Portland Oregon Literacy Workshops

Looking for ways to bring Latino culture into your literacy block?

Join Ruth Culham for an after-school literacy workshop sponsored by the Portland Reading Council and featuring her new book Dream Wakers: Mentor Texts That Celebrate Latino Culture.

These are free, catered events, but registration is required.

REGISTER     Thursday, March 2, 2017 @ St Anthony School in Tigard (west side)

REGISTER     Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ HB Lee Middle Sch. in Portland (east side)

small-book-cover

Posted in Author, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Stenhouse Publishing, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, The Writing Thief, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Celebrate diversity with me!

So pleased to announce that my new book– Dream Wakers, Mentor Texts That Celebrate Latino Culture— is now out and available across the country, from Stenhouse Publishers.

I encourage everyone to make sure students of all backgrounds have access to high-quality, culturally diverse texts and recognize the difference those texts will make in their reading lives, as well as in their perception of themselves as a thinkers, learners, and citizens.

Get your copy here or here, or at your favorite independent bookseller. Dive in and enjoy original essays from eleven renowned children’s book authors, do-it-today lesson plans, book lists, reference charts and much more.

You’ll fall in love–as I did– with some of the richest and most beautiful children’s books available, while you empower capable, confident writers to awaken their dreams and bring them to life on every page.

-Ruth

small-book-cover

Posted in Author, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Stenhouse Publishing, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, The Writing Thief, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read the Writing, Teach the Writer

Join me in Atlanta in October for a hands-on workshop! MDR-Culham-skyscraper-0816As writing instruction continues to evolve, I’m committed to ensuring educators like you are prepared to meet their writing goals. That’s why I want to personally invite you to attend my upcoming hands-on session from Stenhouse Workshops.

Read the Writing, Teach the Writer:
Smart Ideas to Transform Writing Instruction for You and Your Students

A full-day, hands-on workshop with Ruth Culham

October 21, 2016 • Atlanta, GA

http://RuthCulham.Stenhouse.com

Now is your chance to learn first-hand my latest thinking on strategies for effective writing instruction. These will empower you to teach writing in a way that really reflects how today’s students are thinking and learning.

Here are the areas I will cover:

  • The Writing Process for Every Age
  • Smart Assessment for Busy Teachers
  • Mentor Texts to Read Like a Writer

Space is limited, so reserve your seat today. Visit http://RuthCulham.Stenhouse.com or call 1-844-685-1551. Because this type of learning is very conducive to groups, we are offering special pricing if you send more than five from your school or district.

I hope you’ll be able to join me for this can’t-miss event. – Ruth

 

Posted in Author, Back to School, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Stenhouse Publishing, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, The Writing Thief, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Things to Avoid…

A-kid-drawing-or-writing.jpg
Here’s the thing: teaching writing is hard work and there is no single right path to success.

However, there are things we do that make it difficult for students to succeed. Here are five things to avoid:

Insisting that every student write on the same topic at the same time as the rest of the class.

Solution: Think about what is important about writing. Is it to have an assignment ready to your specifications or is it to show learning and understanding about a subject that genuinely interests the writer? Choice makes a difference in the engagement of the writer and the quality of the writing.

Responding to every possible thing about the writing every time students write.

Solution: Too much information swamps students. Pick your battles. If you’ve been working with beginnings—respond to how the piece begins. If you’re working with subject/verb agreement, comment on that issue. “Squeeze it once and let it go,” might be your new motto.

Talking and talking and talking about writing.

Solution: Stop talking about it so much; just do it. Model writing for students. As you write, reveal what you are thinking so they see what choices you are making and why. Keep it short. Just a few sentences will give students a real glimpse inside a writer’s mind. And, just let them write. You might be amazed at what happens.

Using worksheets to practice writing skills in isolation.

Solution: Don’t go there. Let the students’ writing be a personalized, differentiated place for them to practice new skills. Whatever skill you’ve just taught, ask student to turn to a piece of their writing and put that skill into action.

Using textbooks to teach writing.

Solution: Use mentor texts to show students how different writing skills appear in published works by authors they admire. Use narrative, informative/explanatory, and argument models of what writing looks like when it’s good—really good.

Focus on what works, what helps students become the writers we want them to be, and not just what gets a cookie cutter product to turn in on Friday.  The students’ writing should come from an authentic reason to write, in an environment where they know—deeply and forever— that they are writers. Yes, you can lead a horse to water, but unless that horse has decided it is thirsty, you can’t make it drink. Help students realize they are parched and you are there to help them quench their thirst for language.

∼ Ruth

IMGP1210.JPG

Posted in Author, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In My Wildest Dreams

Core Books in ArabicA little less than two years ago, I had the privilege of going to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, to conduct writing training for teachers in the region with my good friend and colleague, Libby Jachles.

It was a magnificent experience from beginning to end.  Of course, one of the issues we ran into over and over again was language:  Arabic.  Many teachers work with English and Arabic, but the rest only know Arabic.

The International team at Scholastic undertook the project of translating and publishing my core writing books into Arabic for the teachers in the region or any place it might be helpful. What a huge project!  And now, they are here, sitting on my desk, making me smile from ear to ear.

-Ruth

Posted in Author, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What I’m Reading: Ruth Culham

If I try to read at night, I fall asleep and wake up at about 2:00 AM with my glasses askew and the book or journal on the floor. I read on the plane — which is the best part of flying — or in my comfortable chair in the living room. But I read. I read all the time. I’m hopelessly addicted and I pray I will never recover.Ruth2016web-cropped

Here are a few of the current fiction and nonfiction texts I’ve enjoyed of late.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

This book is dystopian fiction and my favorite genre right now. It’s part of my newly acquired collection of Latino literature: picture books, chapter books, and YA. These books are the core of a new annotated bibliography I’m creating to support Latino students and their teachers in the classroom and beyond.

The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle

With every text, I recognize the importance of readers having books in which they see themselves and that grow our understandings of culture and language. The Lightning Dreamerdoes exactly that. I dare you to stop reading once you start and raving about it once you finish!

Craft of Revision by Donald Murray

I read a lot of nonfiction as well. The fifth edition of Donald Murray’s Craft of Revision is a must-read, I mean a MUST read for every writing teacher. I have every edition, 1-5. Like I said: addicted. But every time I read any Murray masterpieces, I am gobsmacked by the truth of what’s important about writing: rewriting.

Letters of Note:  An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audiuence, edited by Shaun Usher

I am about two-thirds of the way through this, regularly dipping in and out for joy and amazement.

Open a World of Possible, edited by Lois Bridges

Finally, I recommend to you Open a World of Possible. Begin with any essay, but my not-so-secret favorite is Naomi Shehab Nye’s “I Will Float Through This Day.” Her writing blows me away—sings across the page, transforming my view of life with every phrase.

(Reblogged from Scholastic Publishing:  here.OWP_redbar

Posted in Author, Back to School, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Ruth Culham, Scholastic, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Passionate Plea

If you haven’t read this magnificent rebuttal to the Time magazine cover calling teachers“Rotten Apples” click and go there right now. Thank you Nancy F. Chewning, Assistant Principal, Roanoke, Virginia for such a voice-filled, passionate plea for teachers to become more involved in how our profession is viewed by all. The figures in this article are shocking; the analogies are dead spot on, and we all need to heed Ms. Chewning’s call to action.

Read the Article: Dear Time Magazine….by Nancy Chewning

But if you have, and/or once you do, you’ll likely want to discuss it with someone, right away. Each of us has our own specific stories to add to those from the blog. Together, we add up to a workforce that has never flexed its muscles to get the attention of people who matter. Instead, we go to work every day, each in our own way trying to use our time to make it possible for teachers to teach and students to learn. We do whatever the policy makers feel is the best new direction (for not always the most altruistic reasons). And it’s not working.

We have to become passionate, omnipresent advocates for students and teachers every day in big and little ways. Teachers have never relished the role as rebels, preferring to pour time and attention into the children they serve in so many positive ways. But, the conditions of teaching worsen every year and with the results of the most current election, they will erode even faster now.

Speak up with parents, with administrators, with policy makers. See if you can establish a “bring your legislator to school day.” Let them see what real schools do every single day. They don’t know the magic that teachers bring into children’s lives under the most challenging. Invite the school board or state commissioner to visit and talk with kids. Challenge them to find out what is really happening in today’s schools and why it’s a miracle in itself that teachers keep showing up.

Do it with colleagues or by grade level, or by school. But do it. People in powerful positions who have the authority to dictate the terms of funding and how those funds are used need to know what schools today are like. They need to rejoice in the joy and skill that teachers bring to classrooms; they need to be horrified at the conditions under which many work.

Be an advocate for us all. I promise to do the same. Together we are a lot stronger than divided. This is not a partisan issue: it is an issue of morality, integrity, and ethics. Public schools can fulfill their promise¾but if we don’t fight back against the assault, we’ll lose this battle. I, for one, can’t imagine living the United States of America without a vibrant and thriving public school system that provides a world-class education to EVERY students regardless of their zip code, race, or gender.        – Ruth

Posted in Author, Back to School, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Mentor Texts, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment