It's been a while since I posted here. For those that don't know, I had a baby in 2015, and this amazing joy of a little girl dramatically impacted my ability to blog in my "extra time." For some of my reflections on motherhood as an educator, check out these posts on my CTQ blog:

Leaning in, career teaching, and the superpower I now need

Four Lessons From Motherhood

More recently, I've been getting my writing mojo back!  Part of this was fueled by the realization that the role of creative writing in the study of English Language Arts deserves some attention in literacy and ed policy conversations, especially when the CCLS appear to deemphasize it. I first began writing about this in this article, "Decoding the Common Core," published by Education Week.  I also touched on the topic of creative writing as an equity issue in this blog post, "Who Gets to Write Fiction?" which was a response to calls for more diverse books for children (#WeNeedDiverseBooks). Then, just last month, Education Week Teacher published "Why Creative Writing Still Has a Place In My Classroom," in which I argue for the practice of fiction writing as an essential element in developing critical readers.

As part of my investigation into the role of creative writing in today's ELA classroom, I've created this survey, asking for English teachers and literacy leaders to share their opinions on the topic. If you missed it before, please participate! It's been very interesting and encouraging to see the responses, and I'll be sharing some results soon. 

Finally, also on the topic of writing, as part of a Teaching Ahead Roundtable at EdWeek Teacher, I shared my thinking on "The Problem With Complex Writing Prompts," and why the bulk of expository writing instruction should tap into students' own questions, ideas and drive to communicate.  

More writing and developments coming soon... I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. It sure is hot around here! 

AuthorAriel Sacks

One question I hear often from educators considering the whole novels approach is what do you do in class while students are reading the book (besides reading the book, of course)? One of the best and perhaps underrated activities to aid students in rereading and comprehension of the text, as well as oral reading and public speaking practice, is dramatizing scenes from the novel. What's more, this activity is super easy to implement, it really brings the book to life, and it gets students out of their seats and having fun. 

In this article published on NEA's Share My Lesson site, 3 Ways A Little Drama Can Enhance Student Learning, I share my process, as well as three other, powerful ways to use drama in any classroom.  

I need your help! I'm working on a book idea that's been percolating for some time now. It's been two years since Whole Novels For the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach was published, and since then, I've felt a big wondering come on about the role of fiction writing in the study of English Language Arts these days. In my own classroom, it is a source joy for both my students and me, and strong experiences like that in the classroom get me thinking. I'm trying to explore the value of this imaginative writing--academically and otherwise--as well as its current role in English classrooms around the country. I'm wondering if and how the Common Core Standards are influencing this kind of writing.

I will share more of my thinking on this soon, but first I really want to know how other teachers view and experience fiction writing within our discipline. Please help me by taking this brief survey... (your name is optional.) I hope you will find the questions interesting and that it will take only about 5 minutes! 

Survey: What Is The Role of Fiction Writing In English Class These Days?



AuthorAriel Sacks

Last week (on the afternoon before the last day of the school year for me), I got to spend an hour with teachers sharing some of the essential ideas of the whole novels method. The free webinar was hosted by Share My Lesson, an AFT-sponsored organization providing free professional development by teachers for teachers. My favorite part of the experience was when teachers were asking and answering each other's questions in the group chat feature. Shout out to the #wholenovels teachers who were there! 

The webinar is part of their "Summer of Learning Series." It is now available on demand here.  If you're curious about whole novels, check it out!  


AuthorAriel Sacks