Category Archives: book recommendation

A Mentor Text for Persuasive Writing

As I plan for the coaching work I will be doing with intermediate teachers next month, I think about my favorite mentor texts that help me introduce specific genres.  Whether I am teaching students or teachers, immersing writers with captivating mentor texts (or touchstone texts) is crucial in helping them understand and appreciate a new writing genre.

One of my favorite mentor texts for persuasive writing is Should There Be Zoos?, which is a brilliant collection of student essays written by fourth graders who were guided by Tony Stead.  Too often, we limit persuasive writing to shallow topics such as “why I should get a certain toy for Christmas” because we as educators are uncomfortable with controversial topics.  And while certain topics are limited to more mature audiences, we know that children have plenty to say about social justice and environmental issues.

Persuasive writing provides us new opportunties to open the world to students, and invite them to take a stand on issues that matter to them and others.



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JUST RELEASED: The Workshop Help Desk Series

Just released this week: Lucy Calkins’ Workshop Help Desk Series! The titles in this series can be purchased separately ($8 each):


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Special Guest Blogger: Katherine Casey

I am thrilled to have my esteemed colleague, Katherine Casey, as my first guest blogger! Katherine is a nationally-acclaimed literacy coach and author of Literacy Coaching: The Essentials, and will lead the Promise of Coaching Institute in Seattle (January 8-9, 2009) and Portland (January 29-30, 2009).

For her first guest blog, I have asked Katherine to share a little bit about what she’s been reading:

What professional texts are you currently reading?  Your thoughts on them?

My stack of professional texts keeps growing as I try to keep up with the fantastic new titles being published.  Right now I’m reading texts to shore up some of my areas of weakness – early childhood and high school.

Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover’s Already Ready: Nurturing Writings in Preschool and Kindergarten brought tears to my eyes within a few pages.  What I found moving is the deep respect Ray and Glover have for very young children as readers, writers, and learners.  This book is a must read for all educators who come in contact with young children.

I’m a big fan of Emily Kissner’s Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling:  Skills for Better Reading, Writing, and Test Taking and just received her newly published The Forest AND the Trees:  Helping Readers Identify Important Details in Texts and Tests I’m only a third of the way through the text and it looks like a post-it pad and highlighter exploded on the pages.  There are many practical, elegant lessons to try.

Do you ever find yourself mourning the education you wish you could have had?  I attended an “excellent” public high school in a town with “outstanding” test scores, lots of AP classes, and college bound students.  I was expected to read and write a great deal, yet was not actually taught how to read critically and write effectively.  Harvey Daniels, Steven Zemelman, and Nancy Steineke’s Content-Area Writing: Every Teachers Guide made it painfully obvious how lacking my high school education was.  Their lesson ideas are fantastic!  I taught a few while coaching at a high school this summer and not only did my students learn to write more strategically, I learned as well and actually looked forward to working with the high school students each day so that we could learn together.

A number of the school districts with which I work are using Fountas and Pinnell’s The Continuum of Literacy Learning, Grades K-8: Behaviors and Understandings to Notice, Teach, and Support.  What a rich, valuable resource!

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