Sunday, July 15, 2012

TMT Summer Writing Group - Week Seven

I have so thoroughly enjoyed finding new friends through all of this Teachers Write fun! Andy has been visiting my blog on Sundays as well as Kate and Gae's blog during the week. I asked him to share how he is thinking about applying all of the summer Teachers Write! fun to his teaching when school starts again this fall. Really quickly, I just want to say thank you and hooray for everyone who is joining in this summer! It really is important that we are writing to help our students be writers, too!

As we navigate our way through Teachers Write, there is definitely an important theme throughout about being organized.  From as far back as June 4th and Kate’s post about “Making Time,” we have learned about the importance of staying organized with our writing and “making time” in our day to write.  Since that post about organizing time, we have read about organizing our writing (June 11th – Outlining/Calendar) and critique groups (June 14th).   We have all learned so much this summer.  And if you are like me, an avid reader, a newbie writer, and a teacher who is passionate about teaching children (I realize that I just described nearly everyone following along), you want to organize all of this information to use during the school year.

The school year is just a few short weeks away (for me it’s still many weeks away – I hate to rub it in, but I taught for almost the entire month of June in a hot, humid, and teenage smelly middle school – temps were in the 90’s on the last week), so it is time to start planning how you will utilize what you have learned this summer.  You know that if you don’t plan to use this wonderful Teachers Write knowledge in August, November will arrive and you will be doing the same thing as last year.  I think I can help save you from this.

I created a “Teachers Write!” binder (it contains over 100 pages) to help plan for the first four months of the upcoming school year. The binder has tabs for each section and each day’s post has blank space either at the top of the page or the bottom for taking notes.  Here is how I organized my binder:

Section 1 – Week 1, includes Friday Feedback and Sunday TMT Writing Group
Section 2 – Week 2 (Same as Week 1 
with critique group information and extra articles)
Section 3 – Week 3 (Same as Week 1 with print copies of all 
the writing I accomplished and posted – this could be a spot to put your own work)
Section 4 – Week 4 (Same as Week 1)
Section 5 – Week 5 (Same as Week 1)
Section 6 – Week 6 (IN PROGRESS)
Section 7 – Jo’s Monday Warm-ups
Section 8 – Website and blog information 
(helpful to my writing and lesson planning)
*Obviously these sections may not work for you, but I believe taking 
the time to organize the information now will help when the school year begins.

I know what you’re thinking – the question is, “What do I do with this information?”   
And that leads us to the next topic – Utilization.


The entire reason you organize information it to use the information (Research 101).  We all teach in different grade levels, different socio-economic and cultural settings, with different material, and to different students, so some of these suggested activities may not work for you, but feel free to tweak and adjust the activity to fit into your classroom (if it fits perfectly – steal it!).

My school uses a basal reader, so I need to be very careful when planning my time.  Some things, like writing and read aloud every other day will always be part of my daily schedule, but other things, like grammar, spelling, and test prep I can squeeze into my weekly schedule.  Of course, the basal reader has a story that needs to be read, but I can also practice the reading skills with a novel (this is the path that I usually take).  Here are some activities that I will be trying this year in Room 103 (thanks to Teachers Write!):

1.     Noun regenerator, adjective regenerator, verb regenerator after specific grammar lessons and for writing warm-up; also fake work regenerator for identification of context clues -

2.     Writing Hall of Frame – each student will frame one piece of writing this year and each 9” x 12” frame will be placed on the back wall (publication is so important – isn’t that what WE are all striving for?)

3.     Comic Strip brainstorm – students will draw six frames story of their story before writing a first draft

4.     Taking favorite lines from a novel to spark ideas – this came from the July 5th post about taking lines of poetry from D. Dina Friedman – Thank you! (Example – from Wonder – the universe takes care of all of its birds. – the kids will write about the line)

5.     Story Stew – descriptive writing when we write about our Thanksgiving feast

6.     Wordle to Character’s perspective (creative writing) – the students will post their stories on Wordle and then write about the most used word from a supporting character’s perspective

These are just some of my ways that I will utilize Teachers Write this year in the classroom.  I hope that you will answer my question (below) and share some of the ways you will be utilizing this information.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and a SPECIAL thank you to Jen for letting me share (this is the first time I have ever shared on anyone’s blog – my shirt is covered in sweat and I am feeling a bit dizzy).

I’ve been dying to do this!  Remember this line from Wonder: I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.

Today is the day that we give Kate, Gae, Jen, and all of the authors that have shared (or will share) a standing ovation.  Join me.  I am standing and clapping like crazy.  Thanks again!

Thank you, Andy! Don't you just love how organized Andy is with his binder? Teachers Write is really an experience to grow as writers but also as teachers. I love how Andy is already thinking ahead to how to use the activities that have worked for him with his students! 

My rules for the TMT Summer Writing Group:
1. We respect each other and the types of writing we do.
2. We only criticize each other constructively.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Today, in the comments section:
How will you use the Teachers Write writing lessons in your classroom?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The bet part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week of writing!



  1. Jen & Andy,
    Thank you for this post. Along with all of our authors, I think you both deserve a standing "O" as well! This post is really synthesizes all of the writing techniques or strategies we've learned in such an organized way! Thank you for this idea. I was thinking we could put it in live binder or wiki so teachers could add to it as we try things out in our classrooms? Just thinking...
    As for next year, I am waiting to hear what grade level I will have before I make solid plans...
    I have been writing but it's really been every other day this past week because I had a workshop too on using Research Labs in the classroom. I could see how writing strategies I learned can blend with the research labs too.
    In the week ahead, I want to go back and review the work in progress writing and the strategies and do some reflecting on where I am at this pull it all together! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Wow! Sounds all fun! I’ve never heard about such programs, but if I knew I’d go for it. I’m a teacher, but I’m not the best at writing, so even though I have to teach my kids to write beautifully, I can’t make it myself, because I only know it on the theoretical level. When I was a student, I worked with writing services, so they could help me to write my assignment. Now I’m pretty ok with my students doing the same. Because I understand they all have different hobbies and different talents, so I want them to do what they love. But I want to learn writing now, so thanks!


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