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Hearts & flowers

It's right around the corner — that lovely touch of color in an otherwise drab winter month: Valentine's Day.

And it's a good excuse for a class party or an extra special reason for a celebration at home.

Making valentines for classmates and family is a fine activity; it can be easy but creative and memorable. (I still have some of the homemade cards that my son gave me over the years and memories of making them with doilies and red construction paper.)

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

A golden birthday

Some picture book writers are like rappers; even though they're gone, their work continues to be reworked and reintroduced.

Mentor texts

A mentor text is a published piece of writing whose idea, whose structure, or whose written craft can be used to inspire a student to write something original. The Writing Fix, sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project, is the definitive source for lesson plans and book suggestions that can help teachers choose a mentor text to support their writing lesson plans. Mentor text recommendations include picture books and chapter books.

Authentic writing

authentic writing

My 7 year old recently announced that she's "pretty much over writing stories," at least at home. Thankfully though, she has a renewed interest in writing when there is a real purpose behind the task.

Teaching persuasive writing

Kids really know how to lobby for something they want. Teachers and parents can harness this talent and turn young kids into writers who can write to persuade.

The first step is to find something that is important to a child or a group. Is it recess? A dessert after dinner? A sleep over?

Read all about it! We're writing a newspaper

My kids are home from school, again! We've had strange winter weather here in Virginia, with a huge snow fall in December (27 inches!), flash flooding that closed the schools in early January, and then another 9 inches of snow late last week. The kids have been home. A lot! And they're getting bored.

Yesterday they came up with the idea to write their own newspaper. Always willing to take on a literacy related project with neighborhood kids, we brainstormed various "news stories" to include.

One child's Newbery goal

As I've already written, I was a member of the 2010 Newbery Selection Committee. This award has been given annually since 1922 to the "most distinguished American children's book published the previous year."

Anyway, because I was one of the 15 Newbery Committee members, this Spring I will have the honor of meeting a very special reader.

Literacy Lava 3 is here!

The latest edition of Literacy Lava, a newsletter for parents and caregivers, is available in PDF form here.

Children, start your letter writing

It is the time of year when many children sit down to write an important letter addressed to the North Pole. Other children pen thank you notes and party invitations during this busy time of the year. Some say letter writing is a lost art, but it doesn't have to be!

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps