Independent Common Core Math Curriculum Reviews

I’m pleased to report that an independent non-profit organization,, is reviewing new Common Core math curricula. I sometimes get asked about my opinion about the different options, but it’s hard to respond when there are so many new materials that I haven’t seen, and I am only one person. While the reviews don’t address […]

Let’s Write a Comic!

Would you like a fun summer writing project to do with your child? Why not create a comic? Comics and graphic novels are legitimate forms of art and writing, and for visual people, they can be more accessible or relatable. And they require thought and good design to be interesting. This spring, a girl I’ve […]

Why Learning Should Be Fun

Or, Why Baby Animals Have It Better Than Schoolchildren UPDATE: Pediatricians say not to cut recess! “In order to learn well, children need a period of concentrated academic activity followed by a break that allows them to process information…” Back in the mid-2000s, when I was a newly-minted teacher launching my career, I interviewed at […]

Descriptive Writing Exercise

As National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) approaches, many people gear up for an enormous leap into creative writing. November has been one of my favorite months of the year for this reason, now for almost a decade, as my tenth year of participating in this program approaches. One of the areas young (and other) writers […]

Story Board Game

Nearly all writers have experienced writer’s block. There are many ways to overcome it, including by using a variety of prompts. I have used Rory’s Story Cubes, which the students and I love, writing kits, and more. Today an idea came to me to make a board game with writing prompts. My students have had […]

"Fight at Bed": Fourth Grade Guest Blogger

While I work on a lengthy blog post with a book review, here is a poem from one of my young writing students. His name is Peter (Engish name), and he is a fourth grade non-native English speaker. He and his brother were born in South Korea and lived for two years in Japan before […]

Writing How-To Essays & Site Updates

One of my pursuits this summer, when I wasn’t as active on this blog, was writing step-by-step articles on Projects included everything from a camp shower enclosure to a 35-cent book weight. This type of writing, the how-to essay, is great for students to practice order words (first, next, then, finally), as well as […]

Musical Proofreading: A Different Approach to Teaching Punctuation

This post was originally published on the Patch on August 5, 2011. I was recently working with a young student who had a hard time figuring out when to add commas or periods in his writing. I had given him a worksheet made from a paragraph I wrote and from which I removed proper capitalization […]

How to Make a Leaf Purse: Second Grade Guest Blogger

One of the projects I assign to my students is to write a process essay. This is an essay that gives step-by-step instructions about how to do something they know how to do. Today’s contribution comes from Christina S., a second grader whom I tutor in writing, and who invented this technique for making leaf […]

New Patch Blogger

As of today, I am live as a blogger on the local Patch, an online newspaper! Read my first entry concerning an educational green building possibility here: .