Monday, September 14, 2020

Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

Social media.
Some people love it.
Some people hate it.
And some people have mixed feelings.

Sure, it can be a time suck, but it’s also a powerful tool for sharing ideas. I’ve learned so much from blog posts written by educators, Twitter conversations with teachers and librarians, and discussions within Facebook groups focused on literacy and education. Social media has helped me understand what I can do to serve teachers and librarians better. And I’m learning more all the time.

One topic that I see pop up from time to time is what teachers are looking for in the curriculum guides that accompany children’s books. There seems to be a disconnect between what publishers recommend authors and illustrators include and what teachers say they want. 

It turns out most teachers aren’t particularly interested in a list of questions to help them assess student comprehension or basic activities related to the book’s content. According to Colby Sharp, fifth grade teacher and co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club, authors should “Create materials teachers can’t.”

Franki Sibberson, fifth grader teacher and Past President of the National Council for Teachers of English, says, “Kids need to see how you think through your work.” 

And uber-dedicated third grade teacher Erika Victor says, “I’m always searching for before and after images of a first draft, what revisions look like, and comparing those to the final draft.”

In other words, educators crave resources that offer a window into the minds of professional writers—something that will help students understand how writers go about doing their work. 

What’s our process? How do we make decisions? What are our challenges and frustrations? And why do we find writing so rewarding?

Keeping all these ideas in mind, I revamped the educator section of my website over the summer, and I’ll be blogging about some of the changes on Mondays this year.

On Wednesdays this fall, I’ll provide posts that take an in-depth look at the process of creating my newest book Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners Dwellings and Defenses–from research to revision. (You can find a version that's perfect for sharing with students here.) In the spring, I’ll do the same thing with one of my upcoming titles. As Erika suggested, I’ll be sure to include screen shots of my drafts at various points in the process. 

And on Fridays, I’ll be sharing a variety of useful posts on a variety of information. Later in the year, I'm hoping to try something that requires your participation. It’s called “My Students’ Biggest Nonfiction Writing Roadblock.” Educators submit questions about their students’ writing struggles, and I try to offer solutions. I have a feeling I’ll be asking other nonfiction writers for their suggestions, too. After all, we each have our own ways of solving problems. 

Because I know the beginning of this school year is especially hectic, this is still in the planning stages. But if you have a question now, please send it along.

This is Year 11 for Celebrate Science. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.


  1. Thank you so much! I love sharing your thoughts and materials with my teachers.

  2. Love this Post and love your idea---I was just listening to a webinar discussing how it would be helpful for 'read alouds' to include various questions to be discussed with children (questions for parents and/or teachers to ask)..great idea. Thank you!

  3. We've held Kdiquake for years in San Francisco. Ans we ask authors to share images of their first drafts and nth drafts and talk about the revision process as part of their presentations. Teachers ALWAYS say how helpful it is for authors to show kids their process. It's important to see that nothing is ever "perfect" the 1st or nth time. And getting from 1st to final is an important part of the process.

  4. Wow...this is SUPER helpful, Melissa! I feel like most of us have been approaching it all wrong. I will be keeping this in mind always now.

  5. Looking forward this and sharing this w/my teacher and library friends.

  6. Thank you. You are always so generous of your time to us educators.

  7. Year 11 sounds fantastic for teachers, writers, and students. Thanks, Melissa.

  8. Thank you, Melissa, for yet another wonderful, helpful idea and tool for educators:)

  9. Oh, this is so exciting! You are such a teacher yourself! Thanks for always pushing forward- #togetherwearebetter