October 9 2018

We Made It!

Hooray! The 10 day writing challenge ended last Tuesday. It was intended to give you a feel for how morning pages could work in your classroom.  Now, what can your students do with all those entries? One idea is to have them look through all of their entries and put a star next to any writing they think they could possible stretch out into an interesting piece of writing. In future lessons, they could choose one as an independent project, and work through the writing process to complete it.

When I looked through my work, I noticed that I had written about the weather changing. I could develop this into a poem. I wrote an entry about leaving money in a cash dispenser, this could be the start of a short fiction story. I also wrote a thought about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I realized that this entry is not something that I would want to develop, but it has given me something to consider. Is the NaNoWriMo something that I want to be involved in this year? It is a creative writing project that happens every November. The idea is to try to write a novel with 50,000 words or more. Now, that is a fun challenge! If you have not heard of this project take a look at their website: https://nanowrimo.org/. I am not sure about writing a novel, but I like the challenge of writing for such a specific length of time. Hmmm . . . food for thought! Are you up for this challenge?

                                                     Happy Writing!


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September 18 2018

Here’s a Challenge!

This challenge is open to anyone who wants to grow their writing muscles. The challenge is to write for 10 uninterrupted minutes for the next 10 school days (September 19 – October 2). In other words, let’s spend some time doing morning pages. I am setting the challenge so that anyone who is hesitant about doing morning pages with their class, will experience it first hand, and see how their students will benefit from this kind of daily writing. Click on the morning pages link on the right hand side if you need a reminder of what to do, and for pictures that could be used for writing inspiration.

Now, you do not have to have a class to join the challenge and you can choose the time of day to do your writing. I do suggest that you write the same time every day, use a timer, decide where you will write, have a writer’s notebook, and pen/pencil/marker ready to get started.

Let’s write together for the next 10 days. I look forward to hearing about your journey.

Happy Writing!


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September 11 2018

The Writing Process: Prewriting

For Inspiration

What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada is a picture book that I discovered recently and I think it would be an excellent read aloud to emphasize the importance and value of having a good idea. It is a story about a young boy who has an idea, but ignores it because of what others think. He is tempted to let it go, but in the end he changes his mind. This book could be used to start a discussion about having different and unusual ideas, sticking with them, and how they can make a positive contribution to our world.

A big goal that I have for my upper elementary students is for them to become independent writers. By this I mean they can work independently and productively during writing time while I am doing one-on-one conferencing and working with small writing groups. For this to happen, students need to understand how they are to work through each step of the writing process. For the next several posts, I will share how I have interpreted the writing process for my students.

The first step in the writing process is prewriting. I think of prewriting in two parts.

Part 1  Students find multiple writing ideas.

In my opinion, coming up with multiple writing ideas is the most challenging part of the writing process for young student writers. They are often stomped before they have even started! So I am a strong believer in helping students learn that there are many ways to find writing ideas, and that their ideas at times will be different to someone else’s and that is okay. To get students started, I recommend spending at least two lessons focused on finding writing ideas, and how to keep track of them in their writer’s notebooks. This does not mean that they will use every idea they have, but they will have a bank of ideas at their fingertips. It would be helpful if you could give them regular reminders to grow their list.

Here are some ways students can find writing ideas.

  • Brainstorm a topic
  • Freewrite
  • List ideas of things they are good at, things they know a lot about, favorite places, best experiences, favorite people, Wow! Moments, Oh, no! Moments, I remember when moments
  • Talk about ideas with friends and family
  • Look through newspapers and write down headings that could be turned into a story
  • Take the characters from a familiar story and write an original story
  • Lift a line from a morning page entry and develop it
  • Daydream

Part 2  Students choose one good writing idea.

Once students have multiple writing ideas they should choose one good idea to take through the writing process. They need to decide the purpose for their writing. Are they writing to inform, to persuade, or to entertain? Each of these will require a specific writing structure for the writing to hold the reader’s attention.  Who are they writing for? Which genre will best convey the message that they want to communicate?

Next, students will choose an approach to plan their writing. They may decide to brainstorm, use a graphic organizer, do an outline, etc. Once they have written a skeleton of an idea, they are ready to move on to the next step, drafting.

Happy Writing!


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September 6 2018

Let’s Take a Break!

How’s it going? In this post I want to take a break and give you a chance to do a quick review. I have written a variety of posts, but below are the seven key posts I think will help to get writing in your classroom moving in a positive direction. When you click on the titles you will go to the identified posts. So, get a nice cup of coffee or tea, relax, and read away!

6 Read Alouds for Discussing Personal Narratives

6 tips for Creating a Writing Environment

6 Tips for Decorating a Writer’s Notebook

Watching Student Writers!

Morning Pages

Closing Circle

 The Writing Process

How’s it going? Hopefully, you have laid the foundation for diving into your class writing time and writing with your students. Now let the work begin!

Happy Writing!


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August 20 2018

6 Morning Pages Pictures

In my previous post I wrote about morning pages. If you did not get a chance to read it, please read it so that you will understand the purpose of the pictures in this post. In case you are wondering, I do not mark or grade morning pages. This writing is intended to get students’ creative writing juices flowing!

Here are some more pictures you can add to

your collection of morning pages pictures.






Happy Writing!





















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August 16 2018

Morning Pages

I love our morning pages time! This is a nonthreatening way to engage all students in writing. Although at first, it might seem like it is for some. Morning pages is a time when students and teachers write each day for an uninterrupted 10 minutes.

When I introduce morning pages to my students I tell them we will all write for  an uninterrupted ten minutes on a self-selected writing topic. Some students will jump straight in, while some will be puzzled and want to ask questions. They want me to tell them what to write, but I will say several times, “You can write about any topic.” Then I start the timer for 10 minutes. There is always a couple of students looking around, unsure of what to write. They may even try to talk to the person next to them, so I remind them that it is an uninterrupted time and we all should be writing.  I resist the urge to keep replying to different questions. As the teacher, I want to make sure that all students are writing, but once I have given the instructions and responded to a few questions, I set the timer and start writing with my students. I model how serious our writing time is by focusing on my writing.

If after the first time we have tried morning pages, I see that some of the students are really struggling with coming up with a writing idea, before the next session, I will brainstorm with the class as many writing ideas as possible. I will record their ideas onto a large sheet of paper and keep that as an anchor chart that they can refer to during morning pages time. Students may suggest writing about places they have visited, special times, personal experiences, family, things they are thinking about, their emotions, etc.

Think of morning pages as a way for students to get their writing juices flowing! They can be done every morning before writing workshop time. They can be done at the start of the school day, or at the end of the school day. When I do this writing in the afternoon I call it Afternoon Pages. I would recommend a consistent time so that students see it as a daily activity.

In my opinion, student writers find it challenging to come up with good writing ideas. Writing morning pages is one way for them to gather a bank of ideas. Think of it this way, if students write for most of the school days in September, they could have potentially over 15 entries. Some of which could possibly develop into good writing ideas later on.

In a previous blog post, Preparing in July, I encouraged you to start taking pictures. Your collection of pictures can be used as another way to get your students’ creative juices flowing.  On an Activboard/Promethean/Smart board show one of  your pictures. If a student cannot think of a writing idea they can look at your picture for inspiration. We know that there will be days when some students will need a little  help to get going! In the beginning a lot of the students may use the pictures as inspiration, but as time goes on they will begin to think of their own writing ideas.

Please feel free to add the two pictures in this post to your collection and

remember to keep taking pictures!

Teaching Tips

  1. When students write in their notebooks, I have them write only on the right hand side page of the notebook. If later on they want to go back and develop a previous idea, they can continue working on the idea on the left hand side page of the notebook. They can see the writing as a whole before they move to the next available blank right hand side page.
  2. I have my students write the date out in full so that they practice the correct spelling of the day, month, writing capital letters, and placing commas in the right places.
  3. I have my students start each morning page on a new page.


Happy Writing!




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