Posted in Uncategorized

Interactive Writing

Originally developed in 1989 by Charlotte Huck

These days, one of the most important texts is Interactive Writing: How Language and LIteracy Come Together, K-2
Written by Andrea McCarrier, Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas Heinemann, 1999

Young children are eager to write, but…

…sometimes their interpretations and expression of letters and words need guidance–we have to help them find ways to move beyond approximation.

  • Notice the details of written language
  • Understand that language conventions not only help them as writers but also help their readers to understand
  • Participate, with support, in the act of writing

How does it work?

  • Teacher is guide and (usually) scribe
  • Students are “apprentices”

The teacher and children negotiate the meaning and structure of the text as they compose a message together.

How do I use it?

Within a rich literary curriculum, children will have a variety of experiences with literacy.  Interactive writing is a key piece of these experiences because it…

  • Can be used for many different purposes
  • Can be used at any time of day and in any content area
  • Provides a context within which the teacher can offer explicit instruction in conceptualizing text, using language conventions, and learning how words work

What are the key features of interactive writing?

  1. Group children based on learning goals
  2. Write for authentic, real-life purposes
  3. Share the task of writing
  4. Use conversation to support the process
  5. Create a common text
  6. Use the conventions of written language
  7. Make letter-sound connections
  8. Connect reading and writing
  9. Teach explicitly

Interactive writing requires a base of active learning experiences

some knowledge is personal ( children bring experience from their lives); some knowledge is gained through shared experience in the classroom (a field trip, a parent visitor, a fire drill, a thank-you note, etc.); some knowledge is gained through shared exploration of children’s literature

Important: Active learning experiences are not “one-shot” deals, just so children will have something to write about. This kind of experience must be ongoing.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Mindy/3rd Draft

I love Mindy.  When I first saw her at the Atlanta Humane Society seven years and some months ago, I did not.  At first glance, she unnerved me out with her unwavering stare into my soul that she gave me from her pen that she shared with a rambunctious German Shepherd.  I passed by her to look at the other puppies, but I kept looking back at her to see if she was still looking.  And of course she was. Again, I looked away and looked back…only to see the lunatic German Shepherd about to mount her.  I immediately ran back to her pen to intervene.  I picked her up in my arms, and I never put her back.

Mindy was not mine.  Not completely, anyway.  He wanted a bigger dog to run with, but he was just a big talker.  He asked me to take her when he realized she was too much to care for.  He eventually gave up on us for the same reason, but that’s for another time.  She certainly knew how to take up space in your life.  Waking up early in the morning to tend to her needs was particularly a struggle for my undergraduate, stay-up-until-4AM self. No couch cushion or trashcan was left un-gutted and no heel was left un-chewed.  She did not feel safe around strangers–humans and dogs alike.  It was quite embarrassing to take her out in public with her barking and baring her teeth.  There were many days where I would sit in front of her crate crying and truly weighing the option of quitting being a dog owner because I was terrible at it.  If she were with another owner, I thought, she would not be such a bad dog.  Then, she would stare at me with those eyes that looked into my soul to tell me that I am all she needs.

Mindy kept me grounded.  She got me out of bed every day, even on the worst of days.  And on the days where I felt I was uncertain of even the ground being solid beneath my foot as I took my next step, she was a constant in my life that I could dependent on.  Her quiet company as she followed me about my home felt reassuring and safe.  She certainly made sure that my priorities were in check, meaning there were probably days when she probably ate better quality food than I did and that was okay.  Ultimately, her presence forced me to also be present and aware of my surroundings in reference to her—a purpose beyond my own well-being.

Mindy learned.  Slowly, but surely, she learned that shoes are not a choice for snack-time. She learned to wait until I woke up in the mornings to get the longer walks.  She learned that the outside world was relatively safe and that not all strangers are a threat.  Food is never left on the counters and the kitchen trashcan is now behind closed cabinet doors, but she also learned that my purses are a good place to start look for forgotten human snacks.

I learned.  I learned that it’s okay that I will never get all of the dog hair off of my clothes.  I learned to look for cues in Mindy’s face and body language to know what she needs.  I learned that she thrives most when I make her feel safe.  I know now more than ever that love is hard work, but through her, I learned that I don’t give up easily on others.

Mindy loves me?  There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I have my suspicions that she does.

Posted in Understanding Writing

What is a parable?

  • a personal story
  • contains a mythological meaning–the myths of ourselves

Characteristics of a parable

  • a story that reveals more than it states
  • a story that makes a particular point or points without expressing them as a specific moral–unlike a fable
  • a story that expresses a point of view, a perspective that is presented by one of the characters in the story

Parables work by analogy

  • a special compare/contrast
  • a beginning for the teaching of expository writing

Parabellein (Greek verb)

  1. to set beside or parallel with (the story of the prodigal son)
  2. to compare one with another (should I keep the money, or should I return the wallet?)
  3. to direct one’s course toward (the Gift of the Magi)

Parables go beyond “personal experience” assignments

  • parables are told with the intention of making a point
  • they thus avoid the dangers of “what I did on my spring break”
Posted in Writing Workshop


“While traveling the path (inward), change begins to take place inside our being and also in our bodies. We begin to see and experience life from a greater vantage point, from a greater depth of meaning, from an inner place of belonging. There is an inner surrendering to the beauty of the Tao or ‘the plan’, divine wisdom, or cosmos. This inner surrender has its counterpart in the relaxing, surrendering, and healing of the body. We have a body we cherish and care for, and yet we are more than our body” (Rosenberg, Body Self and Soul).

Yoga: The Roots of Body Psychotheraphy

Posted in Writing Workshop


The expectation:
To go over and beyond.
Help them reach the stars.

Ask the right questions.
Guide the next generation.
Read between the lines.

The ultimate hope:
That they will be empowered,
That they be our hope.

The reality:
Always running out of time.
Falling through the cracks,
Burn out together.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Morning Routine.

It is 6:30 AM.  My alarm is ringing.  This would be my third alarm that went off on my phone, but it is my first one that I turn off consciously.

What would happen if I didn’t get out of bed this morning?
Why in the world am I alway so tired?
Is this how it is going to be for the rest of my life?

I get out of bed and go to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Did I really read about a lady in Moscow that walked into the metro station with a severed head of a child that she was babysitting?
How are the parents dealing with their grief?
Didn’t the babysitter also burn the apartment down before fleeing the scene?
What am I wearing today?
Is it going to be too cold for the outfit I laid out?

I check the weather and change my clothes.

Did Daniel wake up in time for work?
What are the dogs doing now?
Is Mindy taking advantage of an empty house and lounging on the couch?
What should I eat for breakfast?

I go downstairs and I eat my breakfast of yogurt with strawberries and oatmeal.

Why is my sister texting me about wedding dress shopping so early in the morning?
When is Easter weekend?
Will mom be able to make it up to Atlanta that weekend?
What is she doing now?
Do I have time for some coffee?

I drink half a cup of coffee.

Will Cheryl be on time for my observation today?  
Do I have all the materials that I need?  
Will my students show interest in what I have prepared for them?
What will I do if they tell me that they are bored like they did last week?
What time is it?

I grab my keys, tote, and cellphone, and I walk out the door.