Category Archives: Blog


June 2017 Lesson of the Month Connection:


June Lesson of the Month Connection: Read a Scholastic article titled: “5 Ways to Keep Your Student Writing All Summer Long“. Make journaling a fun summer activity!

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June 2017 Lesson of the Month:


June Lesson of the Month: This “just for fun” assignment encourages students to practice the skills they’ve acquired in the narrative and expository genres to create a writing piece worthy of sharing with their peers. It’s entitled “Where Am I?” and it not only requires specific writing skills, but is dependent on knowledge and/or research […]

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June 2017 K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson is a take-off on the Main Lesson – Where Am I? Suspense Overview: Students will write a suspenseful segment about one aspect of a favorite summer activity. Here’s what you’ll do: 1.)   First, read through alternate lesson for grades 2 and up. Then choose a collection of […]

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May 2017 Lesson of the Month:


May Lesson of the Month: Isn’t May like a breath of fresh air?  For some of you May marks the end of another school year, for others it’s the month that wraps up high stakes testing.  For all of us it signals the glory of spring and teases us with the promise of summer.  This […]

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April 2017 Lesson of the Month:


April Lesson of the Month: This month’s lesson is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg entitled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. This 1984 picture book is filled with a collection of Van Allsburg’s images inspired by the mysterious author Harris Burdick. For more information and a collection of pictures from the book, search the […]

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April 2017 K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson is based on different forms of media; technology, magazines, commercials, advertisements, newspapers, etc. The lesson will showcase media and author’s purpose at the same time, pairing the purpose with a popular emoji. Overview: Students will learn about different media outlets and recognize the author’s purpose […]

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April 2017 Lesson of the Month Connection:


April Lesson of the Month Connection: This month’s lesson of the month dealt with revision.  Here’s an interesting article on one teacher’s revision strategies that you might find interesting.  Notice the use of modeling – the most important tool teachers have for preparing students to become confident, capable writers. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/4-strategies-teaching-kids-how-revise-rebecca-alber

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March 2017 Lesson of the Month Connection:


March Lesson of the Month Connection: Our lessons this month can easily be connected to geography.  In a recent National Geographic-Roper Global Geographic Literacy Survey polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States. Sweden scored highest; Mexico, lowest. The United States was […]

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March 2017 K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson provides an opportunity for youngsters to describe a story-critical character – a leprechaun! Overview: Students will look at pictures of leprechauns and respond to detail generating questions to come up with specific details that describe this story critical character. Here’s what you’ll do: 1.)   Gather […]

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March 2017 Lesson of the Month:


March Lesson of the Month: This month’s lesson links a St. Patrick’s Day research project with persuasion. The students will learn facts surrounding the Irish holiday. They will combine their acquired facts with a bit of untruth. Thereafter, try to convince their audience to believe a light-hearted ruse over true facts. Overview: Students will research […]

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February 2017 Lesson of the Month:


February Lesson of the Month: Your students are writing an information piece about a topic of interest – perhaps a science or social studies theme, or an essay on a favorite season, holiday, animal, or activity. The common student pitfall in this kind of piece is that they simply present a list of facts. When […]

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February 2017 K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson practices expository/informative writing using the theme of seasons/wind, focusing on why the wind is important in each of the seasons. Overview: Each student will write informative sentences about why wind is important in winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Here’s what you’ll do: Read a collection […]

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January Lesson of the Month Connection:


January Lesson of the Month Connection: Keep in mind that the best instruction happens when every subject is in some way integrated.  Using a “Make it Your Own” approach, teachers can always drop their own thematic or topical material into a writing lesson, “customizing” it so that the writing draws upon relevant cross-curricular study.  Here’s […]

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January Lesson of the Month


January Lesson of the Month Happy New Year from the Empowering Writers Team. Our entire crew has rolled up its sleeves to continue to make 2017 your best writing year yet! If you haven’t checked out what’s new from Empowering Writers, be sure to visit our website and take a look at what we’re doing […]

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January K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson uses a literature connection as a jumping off point for creating elaborative sentences/paragraph about a snowman.  See pgs 138-141 in the K-1 Guide. Overview: Each student will write sentences and/or a paragraph about a snowman.   Here’s what you’ll do: 1.)   Gather a collection of […]

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December Lesson of the Month Connection:


December Lesson of the Month Connection: Many schools are being asked to supplement classroom instruction with station activities. The lesson this month can be used as a classroom activity and then placed in a station (learning center) to further reinforce the skill. There are a number of activities in each of the Empowering Writers Guides that […]

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December K-1 Lesson of the Month


K-1 Lesson of the Month: This month, the K-1 lesson practices who (character), where (setting), and what (object). For more information about these story critical elements, see pgs 138-141 in the K-1 Guide. Overview: Each student will design a “WHO, WHERE, WHAT” FLIP BOOK using some of their favorite characters, settings, and objects.   Here’s […]

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December Lesson of the Month


December Lesson of the Month Perhaps a fun activity for December would be to have students complete the phrase, “Tis the Season to be ___________________, and to provide reasons and evidence!  Then, take a look at the delightful, but still skill-based December Main Idea and Details Gameboard, and have fun sharing it with your students. […]

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NJEA Presentation 2016


Title:  How Writing Informs Close Reading Featured Speaker:  Dea Paolette Auray Date: Thursday, November 10th Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Click the link below to download the handout:

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November Lesson of the Month Connection: “The Writing Revolution”


November Lesson of the Month Connection: Read the amazing article in the Atlantic entitled, “The Writing Revolution” to see the impact of writing all day everyday. The following web address will take you to this poignant read about the success of New Dorp High School, a school in which many teachers had lost their desire […]

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November Lesson of the Month


How is it going fellow writing teachers? School is off and running! Are you finding it helpful to incorporate writing in your everyday plans? If you have not begun the daily writing lessons throughout your curriculum, let me encourage you to do so. You will see more improvement of skills in all subject areas than […]

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November K-1 Lesson of the Month


How is it going fellow writing teachers? School is off and running! Are you finding it helpful to incorporate writing in your everyday plans? If you have not begun the daily writing lessons throughout your curriculum, let me encourage you to do so. You will see more improvement of skills in all subject areas than […]

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October Lesson of the Month


Hello October!  Are you enjoying the fall as much as we at EW are? We love cooler weather, football, and the start of a great school year!  This year, we’re focusing on writing ALL day EVERY day. So if you’re not in a self-contained classroom, rein in your fellow reading science, and social studies teachers […]

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What’s Happening in Education – September 2016


See how Anna Ware Jackson Elementary School is using Empowering Writers as featured in this article from DA Magazine. Schools nationwide are under pressure from new state standards to increase students’ writing proficiency. Here’s a look at some of the strategies and tools innovative districts have deployed published by District Administration MagazineAugust 2016. Read the “Schools […]

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September Lesson of the Month


September Lesson of the Month In building a foundation for writing, students need to understand the key concepts of each of the genres, from the planning frameworks to the techniques used by authors. This understanding leads to planned, organized generative writing as well as discernment for response to text. This month’s lesson can be used […]

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How to Approach an Assessment or Assignment with Confidence!


The first time my students took a writing assessment in my classroom I cringed.  It looked like all of the instruction that had taken place had flown right out the window!  Every one of them read the directions and either turned the page and began writing or sat staring into space.  UGH!  Hadn’t we just […]

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Five Tips to Improve Writing to Literary Analysis Tasks


In order for students to respond effectively to 21st century literary analysis tasks and response to text challenges, we must use every reading experience as an opportunity for close reading, and assist them in deconstructing texts to glean deeper meaning. Here are five tips that will help make every reading experience a pre-writing experience, and vice versa.   […]

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November Lesson of the Month – Cut and Paste – Inside Out


Time marches on! Here we are already in November and the writing process should be in full swing! This month, the lessons will stress the reading/writing connection. Students will be creating a Cut and Paste activity, only they will be combining several skills to piece together the activity. It is important to emphasize elaboration using […]

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November Lesson of the Month – K-1 Lesson


1) Read a book about popcorn to the students, such as The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola, (Holiday House), Popcorn by Frank Asch, (Aladdin), The Popcorn Shop by Alice Low, (Scholastic), The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer, (HarperCollins), and Popcorn by Elaine Landau, (Charlesbridge) 2) After reading the book, pop several bags of popcorn. If […]

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Spooky Suspense


Boo! It’s that time of the year again. As Halloween looms on the horizon, now’s a perfect time to challenge your upper elementary and middle school students to write a spooky story filled with spine- tingling suspense. Here are a few tricks to help them create their very own narrative treats   1. Create a dramatic setting […]

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October Lesson of the Month – Spooky Snapshot


Lesson of the Month – Spooky Snapshot It’s a fact that elaborative detail brings writing to life. Often times, student’s writing samples lack elaboration. They add a string of adjectives, size or color words, or a repetitive series of words to strengthen their sentiments, none of which enhance the story.  In this lesson, students will […]

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Getting Started with your Essential Guide – Month 1


You’ve received your new Essential Guide to writing and wonder, “How do I get started?”  Here’s a short powerpoint loaded with hints and tips to help you through month one.

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5 Questions to Assess Your Writing Instruction


Now that we know what the new standards are and have seen the assessment, we have a better understanding of what’s required from our students in the area of writing.   The question now becomes, does our writing instruction provide everything our students need to be successful?   Here are 5 questions to ask yourself: 21st […]

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Writing Compound and Complex Sentences


Quick. What’s wrong with the paragraph below: It was nearly midnight. He was lying on his stomach in bed. The blankets were drawn right over his head like a tent. He had a flashlight in one hand. A large leather-bound book (A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot) was propped open against the pillow. Harry […]

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Annotating Expository Writing


Annotating Expository Writing Close reading.  Deep comprehension.  Strategic reading.  Skimming. Scanning.  We all know it’s important – that kids will be tested on it in ever more rigorous ways.  But it’s not all about testing.  It’s about raising awareness about genre, organization, and purpose.  Just like a kid who learned everything there is to know […]

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Teaching Writing through Team Teaching


When I was teaching second grade two of my grade partners and I wanted to integrate our curriculum through learning stations.  We planned for three thirty-minute stations twice a week, with creative hands-on activities in reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and art, all thematically connected.  Groups of 4 – 6 students would circulate between […]

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Lesson of the Month – August 2015


Lesson of the Month – Interactive Genre Study One of the first strategic skills taught to all writers in every grade level is genre. Students must have a clear understanding of the different types of writing to support their own text as well as to inform their reading comprehension. In this lesson, students will categorize […]

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Exemplars for Expository/Informational Writing


If you’re like me, you schedule all your doctor’s appointments, your teeth cleaning, car servicing, and every other annoyingly time-consuming task for the summer or during school breaks.  Or, if you’re lucky you might be using that time to hop a plane to some wonderful vacation destination. What do your doctor’s, dentist’s, shrink’s, veterinarian’s offices, […]

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If You Can’t Say it, You can’t Write It!


I love all things Italian – the food, the country itself, the people, the music, the melodic sound of the language.  The only Italian thing I’m not too crazy about is my ex-husband, but that has not colored the water on the rest!  In fact, after several trips to Italy I decided to learn the […]

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So You Want to Write a Children’s Book


by Barbara Mariconda You’ve been a teacher for a long time, spent countless hours reading a variety of beloved children’s books to your students.  Or, perhaps you’re a parent or grandparent who has enjoyed cuddling up with your loved ones, settling into a favorite story that has been read over, and over, and over again.  […]

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Critical Questions for Directed Reading


Click here to download the lesson I have a confession to make – I hate football. I know it’s un-American, in fact it’s almost sacrilege. But every time I try to sit and watch with a good friend of mine who’s a huge college football fan I get bored, antsy, impatient. I sigh and look […]

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Making Annotation and Analysis Fun – Text Detective Kits!


It would be great if there was a sexier name for annotation and analysis.The term conjures up images of students slumped at their desks, the teacher pressing them to a task that sounds as though it belongs in the same category as sentence diagraming. In other words – deadly boring. I’m happy to say that […]

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Taking Advantage of the Reading/Writing Connection


Analyzing and Annotating Lesson:                                           Strategic Reading Lesson: At a recent writing workshop, one participant raised her hand. “You know,” she said, “I love all of these techniques. I’m sure my students could really excel […]

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Teaching Grammar and Mechanics in those Extra Ten Minute Slots


You’ve just wrapped up a reading lesson, and in about ten minutes it’ll be time to head off to art. Or music. Or wherever. Or, it might be the interminable stretch of time between when the school buses line up, bus numbers are called, and the kids file out to board. Not enough time to […]

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Reading and Writing Workshops


Picture this – a group of close women friends, sitting around a sunny library, a fire in the fireplace, a bottle of red, a bottle of white, a Macallan scotch on the rocks for the one scotch-drinker in the bunch, the savory aroma of a gourmet meal cooking, mingling with the fragrance of a pot […]

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April Lesson of Month – Terrific Writing Ideas for Spring


Reading and Writing – They go together like peanut butter and jelly! This month’s April newsletter was inspired by the April calendar. I always try to gain motivation from the monthly calendar, but it doesn’t always work out this ideal. I wanted something less traditional that would lend itself to writing and encourage reading at […]

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Writing Instruction for Special Needs Students


Click to download theory and research that supports a balanced and proven approach to the teaching and learning of writing for students receiving special education services.   Pencils incessantly tapping on desks, feet swishing back and forth, bodies in constant motion… fidget, wiggle, and squirm… Writing time for a special education student can be less than […]

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What is Expository Writing?


Expository writing comes in a variety of forms, but, in general it is factual writing for the purpose of informing others.  The straight information report, a how-to piece, compare/contrast writing, even biography is considered expository writing. Because the purpose of expository writing is to inform an audience of others, organization is key so that the […]

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What is Narrative Writing?


Teaching Narrative Writing What exactly is narrative writing? What specific skills are involved in teaching narrative writing? What can we expect in narrative writing from student authors? How can parents help in the process?   What exactly is narrative writing? Narrative writing…you’ve heard the term, you’re expected to teach your students how to write a […]

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Before and After – Grade 2 Narrative


#1 Before and After Here is a second grade student writing sample prior to instruction. This was a required timed assessment, administered at the beginning of second grade.  Click story to enlarge     This is the same second grade student’s writing sample AFTER three months of writing instruction. The teacher used the Empowering Writers […]

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Sample Lessons to Empower Student Expository Writing


Here are just a few of sample lessons used to empower this student’s writing, all taken from The Comprehensive Expository Writing Guide:   Click for ‘Writing Effective Introductions’ Sample Lesson Click for ‘How to Elaborate on Facts – What Does it Look Like? Why is it Important?’ Sample Lesson Click for ‘Crafting Effective Conclusion Paragraphs’ Sample Lesson   #2. […]

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Teaching Voice in Writing


Teaching Voice in Writing by Barbara Mariconda We’ve all heard teachers talk about “voice” – how a piece of writing somehow has it – or doesn’t. Often referred to as “author’s voice, it is a frequently misunderstood concept, an illusive quality that often seems difficult, if not impossible to teach.  In fact, some people feel that authors […]

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Author’s Group Model


Author’s Group Model  Click here to download the Author’s Group Model Where would I be without my Writer’s Group?  Alone in my office in my pajamas, probably, which is where I spend most of my work days.  This an occupational hazard of being a novelist.   The antidote to this professional solitude is the Writer’s […]

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