OH MAN! When I first started teaching, writing conferences were a HOT MESS in my classroom. I literally would have volunteered to take every teacher's lunch, recess, and carpool duty for the year if just one of them would do my writing conferences for me. (Don't forget that I am located in the Phoenix area and temperatures get up to 120 degrees.)  Yup, that's how much I hated writing conferences. So, what happens when we hate doing something? We stop doing it. We put it off as long as humanly possible. That explains the mound of dirty clothes you probably have sitting in your laundry room right now. I started to reflect on the reasons that I hated writing conferences. It was actually a very simple revelation. I hated writing conferences because I was lacking knowledge and training. I had lots of questions and very few answers. Y'all, I didn't even really understand what a writing conference was, or why I needed to have them! And who really needs a co...
Are you struggling with finding the time to grade your students' writing samples?  I think one of the problems is that teachers tend to grade too many writing samples. You end up grading every night and every weekend. I believe you can get writing grades without having to take home formal writing samples too often.  Let me show you how I have managed to handle grading writing samples in my classroom.  First, my students always take an on-demand or pre-assessment at the beginning of each of my eight week units. I do grade this on-demand, but it does not go in the grade book. That would be unfair to my students since we haven't completed any lessons yet.  I grade these because I can see where my class is at the start of the unit. I can see gaps right away. It also helps me to set conferencing groups, based on similar needs I discovered from the grading. I also give these on-demands back to my students so we can discuss the rubric together and my students can ...
Every single time I talk about teaching writing, someone will ask me, "How do you get your students to revise their writing?" Well, I don't really give them a choice. That's not too helpful! Let me explain... First, what is revising? When I first started teaching, I thought that revising and editing were synonyms. I didn't understand why they were two different steps in the writing process when they meant the same thing. #roughfirstyearteacher  Revising and editing are not the same. Revising: things we do to make our story sound better can take days or even weeks to completely revise a piece includes things like making our lead stronger, adding examples to support our reasons, adding more descriptive words, etc. Editing: things we can do to make our story look better can take a day or two to complete includes things like fixing misspelled words, correcting punctuation, and capitalizing proper nouns If you need some tips about helping s...
When I first started teaching, I used to take a few students' writing journals home to edit each night. I would spend my evenings marking up mistakes in my students' writing. I would then meet with them the next day to discuss what they needed to fix. I would do this every single night! When I did this, we mostly focused on spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors. I made spelling very important because, at the time, I thought it was the most important skill. Well, I found that my students did not respond well to this type of editing (like they started to hate writing and were scared of the color red) and changes needed to be made. I made a big change. I decided to stop editing my students' work. Instead, I found ways to teach students to edit their own work. 5 Reasons I Don't Edit Student Writing It is too time consuming! Taking your students' writing home every single night is draining. You need time in the evenings to refresh and take ca...
Teachers in my Facebook groups are always asking for suggestions for what they should have their students write about. They always get a big list of ideas, but I am the crazy one who says: "Let them write about whatever they want to write about!" That scares the begeebers out of some teachers! I have to be real with you, it scared me too. It scared me real bad. I like having control. I like things to be just so. I didn't want to let go because I didn't know if my kids would come up with good topics or if I would be able to help them with their pieces when I knew nothing about the topic.  These are all very legitimate excuses. But they are just excuses. Once you take the leap and get out of your comfort zone, you and your writers will grow by leaps and bounds!  You can read my top three reasons for ditching the prompts and the questions I get asked most often, or you can listen to the same information on this podcast. 1. The Qualit...
As you may already know, I am a huge proponent of the writer's workshop model in the classroom. But finding time for writing workshop can be tricky. When I asked teachers in my Facebook groups what their biggest challenge was when teaching writing, most said it is finding the time to teach it.  I believe that you need at least 30 minutes  for  writing instruction, but  45 minutes is preferred. This can be tricky for some of us to fit in to our daily schedule! I totally get that. It’s easy to say, “I can’t come up with that time.” But are you willing to try? Are you willing to do something different? Are you ready to get creative?  All of these solutions will not work for all of you, but maybe you are able to find one or two that will help you  find the time needed for writing instruction. Let's jump in with an open mind. If you prefer to listen to my ideas, you can listen to my podcast. Otherwise, keep reading. Your first step... Write ou...
I LOVED teaching third grade math! If I could have found a way to teach nothing but third grade math- I would have been in heaven.  I did not like math as a child. I just couldn't understand WHY! I was THAT kid asking, "When will I use this?" "Why does that work?" My math teachers hated me. And because of that experience, I strive to give my third graders a better experience with math. In my classroom, we always talk about why they need to know it and why it works.  Third grade math is not easy though! They spend Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade working on addition and subtraction. Then in third grade, we are expected to teach multiplication and division to mastery. We double the number of operations that students have to be competent in and will see in word problems!  Using key words in word problems may have been a suitable strategy in previous years. However, students quickly realize that many of the addition key words can also be used...