Kelly Gallagher's Write Like This guides teachers as they model writing for a variety of real-world purposes: inform & explain, evaluate & judge, analyze & interpret, take a stand, and more. Includes mentor texts throughout and a chapter on revision & editing. Preview Chapter 1: Moving Writing to the Front Burner.
April 17, 2012
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Special Report:
Writing and English Language Arts (Part I)
Students these days are devouring literature, such as "Harry Potter," the "Twilight" books and "The Hunger Games." They are writing everywhere -- texting, posting, e-mailing and blogging consume hours a day. However, this informal style has created challenges for teachers. Students need instruction to learn how to be thoughtful writers and critical readers.

In Part 1, we look at how teachers innovate in the classroom -- from using a popular book to music to the writing of novel spin-offs -- to inspire and engage students. We also examine the latest in technology in the classroom. Online resources abound as do programs incorporating iPods and e-readers. Teachers are being creative to reach today's students, such as the teacher who shows students how to write movie scripts.

In Part II, to be published Thursday, we examine the role of instructional coaches, teacher collaboration and the latest in teacher-training programs. Among other topics, we also look at how the creative arts can reignite happiness found in learning and how schools are shifting to nonfiction reading with the adoption of Common Core State Standards.

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Use technology to reenergize your writing instruction with "Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing?" NBCT Julie Ramsay helps you advance from simple word processing and publishing tools to digital storytelling, distance learning, interactive editing, and revamped rubrics—as you weave technology into writing standards. Preview the entire book online!
  Best Practices 
  • Teachers use "The Hunger Games" in literary lessons
    Middle-school teachers say they are using the popularity of "The Hunger Games" series to teach literary concepts, such as plot, climax and conflict. Educators say the book is especially useful in engaging reluctant readers in literature. "When I have a kid who comes in the classroom and hates reading and hates language arts, and I see them with this book and not want to stop reading ... it is a very satisfying experience that this is something that brought these kids into the world of literature," said Andrea Garnett, a seventh-grade teacher. The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) (3/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Can music improve students' writing, creativity?
    Veteran teacher Jeffrey Pflaum writes in this blog post about the benefits of allowing students to listen to music before writing. Such "Music Writing" helps students develop character education, creativity, communication and other skills, Pflaum writes. In one exercise, students count backward from 50 to one before being asked to write what they thought about in that time. Next, students listen to music and are given the same instructions. Pflaum's blog (4/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Fourth-grade students write spin-offs to published novel
    Educators at a Minnesota elementary school use an inquiry-based approach to teach writing to students in fourth grade. In one project, for example, students create spin-offs to a novel written by the school's author-in-residence. Lessons incorporate the study of art and history as they relate to the novel's plot, and are used as a starting point for the students' stories. KARE-TV (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) (4/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Is the five-paragraph essay at its conclusion?
    To deviate from test-driven lessons, middle-school teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron replaced the five-paragraph essay with project-based writing. While she was warned that students' test scores would suffer, she writes that she found the students performed better on assessments than previous classes. Wolpert-Gawron suggests other educators adopt project-based writing as a way to teach core academic subjects, incorporate multiple intelligences and allow students to engage in higher-level learning. Walpert-Gawron's blog (2/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
How can you make revision a relevant and engaging part of your writing instruction? In Real Revision, award-winning children's book author and NBCT Kate Messner calls on her own revising experience as well as that of more than 40 other authors to bring you a trove of tips and techniques. Preview the entire book online!
  Technology in the Classroom 
  • Using digital storytelling as part of writing curriculum
    Philadelphia elementary teacher Robert Rivera-Amezola incorporates digital storytelling into the writing curriculum for students using software programs such as Garage Band and iMovie. The students take stories from their journals and turn them into digital productions in a creative approach to the district's writing standards. "Honoring a child's story is a major contribution to its engagement factor because they are writing about something they are interested in and know, not something that is pushed upon them," he said. WHYY-TV/WHYY-FM (Philadelphia)/Newsworks (4/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • NBCT: Why students should learn screenwriting
    For teenagers who enjoy watching television, screenwriting can be an effective teaching tool, according to National Board Certified Teacher Jennifer Ansbach. She recommends in this blog post that students use Script Frenzy as an online resource. Ansbach also has students use their own novels to begin writing scripts, and some take their work a step further by bringing their words to life on video. Ansbach's blog (3/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Kindle devices fire up students about reading
    Kindle e-readers are being used to engage reluctant high-school readers, as part of an initiative developed by two language arts teachers in Nebraska. Kim Zach and Melanie Gustafson developed a system in which a significant portion of class time is spent on reading using the e-readers, which allow access to multiple copies of popular titles. "We wanted students to like to read," Zach said. The Columbus Telegram (Neb.) (3/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Writing Stories offers inspiration, advice, and practical exercises on all aspects of fiction-writing—getting ideas, plot, setting, characters, dialogue, and more—that will help you hone your own writing craft as well as your students'. Preview the entire book!
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