Category Archives: Writing

It’s Not You, It’s the Tool

Reimagining Writing Assessment Maja Wilson book cover

The following is adapted from Reimagining Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson

Good news: if you feel like you’re bashing your head into a brick wall as you try to make assessment work for you, generate data for the common district assessment, prep students for the SAT, and satisfy your institution’s accreditation mandates, take heart. It’s not you. Mainstream writing assessment tools are incapable of doing what we want them to do. That’s because the system that shaped these tools works at cross-purposes with our best intentions as knowledgeable teachers, invested writers, and compassionate human beings who teach for a more inclusive democracy. I desperately wish it were possible to simultaneously honor these intentions and appease the powers that be. The knowledge that you can’t serve two feuding masters, however, can be a relief.

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Everything You’ll Need to Know to Find Heinemann At NCTE 2017!

Find Heinemann at NCTE 17

From November 16 to 19, Heinemann will be at the National Council of Teachers of English’s 2017 conference in St. Louis! Here now is everything you need to know about our presence at #NCTE17: The First Chapter. Details on our online discount are below.

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Helping Students Bring Beliefs into Writing

Helping Students Bring Beliefs into Writing

The following is adapted from Poems are Teachers: How Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater


Many texts grow from idea-and-belief-soil. Writers write about what they believe is important, what they believe is wrong, what they long to preserve. Editorial writers, reviewers, and cartoonists lay their beliefs bare on newsprint, greeting sleepy morning readers with coffee and opinion: Where is the hottest new restaurant in town? For whom should I vote? What’s up with concussions in youth sports?

National Public Radio featured a show titled This I Believe for many years, and at the website thisibelieve.org, you will find hundreds of belief essays by people of all ages and walks of life, essays about everything from attending funerals to being kind to the pizza dude.

In her book Writing to Change the World (2007), Mary Pipher asserts, “Writers can inspire a kinder, fairer, more beautiful world, or incite selfishness, stereotyping, and violence. Writers can unite people or divide them”

When we write, we nudge change, and it is our responsibility to think about what kind of writing change agents we wish to be. Which beliefs do we hold dear enough to share?

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Heinemann Fellow Kate Flowers on Battling the Blahs

Battling the Blahs "Like a Boss"

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark


I know why so many teachers leave the profession in their first five years.

The Blahs.

For me, the Blahs come in October.

Unlike August, with her shiny new face, back-to-school clothes, and pristine notebooks, or September with his lenient Labor Day break and PTSA luncheons, October is a bit of a jerk.

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With Struggling Learners, Embrace The Power of Yet

Supporting Struggling Learners

The following is adapted from the introduction to Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher by Patricia Vitale-Reilly

Believing in and teaching the transformative power of yet is perhaps my favorite of all moves and its power with struggling learners especially important. Life, learning, progress, and success is always about yet. What you can’t do now is not what you can’t do, but what you can’t do yet.

[Click here to download a sample chapter from Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher ]

Wrapping your mind around yet is not always easy. “It’s about learning to fly. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Wherever you are is where you are. You will get there. Embrace where you are and believe that you will learn to fly.” These words are exactly the kinds of words we need to say to our students.

Begin by acknowledging that students are where they are. Embrace that, and believe that they will learn how to fly. Truly. Believing in the power of yet is not some touchy-feely ideology but is grounded in the belief that when we have a mindset that trusts that all students can grow, we can move our students to a place of great joy and success.

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Positive Approaches to Supporting All Learners in Writing Workshop K-5

Units_PC_Brewster_DSC09949Written by by Anna Gratz Cockerille

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project works in schools that are brimful with all kinds of learners – learners who are new to English, learners with Individualized Education Programs, learners who are new to writing workshop, learners categorized as gifted and talented, and many, many others. The TCRWP staff think deeply about ways to adjust the writing workshop to meet the needs of all learners. Fortunately, the predicable, flexible nature of writing workshop makes it an ideal curriculum to support differentiation. All writers can participate in the writing workshop, regardless of how their writing compares to their peers. 

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