The Best Resource for Common Core Writing is Finally Here!

I am beyond excited to share a remarkable and extremely valuable resource that’s available free online. It’s called Understanding Proficiency, and it’s fantastic! Of course, I’m biased because I was one of the lucky educators who helped develop the content for the site. But I think you’ll quickly see how valuable the materials are for teachers, administrators, coaches, you name it! It’s the resource I’ve wished for since the Common.. Read More

3 Ideas for Teaching Description

Has this concept made its way to your school or district? I recently heard a teacher refer to “descriptive” as a genre that stands on its own, much like narrative or poetry. I was really surprised! Description is used to convey images, feelings, and experiences that help us better understand the content or author’s message. Descriptive writing contains details that the writer uses to elaborate on their ideas. These details.. Read More

Do You Have What it Takes to Create a Performance Task? Yes You Do!

Performance Tasks play an important role in next-generation assessments of Common Core State Standards.  This leaves teachers wondering: What defines a quality Performance Task?  How do Performance Tasks used in on-demand assessments compare with those used in the classroom?  What is a Performance Task anyway? The answers to these and many more questions can be found in the professional learning experience I’ve created here at  It’s easy to follow,.. Read More

Looking at Student Work – NWP Webinar Resources

I hope you were able to view the webinar I participated in for the National Writing Project last month.  Here’s the link in case you’d like to take a look.  During the webinar we spoke about long-term work we’ve been engaged in at school sites on the east and west coast, specifically looking at student work as a way to guide and reinforce professional development for educators. I’m including some.. Read More

Close Reading Q & A

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend 3 days leading a group of 40 primary teachers in an exploration of close reading and the Common Core State Standards.  It was a busy 3 days!  We spent time viewing the best examples out there (of which there are unfortunately few), learning what prominent researchers have to say, shifting our thinking about comprehension and writing instruction, and collaborating to design lessons.. Read More

I’ve Been Published!

All right, I know I didn’t pen a novel or anything, but I’m still really excited to see my name in print!  My lesson idea was published in the April issue of Educational Leadership magazine.  I really respect this publication and look forward to its arrival in my mailbox every month.  Mine is just a little blurb in the back of the magazine, but it’s the Common Core writing issue.. Read More

Common Core 2nd Grade ELA Unit – Incredible!

I am so fortunate to work with some incredible educators, many of whom I consider Common Core experts. They have worked with the new standards for several years, deconstructing each one, analyzing student work, collaborating to design new units, and learning new instructional strategies to meet their students’ needs. Pretty remarkable. One such educator I work with is a talented second grade teacher in a high-needs school. We worked together.. Read More

Learn About Close Reading

I’m excited to share that this July I’ll be hosting a 3-day institute all about close reading! We’ll be exploring the strategy and learning how K-2 students can be taught to read closely. But that’s not all! We’ll learn how to relate our close reading lessons to writing across the three text-types in the Common Core. Read all about it: Follow this link to the homepage of the Area 3.. Read More

UC Davis Academic Literacy Summit 2014

Greetings to everyone involved in the ALS this year! I’m posting my workshop packet here so that participants, and other interested parties, can access it as needed. I love that most workshops and conferences now are going green, and I love to have digital handouts that I can access whenever I wish. It’s great! I’m presenting my workshop entitled “Close Reading and the Common Core: What Does it Look Like.. Read More

Close Reading Lessons for K-2 Readers

I’ve been busy working on some close reading lessons using informational mentor texts and they’re finally available on “Reading and Writing Up Close: Set 3” features narrative, informational, explanatory, and opinion writing ideas matched with three great primary texts: From Tadpole to Frog, Germs Make Me Sick, and Surprising Sharks (one of my all time faves). Not to mention in-depth text dependent questions and comprehensible anchor charts and printables… Read More

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