At heart, I am a researcher. Because of this I have shelves of books and pages of bookmarks on my computer, all focused on writing instruction and leadership in education. On this page I wanted to share with you a few of the books and websites that have had the biggest impact on my approach to teaching, as well as my philosophy regarding whole-school writing reform. I hope these resources can provide you with the inspiration they have given me over the years. I would love to hear about any resources that you have found transformational as well!

Leadership in Writing Reform:

Recommended Reading:
A Principal’s Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing by Lucy Calkins and Laurie Pessah
Organized around the school calendar, A Principal's Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing will help principals work strategically throughout the school year as they pursue on whole-school writing reform.

Because Writing Matters by Carl Nagin
The goal of the National Writing Project’s Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass 2003) is not a particularly modest one. The book’s purpose is to change the way writing is taught in American schools. This National Writing Project book pulls together the concepts that have generated the successful practice of Writing Project teachers and makes the case for what needs to be done to advance the teaching of writing in schools.

Instructional Strategies for Writing

Recommended Reading:
The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins
This book is an essential for any teacher of writing. It examines research-based practices that are effective in advancing student achievement.

Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher
Write Like This provides practical, effective strategies to engage adolescent writers as they work to develop the writing skills they will need to become adult writers in the real world.

Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher
Gallagher shares a number of classroom-tested strategies that enable teachers to motivate young writers, understand the importance of teaching writing, and assess essays in ways that drive better writing performance.

10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson
“In 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, Jeff Anderson focuses on developing the concepts and application of ten essential aspects of good writing—motion, models, focus, detail, form, frames, cohesion, energy, words, and clutter.”
Find it on Amazon »

10 Nonfiction Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8 by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi
“Nonfiction Craft Lessons gives teachers a wealth of practical strategies to help students grow into strong writers as they explore and explain the world around them.”

Writing for Real: Strategies for Engaging Adolescent Writers by Ross Burkhardt
“Readers can use this book as a toolbox, using strategies as they need them. The ‘In a Nutshell’ sections at the beginning of chapters provide teachers with a blueprint for trying out these strategies in their own classroom.”
This website is full of lesson plans and resources for the teaching of writing in the context of a humanities class.
This is a college website that has a variety of resources for writing teachers and for teachers of other subjects who are looking to infuse more writing into their curriculum.
This site has well-designed Common Core rubrics for every grade level and every type of writing outlined in the Common Core.

Grammar Resources:

Recommended Reading:
The Power of Grammar by Mary Ehrenworth and Victoria Vinton
This book can transform how you view grammar instruction. It provides strategies that teach students how to make grammatical choices versus following a set of rules, thus creating students who understand the power of grammar to help create meaning.

Grammar to Enhance and Enrich Writing by Constance Weaver
This resource brings the best research, theory, and practices in grammar instruction into the classroom.

Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage and Style into Writer’s Workshop by Jeff Anderson
This book is for anyone looking for ways to integrate grammar instruction into their writing curriculum without using handouts and workbooks. “It shifts the negative, rule-plagued emphasis of most grammar instruction into one which celebrates the power and beauty these tools have in shaping all forms of writing.”
Find it on Amazon »

Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
This book helps bring editing into the revision conversation. Through looking at how authors employ punctuation, grammar, and usage to create meaning, students begin to see editing as a time to create meaning rather than a time to fix errors.

Assessing Writing:

Recommended Reading:
Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions by Lucy Calkins
This is an invaluable resource for any school or teachers who are looking to use assessment to move writers forward. It has benchmark papers, rubrics, and checklists for every grade level and type of writing as outlined in the Common Core Standards.

If you are looking for examples of Common Core-based writing assessments and rubrics, this site will not disappoint you. You do not have to recreate the wheel when it comes to the writing of assessments. This site provides writing prompts and rubrics for each type of writing outlined in the Common Core Standards for a variety of grade levels.

Common Core ELA Resources:

Recommended Reading:
Common Core Writing Book, K-5 by Gretchen Owocki
Gretchen Owocki has created a fabulous resource here for any teacher looking for tangible and specific ways to teach the skills outlined in the Common Core Standards Writing Strand. This resource will complement and bolster any ELA curriculum.

Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth
Looking to understand the Common Core ELA standards better? This is the book for you. It is a concise and well-written piece that helps teachers and administrators wrap their minds around the standards.

The Common Core Companion: The Standards Decoded, by Jim Burke
This resource is available for a variety of grade spans and offers tangible ways to address the skills outlined in the Common Core ELA Standards. The Common Core Companion is the perfect piece to help bolster any ELA classroom’s current program. A teacher can use it to fill gaps in a current program and to discover new ways to approach teaching a variety of skills.
This website has everything teachers and schools need to work toward Common Core alignment in all areas. The ELA section provides resources for both teachers and school leaders.
More Information on Customized Workshops


Integrated Unit Design

In this workshop, participants learn a step-by-step approach to designing rigorous units of study that are aligned with content standards while integrating the Common Core State Standards. By the end of the workshop, each participant will leave with an outline of a unit that they have designed to teach in his or her specific classroom. Gwen is available for support following the workshop to help refine lessons, develop needed resources, and provide feedback on the unit.

Best Practices in Grammar and Usage Instruction

Research shows that the “worksheet” approach to teaching grammar and usage has little impact on students’ conventions when writing. This workshop presents a variety of research-based approaches to teaching grammar and usage that transfer to students’ writing. Participants will leave this workshop with a plan of action and the tools to integrate grammar instruction into their writing units. Follow-up support from Gwen is available to help develop and refine lessons as well as gather resources.

Learning Progressions in the Common Core Writing and Language Standards

What is your school’s roadmap for learning, from grade to grade, in ELA? This workshop helps teachers understand the learning progressions integrated into the Common Core State Standards for ELA, specifically in writing and language. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a clear view of what is expected of students in their current grade as well as the grades prior and following. Resources will be provided that lay out the progressions for writing skills, grammar, and usage in a clear format. Schools can use this information to help create a writing program that builds upon itself from year to year. Using these learning progressions helps students and teachers know where they are going and develop a plan regarding how to get there.

All-School Writing Assessment Data Discussion

This is a two-part workshop. The first part is dedicated to discovering what “proficient” writing looks like at each grade level. Participants spend time looking at actual student writing to collaborate and come to agreement on scoring practices. Once the staff is calibrated, they spend time scoring pieces from their all-school writing assessments. Data is collected and recorded to be used in the second part of the workshop. The second part of the workshop is dedicated to analyzing the data and how it will influence instruction. Participants leave the workshop with specific instructional goals for their students and strategies to reach them.

Best Practices in Writing Instruction

In this hands-on workshop, participants learn and practice a variety of research-based teaching strategies that get results.

Disciplinary Literacy – Reading and Writing Like a Historian, Mathematician, or Scientist

There has been much talk about how the Common Core State Standards require all teachers to be teachers of literacy. What does this mean for content-area teachers? What does it look like? This workshop engages participants in an in-depth discussion regarding what literacy looks like in each discipline and effective strategies to teach disciplinary literacy without compromising the teaching of the content. Participants leave the session with an action plan and tools that can be used to design a unit or lesson plan that meets content standards as well as disciplinary literacy standards from the Common Core State Standards. Gwen is available for follow-up team meetings to support teachers as they take on this shift in their content-area teaching.