Write Now! Empowering Writers in Today's K-6 Classroom

The Engaging Classroom

    • Teaching Tips

    The First Week of School: Getting to Know You, Getting to Know Me

    It’s that time of year again! The air is turning ever so slightly crisp in the morning, leaves are slowly drifting off their perches in the trees, and little ones are anticipating their first day of school, some for the very first time and others for yet another year. With all the changes September brings, there is one that is always filled with anticipation—meeting your classroom teacher. Or, if you’re the teacher, meeting your students for the first time.
    • Teaching Tips

    Playing with Phonemes

    Writers love the sounds of language. Poets in particular pay attention to the basic sounds (phonemes) and how they can be manipulated into musical arrangements (poetic lines). Phonemic awareness, which is a vital stepping stone to the development of reading skills, is therefore important to both the emerging reader and the poet.
    • In Other Words

    Nobody's Story is Boring, So Write Yours

    When I was in junior high, I thought my life was boring. I had my reasons. I wasn’t pubescent enough to be cool, I wasn’t cool enough to have a girlfriend, and I wasn’t even uncool enough to have some weird badge of shame like headgear or a rolling backpack. I just felt boring. And although I harbored secret ambitions of one day becoming a writer, I had no idea what interesting things I could possibly ever write about.
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Daywalt and Jeffers’ THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

    In THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, Duncan is excited to open up his box of crayons and begin working. A problem exists though. The crayons have decided to go on strike. They leave independent notes with their complaints and issues.
    • In Other Words

    In Other Words: Meeting Readers Where They Are

    I was an avid reader as a kid. The only problem was that I didn’t realize it at the time. The reading I was most passionate about wasn’t validated as “legitimate” reading by the adults in my life. When my grandfather came home from work in the evenings, he’d plop the daily newspaper on the kitchen table and I would grab it, instantly ripping it open to the comics section. I devoured the daily adventures of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Calvin and Hobbes, and Garfield. And don’t even get me started on the joy that came with the Sunday funny pages.
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: McKay and Lafrance’s WAR BROTHERS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

    Unfortunately, the plight of child soldiers—the focus of WAR BROTHERS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel Lafrance—has become a topic that we are all too familiar with, especially after the KONY 2012 campaign, which sought to bring attention to the issue. WAR BROTHERS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is based upon McKay’s 2008 novel of the same title. The story features Jacob and his school friends and their experiences, after being kidnapped from school, of serving as child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.
    • Teaching Tips

    To Raise Achievement, Let’s Celebrate Teachers Before We Evaluate Them

    Regie RoutmanRegie Routman says, "Noticing and celebrating what students and teachers are doing well is not a frill or mere paying of compliments."
    • In Other Words

    Using Tech to Teach English

    On a visit to the home of one my Hmong students ten years ago, his father and I had this conversation (through an interpreter): FATHER: I love what my son showed me he was doing in the school computer lab last week during Open House. I wish we had a computer here so I could use it to learn English—the adult school is so far, I don't have a driver’s license because you need to speak English to pass the test, and the bus takes so long. ME: Do you think other Hmong parents feel the same way?
    • In Other Words

    Audio Books and How I Escaped Self-imposed Genre Jail

    This summer, my fifth graphic novel hits shelves. It’s a story about a family from Illinois who decide to move to California in 1846. They join a wagon train and roll west. They try an unproven shortcut, get stuck in the Sierra Nevada, and end up eating each other. It’s called DONNER DINNER PARTY and it’s nonfiction.
    • Teaching Tips

    The “X” Factor—and the “M” and “N” Factors, Too: Fun with Vocabulary Acquisition

    “The X Factor” is literally a special quality. Among reality-show enthusiasts, though, it’s a popular musical talent competition, whose judges last season were Britney Spears, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, and the always curmudgeonly concept-originator Simon Cowell.
    • Teaching Tips

    Lights! Camera! Animals! Using Windows Movie Maker to Investigate

    My classroom is filled with hermit crabs, a beta fish, a bearded dragon, a box turtle, worms, and a fire-bellied toad. Outside of the traditional nurturing skills and responsibility children gain from having these classroom pets, they also enrich our classroom learning experiences.
    • Teaching Tips

    Planting Seeds for Fiction, One Fact at a Time

    When I visit schools, one of the most frequent questions students ask is where I get ideas. One way is to find a fact and then ask questions. Many of my fiction books began by reading nonfiction. As I’m reading, I’m looking for something I call a “story seed,” a fact that a story can grow from.
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