The How of Writing: First-Graders Learn Craft

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Author: Glorianne Bradshaw

Summary: Inspired by the ways upper grade teachers use mentor texts to generate more interesting student writing, Bradshaw uses the Frog and Toad books to teach writing to her first graders, demonstrating sentence variety, show-not-tell, onomatopoeia, the “good beginning,” and other techniques. This resource also shows the value of networking vertically among grade levels, as is often seen in NWP summer writing institutes. Useful as a starting point for discussion for a cross-grade group of educators who will be collaborating or spending professional development time together, this article is ideal for a summer institute reading or for literacy coaches or curriculum coordinators who can see how writing workshop might look in early grades as opposed to upper grades.

Revision and Writing Groups in the First Grade: Finding the Black Ninja Fish

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Author: Joanna Franklin

Summary: After her experience participating in a writing group in her NWP summer institute, this teacher/author developed an instructional sequence in order to teach revision in her first grade class. She begins in September with students rereading their writing, advances through Author’s Chair and the creation of a class set of criteria for excellent writing, and by March has her students successfully working in writing groups and revising their writing. This work affirmed her belief that if first-graders are given appropriate support and structure, they are capable of deep thinking and learning. Through this article, early grade teachers in any professional development forum may see possibilities for change in their writing instruction.

Writing Spaces: Expanding the One-Story House

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Author: Elizabeth Leiknes

Summary: Leiknes encourages a fresh perspective on how we approach writing as a process with young authors. Using her own home as an organizing metaphor, she points out ways to clear the cobwebs in prewriting, to try a fresh coat of paint when drafting, to collect tools of the trade for revision, to rid ourselves of sludge in editing, and finally to expand beyond a one-story house when writing for additional audiences. The teacher-author recognizes that these approaches enable her to dig deeper into her own processes of writing as she guides her elementary students. Ideal as a professional study piece to introduce writing as a process, or for an early reading in a summer writing institute.

Formative Assessment as a Compass: Looking at Student Work as an Intentional Part of Ongoing Professional Development

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Author: Beth Rimer and Terri McAvoy

Summary: This e-book is a practical resource for teachers as they think about formative assessment in relation to writing instruction. Led by questions posed by the authors and links within the text, a study group, individual teacher or professional development program facilitator can use this guide to invite thinking about the role of assessment in teaching writing and approaches that can inform teachers about student writing growth. Available through iTunes as a multi-media iBook for iOS and Mac users, the e-book is also available as a PDF below.

Sharing Student Work With the Community: Wall of Literacy Learning Exemplifies Student Writing

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Author: Lynne Alvine

Summary: “How could we show the public all that is good in our schools? How could we open a window on classroom life to those who do not spend their lives in classrooms?” To illustrate the work of teachers and their students in rural classrooms, a team of teacher researchers “opened a window on classroom life” by creating a “wall of literacy” to illustrate their own and their K-12 students’ writing development. Hallway spaces were turned into a “museum” of writing that was opened to the community. This article describes the both the design and the outcome of the event.

A Park in Your Backyard: Summer Youth Programs & More at the National Park (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Renee Albertoli, Bethany Silva, Lois McGee, Diane Rawson, Eric Fiore, Susanne Norris, Mary Buckelew, Rhonda Schier, Lisa Italiano, and Cate Lamb

Summary: This NWP radio show is the second of two shows that explore the design and impact of summer youth programs developed through a partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. It features teachers from four NWP sites and their National Park ranger colleagues who describe several rich opportunities for young people to explore their relationship to place through writing in historic sites.