Writing Teachers Are Coaches, Not Umpires

June 24, 2019

It’s summertime! The time when trees and flowers are in full bloom, evenings stay warmer…

Turn Your Classroom Library into a Cozy Bookstore

November 7, 2018

You’ve got a feel for your students as readers. And based on all the recent kerfuffle over the unintended…

Think Makerspace for Your Grammar Studies

September 30, 2018


What does this word bring up for you? Do you feel a sense of dread or an urge to diagram a sentence or two?

Humane Teaching: Reclaiming the Dignity of Our Profession

April 14, 2018

In making the case for humane teaching, I open with the courageous words that I have heard students say to their teachers:A kindergartener: When you yell, it makes me sad and afraid.

The Five Teachers You Meet in Professional Learning

January 29, 2017

A dozen years ago I took on the role of an Instructional Coach in the school of my tiny town I grew up in. I was filled with blind optimism...

Whacking Through the Tangle of Nonsense

January 26, 2018

Here is my usual writing process:

I address something specific— a blog post, article, chapter to write, and so on.

The Low Blow of Labels

November 28, 2017

Why terms that typecast need to be ousted from our speaking vocabularies.  "There was this one time when we lost Slow Joe in the city...

Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Middle Grade Writer

November 14, 2017

I write this article from the perspective of both an educator and the parent of a middle school student. Perhaps some of you...


True North

November 6, 2017

The heart of teaching literacy is this: to support learners as they become passionate, engaged, skillful readers and writers.

That is it. Truly.

Moving Away from the Magic Bullet Mentality: Invest in Professional Learning

The research is clear: we cannot purchase our way to student achievement through prepackaged programs...


Stop. Grammartime.

September 23, 2017

Grammar. The word alone is either off-putting or inviting...


Teach Like a Hummingbird

September 19, 2017

In a recent trip to western Maine, my family sat mesmerized by the glorious visits of a group of hummingbirds to our home in the woods. Visit after visit, each little jewel-colored shimmering bird, eating from the jar of nectar or hovering to look us in the face, captivated our minds

Facebook Live Interview with We Are Teachers

July 15, 2017

A few tips and tricks in reshaping feedback for writers from the ILA 2017 Conference in Orlando, Florida.  

Teacher: Step Away From that Red Pen!

July 9, 2017

There’s a better way of giving feedback to writers, and it does not include a red pen.

Instead, it involves you as the writing mentor, helping activate student writers to learn powerful moves that create quality writing with originality, voice, and style.

Though correcting writing comes with the best of teacher intentions, the outcomes help very few. And let’s face it: those red notations often come across as smarmy and...

"What Writers Really Need:  A Trifecta of Teaching Moves That Revolutionize Writing Instruction"

May 13, 2017

A few questions for you:

  • Have you noticed that when you correct writing, students often pay little attention to those corrections and their writing does not seem to evolve from those corrections?

  • Do your students seem to approach writing as a task to complete rather than an expression of their voice and ideas?

"3 Moves to Awaken Dormant Writers"

March 30, 2017

We all know these writers: they may sit and stare at the blank page for ages, visit the bathroom for most of writing time, distract others, and even shed tears when asked to write. These are the dormant writers who keep us up at night worrying and wondering what we can do to help them believe in themselves and discover the power writing can bring to their lives. 

"Looking for a Fresh, New Design for PD? Try a Residency, Part 2"

March 23, 2017

Although most people associate a residency with learning in the medical field, I shared the value of a literacy residency in last week's post. Here is my day-by-day plan of a four-day residency. Day 1: The literacy leader teaches and the participants observe...


"Looking for a Fresh, New Design for PD? Try a Residency, Part 1"

March 16, 2017

We most often picture residency programs to happen within the medical field, but this learning design is gaining ground in the education world. I define a residency in the education world to be professional learning that takes place across a number of consecutive days within one classroom...


"The Power of NOT Answering Content-Specific Questions"

March 13, 2017

I challenge all teachers to try this daily: forget all you know as an expert of your content area. Yes, I am asking that, for a moment, pretend you cannot remember all you have learned as you followed your passion as a reader, writer, historian, chemist, artist, athlete, chef, or whatever your expertise may be.


"Help Students Reflect and Set Goals for Powerful Learning"

February 14, 2017

Reflection is the stickiest glue for the brain. When students take time to consider what they have learned and how they have grown, the learning is longer lasting and much more impactful. As John Dewey has written, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”