As part of WritingFix's "Year of Writer's Notebooks," all our monthly lessons and monthly prompts have come with Writer's Notebook suggestions and models.

Not surprisingly, as the year comes to a close, I am having a little more trouble than usual  finding teachers who have time to create the notebook pages that we've been featuring.  And so...I resigned myself this weekend to create two notebook pages in my own notebook for May's upcoming lesson and prompt.

My first notebook page (at right) is a pre-writing exercise to go with what-will-be May's featured lesson of the month, Don't Eat Me Monologues, which is inspired by Steven L. Layne's hysterical picture book, My Brother Dan's Delicious.  I decided it would be a fun task for pre-writing to have students create rhyming slogans that they (or the main character from the text) might say out loud to the monster that the book's character is trying to convince not to eat them.  I started with "Please refrain from eating my brain," and then I let a whole page of slogans happen between Friday and Sunday.  Click here to see the full-sized notebook page I created in honor of this online lesson at WritingFix.  It kind of speaks to my odd sense of humor.  Can't wait to see how it inspires my students who appreciate writing tasks wih a sense of humor.

My second notebook page is a pre-writing exercise for one of WritingFix's oldest prompts; way back in 2002, my NNWP Colleague, Brian Crosby, wrote up one of his favorite prompts for his students-- A Day as you Shoes--and he let us post it at WritingFix.  The prompt has students personify their shoes, then tell their shoes' daily story using voice.  I created a writer's notebook page for this lesson this weekend, asking myself the question, "What funny comic strip might I create about the life of my personified favorite pair of shoes?"  I added to Brian's lesson the idea that several days before writing the shoe perspective story, they should create this type of four-paneled comic strip as a way of pre-writing for the bigger assignment to come.  Now, I am no artist; but I think I did a competent job with this notebook page.  Click here to see a full-sized page version of my new notebook page.  You don't have to be an artist to create a comic strip that might inspire future writing!

I started this year with no writer's notebook of my own.  I am ending this year with a 40-page writer's notebook model that I can share with my students.  I know--without a doubt--I will inspire better writer's notebooks from my students next year--thanks to the fact that I have one I can show them.  Teacher models take time, but they are worth their weight in gold!


Our first week back from Northern Nevada Spring Break!

I was out observing at an elementary school yesterday, and I think I saw the more charming thing I've ever seen in a third grade class.  With lyrics in hand and the original playing over the classroom stereo system, the students were singing Katy Perry's "Firework."  They sang it so well, it was clear this was not their first exposure to this song.  And they sang it with such energy; several of the boys were singing it with their eyes closed and swaying their heads as they crooned.

See Firework video here.

The lesson was on figurative language.  The students were raising their right hands when they sang a lyric that was either a simile or a metaphor, and they rasied their left hands when they sang a lyric that had an onomatopoetic word (or two) in it.  I hadn't realized this song had all three figurative elements in it.

Anyway, as one of the co-founders of WritingFix's Song Lyrics as Mentor Texts Lesson Collection, I was naturally charmed by this experience.  It left me with two questions, though:
  1. At what age do these elementary students lose the ability to sing their hearts out like that?  When does "being cool" become more important?
  2. And...What will those kids' parents think the next time they have them riding in the backseat of the car, and that song comes on the radio, and they start raising their left and right hands as they sing along?
Anyway, I'm back from Spring Break and determined to make it through the last eight weeks with a smile on my face.  Remembering those third grade crooners' faces should help!


We've been quietly delivering over 1000 copies of the new 314-page resource for improving narrative writing in my five counties.  So far, the feedback from teachers has been ALL positive.

Today, I'll be presenting it to my largest county's (WCSD) Implementation Specialists--teachers on special assignment to improve instruction in schools.

Here is the PowerPoint I will be sharing during my 90-minute overview.

Click here to open/view my Overview PowerPoint for the Show Me Guide.