in creating effective counter-arguments that actually refute the argument as opposed to simply changing the subject.  

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The First Step in the Writing Process is READING! Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing

Understanding the many nuances of great writing can seem like a daunting challenge for teachers and students alike. As educators, we are aware of the strong correlation between good reading skills and good writing skills. This is because students are absorbing the author’s craft as they explore amazing works of literature. This knowledge has given rise to the popularity of mentor texts within the ELA classroom.

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Writing is Recursive, Not Linear: Free Task Cards to Reflect Writing as a Process

Writing goes all ways: forwards, backwards, sideways, over there, and over here.  In fact, the only piece of the writing process that occurs at a set point in time is publishing.

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A Memorable Kinesthetic Writing Lesson for Older Students

Teaching the writing process? Try involving students kinesthetically. Play Doh can work for big kids, too! My high school students absolutely love this writing analogy that walks them through each stage of the writing process as if they were sculptors crafting a masterpiece. Differentiate your instruction with this best-practice, active learning lesson.

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Daily Writing Prompts to Inspire New Ideas

TeachWriting.org has announced a new writing workshop endeavor for the 2017-2018 school year. This year, the collaborators at TeachWriting are creating DAILY WRITING PROMPTS via their Facebook Page for English teachers in grades 6-12. 

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Generating Writing Ideas with Lists and Conversations

Every writer begins a new writing piece differently. Some dive in and just start writing, others need to talk with someone first, others start with an enticing title and still others need to do some pre-writing.

No matter which method students preferred, they benefit from experiencing a variety of strategies for generating ideas. There are more ways to generate ideas for writing than bubbles and graphic organizers. This article discusses two methods for idea generation that often get overlooked: listing and conversations.

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2 PreWriting Activities Your Students MUST DO Before Writing the Argument Essay

I love allowing students to choose their own issue for this argument essay, but that can be difficult for students who do not immediately know their topic or issue. I have found two techniques that really get students thinking about the issues that may resonate with them prior to their research and drafting stages of writing.

1. The Chart Paper Brainstorm and Gallery Walk

2. The Cube of Perspective

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TEN Writing Assignments to Build a Writing Community in the Classroom

Creative writing is the art of constructing original ideas by synthesizing literary elements and techniques to communicate an overarching theme about life.  Oftentimes in our English classes, we spend more time on the deconstruction process, analyzing works of art by taking them apart.

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How to Celebrate Mistakes to Build a Stronger Writing Community

As teachers of writing, we all realize the power one word can have on an audience. This past school year, I discovered the power the word “favorite” had on shifting my students’ mindsets about writing. Instead of feeling discouraged when errors were identified in writing, we started celebrating our “favorite mistakes” as the biggest opportunities to learn and become better writers. Here are four tips for you to celebrate favorite mistakes with your students.

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How to Create a Writing Culture that Empowers Students through Grammar

Writing is grammar. Grammar is writing. Sure, there are elements of writing that may not be directly related to grammar, such as word choice, citation rules, and paragraph organization. Still, the ability to take words and play with them skillfully mainly centers around students' mastery of grammar. Teaching writing? When creating a writing culture in my classroom, demonstrating how grammar empowers authors is paramount. As I tell my students, "In this classroom, we do "grammaring."

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5 Ways Teachers Can Support Effective Writing Partnerships

Let's be honest allowing students to work with each other to discuss writing can be just a tad frustrating, or maybe more than a tad...You know it could be an amazing way to ease the workload, because there are 34 of them and only 1 of you.  In this article you'll learn five simple strategies for how to make writing partners more effective in your classroom...

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The Best First Writing Lesson of the Year: Email Etiquette 101

When planning for the beginning of the year, teachers need to choose writing assignments that allow for collection of pre-assessment data while also engaging students and building a positive writing community. 

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The Worst Essay of Your LIFE: A Unique Approach to Assessing Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

The beginning of the school year is an important time to assess the writing skill levels of new students in our English classes.  One way to do this is to assign a diagnostic essay in order to "diagnose" each student's writing level... 

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