Like a Squirrel Gathering Nuts

Although I haven't been writing for the blog much since the end of March, it doesn't mean I haven't been reading, writing, and thinking.  I've been following through on my New (School)Year Resolutions and reading more professionally. And, like a squirrel gathering nuts, I've been squirreling away resources and ideas to work on over the summer.

Right now I am reading savoring and working through Kelly Gallagher's book Write Like This: Teaching Real World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts.  In this book, Kelly discusses real-world writing purposes. He writes chapters on the six areas he feels students will write long after they leave his classroom.  Kelly provides mentor texts, assignments, and strategies to help a teacher get started.

I'm am loving all that I am learning from this book.  I started reading it fast. Then stopped. Started over. Took notes. Tried activities.  Some are hard. But if I want to use these ideas next year, I want my own mentor texts.

In the first chapter, Gallagher describes and gives examples of each of the purposes. He then shares an activity that has students take one topic they are passionate about and come up with 18 ways to write about it.  I'm working on it, but it is tough for me to do--especially the Analyze/Interpret area and the Propose a Solution area.  My mind doesn't seem to want to work that way. Sure glad that I am trying this first and not just winging it in front of class. Although, when I teach this to the class next year, I will try a new topic and let them see me struggle with it a bit.

The rest of the chapters work through the six purposes. I really like these (they actually incorporate the genres that I now require). I think it will help me give kids more focus in the course. They definitely "fit" better into the common core. I want to work his ideas into the things I am already doing. I'm going to keep doing activities myself and writing and thinking about what I learn.  It's hard. But in the end, I think it will be worth it.


  1. This book is on my "to read" list for the summer course I'm teaching on children's literature and the teaching of writing. Sounds like I'm going to really enjoy it!

  2. Thank you for sharing this.

    Next school year, I will be at a new school and only teaching English, so this summer I am really going to prepare to step up my game. This book may be able to assist me!


  3. There are so many good books as mentors out there, & Gallagher's are always so good. I'm proud of you for doing this first, learning along the way, already getting ready for next year. Wow, Deb, what a learner you are. I just know it shines through with your students! I have missed your fun posts, but am patient, & glad to know you're having a good time with other things!

  4. It is encouraging to read this and spurs me to be more purposeful in my professional reading. Thanks.

  5. I think you are so smart to try out the writing before having students try it. Gallagher is so authentic in his books. He's a great one to have as a mentor.

    1. I think that's why I started trying the activities. He does them all with his class. In front of them. I figure if he can do it, so can I. But I'm going to practice first!

  6. I bought this book, new I didn't have time for it and immediately lent it out. I am thinking I need to ask for it back...ASAP! :) I love me some Kelly Gallagher.

  7. Thanks for sharing this professional book recommendation! I love reading anything to do with reading and writing instruction. I'll have to put it on my list. And, kudos to you for trying it out first!


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