Pssst…Do you want to be a writing thief?

The Writing Thief by Ruth Culham [International Reading Assn. 2014]

The Writing Thief by Ruth Culham [International Reading Assn. 2014]

When you write, revise (endlessly), and eventually publish, it’s very scary to know your words and thoughts are “out there” in the world for all to read and criticize.  So, imagine the courage it takes for me to say,  “I love this book.”  Creating The Writing Thief  was a joy ride for me from beginning to end, and I think the voice and ideas in the book reflect it.  I’ve never been as happy writing as when I was working on this text.  Seriously.  The early reviews have been swift and overwhelmingly good.

The Writing Thief  takes using mentor texts in new directions and with new purpose.   It has wonderfully insightful passages about using reading to teach writing from some of your favorite authors and mine:  Kate Messner, Ralph Fletcher, Nicola Davies, Lester Laminack, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Yee, David Harrison, and Lola Schaefer.

It has over 90 books and everyday text citations and teaching ideas organized by mode (narrative, informational, opinion/argument) and by the four key qualities of each trait (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation).  It has updated writing research and thoughts about the Common Core State Standards.

I really do love everything about this book including the cover and the title.  Most of all, it has my heart on every page.  I hope it finds a place in yours, too.

XO  Ruth

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

UPDATE THAT LINK!

ImageHi Folks! We have simplified the search name for our FACEBOOK page to make it easier for all. If you have linked to it [on your mobile device, or your website, or your bookmarks, for example]  you should UPDATE THAT LINK to the new URL: 

www.facebook.com/TraitsWriting

You can also always find us by just searching terms TRAITS WRITING.  

 

XO Ruth

Posted in Author, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common Core, Modes, Traits and Everyday Texts

Your school is probably in full-blown Common Core State Standards mania. Or, if your state didn’t adopt the Common Core, the pressure is likely building to meet and exceed your state standards. Either way, teaching writing and helping students make great gains will be a big part of your school year. It’s a good thing, right?

Over the summer, I spent time falling in love with new picture books. I gathered everyday texts like brochures and posters. I am always reading, looking, and taking pictures to find examples that exemplify one or more of the traits and their key qualities.

Last month, I went to the Hoopla in Salem, Oregon to watch a friend’s son play in the city-wide tournament that filled the streets. As I was watching, I looked down and found mentor texts under my feet and embedded in the sidewalks: opinion, informative, and narrative. Seriously!

Oregon TenacityWishram LegendInitiative

Which are which? Narrative, informative, or opinion? I know you know this, but the first is opinion, the second narrative, and the third is informational. Right under my footsteps!

It’s interesting isn’t it? Our world is filled with fascinating examples of good writing. We just have to reach out with our cameras and capture it or tuck a paper copy into our pockets to bring back and share. What could be a more delightful way to show students how each purpose for writing shows itself in the world: everyday texts.

As I’ve discovered new resources, I’ve been pushing my thinking about how the traits and modes fit together in light of the renewed emphasis on both in the Common Core. What I’m thinking is simple: the traits are “how” we write: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation. And the modes are the “what” we write: narrative, informative, or opinion/argument. (Or for those of us stubbornly clinging to traditional terms: narrative, expository, and persuasive.) To write in any mode, you have to know the traits, so students need good, solid instruction in both modes and traits to be the best writers they can be.

Look for examples of the traits: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation, right along with the modes/purposes as you are reading and living this year. I bet you’ll be just as lucky as I am to find local examples of what good writing looks like that will take students a long way toward excellent writing to meet and exceed Standards.

XO

– Ruth

Posted in Author, Back to School, Back to School, Common Core State Standards, Education, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join the Conversation

FBTraits-banner

Did you know that Traits Writing has its own Facebook Page?

It’s a great way to connect with other teachers and professionals, get the latest news, and to weigh in with your own thoughts and suggestions.

Join the conversation at Traits Writing: A Complete K-8 Program facebook page.

Hope to see you there!  

XO – Ruth

Posted in Author, Back to School, Education, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Traits Writing Website launched….

I’m thrilled to announce the relaunch of the Traits Writing website: www.Scholastic.com/traitswriting. Completely updated with tons of new information and success stories, you’ll love seeing what teachers and administrators have to say about how they’ve revolutionized their writing program by adopting Traits Writing, K-8. Check it out!

main_image_slider3

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking Back to the Common Core by Thomas Newkirk

This elegant, brilliant article found its way to me today and I have read it several times, nodding, then cheering at each clear point.  I share it with you, hoping it will provide just what you need to bring back to your colleagues and schools to initiate a discussion about CCSS, point by point.

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves how it happens, in American education, that holes are filled with initiatives like NCLB and CCSS.  We simply must ask these bigger questions right along with doing the very, very difficult work of teaching children to read and write.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be so darned hard if students were steeped in language and learning while reading with fascination and writing fiercely about what matters to them.  I challenge whether marching to the tune of CCSS without keeping in mind what we know genuinely motivates, encourages, and challenges learners is the best we can do.

Here’s the article:  read and think hard about every single point.  Please.

http://heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources%5CE02123%5CNewkirk_Speaking_Back_to_the_Common_Core.pdf?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reality Check….?

I’ve been looking at a Traits Writing Teaching Guide. What is a Reality Check? How does that work?TE_GD7

I don’t know any teacher who doesn’t constantly feel behind. Especially when it comes toteaching writing. So, in Traits Writing, instead of pretending that there is all the time in the world to write and teach writing, we built in a week after every unit to catch up: Reality Check.

During that week many options are available, depending on where students are with their unit projects and how many still need to finish. There are two things that must be done during the Reality Check week: 1) finish the unit project if needed, and 2) introduce and provide instruction on the next mode of writing (narrative, expository, or persuasive–opinion/argument). The rest of the materials provided for the week are publishing options, both digital and print. Students should publish their unit projects in one form or another as time allows so we’ve built in lots of options and possibilities that maybe teachers haven’t considered before. And during the Reality Check, we’ve provided Test Prep practice–for those folks who want students to do a little work in this area as well.

It’s a week for the teacher to wrap up and set a new direction for what comes next, and a week to celebrate the wonderful unit projects students just completed. Most of all, it’s a week for everyone to take a deep breath before plunging into the next big piece of writing instruction. I hope it gives teachers catch up time so the next unit begins on a high note for students and the teacher as well.

Posted in Author, Education, Teaching writing, The Trait Lady, Traits Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment