Happy Birthday John Muir!

The environmentalist John Muir was born on April 21, 1838.  If you are looking for a way to celebrate this great man’s birthday in your classroom, may I humbly suggest using my picture book, John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall.  The book tells the story of John Muir’s midnight climb up a rocky ledge beside Yosemite […]

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Writers Read

  “I believe reading is the key to writing.  The more you read, the better your writing can be.”    –Avi. Writers read, that’s all there is to it.  You can’t sugar coat it, downplay it, or make it sound any different than it is. Writers read. In fact, the truth is that writers read […]

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So What?

When I start a new story or essay, I don’t necessarily know what the theme or focus of my story is.  I’m just responding to an idea and trying to develop it into a finished piece of writing. However, once I’m done with a first draft, the next thing I do is ask myself, “So […]

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Energy Begets Energy

Energy begets energy.  –Dolly Parton   All I can say is, Dolly sure knew what she was talking about! I don’t know about you, but there are days, when I spend much more time avoiding writing than actually writing.  I want to write, maybe even need to write, but somehow can’t seem to get myself […]

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Students Sharing Stories

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.” –Patti Digh. Before first period, Sandra told me about her funny cheerleading accident.  After second period, T.J. described a movie he saw over the weekend.  Trevor did too.  Kyle always has a story to tell me.  Sometimes it’s about his new kitten, sometimes about his little […]

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Using First Day Jitters to Teach Inferencing

  As an author, I find that mentor texts are one of the most powerful, and versatile, tools in my toolbox.  As a teacher, I used mentor texts to teach both reading strategies and writing skills.  So here is one way I helped students understand inferencing by using my book, First Day Jitters. Strategy: Students […]

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The Road to Inspiration

Sometimes writing is a lonely business.   Every day you and only you are faced with the decision to put your butt in the chair and get to work.  Therefore, one of your biggest assets as a writer is the ability to stay motivated, no matter how bad your writing project is going, no matter […]

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Getting Unstuck…One Solution

Getting stuck.  Here is what it looks like for me.  I have a great idea.  I get started.  My pen flies over the page.  My fingers fly over the keys.  Words pour out of me like rain.  I’m in the flow. And then, inevitably, eventually, somewhere along the line, I get stuck. The problem might […]

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I Love Revision!

I love to revise! No. Really. I do. For me, the knowledge that I can start with an okay story and gradually make it better,

and better,

and then better still…

….well, it’s a very freeing notion.

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