The Thursday Three

Three things I’ve learned about literacy this week. Here ya go. . .

1. I modeled writing a persuasive letter to my students this week. Hello enlightenment! I not only wrote it in front of them, but I revised it too. I feel like my very best teaching in a long time occurred during this process. I’ve never really been excited about the way I’ve taught concluding passages before, but with modeling the process in front of students, I got it and they got it and it was zen.

2. My kid loves Dragon Slayer’s Academy books. I foresee a lot of Wiglif in my future.

3. Something my husband taught me about revision this week that I’ve said about 100 times already: “Professional writers revise all the time and student writers rarely do.” My guy is smart. I’m going to make this into a poster for my classroom.

What about your week?


Quiet Sunday Reading


Today I’m enjoying a mystery novel. The third in the series that features India Black, the madame-sometimes-spy. The sharp, witty writing is what keeps me coming back to this series by Carol K. Carr. Check it out:

“To be fair (and this is likely the last time I will be, so take note), I hadn’t disclosed much of my own past to French, but that’s because I don’t know much about the old pedigree.” (India Black and the Shadow of Anarchy p. 12)

In this adventure she’s being asked to infiltrate a den of anarchists hiding out in the Seven Dials slum of Victorian London. She can’t wait! And I can’t wait to keep reading!

What are you reading on this cozy Sunday?

Valentine’s Day – The Aftermath

Nothing shows me love more than when someone understands my reading tastes. Here’s my stack of valentines! Show me yours!


The Thursday Three

A weekly thing here at Accidental Literacy. Three things I’ve learned about literacy this week. . .

We’re writing persuasive papers in my class of 7th graders. The best word to describe this process would be adventurous. It’s not for the faint of heart. Students have brainstormed their topics. They’ve picked a position. What are the arguments to support their thesis? They have them. Arguments on the other side? They have counter-arguments. It’s so cool to see this develop! And then we start to talk about writing a lead. You can almost see the wheels fall of the persuasive-writing bus.

1. Students don’t have much experience writing a great lead for an essay. They want to use a standard, boring question. “Should kids have cell phones?” is a standard beginning. I go back to the paper I modeled writing in front of them on Monday. Did I just ask one question? Didn’t I use a few similes and metaphors? What about that great word picture I painted? They agree I’m a great writer. Then they go back to the tried and true.

2. Mentor texts rock my world. I can’t tell you how much re-teaching they have saved me over the past week. Thank you Kelly Gallagher and your wonderful book Write Like This! When a student wants to fall back on the contrived, uninspired methods of writing from elementary school (Where should I put the blues? I’ve got my o/p, my plan, and my “ing” so now what?) I can point out that none of mentor text authors used such training wheels.

3. When I asked kids how they were going to make their thesis statements better they responded with a chorus of “work hard”. I was looking for a chorus of “revise” but I went with it because I’m a professional.

“Yes!” I shouted. “Do you know what working hard in writing is called? It’s called revising!”

I’m thinking of making that a slogan for a t-shirt.

Would you buy one? I sure would.

What three things about literacy have you learned this week?

Quiet Sunday Reading


I think Jennifer Chiaverini’s true gift as a writer is bringing historical fiction to life. I much prefer her books that are set in the past (The Runaway Quilt was a winner for sure), and I seek them out when a new one is published. The Sypmistress one of the her latest. I’m spending my quiet Sunday reading it. It looks good and I can’t wait to dive in.

What’s your quiet Sunday reading?


Highlights from CCIRA 2014


This year’s conference was outstanding. Friday was full of thrills and revelations. Here are the highlights:

– I sat in on a session led by Sharon Draper. I loved her book, Out of My Mind, but who hasn’t? She was a great, dynamic advocate for literacy. I appreciated how she writes for a wide age range. After her presentation I picked up copies of Tears of a Tiger and one of the Sassy books. The last one will be for my niece’s birthday.

Sharon Draper @ CCIRA

Sharon Draper @ CCIRA

– Lunch was with the Fonz. Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver were the guest speakers and they were fantastic! They had great rapport with each other and with the audience. I enjoyed hearing about their writing process and how collaborative it is. It was so rewarding listening to these great, funny individuals.


– In the afternoon I spent two hours with Donalyn Miller, reading advocate and teacher. Most of her presentation involved points from her newest book. I spoke with her afterward and asked about how to approach parents who think “reading all the time” is a waste of class time. She pointed me in the direction of the the book Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle for research to support my discussions with those one or two parents. I can’t wait to read it.

Donalyn Miller listening patiently to my fan-girling.

Donalyn Miller listening patiently to my fan-girling.

Donalyn Miller

Donalyn Miller

What a great conference! Can’t wait until 2015!

Surviving NaNoWriMo: CCIRA 2014 Presentation

One of the great things about CCIRA is being able to learn from other professionals. I decided to share my experiences using National Novel Writing Month with students at this years conference. Below you’ll find the slide show presentation I used minus pictures of people. Feel free to comment or email me if you have questions. I’ll also be doing a separate post regarding the writing games I use. Watch for that!

Ccira 2014 surviving na nowrimo from Beth Claycomb