Category Archives: Shana Karnes

Alternatives to Reading Logs: A Return

Three Teachers TalkJoin us for a summer series revisiting our top posts from this school year, and please “turn and talk” with us in the comments section each week!

Shana’s post from 2017 sources readers’ ideas for alternatives to reading logs. The ideas are here, and the document is still open for your additions.


Ahhh, Labor Day weekend–that first glorious three-day respite from back to school, or the last vestiges of freedom before it begins.  Whatever this weekend is for you, I hope you’re using it to relax and recharge before we see bright, smiling faces (or sleepy ones) tomorrow.

I bet you’re using a book or two to help you enjoy this weekend–what are you reading?  I’m reading little bits of Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue whenever I can squeeze it in (usually as I fall asleep).  In longer chunks, I’m reading Scaachi Koul’s memoir, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, which is a perfectly-sized series of essays for my busy days.

In quiet moments on long weekends like these, I wonder what our students are doing.  Do their reading lives mirror mine?  If the answer is no…what can I do to help them become readers?

And, more pressingly–is there something I’m doing that’s preventing them from becoming readers?

Reading homework, requirements, levels; book reports, assignments, due dates.  None of these are what I’m tying to the books I’m reading this weekend.

But is that true for our students?

This article from School Library Journal talks about the work done by librarians to match a person to a book.  They call it readers’ advisory.  Then, they lament that so many classrooms discourage the important work of “talking with a child, observing body language for clues, and walking together through the stacks while offering suggestions” and rely on leveled bins, assigned texts, or assessment-bound reading units to get kids to read.

How much of what goes on in my classroom is readers’ advisory–and how much damages that work?

Slide2I’ve been thinking since last May about how we should stop grading independent reading.  The best and brightest in our teacher hive give us their advice and wisdom in books, blogs, and articles, with quotes like this one from Donalyn Miller.  Books, time, encouragement–these are themes we see repeated in what students need to blossom as independent readers.  Nowhere do we see that we need to measure, assess, or grade them.

To be sure, our kids need our instruction and guidance to grow as real readers.  Conferences, follow-up activities, book clubs, goal-setting, talk, and self-assessment are powerful tools to help move students forward.  How can we prioritize those things instead of more measurable (and infinitely less revealing, rewarding, or authentic) methods like reading logs, records, and quizzes?

Well, we really want to know.

Please share with us:  what are your alternatives to reading logs?  How do you approach a gradebook that must be filled, and fill it with meaningful activities tied to reading?


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In that Google Doc, we’ll work to compile a series of alternatives to reading logs, and share them here for everyone to benefit from.  You can also leave a comment on this post, write on our Facebook page, or tweet to us.  Together, we can create a repository of ideas and strategies for approaching independent reading in a way that’s authentic and helpful this school year.

Shana Karnes is mom to 1.5 spunky little girls and wife to a sleepy surgical resident.  She teaches practicing and preservice English teachers at West Virginia University and is fueled by coffee, chocolate (this week), and a real obsession with all things reading and writing.  Follow Shana on Twitter at @litreader.

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5 Things Students Say That Give Me Life

It seems like each year of teaching is more intense than the last–the highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the chaos is more…chaotic. This year was no exception, and as my 7th and 8th graders leave the classroom this week, I am an exhausted mix of relieved and saddened to see them go.

Each year, while the bureaucracy of school politics, students’ disengaged behavior, and the heartbreak of kids who slip through the cracks drags me into despair, my students are the ones who pick me back up again. They, in their own words, give me life. Here are five standout things students say that lift me up when I’m down.

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JC creates a blackout poem from a dictionary page.

“This is fun!” The surprise and delight in a young teen’s exclamation about learning being fun never fails to bring a small, secret smile to my face. Learning is fun, engaging, and challenging in equal measures when students have choice, agency, and confidence in their work. My students created blackout poems as part of their final multigenre projects, and many students wrote in their final reflections that this was one of the most memorable activities during our time together.

“Can you conference with me about this?” After leaping right into reading and writing conferences with students when I met them in April, the verb “confer” became a standard in our classroom. Conferences about choosing which books to read, about how to improve a piece of writing, or even about those pesky grade questions take on more gravity than a simple comment here and there. Students learned that conferring was a time for one-on-one conversation, during which the participants were not to be interrupted. With the simple introduction of the term “conference,” the culture of the classroom shifted to one where talk was still vivacious, but was also more focused and productive.

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Logan shows off his final multigenre paper.

“I’m proud of this.” My middle school students are boisterous at their most basic level, but each time they submitted a best draft of a piece of writing or turned in part of a project they’d worked hard on, they became suddenly shy. They’d look at me, almost confidentially, and tell me quietly, “I’m proud of this,” as they slid their work into a turn-in folder. Their multigenre projects this year were some of the longest and most complex pieces of work they’d created in their middle school academic careers, and Logan’s shy smile sums up their feelings of pride and accomplishment about their pieces.

“You should be proud of your daughter.” During my plan period one afternoon, I was chatting with my mom on speakerphone. A few students walked in with a question, and I told them I was on the phone with my mom and asked if they wanted to say hi. They greeted her and said, “you should be proud of your daughter. She’s an awesome teacher.” This mark of respect made me tear up and embarrass the two boys, but nonetheless it restored my faith in the sensitivity and manners all teens are capable of possessing.

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“Now look at me.” My students’ final self-evaluations are some of my favorite things to read each year. Page after page of student writing is filled with students assessing their accomplishments and detailing their own growth. I ask them always to tell me how they’ve changed–something they don’t always know until they begin writing about it–and this year I was floored by one student’s response. Her struggles with addiction began at a young age, and as she found a more stable home and her life improved, she transformed herself into an avid reader and writer. This powerful self-assessment–“Now look at me! I’m a writer, a poet.”–floored me. It was a forceful reminder that literacy saves lives.

As difficult as a school year can be, I just keep coming back for more–and the students are really what keep me in the classroom. Each May, as my will wilts from the stresses of testing and schedule interruptions, my students’ energy and vitality give me life at the end of each year…just when I need it.

What do your students do to give you life? Please share in the comments.

Shana Karnes teaches in West Virginia, but only for three more weeks. She’ll be moving to Wisconsin with her family, her books, and her love of teaching. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader.

In Favor of Fun

How many English classes have you been in during which students do not read or write?

Think back. Truly. How many of your own educational experiences, your own lesson plans, or classes you’ve observed contain a rich amount of student reading and writing? And…how many are filled with round robin reading, audiobooks, review games, vocab quizzes, grammatical dog-and-pony tricks?

Equally frustrating is when reading and writing is being taught in an English class, but it’s still the dog-and-pony variety: classics only. Whole-class texts only. Five-paragraph you-know-whats only. The teacher makes all the choices, and often, those choices were not made by the teacher, or he or she made them many years ago.

Day in and day out, I see these complacent practices in place–a classroom in which students see words but rarely read or write them independently; an autocratic, teacher-centered class in which students do some reading and writing but exercise no choice.

I have seen all of this in a wide variety of classrooms in just the last few weeks, as I’ve been doing some classroom-hopping in the form of substitute teaching. As I watch preservice teachers get their feet wet, as I read lesson plans left for a lowly, inept sub, as I talk to students who are unaccustomed to having the chance to speak during class, I keep returning to one question:

Where is the fun?!

Where is the talk, the chatter, the laughter, the rapport, the pure enjoyment of learning? It’s almost as though the culture of fear so common in traditional schools has permeated the student-teacher line, and made school and classroom leaders as afraid of fun as the learners are.

This, for me, is unconscionable. A deadened classroom brings no pleasure to the teacher or student, which makes for a learning environment that’s almost oxymoronic: little learning is occurring in an environment with no life.

At the end of a period in which I, the sub, have simply given students instructions to “listen to the audio” (and don’t fall asleep), “work on your online program for 20 minutes” (assuming the WiFi is working), or “complete the grammar warm-up” (that took half the class)…there is always free time. For a substitute, this is often a period of terror: untasked children, out of control. YIKES.

img_1994For me, though, this is an opportunity for some fun to finally happen. I ask questions. What do they want? What do they wish for? What would engage them?

In every instance, in every classroom–from elementary through high school seniors–students have surprised and delighted me with their creative replies to these questions. One class wrote a reading response to To Kill a Mockingbird entirely in hashtags. Another class chose to make a literary bucket list of things they wanted to do in English class before they went to high school. One group of 12th graders elected to craft a visual response to their writing prompt about what they wanted from the future.

Over and over, students proved to me that creativity, self-expression, and the desire to share their thoughts and feelings with the world was universally present. Despite their lack of recent practice, those skills were innate, and readily available. Their willingness to try was instant.

In their reflections on learning, students asked for the same things:

  • choice and challenge:  they requested to be able to choose some reading and writing topics independently, but also asked for things like “read a long book together as a class;” “do one really long writing where you help us the whole time.”
  • authenticity:  many, many requests to “be real with us,” “teach us stuff we will actually use in the future,” “teach us like you know what we’ve been through.”
  • respect:  students broke my hearts with their tales of ‘dumb-shaming,’ in which a teacher has mocked a student for not having an answer, a skill, a scholarly habit. They asked me, in so many words, to respect what students have been through and are going through, and to teach for what they will go through.

These words of wisdom–many of them from students in middle school, where I’ve spent most of my time subbing–are prescient and pressing. Engagement is universally appealing, to all students, of all ages, in all content areas. When given the chance to create, they seize it.

This indicates, to me, that if we teach in a way that prizes choice and creativity, there is little risk on the teacher’s part–we need not be afraid of students misbehaving or disengaging. It’s time to shove off the fear so many teachers have of taking a chance on a more creative curriculum.

There’s no need to be afraid of a little fun in learning.

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Shana Karnes is a “real teacher” in West Virginia, who has worked with secondary English students, preservice teachers, and practicing educators for 10 years. When she’s not in the classroom, she spends time reading, writing, and learning with her daughters, husband, and friends. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader.

Lost and Found: A Writer’s Voice

Image result for nulla dies sine lineaWriting, like anything else, is a skill: a muscle we must exercise regularly or watch soften and fade. Pliny the Elder’s advice, nulla dies sine linea–not a day without a line–hangs on the walls of many a writer’s office for good reason: daily writing is a must.

But where many writers dismay is in what they write each day. They punish themselves when their writing feels flat, lackluster, uninspired. Writer’s block creeps in. They begin to fear the empty page, to shy away from it. They stop writing, drop the pen, lose their voice.

I’m talking about a specific writer, here: me.


I recently began running again after nearly three years off. I used to love running: the empty mindlessness of it, the feeling of accomplishment the finish line brought. I ran until the third trimester of my first pregnancy, when I looked more like a bouncing beach ball than a runner.

img_6707Now, two babies, three years, many pounds, and one shoe size later, I’ve finally begun to run again. It was hard at first–I could barely run a mile without stopping. I didn’t feel the famed “runners’ high” I used to: I just felt sad. Sad that I couldn’t do what I used to be able to; sad that I’d let my running identity dissolve; sad that my days of half marathons were seemingly over.

But I bought a jogging stroller and kept at it, and forced myself to run to justify the expense. I went to the gym daily and ran circles around the track or outside on hills. I ran up and down stairs at my house; I ran after my youngest, who recently began crawling; I parked far away from stores and ran to them. Memorably, I once forgot my Starbucks on the baby shelf at Target, and ran to retrieve it.

It wasn’t always enjoyable, especially at first, but I built the skill back up, little by little. I kept at it, running on trails or in neighborhoods so I couldn’t just give up and stop. I, someone who is terrible at self-discipline, made myself a runner again.


Recently, I read Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, where I learned the difference between hard and soft skills. Hard skills, like running, are quantifiable: can you run three miles? Yes, I can. Can you write in English? Yes, I can.

But soft skills are more nebulous, less quantifiable. They’re less about whether you can do something and more about how well you do it. Can I run three miles in 20 minutes? HA. Can I write a book? HA, HA.

img_4974.pngBut the key to developing soft skills, as Coyle writes, is in the practice. High reps, new variations, and clear feedback. I ran daily, even when it was terrible. But it only took a few weeks to regain my ability to run multiple miles at a time.

As I ran, I often thought about other things that once felt easy but were now hard, like my seemingly voiceless writing identity. My writing just didn’t sing anymore; it felt blah. It wasn’t fun to do. I felt I’d lost my voice.

But after reading Coyle’s book, it was clear from the gaps in my notebook that what my voice was lacking was a result of lack of practice. If I wanted to find my voice again, I would need to approach writing anew.

I wrote daily, which, like running, was painful at first. But the more I wrote, the faster my words flowed, the faster my thoughts and ideas developed. The more ideas I had, the more I craved good writing in the books I read, podcasts I listened to, music I ran to. I wanted to be surrounded by strong, elegant thinking, to help push myself to communicate strong, elegant thinking in my writing. I renewed my passion for reading good literature, regained pleasure in opening my notebook, and found my writer’s voice, and writing identity, again.


For our students, this daily, varied writing is essential. They need practice to build their voices, to sharpen their thoughts, to hone their craft. For many, their writing voices are a muscle not yet developed: they will build them in their notebooks in our classrooms.

Our students need to be saturated with good writing, strong ideas, thoughtful words. If most of their day is filled with Snapchat and Facebook and all the hideous writing social networks often entail, our students must see beauty in the books and poems and articles we share with them.

Coyle writes in The Talent Code that mentoring ourselves to experts is a key to developing our own proficiency at skills. We cannot just show our students good writing; we must bring writers to life for them; show them how a writer lives and works to illustrate the possibilities of a writing identity. We must allow them to think, “if they can do it, why can’t I?”

We must offer our students this opportunity: to be writers, with the habit of daily writing, the inspiration of strong writers, the ideas that come from reading great texts. Our routines might look like:

  • Quickwrites to begin the day as writers
  • Mentor texts to study within a larger context–as part of a genre, author, or thematic unit
  • Instant, frequent revision that goes beyond copyediting and into the addition of ideas and clarity
  • Transparency of writing process in the form of sharing one another’s drafts
  • Varied, voluminous reading independently and collaboratively
  • Quiet moments to reflect, self-assess, and set goals about our writing and writers’ identities

A writer’s voice can be so easily lost, but so readily found again with practice, purpose, and passion. We can all be writers.

Helping our students find their voices is an amazing, rewarding part of our work as teachers of readers and writers.  Keep constant the routines of daily reading and writing, and keep sacred the mantra of nulla dies sine linea–never a day without a line.

Shana Karnes lives in West Virginia with her two daughters and husband. She reads and writes daily at a large desk that overlooks a small view of the mountains. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader.

It’s About More Than Just the Skills

91w70Ax2LhL.jpgThe reading arc of a school year is a lovely thing to witness, but an even more enjoyable journey to participate in. We begin the year falling in love with reading: a first quarter of high-interest, riveting works that match each reader where he or she is. The first days of school are filled with YA, novels in verse, pithy nonfiction, and short-but-powerful texts.

Second quarter, we begin the stretch toward more challenging texts, whether because of their difficult vocabularies, unfamiliar genres, or tough emotional or intellectual subject matters. My booktalks nudge students toward books that will push them to become stronger, more widely-read thinkers. Our reading ladders begin to incorporate themes of choice as well as challenge.

So, as September wound down, I picked up Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. This outside-my-comfort-zone book sent me to Wikipedia many times during each reading as I attempted to make sense of some term I’d newly discovered (dark matter, the Fermi paradox, the multiverse). I found myself down the rabbit hole of Wiki-links many a time, landing on pages like this a little too frequently for my furrowed eyebrows’ liking:

There is no question that anyone who encountered this book might have done the same, and as such, I have ample Internet history evidence to support my claim that reading this book made me a stronger reader. I doubtless practiced reading skills like summarizing, re-reading, decoding complex vocabulary, integrating new ideas into existing schema, looking for outside information to aid my understanding, paraphrasing, learning about new text features and signposts, noting quotes, and more.

But reading isn’t done solely for the purpose of practicing skills. In fact, the purpose of reading is as far from skills-focused as we are from the edge of the universe (pretty freakin’ far, in case you haven’t recently read about astrophysics). Consider, for instance, this passage from the final pages of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry:

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Beautifully written, no doubt, and I’d use it with my students as a mentor text in a heartbeat. Look at that parallel structure, that use of one-sentence paragraphs, that thoughtful choice of diverse verbs! Lo, the effect of repetition, the deft uses of the dash, the pristine placement of commas! All of these are worth studying alongside our students, but they are mere stepping stones on the path to the true purposes of reading and writing:

Joy, engagement, transcendence, learning, growth.

The expansion of our minds, of our perspectives, marching onward as relentlessly as the universe itself (yep, it’s forever expanding, knowledge I have thanks to Neil deGrasse Tyson). This passage–this argument, for looking at life from the cosmic perspective–is valuable for so much more than the way it is written. The meaning is in what is written, and how the reader makes meaning of it.

Looking at our teaching, our students, our lessons from the cosmic perspective, we must consider our small effect on these students’ lives in the grand scheme of things. Why would we insist students read a certain book, or a certain number of books, or write a certain number of pages, when we consider our real goal for students: to help them access the vast wealth of reading and writing they can do in the world to achieve their true callings.

books-to-read-before-you-hit-30980-1459253850_980x457As we plan instruction for the second quarter, we must center our students’ reading and writing experiences on the highest purposes of those endeavors, and not remain too focused on the skills, structures, and rubrics we often get caught up in. We must not fall into the trap of sharing a passage such as this one with students solely to practice craft study, asking our students to replicate Tyson’s structure without appreciating what he’s trying to say to us by crafting it.

Let’s confer with our readers about not just how a text is doing what it’s doing, but also what their feelings are about that text, what they’re learning from a text on a holistic level, how they’ll insert this reading into their larger life philosophy.

Let’s coach our writers not just to become proficient in certain genres, but also toward authentic, purposeful, meaning-filled writing that they proudly craft and publish.

Let’s remember to harness the cosmic perspective in our work with students, as we consider not just what we know of them as readers and writers, but what we know of them as young adults who will go forth and change the world in some small way with their lives.

Let’s embrace the cosmic perspective when we consider reading and writing: those hallmarks of our intellect that make us uniquely human.

Shana Karnes is a lifelong reader and writer who daily tries to embrace the cosmic perspective in her work as a teacher, wife, and mother. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and five bookshelves. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader. 

Please share your higher purposes for teaching, for reading, for writing! Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Quickwrite Mentor Texts for Writer’s Notebooks

img_6062I love going back to school for so many reasons, but one of the frontrunners is definitely that “second chance new year” feeling it provides. Teachers and students have the unique opportunity to have not just one fresh start at the beginning of a calendar year, but a second shot at goal-setting, changes, and achievements that the fall offers.

We all have our back-to-school rituals, and they are sacred: fresh notebooks, pens in all the colors of the rainbow (because we haven’t lost any yet), a well-organized classroom library that will be pilfered and picked through soon enough. One of the most important parts of establishing a workshop community is the routine that comes with setting up a writer’s notebook each fall: personalizing notebooks to make them our own, modeling a notebook’s possibilities, the establishment of quickwrite practices.

But now that the year has begun, and your notebooks are ready to go…what should you begin to fill them with? The writing in the beginning of my notebook always guides and inspires me as I continue to fill it, so I never want it to be uninspired, dull, or colorless. I crave fresh, exciting, dynamic things to fill up the first several pages of my notebook every time I start a new one, which is usually in the fall.

Here are my five favorite mentor texts that give me ideas and inspiration galore for those important start-of-the-year quickwrites–the first in a routine of creativity, agency, freedom, vulnerability, and engagement as a writer.

The Artist’s Way Workbook by Julia Cameron

This workbook is full of writing prompts for real writers: short exercises that encourage reflection, fluency, and the habit of writing vulnerably often.

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I love this workbook and its series of prompts, and use them often when I start my day with the #5amwritersclub each morning. They would be wonderful prompts for students to ease into vulnerable, personal writing in September.

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I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

I first discovered Anne Bogel thanks to her “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, but she is also a writer and blogger, and just released a beautiful book yesterday. It’s a book about our reading lives, and provides a wonderful mentor text for writing about our reading without writing about a specific text.

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In addition to the lovely writing, I am obsessed with the illustrations: they would be wonderful to recreate in students’ notebooks with scraps of old magazines or dusty dictionaries.

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I visualize this mentor text as a wonderful one for helping students find a voice for writing about their reading lives during quarterly reflections, reading ladders, and self-assessments.

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler

Writing about our own emotions is hard for all of us, but it’s especially hard for teens. I’ve found that writing about emotions in general, rather than our own, is a wonderful gateway for personal writing.

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In addition to being an amazing lesson in personification, this book provides gorgeous mentors for doodling, metaphors, and multigenre possibilities.

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Write the Poem

Poetry can be intimidating, but a little guidance goes a long way, and this book provides just that.

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The combination of a prompt and keywords to incorporate takes some of the guesswork out of choosing a structure, a rhyme scheme, a title, and the myriad other decisions that go into crafting poetry.

Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrew

Sometimes words are hard. They just are. Those days call for doodles, and this book is full of plenty of them–in addition to pages of plain old writing. I love this text because it tells stories beyond what we see on Mari’s Instagram and Twitter feeds, giving students a mentor text not just for writing but for the thinking and living behind it.

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Mari Andrew has long been a favorite of mine, but this book shows me how to play with writing and thinking in genres I wouldn’t have considered, and is super teen-friendly.

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I hope you’ll utilize one or more of these beautiful texts–many excerpts of which you can view on the Amazon preview pages linked above–with your students this fall. Their possibilities as entry points for writing topics and genres are powerful, and will lead to composition possibilities for the duration of your school year.

Happy writing! We’d love to know how you and your students utilize these ideas, or what others help you kick off your writer’s notebooks. Please share other quickwrite possibilities and ideas in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook!

Shana Karnes is a mom to two daughters, a daily reader and writer, and a forever educator. Her work with teachers in West Virginia is through the National Writing Project, West Virginia University, and the West Virginia Council of Teachers of English. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader. 

We Can All Be Writers

Penny Kittle absolutely ruined reading for me five years ago.

You heard me. Destroyed it.

In the summer of 2013, at the University of New Hampshire Literacy Institutes, Penny taught me how to read like a writer. Our class studied short poems and discussed the deliberation of the author’s diction with a sense of wonder rather than through the lens of “what does this symbol mean?”. We read whole books in book clubs and gave a presentation about our texts on simply its craft. We wrote process papers at the end of the class that told the story of how we’d written our final essays.

Something about this made me absolutely unable to mindlessly read anythinganymore. Online articles, advertisements, tweets, and even beach-appropriate fiction just screamed CRAFT ANALYSIS!!!! at me. I couldn’t really relax and let go while reading anymore–instead, I was hypersensitive to the words I read, thinking constantly about what the author had lived, and done, to write such a work.

The total immersion in craft study of those two weeks has stayed with me, five years later. In every book I read, I have a new appreciation for the work of the writer–the work of writing.

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The craft of language, the power of literacy, is everywhere.

And seeing writing everywhere helped transform me from a lifelong reader into something more: a writer.

I start my day with the awesome Twitter crew at #5amwritersclub. Many participants are teachers, writing before they begin the day with their students, and many others are parents, writing before they begin the day with their children. I identify with both groups and love the sense of identity that comes from writing beside my tribe.

I feel the same way about writing in online communities like this blog. Every time a Three Teachers Talk post appears in my inbox, I think about not just what the post says, but also what my fellow teachers were thinking and doing as they wrote. I have watched Amy’s and Lisa’s thinking grow over time, since I’ve had the privilege of reading their writing. When Amy wrote about beating the dread, and when Lisa wrote about settling into summer, I read beyond the “I agree” part of my teacher brain. I thought about those women, both moms, cramming in some writing after their (grand)kids’ bedtimes, or in the early morning hours before school, or on their too-packed planning periods.

This is, in part, what helped me shape my identity as a writer. I saw my peers, my friends, my teaching neighbors writing. I saw their process, their thinking, their methods translate into writing. It showed me what was possible: that I, too, was a writer.

Our students need to see this.

As we kick off this school year, we need to make not only our own writing processes visible–from initial thinking, to drafting, to tinkering, to publishing–but our students’ processes visible, too. Students who see one another write understand that it’s not a one-track process; writing can look different from one kid to the next, and from one school year to the next. The possibilities are endless.

We can all be writers. We should all be writers. Viewing the world so differently has no doubt made my brain more tired, but it has made my life so much more rich.

Believing that I could become a writer took time, a shift in my mindset, and lots of work…but it transformed my identity and introduced me to a whole community of writers I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and for that, I am forever grateful. I can only hope that my students someday can feel this sense of gratitude to the writers–both the teachers and students whose words they read, and the published poets and authors whose craft we study to get better–that I feel for every writer, every human, that I know.

Please leave a comment and let us know how you plan to make the writing process more visible for your students this year, so you might all become writers!

Shana Karnes is a mom of two, an avid reader and writer, and someone whose life has been immeasurably bettered by literacy and all it entails. She is grateful to be part of the Three Teachers Talk community, and loves equally her NWP@WVU and WVCTE (where a version of this post appeared earlier) peers and pals. Connect with Shana on Twitter at @litreader. 

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