Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Casserole of Writing Ideas by Jen Greene

Asking me to pick my favorite book about writing is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child (and we all know you have one).

Instead of picking just ONE book, I decided to throw a few books together to make a writing casserole- take a few ingredients from one book, add in a dash of lesson ideas from another, and BAM! You’ve got a delicious recipe for writing.

59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner.  This is a number one go-to if you are struggling to be a teacher who writes.  Messner carefully outlines reasons (59 of them) why you should be a writer.  It’s great motivation, especially if you WANT to write, but aren’t sure how to get started. (I’d also highly recommend Messner’s Real Revision)

Renew by Shawna Coppola.  I just read this gem of a book after meeting the fantastic author at a conference.  Coppola challenges us to think about our teaching practices-  when did we revise our teaching practices regarding writing?  Are we becoming complacent with our teaching? This book makes you think about how best to meet the needs of your students, and the importance of continual reflection and revision of our own teaching!

The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by M. Colleen Cruz. Ever wonder how in the world you’re going to get everything that workshop entails done in such a short period of time?  Cruz acknowledges some of the problems that arise with teaching writing- from the concept of the workshop to the range of writers in your room- and provides practical solutions to make you feel...well, unstoppable!

Mentor Texts (Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry) by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli. These are the perfect books to start your collection, particularly if you are new to the workshop.  Not only do the authors give a goldmine of mentor text possibilities, but they also guide you through “Your Turn” lesson plans to help you feel more confident teaching a skill.

Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher (or any book Fletcher has written).  As the title implies, this books teaches you how to put the joy (back) into writing.  Providing choice and ownership overwriting encourages students to become more present and engaged in writing.  It’s extremely readable and Fletcher’s advice is easy to implement immediately in your writing classroom.

There are so many more titles to choose from, but I don’t want our casserole to get too crowded with ingredients.  This is a great start for teachers at any place in their journey as teacher-writers.

Jen Greene is an elementary school teacher in the West Chester Area School District in West Chester, PA.  She is a fellow with the PA Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) and a doctoral student at Widener University.  Her tentative journey into blogging can be found by visiting You can find her on Twitter @GreeneMachine82.  

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