Category Archives: High School

Where to Find Mentor Texts

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In Writing with Mentors, high school teachers Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell prove that the key to cultivating productive, resourceful writers—writers who can see value and purpose for writing beyond school—is using dynamic, current mentor texts.

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What Does the Research Say about Lecture-Only Teaching?

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Adapted from No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning by Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje.

Why should we care about whether teachers rely on lecture? People have lectured throughout history, and many teachers claim this is the most efficient way to cover content. And, in fact, in and of itself the lecture is not a bad method for sharing information, ideas, or perspectives. Many people share their thoughts with others through lectures.

Because learners can participate in well-framed and well-structured lectures for which they have a clear sense of purpose, it is not the lecture that we challenge but rather a conception of learning that makes the teacher the knowledge disseminator and the students receptacles waiting to be filled. Specifically, we challenge the steady diet of teachers and textbooks (or other media) telling, with students regurgitating what they have been told.

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What Kind of Writers Do We Hope To See In Our Classrooms?

E08880_Fletcher_Bookcover_9201Adapted from the introduction to Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low-Stakes Writing, by Ralph Fletcher


In the autumn of 1983 I started the MFA writing program at Columbia. This led to a famous first encounter, at least for me. In September I wandered uptown from 116th Street to 120th Street, walked into Teachers College, and met Lucy Calkins for the first time. She was a brand-new professor. I signed up for Lucy’s first course on the teaching of writing. Soon after that I took a position with the TC Reading and Writing Project as a consultant in New York City schools, helping teachers find wiser ways of teaching writing.

I didn’t realize it then, but more than taking an interesting job, I had embarked on my career. I have spent most of my professional life speaking, demonstrating, and writing books about the teaching of writing. Recently I ran into a teacher, a man in whose classroom I had worked twenty years earlier.

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Heinemann Fellow Kate Flowers on Working Toward “Do No Harm” Feedback

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Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.

Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.

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How Old is Too Old to Read Aloud to Your Students?

NNTBT_NoMoreReading4Junk_1Students love choice. That's why giving students the power to choose books for independent reading, teacher read-aloud and classroom libraries makes them much more engaged and motivated readers.

In No More Reading for Junk, authors Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell provide teachers with research-based context for fostering reading motivation in children, as well as strategies and techniques proven to transform students into passionate, lifelong readers.

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