Every spring I buy a new composition book. It's nothing fancy and only costs fifty cents. I love the marbled cover, the wide-ruled lines, the fabric binding that ensures my ideas will stay together in my cluttered teacher's bag. I look forward to this notebook every year, because just like Didion says in her own essay "On Keeping a Notebook", "the impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one".
I use this notebook to store my thoughts for the upcoming school year. This notebook is one part reflection, one part preparation, one part planning. This notebook is messy. Just like teaching and growing as professional, this notebook is not perfect, nor is it meant to be. This is how it works for me:
Page 1: Philosophy
There's something about the first page of a notebook. To be honest, there is this weird pressure I feel when writing anything on the first page of any notebook. Anyone else share that same first-page anxiety? Full disclosure: sometimes I skip the first page all together! However, this messy, non-perfect-notebook allows me the flexibility to scratch out, tear out with ease. In a similar vein, just like this notebook is always evolving, I like to sketch out my teaching philosophy on page one, because it too is always evolving. I find that my classroom and personal goals change from year to year. Similarly, my philosophy will change shape and format depending on the school year. Sometimes it's a bulleted list and sometimes it is more like a manifesto. Whatever the case may be, I put my philosophy on page one to keep me focused and grounded.
Once I have that down, I feel like the work can begin. I'm focused. I can get started. Unscientifically, I divide the remaining parts of my notebooks into three sections.
Section 1: Reflection
Since this notebook is a place for me to write down the ideas that I want to remember or keep chewing on, I need to write down what worked this past school year. I start by reflecting on the good. What went well? What readings "clicked" with my students? What assignments allowed their skills to shine? Which students showed the most growth? Then I think about what could've been better. What readings flopped? What assignments didn't get the students where they needed to be?
Section 2: Preparation
As a new teacher, my district fueled my pedagogical curiosity. There were PD sessions crafted for new teachers, book studies to help us refine our craft. I have found that my interests and needs are becoming more unique as I gain experience. This is my tenth year in the classroom and I feel like I'm just realizing my curiosities and teaching goals. Last summer I was really interested in learning about meaningful writing instruction and how to apply it in my AP classroom. This year I am devouring anything I can read about choice reading and book clubs for struggling readers. There are so many incredible edu-writers out there that I often have no problem selecting 2-5 professional books to read every summer. Last summer I spent time with Writing with Mentors and The Journey is Everything and this year I'm excited to get into Disrupting Thinking and For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. Throughout this section of my notebook I take copious notes on the strategies and insights these books offer. They might be direct quotes, page numbers, or my own insights. I use these pages to draw connections to other strategies I know of or use in my classroom. Sometimes I make copies of chunks of text and tape them into my notebook for easy reference. This quickly becomes the messiest part of my notebook. The place where I take ideas (of my own or from others) and let them simmer. I spend the majority of my time in this part of the notebook.
Section 3: Planning
And finally, toward the end of summer, I start to plan in my notebook. What are my big ideas and hopes for the upcoming school year? What are my non-negotiables? What are the objectives and enduring understandings I hope my students will achieve? What is optional? What resources, websites, texts do I know of that can help my students achieve these goals? I sketch out overarching themes, texts, insights, and whatever else I can think of before I get into daily plans.
That's my process. It's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be. This notebook gets stuffed into my teaching bag, my beach bag, my book bag. It goes with me everywhere all summer long just incase.
It's a heavy time of year. Students are counting down the days, teachers are trying to cover all the material, AP exams are happening, and sports playoffs are lurking around the corner. My students are tired. I'm tired.
I'm a firm believer in fostering a team-mentality when it comes to test prep. We prepare like a team, we support each other like a team, we test like a team. We function as a team all year long. To emphasize this metaphor, I have always done a bulk order of team t-shirts for my students. Since I was out most of the fall on maternity leave, my students and I just couldn't agree on a "slogan" for the year. Last year we were "Straight Outta Lang", the year before we were "AP Lang is BAE". This year, we were disorganized.
So when my students began to show signs of exhaustion last week, I knew I needed to do something to brighten their spirits and refuel them before the AP Language Exam. We had reviewed at length: pre-20th century texts, multiple choice, essay tips and tricks. They could not be more prepared for the exam. They didn't need one more day of review, one more practice prompt. They needed some fun. They needed to make space to relax. I decided we would make t-shirts together, as a team.
I picked up a big pack of plain t-shirts (to have a few extras) at Wal-Mart, loaded up on bottles of Puffy Paint, and cut out some stencils. Students brought in their own plain t-shirts. After a short review on Thursday, students spent the last 20-30 minutes of class sketching out their designs. The next day, the magic happened.
I played music in the background, and let students move about to style their shirts. Some students kept it simple, some students let their artistic creativity flourish. Even though we might have panicked a few times when the paint smudged, we laughed and enjoyed our time together. Prom was the next day and graduation is in just a few short weeks. It was nice to make time for creativity and fellowship.
Yesterday marked one month until graduation for my seniors. Instead of their typical argumentative journal prompt, I asked them to free write: "One month until graduation. How are you feeling?"
Some of them struggled to get started. Some of them dove right in.
There is a constant battle of give and take for most teachers and students this time of year. I'm constantly between "Am I doing enough test prep?" and "It's so nice outside! Maybe we could go outside and read?" I know my students feel the same. Their dual-enrollment courses are coming to an end and graduation announcements are being passed out. They know they need to study, but motivation is lacking. I see them daydreaming more than usual. I hear them talking about the past, but more frequently they're discussing the future. The light is at the end of the tunnel, and for some it is almost blinding.
After each journal, I open our discussion by asking for volunteers. One student immediately shot her hand up. She said, "This is the time of year I've been waiting for. It's finally here. Things are coming to an end, but it's all good stuff. It's gorgeous outside. I'm having fun. I just want to appreciate everything around me while I'm here."
Isn't that true of teachers, too? Sure, we may be counting down until summer break to recharge, but there's more to this time of year. It's a time of reflection, growth, and change. This is the time of year I feel most proud of my students. We both start to see the improvements they've made over the course of a school year, both intellectually and personally. They've transformed from student to young adult.
So today I'm just going to soak up my time with my students. As they work in groups on a review task for next week's AP Language exam, I'm going to join them. I'm going to work with them, talk with them, help them. I'm going to appreciate our time together before it runs out.
It's May 1st, which means I have exactly one month of school until summer break. I'm spending most days scoring essays, preparing prompts for final projects, and reflecting on the highs and lows of the school year. At home I'm planning for pool passes, day trips, and grad classes. In moments of quiet, however, all I'm thinking about is all the books I hope to read this summer.
Like most teachers, I spend my summer reflecting and planning. I refuel my spirit and get energized for the new school year by reading for pleasure and for professional growth (and there are times when I luck out and do this simultaneously). There are books that have aged well on my shelves that I go back to frequently for nuggets of wisdom like Teaching as a Subversive Activity and new books I hope to explore like Disrupting Thinking. My summer reading list changes shape from the beginning of the summer to the end as different themes cross my mind and connect me to new titles. But one thing is certain: I love making this list.
As I was sifting through my shelves this week, I pulled out five books about writing that I love. These are my go-to books for lesson inspiration, where I can find chunks of advice or philosophy to give my budding writers, or quippy lines to write on my white boards. I find inspiration in all the books I'm sharing today, but I have divided them into two sections: books that inspire the writer and books that inspire the teacher.
Books that Inspire the Writer
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird has been around for a while, but I still find it to be fresh and relevant. Lamott's casual tone makes both experienced and novice writers feel at ease within her pages. From her introduction to my favorite essay, "Shitty First Drafts", my students find Lamott's wisdom refreshing and honest.
I first picked up this book after a teacher friend recommended it to me before I started teaching my first writing course for seniors. I loved how I could flip open to an essay that targeted my specific needs at the time, and I love how I can find nuggets of wisdom for my students in the same way. For example, when my students are too focused on what the final product of their writing will look like or are fumbling over where to get started, I tend to share with them this concluding paragraph from "Short Assignments":
"Say to yourself in the kindest possible way, Look honey, all we're going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry. This is all we're going to do for now. We are just going to take this bird by bird. But we are going to finish this one short assignment."
2. Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
As soon as I first opened this book it felt like I was holding magic. The first seven-word sentence of the prologue, "This is a book of first steps." held so much power for me, I immediately sat on the floor of my bookstore and paged through the rest of the book. It didn't take me long to realize that Klinkenborg bucks tradition in almost every way. He skips paragraph form and writes in lyric. He outwardly tells students to "distrust" the "assumptions and prohibitions and obligations that are the imprint of your education and the [writing] culture you live in". I knew I had to get this book into my students' hands ASAP, so I assigned it as summer reading a few weeks later. One of my favorite chunks to give students about word choice (and there are so many) is found on page 74:
"It's always worth asking yourself if you can imagine
saying a sentence
And adjusting it until you can.
Just as it's aways useful to ask yourself, "What exactly
am I trying to say?"
The answer to that question is often the sentence you
need to write down."
Books that Inspire the Teacher
3. To Show and to Tell by Phillip Lopate
I start and end every school year with narrative writing. It is the easiest way to get my students to play with and explore their writing. For each of these assignments my students receive a mentor text. At the beginning of the year, my students read E.B. White's "Once More to the Lake" and at the end of the year, my students read a few sections from Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live. At the end of the year, I also give them a few chunks of advice from To Show and to Tell. By April, my students have analyzed and practiced. They have synthesized and explained. Now, they are the one's behind the wheel, behind the pen. It is time to tell their own stories using the skills and techniques we've observed all year long. That's why I love To Show and to Tell. The last 100 pages of the book "Part II: Studies of Practitioners" Lopate shows instructors how to use classic essays as a guide and as models for their own writing. I specifically love the section "Teaching James Baldwin" as Lopate describes Baldwin's writing as "catnip to the young."
4. The Journey is Everything by Katherine Bomber
If you're a new AP Language teacher or new to explicit writing instruction, I encourage you to read this book before anything else. I read this book the summer after my ninth year in the classroom, after my third year teaching AP and still found it invigorating. It reinforced my teaching philosophy of teaching the reader before I can teach the writer. She breaks down this process in six easy steps:
1. Read Out Loud
2. Read as a Reader
4. Read with a Lens
I encouraged my students to follow this process early this school year as they were just finding their feet. In a way it slowed them down and forced them to notice. It forced them to take their time and look at the inner-workings of the text. It helped me understand where I needed to spend my time before we could put pen to paper in a meaningful way.
5. Writing with Mentors by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O'Dell
Want to read a book that will completely change the way you view writing instruction? Ready for a culture shift in your classroom? Read this book. It has been hands down the most informative professional development to impact the way I view writing instruction. I wish I would have read this book after The Journey is Everything, because I think I would have gotten even more out of both of them. Marchetti and O'Dell's classroom experience shine in this book as their anecdotes and suggestions have clearly been tried and perfected with real teenagers, real students. They explain the process in helping students to read like writers (a fantastic list is provided on page 71) and how that impacts the way students take risks in their own writing. Through the process of using professional, published works as mentor texts, students begin to see the world around them a guide to their own writing. Even my own students have started seeing tweets as mentor texts!
I love this simple line from the beginning of the book. I think Marchetti and O'Dell's simple way of showing students the value of their own thoughts, experiences, and interests is the most powerful element of this book. This line, from page 17, was included in one of my introductory lessons this fall: "Writers are not just novelists and journalists. They are people like you and me, who love to watch television--or play video games, or go to art galleries, or commune with nature--and write about it." This is the most important lesson I hope my students get from my AP Language course. Their experiences, however mundane and seemingly ordinary, are worth writing about.
What other resources do you use to stay inspired as a writing teacher? What do you do to help encourage your students to take risks in their writing? Share your suggestions in the comments!
I was fortunate to be surrounded with many experienced AP Readers last week. When it came time for us to know which question we were assigned to read, everyone had their hopes for a specific question. Some people wanted a specific question because they had not yet score it. Some people happened to love a specific prompt and really wanted to see how students approached it. I was just happy to be there and was eager to soak up whatever I could... so when I was assigned Question 3, I was ready to get started.
Over the last three years of teaching AP Lang, my students always say that Question 3 is the most challenging out of the three. They say this because it demands them to think critically and develop a sophisticated argument with sound evidence in a limited amount of time. They often get nervous about not having evidence to use or enough knowledge to make a compelling argument. At the end of the day, I think my experience as a Q3 Reader will greatly help my next group of AP Lang students feel more confident with that question as they go into the exam in May.
In addition to the insights I'm sharing below, I strongly suggest you check out the Chief Leader Report that is called "Student Performance Q&A" once it is published to AP Central later this summer. Also, here's the prompt for your reference.
Here are my big take-aways from reading Question 3:
Pay Attention to the Prompt: Lower-scoring essays did not explain how their evidence influenced (or did not influence) social progress; they assumed the reader would just know. The question I kept in the back of my mind was, "HOW did it progress society? WHAT was the progress?" Similarly, lower-scoring essays also did not address the "extent" to which Wilde's claim was true--just that it was or that it wasn't. I will improve this thinking in my students by annotating and dissecting prompts with my students. I will show them how to make a check list of all the requirements of the prompts so they can hold themselves accountable on test day.
Know Your Evidence: The best part of this prompt is that it allowed students to flex their muscles. The scope of evidence I read on this prompt was deep and wide. However, very few essays actually referenced the complexities within their evidence or argument. For example, if history was still in the making or yet to be seen, it was important that the student mentioned that. The top scoring essays I read connected evidence together to show societal progress. For example, Harriet Tubman to Gandhi Rosa Parks to Dr. King to #BlackLivesMatters. Similarly, I also read a lot of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to Gloria Steinem, to Hillary Clinton. This organizational strategy helped me see that students understood that progress takes time. I even had a few unique essays that discussed famous musicians and artists and how their technique or style influenced an entirely new genre or a global response. These worked! For this question, historical evidence worked best. I had very few successful literary and personal examples because at the end of the day, it had to do with societal progress. I plan on working on the relationship between evidence across time and place to help my students with their thinking and sophistication. I also hope to discuss with my students how literature itself can function as a change agent--not just tell a story.
Find Your Voice: The essays that truly shined had a strong voice. It was like I was sitting in an auditorium listening to the student give their proclamation. Some even gave me goosebumps! Since these were so rare, I have been thinking about how to develop my students' voice in writing. In doing this, we are going to study speech writing. Question 1 and Question 3 are truly speeches--arguments--about something that is culturally relevant (Q1 just has sources!). I want them to imagine reading it aloud with vigor and emotion. Once they practice doing this, I think their voice will come. I will no longer treat these prompts as essays... which leads me to my final insight...
Ditch the 5 Paragraph Essay: Throw it away. I read so many essays that were formulaic and did not have a convincing arc. Many of them had this organization: introduction > historical example > literary example > personal example > conclusion. There was no transition or connection between the paragraphs and it felt sterile. We must encourage kids to think deeply about the situation instead of just regurgitating textbook information. It's a conversation, after all!
A few other tidbits to consider:
I strongly suggest all AP readers check out the Chief Reader notes once they're published on AP Central. Since this was only my first year reading, I expect her insights to be incredibly valuable.
In August of 2015 I applied to be a Reader for the College Board's AP Language exam. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I've taught AP Lang for the past 3 school years and finally had accrued enough experience to submit my application (there is a 3 year requirement). The application process is pretty simple, but takes a while. I applied in August, was accepted into their applicant pool in November, and received my official invitation to this year's reading the first week of January.
I didn't know what to expect, but fortunately my #APLangchat buddies answered all my questions and made sure I didn't get lost amongst the essays!
I flew to Kansas City on Friday, June 10, the day after our last day of school, to spend the next 7 days working and reading essays. Although some days were tough (mentally), I found the experience incredibly rewarding.
Every AP Reading has the same general hierarchy. Each subject has a Chief Reader who is an experienced reader and part of the development board. From there, the CR selects a Question Leader for each of the FRQ responses. They know their question inside and out, have selected model essays, and are the ones who train the readers. Below the QLs are the Table Leaders. A TL is responsible for 9-10 readers and is an experienced teacher and AP reader. From there you have Readers and Acorns. Acorns are first-year readers who TLs take under their wing to ensure they know what they need to know and are scoring accurately.It was the Chief Reader who welcomed us first thing Saturday morning and does the majority of the communicating throughout the Reading.
We spent half a day on Saturday training and calibrating our scoring to ensure fairness to all students. Our QL helped us understand the various nuances of the prompt, and guided us through a full range of sample essays that she and a committee had already scored. During this time I learned the essay question inside and out (I was on Q3 about the relationship between disobedience and societal progress), and then practiced scoring. My Table Leader "back read" my scoring to make sure I was on the right track. She did this for other readers, too, but since we were new, we got most of her attention.
My table was comprised of 3 AP Language teachers and 5 college professors. It was really interesting to hear their insights as we collaborated and scored together. I really enjoyed all the personalities at my table, especially when we found an essay especially awesome or needing a second opinion. We worked every day (Saturday-Friday) 8-5 p.m. scoring essays.
As mentioned above, some days were especially grueling. I was tired. My eyes hurt. My shoulders started to stiffen. However, I truly believe the experience will greatly benefit my AP Lang students and me as a writing teacher. I would absolutely do it again if I were invited back!
In addition to reading over 1,300 essays in just a few days, I was able to take in some local sites. I visited and took a tour of the downtown Kansas City public library (that is gorgeous and inside an old bank), ate some delicious BBQ at Char Bar, visited Prospero's independent bookstore in the West 39th neighborhood, and even got to meet and listen to the head of AP English during a forum. We were busy day in and day out, so I was ready to relax by the time I got home Saturday afternoon.
Here are some of the best moments from the trip!
If there's one thing I've learned in my 9 years in the high school English classroom, everything is a little sweeter when pizza is involved.
After counting up nearly 17,000 pages that my students read during our Read-a-Thon, I decided we needed to celebrate this incredible achievement. My principal generously offered to pitch in for the pizzas after Papa John's gave us a discount. Once I had our main course, I asked students to bring in drinks and snacks to share. They were on board because, hey, free pizza!
On a whim I contacted the the teen/young adult coordinator at the Washington County Free Library, Cyndi, and ask her to visit with my students a little bit. At first I simply wanted her to help them fill out the forms so they could each get a library card before the end of the school year, but once she presented some options (book talks, summer programs, etc.) I knew my kids would love her.
So, today was the day! We started class celebrating their reading accomplishments by taking a class picture, we noshed on pizza and soda, then we settled in for Cyndi to do some book talks with the latest popular teen/YA reads. She gave about a dozen book talks about new releases like All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and The Unlikely Hero of 13B by Teresa Toten and then let my students sort through some awesome graphic novels (their current obsession) and nonfiction reads. After her book talks she helped my students sign up for library cards and passed out a bunch of flyers that advertised summer events (frisbee golf!) and a list titled "If you LOVE this TV show, check out these books!" (which I grabbed, too)! My students wrote down titles they were interested in on the back of their new bookmarks and asked for recommendations on other topics, too. It was magic.
We snacked, we talked books, we applied for library cards, and we had a great day.
It's that time of year: all of my students have either just completed or are in their final days of preparing for a standardized exam. I know that as soon as those exams are finished and the weather starts to warm, it's going to be difficult to keep my students engaged and focused. I'm trying to keep my eyes on what's important and ensure that our final few weeks are productive and meaningful. This is a delicate and incredibly complicated balance.
A few weeks ago I was mindlessly surfing through edu-blogs, looking for any nugget of an idea to help keep my regular-level 11th graders focused. We had just received the testing schedule for our state-mandated PARCC exam and 99% of my students were taking both the English and Algebra II exams. As a result, they would be missing 6 days of instruction for one reason or another. Instantly, my thoughts turned to lost class time and too much make-up work. How can I ensure we don't lose steam over these two weeks?
I started surfing through edu-blogs and came across a recent post by Tricia Ebarvia about a Read-a-Thon she hosted with her students in March that spread over class time into Spring Break. Instantly I knew I had a winner. Tricia had supplied a handout that her students used to track their reading, so I created my own based on hers and added a few of my own questions on the back.
On April 18, the day before the standardized testing began, I pitched the Read-a-Thon to my students. I threw in an incentive that which ever class reads the most will earn a pizza party so long as both classes read over 6,000 pages. This is quite a feat since my classes are comprised of 13 or 20 students. At first they rolled their eyes, but once I told them that ANY book was fair game, they were sold. We took a trip to the library where they had time to explore.
Some students selected graphic novels (we had just finished reading Maus), some students selected books they loved from middle school (hey--reading is reading! I just wanted books in their hands!), and some students selected books I recommended to them. Either way, every student left the library with a book in their hands and a plan. Over the next two weeks students read their book once their assigned section of PARCC was completed for the day. On non-testing days, we did a quick Read-a-Thon-check-in (a la Kelly Gallagher's Readicide one-pagers or analyze an infographic about the importance of independent reading), and spent the rest of class time reading (on average 45 minutes).
Within a few days my students were flying through books. One of my students, a female student who is graduating early and is not very confident in the English classroom, was so proud of herself for reading 3 Sarah Dessen books in less than two weeks! Another student was amazed that the library had a guitar section! All I knew is that my kids were coming to class eager to read every day. Seeing them so engaged in books thrilled me.
Friday was our last day of Read-a-Thon reading in class since it was also the last day of the math PARCC exam. I encouraged the students to read and finish their books over the weekend, since the Read-a-Thon wasn't technically over until class on Monday. When my students came to class today, we totaled their pages and their books. We completed the reflection on the back of their log and debriefed. I gathered feedback from them on what not to change and how to make the Read-a-Thon better next year. Many of my students encouraged me to hosts more Read-a-Thons throughout the year. Maybe leading up to a holiday break or two.
When we added up all the pages (and with the understanding I had 5 students absent today), my two classes combined read over 16,500 pages in just two weeks! Incredible!
My favorite comment from our debrief was from a male student who said, "This was the most relaxed I've ever been during testing. It was just nice to know I'd have time to sit and read after taking those exams."
One of my favorite aspects of the AP Language course is its relevance to modern society. The test requires students to think deeply and critically about social issues or complex ideas ranging from global warming to honor codes in schools. One of my favorite--albeit one of the most challenging--aspects of teaching this course is finding new ways to keep it fresh and relevant.
Earlier this week a colleague of mine shared the 2015-2016 Maryland Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Report via Facebook. I was astonished to find that the county in which I teach, Washington County, ranked last at only 36% of its students being sufficiently ready for kindergarten by the time they turned 5. As a state, we have nearly 34,000 students who need additional support so they are ready for the demands of kindergarten. 34,000!
I sifted through the document, analyzed the data from other counties and compared it to my own county, and really considered what was at stake for public educators who would soon see so many students with such a high needs. More specifically, I thought: what can we do to help this situation as a community? I realized that this problem needed more awareness, more brains thinking on it. It is a current, local issue that has serious implications for the community in which my students live. With the snap of a finger, my synthesis practice activity was born.
I paired down the MSDE report to include introductory information, the county reports, and a brief explanation that was included toward the end. I drafted an AP-style prompt to guide my students through the document (Examine the factors that a group should consider when developing a kindergarten-readiness program for a local community.), and then I turned them loose.
I structured my class like this:
-10-15 minutes of reading time so students could fully comprehend the data.
-5 minutes of writing time for them to document their findings and conclusions.
-5 minutes of group talk to answer the prompt.
There is a lot more I could do with these findings, but 25-30 minutes was sufficient for me. It was one part social awareness, one part synthesis practice, and the rest was made up by a lot of good talk about literacy (both child and adult) and the importance of Pre-K availability.
There's nothing better than PD designed by teachers who truly "get it." Most of my favorite pedagogical reads are written by people who still have (at least) one foot in the classroom. To me, these writers and books boast camaraderie and realism. They understand the restrictions of state and national testing. They understand kids. They understand everything I need them to so I can buy into their perspective. My latest read, Writing with Mentors, is no exception.
Written by two high school English teachers in Richmond, VA, Writing with Mentors is a dream for any secondary teacher who is frustrated by the quality of writing he or she is getting from their students on a regular basis. Instead of repeating the same lessons, or trying to reinvent the wheel, Writing with Mentors reveals the process of improving quality of writing through the intentional selection of widely read, recently published, mentor texts.
A mentor text is a brief read that is an exemplar of a certain writing style or technique. O'Dell and Marchetti argue that through the deliberate and regular instruction of these mentor texts, students are exposed to a myriad of styles and ideas. Not only does this variety give students choice, but it also empowers them to take risks and try new "moves" within their own writing.
It only took me a few days to get through the book and deeply understand their philosophy. Now, I'm passing it around to every other teacher I know who has a passion for helping their students improve their quality of thinking and writing on a regular basis. I am eager to spend my summer collecting mentor texts (but if you don't have time--don't worry--they provide you with links to nearly a hundred mentor texts and online resources!) and plan a new approach to my AP Language course. Throughout my planning process, I hope to share my findings and insights here. Stay tuned!
You can also find more in-the-moment ideas from these teachers (and others!) at Moving Writers.