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Seven Deadly Words

By Ruth Culham


“I don’t know what to write about.”  Sigh.  The air goes out of the writer’s world when this is how he or she feels.  Helping a student through this writing barrier is critical to the writer’s esteem…after all, if you think you have nothing to write about, then you must not realize how much the world is interested in you, your experiences, and your unique way of expressing what you think and feel. The logic of turning to a prompt is one solution to this issue.  If you give students the idea, then they don’t have to think of one.  But, if you give them the idea, they don’t have to think of one. See the problem?  Prompts can be both the cure and the disease itself.  To prompt, or not to prompt; that is the question.  Here’s the thinking behind the answer I’ve come up after struggling with this issue for years and years.

To Prompt:

  • Helps students know where to begin
  • Provides a method to dial-in on specific, topical information
  • Gives all students a chance to reveal what they have learned about something in particular

Not to Prompt:

  • Allows students to choose a topic of interest
  • Encourages motivation to write about things that matter
  • Ensures opportunity for deeper thinking, stretching, and understanding because students are engaged in their topic of choice

Read more

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)