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We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:

Always Write
(Grades K-12)

Start to Learn


Making Mathematicians

(Grades K-12)

Learning is Messy

(Grades 4-6)

Write in the Middle

(Grades 6-8)

Teacher Portfolio: Abby Olde
a Northern Nevada teacher shares on-line lessons and ideas

I am Abby Olde, and I am lucky enough to teach English/Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders. What more could you ask for than a group of writers who carry around unabashed pre-teen energy and angst? The passion, humor, and raw honesty that middle school students can bring into their writing is, well, just plain cool.

In my opinion, learning to be a great writer is like reading a really great book. A good book can touch our lives in a positive way – it can hold our attention and satisfy and expand our interests. But a great book can shake an awareness within us, awaken our minds, and connect us to the world in which we live and rouse us to seek more. A great book can sit on your shelf for years gathering dust, but you can pick it up and read it for the fiftieth time and it will excite new ideas and connect to your life in meaningful ways. This is similar to the way I view learning to be a good writer: writing can connect us to our worlds and communities in powerful ways, it can help empower us to create thoughtful and creative interpretations and reflections about our various experiences on this earth. The key is to keep the bookshelves of our creative spirits dust-free. When you finish a great book, you sometimes feel sad that it is over. You want more. If becoming a great writer is to be a lifelong learning process, I believe that students should strive to want more; to be more than just a good book. They should strive to be a great one that has an unlimited shelf life.

As a writing teacher, I am constantly looking for more ways to inspire and teach my students to become great writers. I feel fortunate to be a part of the Northern Nevada Writing Project community, which I was introduced to when I first began my Master’s in Education program at UNR. I was connected to inspiring writing teachers and projects before I even started my first year of teaching. It is through this network that I have been able to continually make my classroom more exciting and engaging for my adolescent writers. Through trial and sometimes error, I have been able to improve upon my teaching methods and mold my core beliefs of teaching writing to best match my classroom needs. I have three essential core beliefs that guide my practice in teaching students to become great writers:

  • Belief #1: Students need choice in their writing assignments to achieve maximum creativity.
  • Belief #2: Students need a variety of inspirational mentor texts and peer examples of great, good, and not-so-good writing.
  • Belief #3: Students need the opportunity to celebrate their writing.

I hope you'll find this page of lessons and ideas useful.

Two off-site web recommendations:


On Abby's Bookshelf...

The 9 Rights of Every Writer

Three of Abby's Lessons at WritingFix:

Where is the Love?

Mentor Text: Where is the Love, sung by the Black-Eyed Peas and Excuse Me, Mister, sung by Ben Harper

Focus Trait: Idea Development

Support Trait: Voice

Students write a persuasive argument about an injustice in the world that they feel passionately about.

Taking the Un out of Unwritten

Mentor Text: Unwritten, sung by Natasha Bedingfield, and the Prefix, Suffix, Root Rap from EducationalRap.com

Focus Trait: Conventions

Support Trait: Word Choice

Students write a prefix- and suffix- filled narrative or free-verse poem, explaining how they would live their lives with "arms wide open."

Snowball Note-Making and Summarizing

Overview: Following a reading selection, students will reflect on reading content by note making or summarizing in the following categories: something they already knew, something they found interesting from the reading, something they found surprising, and questions that were raised during the reading. The key to snowball notes is that students build on one another’s knowledge, adding to the collective understanding of the concept being taught.

Other Teachers' WritingFix Lessons that Abby Uses:

Mentor Text: This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams and This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency

Support Trait: Idea Development

Mentor Text: Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen), by Baz Luhrmann

Focus Trait: Idea Development

Support Trait: Sentence Fluency

Mentor Text: So Much Depends Upon by William Carlos Williams and Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Focus Trait: Voice

Support Trait: Word Choice


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