Category Archives: Charles Moore

End of Year Musings

I’m amazed, sometimes, by how quiet this room can get.  Lights dimmed, soft piano music playing, I slowly shift papers from one stack to another as I pour over the thoughts and words of this, my first class of students at my new school.

Pausing for a moment, aware of the unusual peacefulness, I glance around the room. Everyone who visits complements the view through the big picture window overlooking the courtyard studded with live oaks. I, for once, appreciate that view before continuing my scan of our sacred space. Everywhere my eyes land,  I see evidence that students populated this space.  Someone taped snowflakes made of empty gum wrappers to my bookshelves. Another person wrote “HEYYY” on a sticky-note stuck to the built-in shelves.  Some creative soul splashed hearts and stars across the small whiteboard. Paper, wrappers, and empty water bottles litter the floor and remind me that I need to pick up a little before I turn off the lights.

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Hundreds of colorful pennants decorate the space above the book shelves; a reminder that as we struggled through our literacy lives this year, we covered vast expanses of literary territory. Upon closer inspection, I notice names, titles, and authors scribbled on each scrap of paper – evidence of books loved, hours of silent satisfaction, and reading identities.  These little flags wave reminders at me of the hard work, joy, and successes we’ve shared.

Books laze haphazardly on shelves overloaded, wondering where their friends have disappeared to. Shifting my eyes towards the door, I see the book nook stacked high with  books waiting for a magic book fairy to shuffle them back into their places in the classroom library before school lets out.

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My thoughts move to the front wall, draped in sagging and fading anchor charts, and I remember when two intern teachers – confident and comfortable – created their own “vortex” (more on that another day) and hashed out a lesson cycle like they’d been doing it for years.

My professional library brings up thoughts of lunches spent silently scouring the words great thinkers, and roads traveled; places left to visit or re-visit.  Kittle, Gallagher, Newkirk, Romano, Anderson and many more, remind me of monumental tasks I faced each day and remind me too, that I signed up for this.  Above, those books rest, (on the shoulders of giants, one might say) mementos, pictures, action figures and even a giant check left over from days of football past.

Too often, thoughts grades, lesson plans, assessment, and skills consume my mental calories. Not near often enough do I take the time to reflect, piano music drifting softly through the air, on our work here in this room.

This year was far different from all those that proceeded it.  The end-of-day rush out the door wasn’t a mad dash to football practice or to the parking lot just before driving a bus full of teenagers across town to a soccer game. Instead, I rushed out the door to get home in time to meet my daughter at the bus stop before picking up my son at school. There were no serious talks with students facing graduation, warning them how much it hurts to have life after high school hit them square in the face.

Instead, these freshman taught me as much about teaching as I taught them about reading and writing. They forced me to face struggle as much as I forced it upon them.  They made me look at my craft with fresh(man) eyes and change the way I moved through workshop routines.  I’m better for it.

Graduate school, too, reinforced the importance of life-long-learning and ripped the cover off the academic writing skills I’d boxed up almost twenty years ago.

In one year, I won a #BookLove grant and presented at the district, state, and national levels.  Recently, I was asked to contribute to the ILA magazine, Literacy Today, based solely off of a piece I posted right here back in July. Not bad for a an old ‘ball coach.

Being asked to chair the High School Section for TCTELA has been both an honor and an eyeopener.  I’ve never experienced the feeling of fear that came over me when I realized how much the members of this section needed outlets to amplify their powerful voices, and I didn’t know the first place to start. To even begin to think about conquering these tasks, I leaned on the lessons that have come before this, in times of vulnerability, and I looked at those around me who handle their struggle with grace and composure.  Oh, and those inspirational educators are the people with whom I’ll travel to Louisiana, for ILA 2019, to continue to spread our love of literacy.


Charles Moore looks forward to new challenges and growth opportunities even in his old age.  He’s trying to rebuild his reading habits and write as much as possible.  If you are high school teacher in Texas, and would like to help out with the High School Section of TCTELA, please email Charles at mooreliteracy1@gmail.com.  He wishes everyone a peaceful and relaxing summer and promises to post as many twitter selfies as possible.

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What I’ve read in 2019, So Far!!!

I’m not finding a lot of reading time this year. Maybe it’s graduate school. Or maybe it’s that I’m just really lazy. I’m up to 14 books in 2019. I’d say that’s a pretty respectable number, but what strikes me is the quality of books I’ve been able to enjoy as winter has moved into spring, then into summer, then back into spring, then summer, and on and on, ad nauseum…

Amazing Books that Everyone Should Read Right Now!!!

40519254Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak was one of the books that sent me, several years ago, on this YA journey.  Shout is Anderson’s memoir-in-verse that inspired her to write Speak. Every girl needs to read this book, and so does every boy.

img_5084For Every One by Jason Reynolds

A book everyone needs to read to themselves and to each other. We need more books just like this.  Some might breeze through this book book in a hour or less. Others might savor every page, basking in the wisdom of Reynolds.  This book is a mentor text gold mine.

 

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

GREATEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ!!!! Must I say more? I will. This book’s protagonist, Bri, let’s the reader see an authentic young adult attempting to find herself in a world she doesn’t totally understand.  I’m an adult that doesn’t understand this world and yet…wisdom abounds. I can’t even…

Sequel Successes and Follow Up Fun!!!

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2) by Maureen Johnson

img_5411I loved Truly Devious for so many reasons.  Massive and mysterious Gothic mansion setting? Check! Plucky and intelligent teenage sleuth? Check! Fast paced narrative that weaves in authentic “teenager sounding” dialogue? Check! This sequel is a win for everyone involved and I can’t wait for the final book in the series!!

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Odd One Out by Nic Stone

I have a nasty habit of moving about 80(ish) pages into a book and then losing interest. I let myself stray to far from this book for too long. When I book talked this book for my students, I noted how it wasn’t so much about a love triangle, it was more of a love circle. The confusion about how we are supposed to feel about ourselves feels authentic, even to this old man.

img_5419Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

I enjoyed her first book, One of Us is Lying, but this one missed me, somehow.  The plot twist was interesting, but predictable, and I struggled to keep up with the constantly switching points of view.  Me not liking this book may reflect more upon the reader than the writer and I HATE that I didn’t like this book, but reading it wasn’t particularly enjoyable. Others will love it and I will not be a person that denounces it based solely on my own discomfort.

Fun Books that May not be for Everyone

Bull by David Elliot

A book in verse that retells the story of the Minotaur. I didn’t realize how much a book could make me feel uncomfortable, both linguistically and contextually.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

If you love twist endings, or are far more intuitive than I am, you will love this book. An examination of total mental meltdown through the eyes of our current generation of teenagers, this book has many layers.

c79cbe95-7c09-4d7e-b25e-f4d26b880aa0-7652-0000007733788706_file-1A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Another book I let gather dust on my nightstand. The story of Shirin and Ocean.  A girl who clings to her faith in the face of bigotry, while at the same time exploring forbidden love.  Excellent lesson for us all.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson

This was a weird, wild book. Don’t believe the words or the pictures, both can lead you astray in this fantasy story about clashing cultures and an unpredictable friendship.

Guilty Pleasures

img_5345Wolf Pack (Joe Pickett, #19) by C. J. Box 

A guilty pleasure, a wheelhouse book.  When I can’t get wait to get to another Jack Reacher story, Joe Pickett is the next best choice. I could see our junior and senior boys loving the easy escapism this book provides.  Like a romance novel for readers with beards.

Verses for the Dead (Pendergast, #18) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Aloysious X. L. Pendergast is a lone wolf FBI investigator with a mortician’s wardrobe and the gaunt, pale skin to match.  He solves the bureaus most bizarre cases using a combination of inductive reasoning and the focus of a Tibetan monk.  I will never pass on an offering from Preston and Child because they, so deftly, mix intrigue with well crafted prose.

Adrift (Corps Justice – Daniel Briggs #1) by C. G. Cooper

My wife has been trying for at least a year to convince me to read free e-books from Amazon Prime.  This book had an interesting concept, not unlike the books I love from Lee Child. A former soldier finds himself caught up in the middle of a small town turf war and, while he didn’t light the fire, he is more than willing to put it out.  Not that I’m a master of the written word, but having crafted a sentence or two, I can sympathize with an author when I see he or she needs a good editor.


Charles Moore can’t wait to see what the Battle of Winterfell does to his beloved Westeros. He’s trying to be a diligent reader, but he’s not trying as hard as he could be.  He enjoyed seeing the whole family together for the first time in a long time over the Easter Weekend and he’s ready for grad school to be over for the semester.  

Revising and Editing with Jeff Anderson Part III

Grouped around a big table in the library, seven students looked at me as if they knew the next hour of their life would set the record for engaged boredom.  These were students who volunteered their time to get one last push towards success on our state assessment. Like dental surgery, they assumed going in, that it would be painful.

None of these students were on my rosters, thus, they had no idea who I was or of the learning vortex we were about to descend into.

We picked up an excerpt from Unwind by Neil Shusterman and jumped in with both feet, after reviewing the guidelines for sentence building. Our stated goal was to review the piece with an eye towards sentence structure, alas, what we found was much more meaningful.

I wrote about Jeff Anderson’s book Everyday Editing here and hereCheck out those posts for Anderson’s first six tenets in editing instruction.

The last three parts of this book are:

  • Invitation to Edit
  • Extending the Invitation
  • Open Invitations

Invitation to Edit:

Anderson, in this section, writes about seeking authenticity and meaning in their editing practices: developing an editor’s eye.  He shares with us an activity he calls, “How’d they do that?”  This is an exact move we practiced in my STAAR prep group Thursday afternoon. We stumbled upon a sentence that blew us away and we dissected it with a thoroughness that I’m not sure I’ve ever explored with high school students.  We looked at the way the Schusterman wove words and punctuation together to create magical meaning.

Cast your gaze on this beauty:

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Consider this Anderson gem:

“It hit me as the exact way education gets editing instruction wrong. We make it about identifying what’s missing or there, and students haven’t ever met the concept or become familiar with it.  If they don’t know of it’s existence, they can’t notice its absence” (p. 43).

Extending the Invitation:

What are we supposed to do when we see an amazing sentence sitting there, minding its own business, nestled quietly in a mentor text? The answer is, we stop what we are doing and ogle it. We poke and prod it , using our editing scalpels to peel back its layers and reveal the secrets where-in.  Don’t ever be afraid to pause a reading or writing lesson that has nothing to do with sentence structure to talk about a particularly well structured sentence.  I mean, really, all reading and writing lessons connect a text’s internal and external structures.  Amirite?

Open Invitation:

This section is about removing the idea that editing lessons are their own separate learning task.  Anderson argues that they should be the basis of all writing instruction and that these lessons should creep over into all the others that we use to help our students grow in their literacy.

One more time:

“I want those boundaries muddied so that the rest of the writing and editing lessons I do, besides those start-of-class, blastoff point invitations, are mixed with mini-lessons, writing, and sharing time in writer’s workshop” (p. 46).

All this reminds me how important one-on-one instruction is to literacy instruction and I think back to the absolute necessity that is self-selected independent reading. Consider the wisdom of Penny Kittle quoting Kylene Beers:

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And then what she tweeted next:

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I think this “nudge” can be about craft and not just content.  This is a place into which we can extend invitations.

With you-know-what looming, a lot of what we’ve studied with our reading and writing should, hopefully, help the kids out, but more importantly, set them up for success in their literacy lives.


Charles Moore is so excited to share the last six weeks, or so, of the year with his freshman. He’s looking forward to experimenting with collaborative groups, exploring new ways for students to publish, and, of course, talking to kids about books.  If you want to reach out to him about teaching reading and writing, shoot him an email. Check out his twitter if you want to see the latest episode in dad themed humor.

Fine, Let’s talk Anchor Charts!

As she dropped her backpack onto her desk during a recent passing period, a student asked, “Mr. Moore, where are the walls?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen them in ages,” I replied, as I tidied up my library shelves, shoving books back into their alphabetical order.

“But they used to be right there, and there, and two more, there and there,” she pressed, a hint of confusion sneaking into her voice.

I paused for a moment, thinking, before saying, “When was the last time you saw them?”

“I can’t remember.” she replied, slumping down in her desk, reaching for her book.

Finishing up my book shelving task, I took a second to consider what she was trying to tell me. Surveying the panorama of my classroom all I saw were giant white sticky notes.  I thought I heard a faint intake, a gasp for air, as if the old walls were struggling to breath, suffocated by their new decoration. Hardly any of the burgundy paint showed through. Instead, the walls were decorated with the tapestries of learning, covered by curtains of craft and content; literacy lessons.

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This is just the front of my room.

These new walls are better than the old walls. They aren’t frozen in place; a testament to tax dollars. These new walls are mobile – the kids carry them, accessing their information wherever they read and write. Earthquakes can’t wrench these walls from the foundation, nor can they be melted by flame.

I catch a lot of flack for the appearance of my anchor charts. I mix up the colors, try to use shapes, and squiggle my lines. My chart-writing improves daily, yet still my “man handwriting” is criticized by my colleagues and the kids make me re-write words until they are perfectly legible from the moon.

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Please consider my feelings. I tried to use fun letters at the top.

Not all charts are created equally.

First of all, the chart paper can’t be some namby-pamby (made up words) semi-stick, off brand, weak-sauce chart paper.  I want the super adhesive, never fall off the wall paper that I can move around, frantically pointing from one chart to another, connecting ideas, pulling their thinking from a previous lesson to connect to a new one.

Some charts find themselves arrayed with other, like-minded charts, like a file folder.  Others are stacked together to save space. Oftentimes, the students ask amazing questions that I answer, not by re-teaching something we’ve already covered, but by pointing to the appropriate anchor chart and then analyzing the looks on their faces to determine if I need to drill deeper or leave them be.

I’m not the only one doing the pointing.  Anchor charts multiply the number of teachers in the room.  Maybe one kid elbows another, confused.  The elbowed victim points to the board, or the wall, before refocusing on their work.

The universal usefulness of anchor charts helps all of our learners. Inclusion teachers are masters at using our anchor charts. My English learners lean on them frequently.  Don’t, however, think that the GT/Pre-AP kids don’t use them.  They do, almost as much as anyone.

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Somehow, I’ve assumed the mantle of “Anchor Chart Guy.” This means that whenever I bop (stroll? strut?) into the classrooms of other teachers, they demand I cast my gaze upon their anchor chart collections, beaming with teacher pride.  For me, anchor charts have become a shibboleth.  You either know how important they are or you don’t, and I pity those who fall in the “don’t” category.

We share anchor charts on our team.  Often times, we will do each other the favor of snapping a picture of a chart and uploading it to our team planning pages in OneNote. I’ve walked into my teammates classrooms and noticed specific, amazing anchor charts, only to have he or she tell me it was stolen…from me!!! Conversely, I might see one of hers (or his) that appears particularly useful, and I’ll snap a picture of it with my phone, storing that idea for later.

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We even started an Anchor Chart Hall of Fame in our OneNote planning notebook. Mostly as a joke…mostly.

I counted my anchor charts on Friday.  There were forty.  I wasn’t surprised. Those who know me won’t be either.


Charles Moore wants to learn more anchor charts. If you know of a book that is particularly insightful to this idea, please let him know.  He’s also looking forward to the weather, and therefore his pool, heating up. And crawfish. Always crawfish.  One last note, if you run into him, ask him about the Saga of the Lost Charm Bracelet.  You won’t be disappointed.  Check out his twitter feed at @ctcoach.

Of Bugs, Boils, and Bards

There are few tasks in this life that I both do well, and love doing well.  For instance, I love extracting, from a pot, a basket of crawfish, stuffed to the brim. I struggle to lift the forty, or more, pounds — shoulders creaking, eyes squinting from the pungent spices, mouth watering as those bright red mud bugs slowly drain off.

There is a moment, basket balanced precariously on the edge of the large stainless steel pot, where I can’t bear to hold back my insatiable desire to sample. And yet, I have no choice but to wait, for the crawfish are far too hot to eat as they sit steaming.

Even a few moments later, as I spread the bounty from that stainless steel cornucopia across the table, I have to hold back, the little critters far too toasty to consume. And then, after another few moments pass, finally, I get that payoff; that sweet meat, seasoned perfectly, carefully separated from its shell. Cooking, then eating, crawfish can be an exercise in self control.

But, at least for me, cooking crawfish for my friends, family, and myself, is not about the result, but about the process. While I love the colors and flavors, the wooden paddle swirling the rue in the stainless steel pot, it’s the approving grunts, the crack that the shells make when they pop perfectly, that keep me cooking. I boil crawfish for myself, and also for others, kind of like writing.

Indeed, the audience must be considered.  My wife likes her bugs somewhat spicy.  My mother-in-law, maybe a little less so.  My sister-in-law, wants the seasoning so heavy it melts off your face.  I can’t hit all those marks, but I can try.

In mud bugs, like in writing, I don’t have a recipe.   I don’t have a thermometer. I don’t use measuring cups or scales.  To get that perfect crawfish consuming experience, I play it by heart.  How much seasoning should I add to the boiling water before the crawdads cry? A lot.  How many lemons should go in? A few.  How long should I wait to cut the heat after they come back to a boil? Not long.   While there is only a little toil and a pinch of trouble, bringing together a dozen ingredients to build this brew requires some magic and a little bit of instinct. Nothing is absolute, nothing written down, nothing is the same from one boil to the next.

Where did I learn to write, er…boil? From the best boilers I know.  Fellow crawfish connoisseurs let me watch them work, ask questions, pushed me to try new things and constantly discussed ideas that might make our boils even better.  Mentors, in other words…

I’ve learned to love the process of boiling, uh…writing.  I’m trying to get better at sharing that process with my students.  That’s kind of my point.  I don’t think I can “teach writing.” I can share my process and invite the kids to explore theirs. I can share mentor texts and moves, encourage their own search, but writing is different for each of us.  My writer’s voice is constantly changing and evolving, staying out, just a little, past the reach of my finger tips, making me work for each word.

That struggle is one I want to continue to capture, whether in crawfish or in writing.


Charles Moore spent Sunday morning traveling from Lafayette back to League City.  On the way he passed acres and acres of crawfish farms and his mind couldn’t help but wonder at the deliciousness, crackling like potential energy, yet to be unleashed. He’s wondering if it’s too early in the year to decide if this is his greatest year ever in this profession.  He’s pretty sure that’s how the jury will vote. Check out his twitter @ctcoach, which wavers between pie-in-the-sky idealism and passive aggressive suggestions.

Revising and Editing with Jeff Anderson Part II

If you haven’t had the chance to see Jeff Anderson in person, and hear him deliver the gospel of editing instruction, be prepared…he’s very tall.  He’s also funny, charismatic, and passionate. He has an ability to take something very difficult and make it seem accessible, even to an old ball coach like me. Also, he got me to say, “AAAWWUBBIS.”

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In my post a month back, I outlined how Jeff Anderson describes the first three parts of inviting students into the editing process.

  • Invitation to Notice
  • Invitation to Imitate
  • Invitation to Celebrate

The next three parts are how we take what we’ve noticed and start putting those skills into practice.

Invitation to Collect

Those of us whose students spend most of their time in a notebook might have a dedicated section where we collect “sentence gems.”  These are beautiful examples of sentence construction that we want to hold on to, and maybe one day, imitate.  Anderson points out that he starts this practice with mentor texts that are “controlled.” In other words, he puts specific texts in front of the kids that contain sentences that he wants to help them find.  Once they’ve got an idea about what it means to “collect beautiful sentences, he lets them loose to find sentences in, for instance, their self-selected reading.  Mini-lessons are another place where we can examine well constructed sentences even if our lesson focus is somewhere else.  Many times I’ve paused a mini-lesson to point out a beautifully constructed sentence or a familiar pattern even when it wasn’t a sentence that related to our lesson focus.

Invitation to Write

Putting our skills into practice is the step that might need the strongest shove forward. Whether we use sentence strips, foldables, or just a blank page in our notebooks, we have to sit in the chair and explore these moves in authentic ways.  I think we can all agree that the true internalization of a writing move is most effectively solidified through our hands-on practice with that move.  After that, its up to the writer to use those moves in places where it will increase the effectiveness of a piece.

Invitation to Combine

Anderson writes about how practice with combining sentences helps “develop students’ sentence sense.”  This idea shows us that we can help students understand that they should be “thinking analytically about meaning.” Um…that sounds like effective and engaging instruction and it sounds like the highest level of thinking to me?

Anderson uses a sentence from Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Greene (2002) to help us understand that students might learn about combining sentences by working backwards.

Lowry’s sentence: When the class was quiet, Gooney Bird began her Monday story.

Uncombined:

The class was quiet.

Gooney Bird began her story.

Gooney Bird’s story was a Monday story.

 

Anderson goes on to suggest how separate groups could work to combine and uncombine sentences alternately.  Some teachers might see this as too elementary for our secondary classrooms, but I would argue that the writing my students produce tells me this type of practice is still very necessary.

If Anderson’s sentence wouldn’t present much of a challenge, take a look at this one from Nic Stone’s Odd One Out (2018):

She’s probably got Jupe by an inch or so height-wise, but completely opposite body type: slim, kind of willowy. 

I think there is enough there to start a conversation about how sentences can be combined.

Now we can use…

  • Invitation to Edit
  • Extending the Invitation
  • Open Invitation

Anderson’s methods speak to me in that they are intentional and specific.  My growth in literacy instruction leans more towards writing instruction recently, and Anderson makes this type of instruction easy for me to understand.  The greater my understanding, the better chance my students have of understanding, and growing, and exploring their place in this world.


Everyday, Charles Moore hides behind a narrow tree in his front yard waiting for his daughter to walk the three house distance from the bus stop.  She sees him the whole time, but he pretends to jump out from behind the tree and scare her before they run giggling into the house. He’s interested to know if anyone else collects beautiful sentences and if so, what are they?

A Friendly Resource for Revising and Editing

The current version of my instructional practices, philosophies, and beliefs was born a couple of years ago. Word spread that our new curriculum coordinator was a “workshop” guy and, coincidentally, I was in a place where change was on my mind.

Traditional “drill and kill” methods heavily supplemented with canonical whole class novels and their hip-tied reading guides left me unfulfilled in my “teacher feels” and I knew there had to be a better way.

Serendipity through reader’s/writer’s workshop…

Much of the credit for the strengthening of my instructional practice can be attributed to the people I’ve met who provided me the opportunity to explore and improve my craft. Teaching next to brilliant people and participating in our Literacy Institute are invaluable experiences. Much of my improvement can be traced to those teachable moments.  Other sources of wisdom came in the form of “Hey, have you read anything by [insert important name here]?”

That spring, many quiet lunch periods were spent hunkered over a professional text, sweating from having just walked off the football field, highlighting brilliant thoughts, taking notes, absorbing as much knowledge as I possibly could.

Lucky for me, one of the first places I visited was Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson.img_5011

Our upcoming (and ongoing) revising and editing emphasis leads me back into one of my favorite books over and over.  I just can’t stay away from the wisdom contained in this book and the lessons it possesses beyond writing instruction.  This book outlines a path for exploring any skill that students need, and I found that the wisdom contained there-in reaches across the areas of emphasis in our workshop.

I love so much about this book.  Not just the content, but the craft, as well, is brilliant. Anderson breaks the teaching cycle down into nine parts, and, while at first wrapping my head around that many ideas felt daunting, eventually, this book helped polish my teaching methods to a point where I felt very comfortable.

The idea that I need to “invite” my students to join the process of editing is, I think, what this book is really about.  This shift in focus, from teacher to student, is one that proves difficult for many teachers, myself included.  Anderson explains, “I invite students to notice, to read like writers, to come into the world of editing – a friendly place rather than a punishing place, a creational facility rather than a correctional one.”

This right there!!! That sentiment that we can let the students tell us where they are with their understanding and where they need support is what left me gobsmacked.

Anderson repeats this idea over an over using several editing lessons. He takes the reader through the instruction of serial commas, appositives, paragraphs and dialogue.  We learn about using colons, apostrophes, and several other skills. But really, we learn that giving students the space and encouragement to explore their own learning is the best way we can build writers.

He breaks the process down into nine parts and they are so fully explained that even a football coach like me can employ them in a writing workshop. They are:

  1. Invitation to Notice
  2. Invitation to Imitate
  3. Invitation to Celebrate
  4. Invitation to Collect
  5. Invitation to Write
  6. Invitation to Combine
  7. Invitation to Edit
  8. Extending the Invitation
  9. Open Invitation

The first part, invitation to notice, provides us the opportunity for formative assessment right at the jump, and saves time in the lesson cycle. Too often, our assessment focuses on where they are in their learning at the end of the lesson and not on the growth in their understanding.  How can I optimize my instruction if I don’t measure how far they move in the time we work together?  I can’t, and if I don’t, then I’m just throwing out lessons and moving through lesson cycles robotically without any opportunity for the students’ powerful voices to be heard. Also, if I allow them to show me what they notice, I might learn something from them.  A scary thought.

The second part, invitation to imitate, teaches the writers to hang their own ideas on someone else’s frame.  I’m an old man and, more than ever before, I look at texts as mentors not just in content, but in craft.  Our students need that experience as well.  If we show them that mentors are everywhere, we open them up to worlds outside the four edges of a text and the four walls of our classroom.  So much of what we learn about life comes from the people we see and hear. That sentiment should inform our writing instruction as well.

The third part, invitation to celebrate, is one I didn’t understand well, even after reading this book. This one required a great deal of thinking for me to fully understand its importance.  Anderson makes it clear that correcting the writing of our students doesn’t make them better writers. He tells us, “In fact, correction may even stifle, crush and suffocate celebration” (32).  Instead of tearing our writers down, we should share in the joy of the successful writing experience.

Just those first three moves are incredibly important in our work. I’ll write about the next three parts in two weeks. Until then…


Charles Moore is blown away by how quickly the students in his classroom jumped back into their routines this semester and their joy in learning about reading and writing together.  He loves seeing their faces scrunched as they struggle through revising with purpose.  He loves this work and is massively thankful that he has the opportunity to share in the growth his students are experiencing. 

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