I am excited to share another post in my blog series Follow That Blog!
Two Writing Teachers
This week I would love to introduce you to some educators who have had a profound effect on my teaching of writing and reading. The team at Two Writing Teachers publishes outstanding content for ELA teachers on a daily basis. Their blog can only be described as a gold mine of resources. The posts are most relevant to elementary and middle school teachers, but writers of all backgrounds and experiences will be inspired when they visit TWT.
Whether you are looking to reinvigorate your writing instruction, find mentor texts, or elevate your conferring, you will be energized by the variety of content you will find. Recently, teachers across the nation took part in their Slice of Life Challenge.
Slice of Life is a weekly challenge that encourages writers to share a personal story from their own lives every Tuesday. During the month of March, TWT invited educators and students to be deliberate about their writing habits by writing every single day for an entire month. The results were astounding, as this practice encouraged all involved to see themselves as writers with a powerful voice.
I am pleased to offer you some words from the writers themselves. They graciously answered a few questions about their work.
Please describe several ways that blogging for TWT and being a part of the edu-blogging community has impacted your professional life?
We are so amazed and honored at the ways that Two Writing Teachers has brought together a whole community of educators looking connect with like-minded colleagues. We are thrilled every time an educator or another blogger shares or likes one of our posts. We have particularly been proud of the response we have received to our two blog series, one on Writing about Reading, and one on Independence, and the accompanying Twitter chats.
Although every post is different, what can readers of your blog expect each time they read an article on TWT?
It’s true that each article is different, and now with the new team, there is even more range in voice and topics. You might read an article by Betsy about creating found poetry in the primary grades, or an article by Tara about integrating technology in middle school writing workshops. However, there are several important commonalities in the articles we publish.
First, all articles stem from our collective belief in writing workshop principles. We believe in supporting independence, and choice, and in giving students plenty of time to practice writing in school with coaching from a teacher.
Next, in all of our articles, we strive to highlight practices that teachers can implement right away to lift the level of their students’ work. They might take the form of a list of tips, or a narrative describing one teacher’s process. Our hope is that after reading any article on our site, a teacher could take away an idea or two to try immediately.
A final commonality is our belief in teacher writing. Though not all of our articles are specifically about teachers doing their own writing, they all hold true to the principle that we are a community of writers in addition to being a community of writing teachers.
Who are your writing and/ or professional mentors? What blogs inspire you?
My professional mentors for writing are Nancie Atwell and Katie Wood Ray. They are my go-to sources whenever I have a question or need support in the teaching of writing.
Personally, I adore the writing of Lois Lowry. Her memoir Looking Back is beautifully written, and I reread it often. I also love Dani Shapiro’s book Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. It is a must-read for anyone who fancies themselves a writer.
I follow several blogs to help support my passion for writing such as: Ralph Fletcher’s blog, The Writer’s Desk or Sunday Cummin’s blog, which is an excellent source for nonfiction mentor texts. I must say, though, that the majority of my inspiration and ideas for writing come from reading the posts eachTuesday on the Two Writing Teacher’s call for Slice of Life Stories. These offer a plethora of inspiration, craft moves, and structure ideas for me as a writer!
I always look to Lucy Calkins and professional mentor. I studied with her at Teachers College and respect her as one of the leaders in the field.
Since I moved to Pennsylvania, I’ve gotten to know Lynne Dorman and Rose Cappelli, who’ve become professional mentors. They know so much about children’s literature and teaching kids… and they’re incredibly nice people!
I’m constantly inspired by the writing the members of the Slice of Life Story Community. I look to them whenever I want writerly inspiration.
Lucy Calkins has been an mentor to me throughout my entire professional career, as a teacher and as a writer. I first met Lucy as a graduate student. On the first day of class, she passed around a crumpled piece of notebook paper and invited any of us who needed three more credits that semester to apply for an internship with her. I scribbled my name and email address on that paper and the rest is history. I’ve worked for Lucy for over a decade now as a staff developer, coauthor on books and materials, and she’s been my advisor and sponsor as I’ve moved (slowly, slowly) through the doctoral program at Teachers College. As for blog-inspiration…I’m inspired in some way by pretty much everything I read. I try to be a sponge for ideas. Lately, I’ve been sort of obsessed with the online magazine, Rookie, where the editor is Tavi Gevinson, a brilliant teenage girl, and most of her staff are teens or twenty-somethings. I am so impressed by their talent, and what they are doing to represent young women.
My writing mentor is Geri Williams, a student of both Don Murray and Don Graves. Her guidance and advice over the years has nudged me to search for the best practice in writing instruction.
Bogs that inspire? Linda Baie’s blog, Teacherdance, has such a variety of both educational and personal posts that are always inspiring. I also continue to be amazed at the consistency of relevant content at the Nerdy Book Club. Donalyn Miller, Colby Sharp and all the contributors who tirelessly find the best reading material for children leaves me in awe.
Like Stacey and Beth, I consider Lucy Calkins to be one of my most important writing mentors. I have learned to much writing for her, and with her. I know I would not be where I am in my writing career today were it not for my professional relationship with Lucy Calkins.
I also admire so much the writing of Katherine and Randy Bomer, both their style and their refusal to budge from their core beliefs. I adore Georgia Heard and hope to be able to capture children’s voices like she does one day. I read Ralph Fletcher, Roy Peter Clark, and Annie Lamott to become a better writer.
Vicki Vinton’s blog To Make a Prairie is stunning in its beauty and its message. Kate and Maggie Roberts’ blog Indent is powerfully written and spot-on. Each post brings me to laughter or tears. I love Kristi Mraz’s and Marjorie Martinelli’s voices in their blog Chartchums. How they manage to pack in so much useful content alongside hilarious anecdotes, both personal and from the classroom, amazes me.
I know that you will be as inspired by these ladies as I have been, and I hope that you will take advantage of their wonderful work by visiting their site often.
Be sure to follow Two Writing Teachers via email so that you can have their posts delivered to your inbox each morning.