Friday, August 24, 2012


Hello and Welcome to our Course.

The official start to the term is Sept. 24th.  We will be updating the blog with this term's Posts on this date.  You are free to work ahead on the assignments and save them on your computer.

One of the benefits of the blog format for online courses is the discourse between students.  We post only one or two assignments at a time in order to foster communication between the course participants.

If you do work ahead you will need to post your reflection on the blog when the corresponding assignment is posted.

If you have a question please email us and put "Question" or "REPLY NEEDED" in the subject line so we can get back to you in a timely fashion.  We frequently scan our inbox for questions but wait to reply to assignments for when we have a good chunk of time.  If there is no notation in the subject line of the email, we assume it is just an assignment.

You can expect us to reply to your reflection in about a week from when you submit it-- though at times it may be longer.  Again, if you have any concerns or questions email us and note in the subject line that a reply is needed or that you need "Help."

A couple of notes:

We suggest you save your work in a word processing document before posting to the blog.  There have been times where something happens and a post may disappear.  (Having this saved, makes it easier to repost.)

Some students have experienced problems posting using Firefox.  There are work-arounds, but the easiest is just to use a different browser.

Fall term starts 9/24

All work due 12/3

We look forward to learning and working with you this term.  :D

Mary and Jackie  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Assignment Nine: Final Course Reflection

Assignment Nine: Final Course Reflection

(All assignments are due by 8/20 !!!)

Take a look at the last section in Regie's text, Writing Essentials, it's chock full of great resources!!!

Teaching in Action: Lesson Essentials 5 Day Lesson Plans & Appendices
• Secrets of Second Graders• Heart Poems
• Procedural writing• Hero writing
• Persuasive writing
• Appendix survey 

Be sure to look through this section. If you haven’t already done so, look at Appendix A (page A-2.) Re-examine your beliefs about writing by re-reading the statements about the writing process and marking true or false in your book. Did you change any of your previous answers? Would you consider bringing this page to your team or even to your entire school to jump-start discussions about writing? Take some time to look through the appendices. There are several useful examples included. One we’d like to point out to you is Appendix L- The Genre Characteristics Excerpt on page A-13. Look to the Writing Essentials companion website at for the entire chart as well as directions to assist you playing the DVD.

ASSIGNMENT NINE: Final Course Reflection - Critically examine your current literacy program and develop realistic goals to improve your instruction. Also reflect on the balance between your home and school life. If our students are to become happy, literate people, they need happy, balanced teachers. BRIEFLY, share several of your goals with the class by posting them to the blog for this final assignment.

Thanks for taking our course!!!! Mary & Jackie!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Assignment Eight: Sections 4 & 5 Reflection

Note: These section are packed!!! Pick and choose your discussion points so that the blog doesn't become overwhelming and packed with so much information that participants won't want to read each others' comments. :)

Sections Four and Five- Advocacy Is Also Essential and Teaching In Action: Lesson Essentials

Assignment Eight: Read Writing Essentials Chapters 11-12 and Section Five. Reflect on the comments below and any additional reactions you have after reading these chapters. Post your thoughts to the course blog.
Chapter 11: Build on Best Practice and Research                                 • What are some of the key research findings most relevant to writing instruction?
• What are the practices of highly effective teachers?
• How can you be part of the ongoing professional development discussions in your building?
• What about test scores? What are the characteristics of high performing schools?
• Think twice before adopting a “program”

Regie begins this chapter sharing her experiences doing residencies in schools and the surprising (and delightful) discovery that whole school cultures changed during the course of their work improving literacy instruction. As she said, “This is what education should be about…whole schools working together so that all students (can) succeed.” How is the climate/culture in your school? On your team? One reason we continue to look to Regie for inspiration is that we feel she is so practical. There is not one right way or method to teach writing. “That is why formulas, programs and recipes don’t work. Every context, school and person is different and has different needs. Literacy is not a set of acquired or learned skills.”

Chapter 12: Make Every Minute Count• You need to “REDUCE THE PAPER LOAD!!!”
• What can we do that will save us time and allow us to focus more on meaningful instruction?
• Regie states, “Take more time to see the light!” Don’t get bogged down with daily worksheets and isolated exercises.

Though this chapter is short it is full of valuable ideas and reminders! Regie reminds us in this chapter to stop and reflect about what we are doing in the classroom. Ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time? Is what I’m about to do going to help my students become more joyful and accomplished readers, writers and thinkers?

“It might be that the best use of your time is to read a professional book, see a movie, visit with a friend. Sharing your experiences with your students may be a more useful way to get them to think about their writing than marks and comments on a paper.” “It’s hard to come to school all excited about teaching if you’ve spent hours the night before pouring over papers.” It is a disservice to our students and ourselves “if our out-of-school time is all about paperwork.” In fact, “Teachers’ comments on students’ papers do little to improve writing, even if the comments are positive ones. It is far more effective to conference with students and focus on specific writing issues with the student at your side.”

Also “(b)e sure that most of your writing time is devoted to writing, not preparing for writing or doing activities about writing. Safeguard sustained writing time; it’s critical for becoming a writer. Limit take-home work for students too, and place more emphasis on free-choice reading. Having more reading experiences positively impacts growth in writing skills.”

Regie closes this chapter by reminding us to breathe, relax and enjoy writing- and your life! “One way to reduce stress and have more energy for teaching and advocacy is to have a life outside of school. I worry about teachers and principals who work twelve-hour days. I have seen no research that shows educators who work the longest hours get the best results or that longer reading and writing projects teach more about reading and writing. Keep evaluating whether what you’re staying late for-or the hours of work you take home- will help your students become more effective readers and writers.”

ASSIGNMENT SEVEN: Student Writing Conference

ASSIGNMENT SEVEN: Student Writing Conference - Choose one or two children (classroom students, relatives, neighbors...) to conduct an informal conference with. You may choose to use one of Regie’s formats, your own or the one below, which I use in a conferring notebook. You need to find a system that will work for you. Example 1 (and below) is the format I use for each writing conference that I hold with students. Keep in mind that while you are conferring with students, the majority of other students should be writing!

(Note: If you aren’t currently teaching please find a school-age child to do a conference with. We believe you will find it is worth the effort.) 

Student Name:                                                     Date:

? (Question- Teacher asks)- “What are you
working on today in your writing?”

C (Compliment)- Compliment the student on one
strategy they are using well.

TP (Teaching Point)- What is one
strategy/point/goal you can teach this student to
move them forward?

FNT (For Next Time)- What needs to be a focus
during the next conference/what were set goals?

ASSIGNMENT SEVEN: After completing your one or two conferences, please reflect on how well they went and how they will impact your whole group, small group and independent instruction in your classroom. Post your reflective response to the blog.