In Focus: Writing
Learn how to use mentor texts, brainstorming, "persuasive words" lists, fact-gathering research, and organizing templates to help your students become powerful persuasive writers. Persuasive writing encourages careful word choice, as well as the development of logical arguments and a cohesive summary.
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"Our daughter Anna is one of those kids that gets an idea stuck in her head, and she won't let it drop. This summer, she's had one thing on her mind: getting bunk beds for her room. So, we weren't that surprised when she announced that she had prepared a presentation for us on the topic, complete with a bar graph based on Amazon reviews."
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If there's someone who knows about teaching writing, it's Steve Graham a nationally recognized professor and researcher in the field of writing, with a focus on kids with learning disabilities. Graham and his colleagues at Vanderbilt recently launched Project Write, designed to improve the writing and self-regulation behaviors of students in grades 1-3. The website provides an overview of the stages of instruction; lesson plans that use two strategies to teach persuasive writing; and a resource page of online and print resources.
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Help your students learn to write informational text through the use of focused read-alouds that include discussions of book genre elements, features, and organizational structure. See examples of book compositions by second-grade authors that demonstrate how read-alouds can support young writers' genre knowledge development.
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Supporting Informational Writing in the Elementary Grades >
Writing is a process. Writing with kids can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be painstaking and frustrating, for the writer and for the adult. For most writers, it's somewhere in-between. In this interactive tool featuring writing samples from real kids you'll find advice about instruction, guidance on assessment, classroom strategies, video, and more.
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Books & Authors
The McKissacks write picture books about African American heroes like Satchel Paige and Sojourner Truth, but they also love sharing family stories and tales steeped in oral tradition. Richly written, colorful books like Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters & Other Wily Characters brim with memorable characters, perfect for reading aloud time and time again on front porches or anywhere else.
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From writer Jane Yolen's thoughts on introducing kids to big, delicious words like "lavaliere" to poet Mary Ann Hoberman's love of word play to Christopher Paul Curtis' four rules for young writers, listen in as acclaimed children's authors talk about how to craft beautiful writing.
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The wind howls and dry leaves skitter on a dark night. Creatures race from door to door asking for treats, threatening tricks. It's Halloween! Time for some spooky and not-so-spooky tales filled with jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, ghosts, and monsters.
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None of us look just the same and we each have our own special interests. That's true of how we learn, too. Everyone has their own style and things that they do particularly well and achievements are measured in many ways. On the pages of these books, meet memorable characters with special ways of learning and dealing with school.
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Ideas for Educators
Map making, diaries, persuasive writing, weather reports, cinquain poetry, riddles and jokes, fables, pourquoi stories, family stories, cliff-hangers, and more. Check out our grade-leveled writing prompts, inspired by some of your (and your students') favorite authors and illustrators.
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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) make a big deal about informational text. Unlike typical state standards, CCSS treats the reading of informational text as being as important as reading literary text. That is a wonderful shift and one that could bear real benefits for children. So what's the best mix of informational text versus literary text to optimize student learning? Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan shares his thoughts.
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The school library is the logical place to educate teachers, parents, and students about the quality materials available for children and young adults, and to develop a culture of nonfiction within your school. While many librarians already offer breakfast booktalks, provide curriculum-related booklists, and brief teachers on the latest reference materials, why not try a few new ideas for creating a community around nonfiction. For example, consider kicking off the year with a "Nonfiction Tasting" one day at lunch or before or after school. Think of this as the equivalent to a wine tasting or a chocolate sampling! Find more great ideas in this article from School Library Journal.
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This new guide from Edutopia illustrates how mobile gadgets cell phones, tablets, and smartphones can engage students, help them work smarter, and change their learning environment.
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Ideas for Parents
It's National Dinosaur Month! Go on a "dinosaur" reading adventure with our themed reading adventure pack, designed to encourage hands-on fun and learning centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. Make a dinosaur jigsaw puzzle, explore a Brachiosaurus footprint, or learn how dinosaurs get their names.
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More great dinosaur resources
Science and math explorations provide your growing reader with a chance to record all kinds of observations. Young children love to keep a special journal, and fill it with all sorts of drawings, scribbles, sketches, notes, and graphs. Try these ideas and books, in addition to adding the date to each entry, and watch as your child's observational and recording skills grow along with your child. [In English and Spanish, from our Literacy in the Sciences series]
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What do parents need to know about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? How will they affect teaching and assessing mathematics and English language arts? What are the benefits and what can parents do to prepare for the CCSS? Get the answers to these and other questions in this information brief.
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Young children benefit enormously from the types of learning experiences that engage them on a variety of levels, such as seeing, hearing, speaking, singing, and movement. Through technology, more children than ever can access exciting, UDL-based experiences to help them learn. Our tech blogger Dr. Julie Wood has discovered a number of great digital tools, including these: Signed Stories, themed books for children with hearing impairments; Book Builder, where children can create, share, publish, and read digital books; and TapToTalk, an app that helps children with limited speech capabilities communicate their ideas.
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Research & News
Learn the basics about LD and pass along your knowledge to a colleague or friend. Find basic briefs on specific types of learning disabilities, a glossary of terms, e-cards, book lists, inspirational stories, and lots more resources.
LD Awareness Month >
This interactive checklist from the National Center for Learning Disabilities is designed as a general guide to identifying potential problems with a child's academic and social development. It's not always easy to recognize learning disabilities. If you or someone you know displays the signs described in this LD Checklist, it's time to seek additional information or help.
Go to checklist >
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a child's handwriting. Children with dysgraphia usually have other problems such as difficulty with written expression. In this fact sheet from the International Dyslexia Association, learn more about causes, the importance of early assessment, dysgraphia and spelling, and effective instructional strategies that strengthen written language skills.
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Calling all teachers! PBS LearningMedia and The Henry Ford are looking for innovative teachers for the 2012 Teacher Innovator Awards. Enter today for your chance to win some outstanding prizes including a professional development prize package for a week-long, all-expense-paid "Innovation Immersion Experience" at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, and a PBS TeacherLine course!
Find out more >
When you catch an adjective, kill it.
No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them
then the rest will be valuable.
Director, Learning Media
Technical Web Manager
Web and Video Coordinator
Director, Reading Rockets
Joanne Meier, Ph.D.
Children's Literature Consultant