If writing is an art, why are we often met with blank stares and groans when inviting children to freely express themselves with pen and ink? Perhaps the answer lies in the question itself—writing is an art. Present the same group of children with paintbrushes and bright paint and ask them to freely express themselves on canvas, the response will likely be the difference between night and day.
Communicating effectively, whether with pen and ink or brush and paint, takes practice over time. The trick is getting the communicator inspired to, not only communicate, but to, moreover, value their voice. Blackbird & Company literature guides provide weekly opportunities for students to respond to what they are reading while simultaneously practicing the mechanics necessary to develop their budding voice.
While working through a great story, digging into language and note taking are practical ways to encourage readers that the words they are reading have been purposefully crafted by the author. Encouraging readers to respond to simple comprehension questions with interesting and exact statements is preferable to a handout designed to practice sentence writing skills. Inviting readers to craft a longer written response to specific aspects of the story such as, theme, conflict, or mood, will connect them to the story, propel that connection to the heart, and allow the story to become profoundly significant to the student. Meaningful and relevant opportunities to write are much more likely to spark writing ambition.
Beyond the practice of manipulating the building blocks of writing mechanics–working with words, phrases, and sentences–students need to be peppered with opportunity to communicate original ideas. Each week, as students work through a section of reading, we encourage them to do just that. Our guides provide thought provoking prompts that challenge students to respond through the process of writing. Over time, while working through Blackbird & Company literature guides, students will try their hand at a wide variety of writing domains-from observational to persuasive, narrative to informative–depending on the nature of the story being explored.
Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” As a writing teacher, I smile when I read these words. There is a significant distinction between drilling students with vocabulary exercises and encouraging them to discover the joy of language. If we really want to shape writers, we must focus on fostering the discovery of joy.
Fall is finally in the air! Introduce your youngest students to the wonders of the season with our Earlybird Fall Stories Thematic Unit. Share five read aloud books with your little ones, then work together on exercises that start teaching them how to mine for the treasure in great stories. You may purchase the guide alone or as a bundle with all five books.
Visit our website for more information.
Fall Stories books include:
New Resources are Here!
We’ve been busy adding resources to our website to help you. Explore these links:
We will continue to add more throughout the fall, including sample work pages, video, and photos. Check back often to see what’s new.
nanowrimo is coming
November 1st launches National Novel Writing Month, a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Accept the challenge and inspire your students to sign up for this annual event. The Young Writers Program, geared specifically for those 17 and under, will provide confident and reluctant writers alike an opportunity to explore the first, and most creative step, in the writing process-exploring an idea. A whole novel in one month may seem like a daunting task, but subtracting conferencing, re-writes, and editing from the process leaves room for exploring creativity, and that amounts to fun! Don't forget to remind your students that they "get" to write their novel alongside 100,000 other novelists worldwide!
Check out the website for detailed information and Happy Writing!
a good christmas read
Grab a steaming mug of hot cocoa and snuggle up with a cozy seasonal story! Consider incorporating one of the following stories into your end-of-year lesson planning.
LEVEL 1 (Grades 1-3)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
(Upper Level 1)
What happens when the worst kids take over the Christmas pageant? Thanks to the Herdmans, the pageant is transformed into the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.
LEVEL 2 (Grades 3-5)
The Family Under the Bridge
A simple yet profound tale that illuminates the true meaning of family while telling the tale of an adorable Parisian tramp and his unwilling adoption by three fatherless children as Christmas approaches.
join our flickr group
We’ve created a place where you can share all the wonderful things your students are creating as they explore and are inspired by great stories! It’s a great place to catch some inspiration and it’s easy to join. Check us out and upload your photos to the group pool at www.flickr.com/groups/blackbirdandco/