Monday, June 12, 2017

Just One More Day!

Tomorrow is the official release date for Can an Aardvark Bark?, a book I’m super excited about because it’s illustrated by uber-talented Caldecott Honoree Steve Jenkins.

Today seems like the perfect time to take one more look at the book trailer.

I can’t thank Mrs. Keith, the school librarian at Marguerite E. Small School in West Yarmouth, MA, and all the third graders in Mrs. Zabielski’s class enough for their help in creating this fun video.

Here's a great picture of the students just after I gave them all their own autographed copies of the book. Ahead of the publication date. Shh! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

In the Classroom: 12 Techniques for Writing Nonfiction

Recently, I came across this terrific visual aid created by the clever folks at the Teachers College Reading Writing Workshop (@TCRWP). I think your students will find it helpful.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Behind the Books: A First Draft Isn’t a Mistake

When I present the school visit program, Creating Nonfiction: Researching, Writing, and Revising, I show the image above and ask students what all those red marks are on my rough draft. Of course, the answers I’m looking for are “edits” and “revisions,” but sometimes students say “mistakes” or “things that need to be fixed.” And this really bugs me.

What I tell them is that writing isn’t like math. In math, if I said 2 + 2 = 5, then I’m wrong and I need to fix the mistake. But in writing, there is no right or wrong, and a rough draft is an important first step.
Revision is about improvement. It’s about taking something that’s okay and making it extraordinary. A first draft is important because you can’t improve something that doesn’t exist

And then I tell them that, for me, revising a manuscript is like renovating a home. This is a comparison they really seem to get.

Friday, June 2, 2017

In the Classroom: Writing Informational Leads

I’m always excited to share great ideas for teaching nonfiction writing, especially when they involve using one of my books as a mentor text. J

Recently, California kindergarten teacher Jamie Lanham (@MrsJacksonSDGVA) posted this fantastic anchor chart on Twitter. It focuses on how nonfiction writers can “hook their readers” with a fun, informative beginning.

I recognized her example right away. Those are the opening lines of my book Snakes.

And look at what her students produced after discussing the opening. Fantastic! Can you guess the answers to their riddles?