I've decided to add a new feature in my classroom: The Metaphor of the Week.  I want to really push my students to think metaphorically this school year, so I will be providing a weekly example.  Eventually, I will have students assigned to create upcoming weeks' metaphors for the whole class, as well as individual metaphors for their writer's notebooks.

I--who will also be teaching my students to draw Mr. Stick (our writer's notebook "mascot")--will be illustrating each week's metaphor with an original Mr. Stick by me.  I will be challenging my students to create their own (different) Mr. Stick drawings based on the week's metaphor.

In my new classroom, I've got two half-sized white boards on either side of my Interactive SmartBoard. I've decided one of these half-boards will hold my "Mr. Stick's Metaphor of the Week."  Here is the metaphor/drawing I created for our first week of school.  Click on it to see it larger:

I want the metaphors to all be about life, dreams, and if anyone has any suggestions for upcoming weeks, please let me know what they are!

Here's to a fabulous first week of school with a brand new set of kiddos!


My third and final bulletin board in my new classroom has become a "Published Students" display.  It is going to be used to motivate my students to write hard and and revise well this school year.  With a promise of "fame" and a beyond-the-classroom audience, students do work harder during a writer's workshop.  I believe this, and I will use this belief to energize my students.

I believe one of the most motivating things one can do as a teacher is promise to publish your three or four of your hardest-working writers' final drafts in a public place.  A bulletin board is a low-tech way to do this.  A classroom blog ups the ante by increasing the audience possibility.  You can up the ante even more if you're using WritingFix lessons!

One thing I love about WritingFix is that most lessons come with a link to an online page where students' final drafts (up to three!) can be posted by their teacher; with WritingFix receiving over four million hits a year these days, this can be incredibly motivating (if not slightly intimidating) to your students.  To publish your students at WritingFix, you do need to be a member of the "Online Student Publishing" Group.

I challenge you to motivate your students this year by creating a new way to publicly publish your top three writers/revisers with each assignment.  I'm putting up both a bulletin board and I'm publishing at WritingFix.

You know, I've been in classrooms where--upon a student's writing having been published online--the teacher shows the entire class the final draft by projecting it on the wall.  I've seen the student who's been published beam.  I've heard the other students ask, "Will you choose someone else and put them online with the next writing assignment?"

Once I was invited to an assembly where the entire school sat and watched a published classmate's writing be "unveiled" on a huge screen that showed the page from the Internet.  That entire school of students pledged to work hard on their next writing assignment so that they might become the next featured writer from their school online.

This third bulletin board in my classroom features ten students who are not on my current class-list; I found these samples online at WritingFix, and they will slowly be replaced this Fall as my new students' writing is selected (by me) to be featured online.  If you click on the picture of the bulletin board, you can zoom in on the green sign that should pique my writers' interest in being the students who replace the ten samples I currently display here.

I hope you'll consider joining me this year in publishing your own writers at WritingFix!


A teacher once told me he was able to teach the six writing traits in a week.  I acted impressed, but I wasn't really.  I have to wonder at what cognitive level he was teaching them if he could be done in a week.

In my classroom, the language of the writing traits is the most important academic language I give my students.  Without it, my students' ability to talk about quality writing versus average writing would not exist.  Of all the academic vocabulary I give my students, the traits language is the most important.

Each trait has its own academic vocabulary associated with it.  When you really teach idea development, your students are learning multiple things: relevant details, topic, showing, imagery, main idea, subtopic, etc.  There is no way you could really teach the six writing traits in a week. 

In my classroom, I have a "Trait of the Month" bulletin board.  Once a month it changes, but only after we have had dozens of discussions and mini-lessons focused on that trait.  Even with a month, my students discover they still have much more to learn about how to use/improve upon each writing trait.

I don't ever use conventions as the "Trait of the Month."  Conventions is always in the background when we work on the writing process.

I've decided this year--because SHOWING writing is going to be one of my focuses--that we will use Idea Development as September's Trait, Word Choice as October's Trait, and Voice will be November's Trait; these are the three traits most needed when learning to "Show instead of tell."

Above, you can see my just-hung "Trait of the Month" bulletin board.  It not only features one of trait posters I purchased through Amazon, but it also features the idea development chart from WritingFix's Building with the 6 Traits poster set, and various student samples I found at WritingFix that were strong with their use of idea development skills.  The question at the bottom of the bulletin board asks students to analyze those student samples, looking for specific idea development skills that the writers excelled with.

My classroom copy of "Show; Don't Tell" will be displayed in the near-by chalk tray near the bulletin board for September-November!

Back from vacation!  Time to get serious about my new classroom!  I'll have a brand new set of 6-8th graders joining me at the end of this month, and I need to excite them about the reader's and writer's workshops I'll be guiding them through.

I have three bulletin boards in my new classroom.  The next three posts will share what I'm planning to put on them!

The bulletin board closest to my desk will share some "back history" about me as a reader, so they can have an idea of what it means to have a "reading portfolio."  I racked my brain in June to remember what my favorite books were back when I was in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade; I decided to rack it even harder and think about 5th grade and 9th grade too.  I am creating a 4' x 4' bulletin board called "MR. H's READING PORTFOLIO."  It will share cover art and personal memories of the books from those years that had the most impact on me as a blossoming reader.  I will be expecting my students to read independently this year, and at the end of each year be able to discuss which new books they've read that have had the most impact on them.  Perhaps they'll write about/discuss the novels we read as a whole class, but I'll be more pleased if they find their independent novel choices the source of their inspiration.  I want my bulletin board to help them see that I expect them to seek independent novels. are links to my five mini-posters that will decorate my "MR. H's READING PORTFOLIO" bulletin board.

Questions? Comments?  I'd love to hear from you. 

Next stop: creating my "TRAIT OF THE MONTH" bulletin board for September!  I will post pictures soon!