Tag Archives: Mary Ehrenworth


15 Aug

Along with about 60 colleagues and I gathered yesterday to spend the day with TCRWP’s  Mary Ehrenworth. We’ve been fortunate in my school district over the last few years to have Mary come a few times. We have also been fortunate enough to have TCRWP trainers come to our schools for days at a time. I have loved every minute of it. And yet, when the email came a few days ago saying shed be talking about grammar, I can’t lie – my heart sank.

I should have known better.

Here are a few of the many things I learned.

  1. Kids master grammar. Then comes slippage. With exposure to the various ways people write on social media, students unlearn spelling and grammar rules. Mary said that 3rd graders have better skills in some areas than 8th graders, who have greater exposure to social media. We need to teach them to code switch and expose them to a high volume of accurate language.
  2. We can teach grammar in meaning full ways
    • Demonstration – a ten minute mini-lesson, once they have a draft they are invested in
    • Inquiry centers – 20-25 minutes once during a unit, once they have a draft they are invested in, so they can apply the skill to their draft RIGHT NOW!
  3. Extravaganza & Interludes – a way to study tricky grammar in which kids make tools for other units

We spent some time working together to create some Inquiry centers. My teaching partner and I made centers that focused on narrative paragraphs and writing dialogue. We thought the dialogue center would be helpful for that small group of student who wrote ONLY DIALOGUE in their narrative.

After this work, we broke for lunch. Mary packs a lot into a morning.

In the afternoon we looked at teaching verb tense by looking at the movement of time. Mary taught some mini-lessons and we learned ways to have kids create timelines  for fiction and non-fiction, through read-alouds and shared reading.

Needless to say, even though I am sad that summer vacation is almost over,  I am now excited to get back to school and apply what I learned.



Summer is OBOB, bob, bobbing along

13 Jul

The first four weeks of summer vacation are over. There are still six weeks to go, and that fact makes me a little giddy. It hasn’t all been fun and games. Yes, it’s been mostly fun and games, but I have been doing some serious professional reading, too. I am a PD facilitator for my school and in 2014-15, we are focusing on the Common Core Reading standards. Woohoo! Last year we focused on Math and I had to fake knowing what I was talking about. This year I feel as though I am in my element. But, to give myself a head start, I’m reading The Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Chris Lehman.


I’m not plowing through it. I’m reading a section every morning as I drink my coffee. It is rather readable and explains things very well.

My other professional reading pile is made up of OBOB books. I have read half of the books so far:

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O’Connor

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney


I have the other half to go.

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts

A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole

Sasquatch by Roland Smith

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Swindle by Gordon Korman

Tales from the Odyssey, Part One by Mary Pope Osborne

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

2015 3-5 map Poster

I hope your summer reading plans are progressing as nicely as mine!

On seeing Mary Ehrenworth SOLSC 19

19 Mar


I spent the day at a presentation by Mary Ehrenworth of The Reading and Writing Project.


I thought I was a fast talker, but she is, perhaps the fastest talker I’ve ever heard. And what she had to say was jam-packed with good stuff. I found myself meaning forward at my table trying to catch it all. Good thing I;m an auditory learner. Anyway, here are a few ideas I got from her. Some are new, some aren’t. Some I like because they are things I’ve been thinking about.

1. We have to move away from the concept of The Main Idea to the concept of central ideas.

2. One of the arts of learning is interrupting discussion.

3. From 4th grade up, remind kids about the author and what they are doing.

4. Powerful readers are powerful rereaders.

5. Don’t rely on your ling-term memory. the ability to take notes is a lifeskill. MAry actually said that she interviewed a number of people for a job and did not call back for a second interview, anyone who had not taken notes.

6. A first reading will never be full. It will always be partial. Beginnings are usually where you want to reread.

7. How a story ends affects meaning. You have to think about meaning before you get to the end.

8. 30 minutes of reading is a disservice to kids. It is not enough.

9. A 4th grader should read a book a week.

10. What kids do outside of school is as, if not more important, than what goes on inside.

11. Don;t protect kids from flawed text.

12. When you teach something, you need to repeat it immediately with a different text so it transfers.

13. Reader’s notebooks: for every 30 minutes a kid reads, they should write about 10.

My notes go on for many pages, these are just the soundbites that stood out and that I’ll be mulling over for the next little while.

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