February 17, 2017  •  In This Issue:

1.  Using student writing samples as mentor texts
2.  Help young writers find the Force
3.  Slice of Life Story Challenge starts March 1st
4.  PD Corner: Pair up

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1) Using student writing samples as mentor texts
We Can Do This, by Janel Wagstaff In the new book We Can Do This! writing expert and Stella Writes author Janiel Wagstaff pairs examples of student writing with writing lessons. Student writing samples are extremely powerful tools for boosting the growth of young writers and the student samples provided in this book serve as mentor texts and the basis for each lesson.

The samples are mentor texts that are "doable" for students—they highlight skills, strategies, craft moves, and traits within the reach of students. As teachers and students study the examples, they will think, "I can do that!"

Samples that reflect the most common errors or trouble spots are also included, enabling teachers to explicitly teach to these points.

Preview the entire book online now:

We Can Do This!
Student Mentor Texts That Teach and Inspire
Janiel Wagstaff
Grades K-2 • 158 pages • $26.00
Preorder now • Available early March


2) Help young writers find the Force
Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg As teachers, we are all Jedi Masters. We feel called, not to be mere disseminators of information (we have Google for that), but to be believers in our students and promoters of their ability to learn.

In a recent article in MiddleWeb, Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg, author of The Author's Apprentice, shares her strategies for encouraging student independence and creating "innovative, self-reliant individuals."

The Author's Apprentice, by Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg Read the full article and then head over to Stenhouse to preview Vicki's book:

Follow Vicki on Twitter: @VMeigsK


3) Slice of Life Story Challenge starts March 1st
Being a teacher-writer means you understand the struggles and frustrations as well as the triumphs and the beauty. Being a teacher-writer means you will transform your students' lives because you believe in the power of words.
—Stacey Shubitz

Stacey Shubitz The Tenth Annual Slice of Life Challenge begins March 1st and in a guest post on the Stenhouse Blog, Stacey Shubitz, cofounder of the Two Writing Teachers website hosting the challenge, argues that the most effective writing teachers are those who are writers themselves:

Craft Moves, by Stacey Shubitz Preview Stacey's book Craft Moves online:

On Twitter: @sshubitz


4) PD Corner: Pair up
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
—Helen Keller

Readers Writing, by Elizabeth Hale Review how you pair strategy lessons with student practice. Elizabeth Hale shows how to name strategies, model them, and get kids writing using sentence stems to guide their thinking. Check out how she does it in Chapter 2 of Readers Writing:
(Scroll down to the Table of Contents to find the Chapter 2 link.)

Since 2010 The New York Times has partnered with The Poetry Foundation to pair poetry with articles and images. Practical and accessible, browse all the pairings here:

Get kids to pair up in novel ways using the quotation mingle strategy. Quotes get kids thinking and making predictions about texts before reading. See how it works with this lesson for grades 9-12:

Perfect Pairs 3-5 and K-2, by Stewart and Chesley Books transport budding scientists into the field. Pair science-themed picture books to create memorable science learning. Don't miss Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley.

For grades 3-5:

For grades K-2:


Please send comments and questions to Zsofia McMullin, Newslinks Editor, at or call (800) 988-9812. Click here to view archives of past issues.
Contributing writer: Lee Ann Spillane

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