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A Writerly Life: Words of Wisdom from Michael Smith and Jeffrey Wilhelm

Preserve the writers of tomorrow by guiding with the tools of today. -Erin Weaver (2017 Grammar Matters Participant)

Books on the Blog: Challenges

By Linda Walker
Children enjoy reading books in which the main character encounters challenges; fighting off fire breathing dragons or an army of orcs, facing up to a school bully, winning the big game against all odds. The current titles I reviewed re-count the internal struggles of the central characters; distrust of those who want to help, fear of change, and a desire for stability. In these three books, each main character is unique yet all desire to be understood and accepted for who they are.  Read more

A Writerly Life: Words of Wisdom from Katie Wood Ray 

We learn from our students. – Charlene Briggs-Blomer (2017 Grammar Matters Participant)

Tools of the Trade: Tech Tasting

by Rita Sorrentino

September arrives with the turning of the calendar. It marks endings and beginnings, a bittersweet month. We transition from the free and relaxing days of summer to the more focused and organized schedules of autumn. We begin to feel a nip in the air, take note of the days getting shorter, and marvel at the graceful navigational skills of geese overhead.

For me, September is the perfect time for reflecting and setting goals. The fall foliage colorfully convinces us of the certainty of change. The year ahead is full of promise and energy. Without the fanfare of New Year’s, September whispers a gentle yet serious invitation to set the pace for our personal and professional lives.

Recently, I received an invitation to attend a Back-to School Professional Development Social Event: Tech Tasting. Yes, you read that right – tech tasting not test taking. Although I could not attend, I found the concept and the format intriguing. The event was sponsored by PAECT (Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology). In addition to wine samplings, participants had an opportunity “ to taste” a variety of technologies and approaches to learning. With or without the wine, this type of event fosters enjoyable and rewarding learning opportunities. I can imagine the energy that resulted from exploring technologies and discussing implementation strategies. How wonderful to infuse our practices with a taste of excitement for teaching and learning. Read more

A Writerly Life: Words of Wisdom from Brian Kelley

Brian Kelley reminds us all that the most important part of grading is not the rubric, but the growth our students display when given the chance. – Lauren Baxter (2017 Grammar Matters Participant)

Teacher to Teacher: Getting to Know Our Students

By Lynne R. Dorfman

When we examine the important, long-lasting effects of formative assessments in writing workshop, we discover that they deepen student writers’ understanding of why and how writing is a valuable tool they will use throughout their lives. Formative assessment helps students understand that writing is a means to achieve goals and develop an understanding of themselves and others.

What can teachers do in the beginning of the year to get to know their students right away and help them make good decisions about their students’ instructional needs? Interest surveys and inventories help students develop a writer’s identity, to consciously declare, “I am a writer.” Surveys, autobiographical sketches, and time lines can help the student and teacher discover more about attitudes, interests, motivation, and self-concept, which all contribute to students’ successes or failures. These formative assessment measures may be the most important things we can do to foster student engagement in our writing workshops and across the day. Read more