Free Resource for Conferring with Writers

Today I found a surprise in my inbox. The California Department of Education’s Smarter Balanced team selected my Confer and Learn: Writer’s Workshop Conferencing Tools as a featured resource in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library! Pretty neat, eh? You can learn all about this resource here and try it free! Let me know how it works in your classroom by commenting below. 🙂

Yet Another Blurb with EL Magazine – online

This is one of my favorite tidbits that has been published yet because it highlights the rich, purposeful work that happens every day at my favorite school – Oak Ridge Elementary in Sacramento, California. Cheers! Tell Me About How Your Group Examined Student Work – Emerging Patterns  

High-Impact Practices for Literacy: A Free Professional Learning Opportunity

For the past year or so I’ve been involved in an exciting project that has enormous potential for improving the teaching and learning of literacy in our schools. The SOAR (Strategic Observation and Reflection) Teaching Frames™ for Literacy are a research-based tool that articulates instructional practices that have the greatest impact on student achievement and address the Common Core Standards. The Frames clearly define those practices and the professional growth.. Read More

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

Another Great Video from SoulPancake

By now most of us have watched one of the many viral videos featuring Kid President (If not, you’re missing out! Watch one of my favorites here). What you may not know is that those remarkable videos are produced by SoulPancake, co-founded by Rainn Wilson. You know, Dwight from the show The Office. Yes, that guy! Anyhow, SoulPancake is an entertainment company that features topics that are good for the.. 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

Mahalo Oahu and Maui Educators

As happy as I am to be back on the mainland with my sweet little family, I find myself longing for the island life!  It was such a pleasure to not only visit Hawaii (I mean, how can you go wrong?), but to meet with such thoughtful practitioners who willingly gave up part of their very brief summer break to work with me and my colleagues to learn about performance.. Read More

Let’s Talk Stamina

Stamina in literacy learning has been a popular topic lately, and rightfully so.  Without it, students are unable to tackle the challenges that come with close reading, for example, and can’t follow through on more straightforward tasks either.  When I’ve seen stamina addressed in classrooms I’ve mostly seen it tied to the clock.  Teachers are timing students to see how long they can read without getting fidgety or needing a.. 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

Smarter Balanced Performance Tasks: 3-5 Rubrics

As part of the Building Educator Assessment Literacy project sponsored by WestEd and Stanford SCALE, I’ve been providing workshops on the Elementary English Language Arts performance tasks from Smarter Balanced.  It’s been a great experience working with such a talented team and with such receptive audiences. One of the sessions we conduct in the workshop is a breakdown of how the 3-5 Informational and Opinion full-write rubrics are designed and.. Read More

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