Start the Year Off Write

September is the planting season for writing!

All month I have been encouraging teachers to set up writers’ notebooks, to offer quickwrite opportunities, and immerse themselves in a variety of writing activities.  These pieces of writing will be the seeds from which ideas, stories, and topics will germinate and grow.

In our district we offer a writing prompt to all of our K-6 students to help us establish a baseline of writing strengths and needs for our students.  It lets us get to know how they approach writing and what they bring to their writing from previous years.  It is tough to generate a prompt that will inspire and not stifle, engage and not turn off, AND is appropriate for 5 year olds as well as .  Rather than having a single prompt, we generated several options.  We chose a few videos to watch to inspire ideas




We offered two different pictures for our K-2 students and asked them to write a story that goes with one of these.



We offered two Shel Silverstein poems for our 3rd-6th grade students, asking them to write a story inspired by one of them.

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And finally we offered them the greatest choice of all-an original idea of their own. We wanted to send the message to our students that ideas come from so many places-what we read or see or touch can be an inspiration for writing. So far the writing pieces have been thoroughly entertaining and enlightening!

Some writers’ notebooks are filling with dozens of seeds waiting for the gentle watering that will come with daily mini-lessons, writing conferences, and revisions. These early sprouts are so fun to look back on at the end of year “harvest” to contemplate the almost-miraculous growth.

I hope that you are all off to a wonderful school year, and busy planting those seeds each day.  If you need some inspiration for launching writers’ notebooks or nurturing those tender shoots, head on over to my friends’ blog The Two Writing Teachers. There are actually more than two amazing teachers who contribute to this blog: Stacey Shubitz, Anna Gratz Cockerille, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Dana Murphy, Tara Smith, Deb Frazier, and Kathleen Sokolowski have loads of ideas and support to keep your writing workshop engaging and fresh throughout the school year.

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I LOVE this writing prompt idea to help us get to know our students.  Writing is such a personal journey-creating trusting relationships will be key to growing strong writers. What are 5 Things You Want Your Teacher to Know:

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Global Read Aloud is right around the corner (October 5).  I thought this month would be a great time to read some of this year’s selections.


This week I read CHOPSTICKS and FISH


Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Scott Magoon created a fun story about two chopstick friends who must face a challenging time of trying things without each other. If you are trying to encourage independence with young kids, this would be a great text to start that conversation.

Fish: A Novel

A middle grade novel of bravery and perseverance! When a boys relief worker family must flee a war torn country a young boy rescues a fish from a drying up puddle. He takes this fish on their treacherous journey and discovers small miracles can happen. Beautifully written by L.S. Matthews.

Just got the YA Novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.  Not sure I’ll be reading that one aloud to my elementary students, but the title has me hooked!  Hope you find some of these titles to read to your students next month!  They are wonderful!!!


Happy Reading

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